One of the best ways to excel in any field is to make sure you’re in tune with the latest news and advice from the industry’s leaders. This is undoubtedly the case with digital marketing.

For global businesses and high-level companies, staying ahead of the curve is vital. 

With that in mind, read on to discover more about the best digital marketing industry leaders in 2020 and what we have learned from them when developing an integrated digital marketing campaign.

John Rampton – Get your audience involved in content creation 

John Rampton has an excellent reputation in the industry. Forbes has labeled him a blogging expert. Entrepreneur Magazine listed him as number two in their list of the world’s top 50 online influencers. 

He specializes in conversion marketing, motivation, leadership, marketing, branding, and content.

He believes that one of the most important trends is user-generated content (UGC) because it deepens engagement. After all, your audience enjoys seeing and sharing content they have created. 

There are portals and apps that you can integrate with your website or social media so that all submitted user-generated content can be funneled into one location for reviewing, organizing, and sharing. 

You do need to keep in mind that UGC can be negative, though. If this happens, you can’t simply ignore the comment and hope it disappears. Instead, you must address it and learn from those who created it. 

Heidi Cohen – Understand the competitive voice-first landscape

Actionable Marketing Guide’s chief content officer, Heidi Cohen, provides marketing insights on content and social media marketing.

She is also the president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, acting as a consultant for several companies, including Cheap Tickets/Cedant and New York Times Digital.

Heidi has spoken extensively about the importance of giving your marketing mix a voice. She has stated that this is vital to reach additional audiences, expand marketing visibility, and add another dimension to your brand. 

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To do this, you need to evaluate how voice has impacted your company’s landscape before you can add audio and voice to your marketing efforts. 

You need to:

  • Assess the voice capabilities that direct competitors have added to their customer journey.
  • Try out several voice assistants. Understand how the various devices respond to your queries, including specific long-tail phrases and keywords.
  • Evaluate voice-first devices for competitive functionality and content offerings. Document how competitors and early adopters have approached voice-first functionality to support their audiences. 

Once you have done this, you can then start to evaluate how you currently use existing audio and voice content. You should learn how your audience uses voice-first devices too.

You can then get buy-in for voice marketing by educating management. 

Only once you have taken these steps can you expand your brand so that audio sounds and spoken voice are included. 

Mari Smith – Invest in highly active Community Managers

Mari Smith has been involved in internet marketing since 1999. She is often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” and has amassed plenty of followers online.

When asked for one thing that most executives and companies overlook that could have a significant impact on Facebook marketing, she said investing in a highly active, trained, and passionate Community Manager. 

Mari believes that this is one of the most vital roles for any social media department in any business. She advises companies to invest in trained staff who can courteously, accurately, and promptly respond to as many posts as possible.

Speaking on the subject, she said that the United States has a long way to go in this regard:

“SocialBakers has a whole new metric around this concept called “Socially Devoted.” I find it fascinating that the top ten socially devoted brands are all outside the U.S. It seems we have much to learn from our counterparts on other shores.”

Jay Baer – Link engagement metrics to corporate goals

Jay Baer is the founder of five multi-million dollar businesses and is the author of six best-selling business books. 

He founded Convince & Convert Consulting, a digital marketing company that has assisted some of the most iconic brands globally, including Oracle, Hilton, Cisco, Nike, and The United Nations. 

Jay Baer has stressed the importance of ensuring engagement has a means to an end. He believes that many business owners hold up engagement like it is a business metric, but it is not a currency. You cannot pay your employees with Facebook shares, can you?

If you are not engaging for a higher purpose, you are simply wasting money and time. 

Content engagement cannot be tied to your business goals unless you have some metrics and measurements in place to decipher the impact. 

Content marketers want the engagement to result in other actions, such as buying a service or product or signing up to an email newsletter. 

You need to tie each piece of content back to these goals to iterate. 

Pam Moore – Create a social media content calendar

Over one-million followers rely on Pam Moore for quality information on leveraging social media to grow their business. 

She is the co-founder and CEO of Marketing Nutz, a consulting and social media agency specializing in using digital methods to optimize conversions. 


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One thing she advocates is using a content calendar so that your content can be streamlined for big results. 

She said businesses need to escape from the “post all the content spaghetti things all the time on all the social networks everywhere.”

She said to do this, a content calendar is a must, and she has created a free content calendar template for people to download. 

There are many different reasons why using a social media content calendar is essential. This includes the following:

  • It will help you to create loyal brand evangelists. 
  • You can begin to leverage evergreen marketing. 
  • Ideas will come easier. 
  • It makes it easier for you to integrate content across numerous platforms.
  • It forces you to think further than today or tomorrow.
  • Resources will be streamlined. 
  • It helps create a drumbeat approach to content development, letting your audience know you’re there for them in the short, medium, and long-term.
  • You can create goals and define what success looks like before investing in content. 
  • It enables your brand to become more human.
  • It helps you to get crystal clear on what your call to actions are.
  • You can prioritize your target audiences and buyers. 
  • You will find it easier to focus on the needs of your audience as a main priority. 

Barry Schwartz – Make your website so good that Google has no choice but to rank you well

Barry Schwartz is an innovator and specialist in web development and search engine marketing. If you’re interested in innovative search engine marketing topics, we would recommend following him.

He is not only a News Editor at Search Engine Land and Search Engine Roundtable, but he is the owner and president of RustyBrick Inc, where he helps companies increase sales and lower costs. 

When asked what businesses need to do to grow from an SEO perspective in 2020, Barry said that it was simple: you need to make your site so incredible that Google would be embarrassed not to rank you well. 

It is all about user experience. Ensure that visitors clearly understand what makes your website the best. 

What can you do to ensure your site is a place that people want to return to? How can you add value? What can you do to make it unique? 

Rand Fishkin – Measure the correct digital marketing metrics that matter

One of the most recognizable faces in the search engine optimization industry, Rand Fishkin is the co-founder and former CEO of Moz. This is one of the leading SEO tools out there. 

He left Moz in 2018 and then went on to find SparkToro, a data and software business focused on helping people to understand and deliver to their target audiences. 

Recently, Rand has spoken on the subject of measurement, making some critical points. 

He said that while marketers are putting money toward the likes of sponsorships, events, brand advertising, and influencer marketing, these dollars are rarely tracked. 

Even worse, those activities are often loosely linked to the business’ overall goals, vision, and mission.

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He said that, on the other side, when it comes to email marketing, content marketing, and organic search, many marketing professionals are consumed with proving ROI value based on the previous click. 

“It is madness to underweight measurement in one sector and overweight another sector. By doing that, you lose your ability to be creative and thoughtful in tactical channels.”

Millennials and Gen-Z are mired in influence marketing. Rand contends that influence is found everywhere, not just on Instagram and Youtube. 

As part of your digital marketing strategy, he advises focusing your efforts on the highest engagement and affinity, rather than targeting the biggest influencers on the web. 

Excellent marketing occurs when brands engage trusted authority figures and customers.

You need to work out what content your customers and authority figures are engaging with on organic channels. This will enable you to generate quality brand exposure and advertising to drive sales among those consuming on these channels. 

Shama Hyder – Include transparency in all parts of your content marketing

Shama Hyder is the CEO of Zen Media, which she founded in 2009, as well as being a keynote speaker, TV and internet personality, and best-selling author. 

Entrepreneur Magazine called her the “Zen Master of Marketing.” She also has her own YouTube channel, as well as regularly writing for Inc and Forbes.

She has discussed that connected consumers of today value authenticity and transparency very highly, more so than any other generation. 

She has said the following on transparency in marketing:

“[Consumers] want to see that your brand is being authentic, transparent, and living its values before they hit that “purchase” button, and content marketing just happens to be one of the most effective ways to convey that.”

She has provided several tips on how to achieve this. Some of her favored approaches are as follows:

  • Encourage user-generated content (UGC) through giveaways, calls-to-action, and contents. You should then share the content widely. 
  • Get involved in relevant conversations that are trending in social media that match your values. Ensure you have something meaningful to contribute. If you are finding it challenging to come up with anything except a marketing pitch, keep out of the conversation.
  • Generate blog posts that pull the curtain back on your corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. How do you focus on diversity in leadership and hiring? Are there any communities you are especially committed to? What ethical standards do you use to choose vendors? 

Ann Handley – Slow down

Ann Handley has been deemed the most influential female in social media by Forbes. That’s a pretty big accolade. 

She has also penned best-selling books, including Content Rules and Everybody Writes, as well as being a partner at MarketingProfs. 

One of our favorite tips from Ann Handley is the importance of slowing down, which she discussed at Content Marketing World. 

Ann has spoken about how marketers are in a rush today and that they need to slow down and focus on how to create trust with their audience, rather than focusing purely on catching their attention.

However, she has indicated a good type of slow and a bad type of slow, just like there is good and bad cholesterol. 

So, how do you slow down effectively? Well, it begins by questioning what you know about your consumers. Ann has stressed that we must listen to our audience all of the time and adjust our strategies to meet their needs better. 

Developing trust with your audience takes time. You are not always going to get it right, and there is no quick fix. 

When building trust, content norms must be defied. Rather than focusing on brand-to-target content, we should concentrate on peer-to-peer content. To do this, we need to be empathetic to our audience’s needs. 

You then need to slow down the experience. Some of the most exceptional content experiences take place over time, and they directly involve the audience.

When planning your next individual pieces of content, step back, and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How can I create an experience that people will rally around in a manner that results in them becoming greatly invested in the community?
  • How can I incorporate the audience in a meaningful way so they will be invested in the outcome?
  • How can I build momentum and trust for the content experience over time? And what will this look like?

Take a second to look at your marketing from a critical perspective. What opportunities do you have to slow down, involve your audience more effectively, and be more thoughtful?

Finally, Ann stresses that businesses need to slow down to build the relationship. 

One of Ann’s most excellent content marketing tricks is writing content with a specific person in mind, rather than trying to cater to an entire audience. 

Ann advocates speaking to the one person you wish to talk to. What does this individual require? What issue do they have? How can you assist them?

So, no matter what industry you operate in, taking a second to slow down is one of the best things you can do in 2020. Understand what your customers need, how to create trust over time, how to involve your audience in your content, and how to create memorable experiences. 

Astha Kalbag – Experiment with social media

Astha Kalbag is one of Asia’s primer digital marketing thought leaders. She is an international speaker and a Marketing Science Expert for Facebook.

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One of the greatest things that we can learn from Astha is the importance of keeping an open mind and being creative with social media. 

She said the following on the matter:

“I believe the most important thing to have is the right ‘testing and learning’ mindset. In this field, you need to consistently test different hypotheses, continuously iterate and unlock growth loops for the business. It is critical to be open to experimenting without the fear of failure.”

Many businesses are afraid to try new things on social media, especially when they’re protecting a reputation they have worked very hard to build. However, learning crucial tricks from past examples and case studies can help you to succeed.

Ryan Deiss – Branding is relational equity

Ryan Deiss is the Founder and CEO of digital marketing agency DigitalMarketer, as well as the creator of the “Customer Value Optimization” tactic, which has proven results for businesses looking to make strides online.

Ryan teaches marketers to consider their relationships with customers, leads, and prospects as a bank account. 

He defines branding as the following:

“Branding is anything that makes a deposit into a customer or prospect’s relational equity account. Some marketers have built up a positive balance of ‘goodwill’ in their vault. In some cases it might even be overflowing. For others, however, the vault isn’t just empty — it’s running a negative balance.”

As a marketer, you must know where you stand with your target audience. 

Whenever you ask them to do something, whether it is purchasing a product or sharing their contact details, you are asking them to make a “goodwill” withdrawal from that relational account. 

On the flip side, you are making a deposit whenever you give away valuable content, create a branding campaign that resonates, or sell a fantastic product. 

If you are finding it difficult to achieve the sales conversion rate or response rate you were aiming for, you need to ask yourself whether you have created enough positive relational equity to make the offer successful. Could it be that you’ve overdrawn the account?

Joe Pulizzi – Leverage influencers that generate an audience

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of Content Marketing World and Content Marketing Institute. He is also a keynote speaker, digital pioneer, and an award-winning American Author. 

Fortune Magazine labeled his book Epic Content Marketing a “must-read business book.” Killing Marketing has also gone on to be a best-seller.

As the self-proclaimed poster boy of content marketing, it’s only right that we take a look at one of the biggest content trends at present; influencer marketing. 

Joe encourages us to think of influencers as people, sites, and blogs where your target customer base is hanging out. You need to jump in and take this audience from these influencers and the competition.

Joe has highlighted a number of ways that businesses can do this. The first is by creating an influencer hit list. To be successful, you need to know who you’re targeting. 

For instance, if you sell running shoes, you would ideally want to be picked up by the likes of RunnersWorld or Active.com. 

Put yourself in your target buyer’s shoes and think about where they would most likely consume online content. 

Joe Pulizzi also recommends using social media to build relationships with influencers. You can make friends online with some of the top influencers in your industry by doing some good old schmoozing. This means telling them how amazing they are, liking their stuff, and sharing their content. 

With your sizable following, it shouldn’t be difficult for the influencer to start to notice you. 

Charlene Li – Cater to your future customers

Widely considered one of the most creative minds in business, Charlene Li is an expert in digital transformation and disruptive growth strategies.

She has written six books, including Open Leadership, which is a New York Times best-seller. 

Charlene also founded analyst firm Altimeter Group, which was sold to Prophet in 2015. 

Her latest book, The Disruption Mindest, explores why some businesses transform while others fail. 

She highlights the importance of disruptive growth by focusing on who your future customer is. This enables us to steer our products and marketing in the right direction to facilitate growth.

One of the best examples of disruptive growth is T-Mobile. They faced a three-billion dollar breakup fee after their failed merger with AT&T. This left them in desperate need of driving further growth, causing them to switch from a defensive strategy to an offensive one. 

They decided to focus on creating trust through transparency in their operations. This saw them rip up their conventional two-year contract model.

This saw a massive rebranding campaign get underway, heavily focusing on their no service contract. This was an effective way of tapping into the minds and hearts of their consumers, creating real disruptive growth. 

To achieve this, you need to think about who your future customers are. A lot of businesses focus solely on serving today’s customers, but what about your future consumers?

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Your entire team needs to be aligned on addressing your future customers’ needs if you are to drive disruptive growth. 

To achieve this, Charlene has developed a strategy blueprint entailing three steps that will result in disruptive transformation:

  1. Conduct rigorous research to build the case
  2. Use transparency to secure buy-in
  3. Burn the boats so you can’t turn back

When you embark on your next marketing campaign, ask yourself whether you’re addressing today’s customers’ needs, or are you targeting tomorrow’s customers?

Neil Patel – Personalization is the new marketing 

Finally, we cannot speak about digital marketing leaders without mentioning Neil Patel. He has been labeled one of the top ten online marketers by Forbes, and he posts incredible content daily.

He has also co-founded several businesses, such as KISSmetrics, Hello Bar, and Crazy Egg, and helped the likes of NBC, HP, GM, and Amazon with business growth.

When discussing the main marketing trends for 2020, Neil mentioned that personalization is the new marketing, and a lot of his content heavily focuses on this.

He mentions that most businesses are looking at a conversion rate of five percent or less in terms of the number of visitors that turn into customers. Realistically, most businesses fall around the three percent mark.

You may think that this is because your marketing strategy is simply not working. However, the truth is that one marketing message does not fit all. 

Through personalization, you have the power to turn a much greater percentage of your customers into visitors. 

To illustrate this, Neil has spoken about the personalization in place at Amazon, which happens to be one of the companies he has assisted.

He said:

“When you go to Amazon, they know your patterns and what you typically buy so they show you what they think you want to see in order to boost their conversions.

And it works! When I log into Amazon I see tons of household supplies because that is what I buy the most often. I never buy dog food (which is smart because I don’t have a dog,) so I’ll never see ads for dog food.”

The most successful companies today are attempting to personalize every experience their customer has online. We’re seeing a huge push in this direction.

Final words

So there you have it: some of the most important marketing trends and tips from the industry’s leaders. 

If you would like to implement these trends and ensure an elite marketing agency manages your digital marketing campaign, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Mabbly today.

We are a leading Chicago digital agency, and we can devise a bespoke plan that will ensure your business dominates the marketplace. The number you need is 312 448 7473. 

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