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Nov 25 2019

2020 Vision: Internet Trend Predictions

Internet Trend Predictions

The Internet continues to evolve faster than marketers can keep up. As we near the end of 2019, forward thinking brands are planning their roadmap for the next 12-24 months. Choosing the ‘right’ trend to invest in can be a critical part of your marketing strategy. Here are some Internet trend predictions for 2020 that we think are going to stick and are worth keeping in mind as you plan your marketing, web content and growth strategy.

We have identified likely 2020 Internet trends from all different areas, including everything from website development to social media to consumer behavior. Keep in mind, we are not talking about the latest Ice Bucket Challenge or SpongeBob meme. These are major new trends that are changing the way that businesses and consumers interact.

Below are 17 Internet trends for 2020, loosely categorized into Website content, navigation and appearance, social, IoT, and eCommerce. Not all of these trends will apply to every business or category, so pay attention to which trends potentially apply to your space.

1. More Frequent Updates/Iterations

Internet Trends 2020

Gone are the days when updating your website or app once a year is sufficient. Content in the future is dynamic. People want fresh, new content all the time. They are easily distracted and quickly bored. Maintaining a new look, updated content, enhanced features, better graphics and other small improvements will be more important than ever in 2020.

Waiting for perfection results in lost opportunities. Instead businesses will be constantly evolving their websites and apps, with smaller updates, more frequently. This gives businesses the ability to be more responsive and agile when it comes to consumer demand and usage habits. Instead of planning a change for six months and releasing a major update only to find that the consumer base has moved on, brands will make weekly or monthly updates to sustain interest.

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BRAND DO NOW

Don’t cancel your big site redesign, but realize that when you launch a new site, the work is not over. Talk to your web developers about additional features that you can roll out on a regular basis to keep your site fresh and enticing to users. Intersperse small updates, like color changes or new images or skins, with meatier ones like cool new features or seasonal updates.

2. Freemiums

The rise of freemiums seems like a disconnect to many business leaders, but it is one of the fastest — and most successful — Internet trends. Having gained popularity in gaming, freemiums provide a basic level product for free to everyone. Premium features are withheld for paying customers.

Freemiums have moved well beyond gaming, though, with a large portion of the SaaS category adopting this strategy. Multiple different freemium business models currently exist, including:

  • Microtransactions
  • Ad-based
  • Time-limited
  • Limited functionality
  • Alternate product or cross-product funnel
  • Add-on product revenue

Brands confident in their product quality and ability to convert will be looking more towards freemium models. In today’s hyper-saturated marketplaces, brands offering freemiums can cut through a lot of consumer hesitation. By removing the cost of investment, consumers are more likely to give products and services a chance.

Once acquired, consumers are easier to keep, market towards, upsell and cross-sell, ultimately redeeming the cost of providing the freemium.

BRAND DO NOW

Evaluate your product or service and determine if there is a portion of your offering that can stand alone and give potential customers a taste of what you can deliver. Try to whet their appetite with a small, free service. Even if they don’t immediately upgrade, you have gained a customer ripe for future opportunities, who now knows your brand and may be more receptive going forward.

3. Content Quality

Content Quality Trends 2020

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The future of marketing is content. Establishing your brand as a thought-leader or industry expert will attract more loyalty than keyword focused, salesy messaging.

At this point, most marketers understand the impact content wields on search engine results. But, simply pumping out content is not enough. Continually pounding keyword focused — even well researched keywords — isn’t enough, if it is based on pitching your company. Instead, brands find traction with quality, valued content. Answer questions. Provide tutorials. Use multiple mediums.

Videos. Make videos. Professionally edited videos and candid phone videos. People are watching videos on every device, simultaneously. If you are not creating video content, your competitors are — and they are stealing your customers.

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BRAND DO NOW

First, if you aren’t already, produce something. If you are already creating content, pause and take time to create something that YOU would want to read. Don’t just spit out endless blogs that run through a list of keywords. Focus on delivering a deeper understanding of something, provide unique insight. Talk to employees at your company and find out what questions they are asked most. Then produce content about that–and try to go beyond surface-level stuff.

Website Navigation

4. Hidden Navigation

Website Navigation Trends 2020

More and more apps and progressive web apps are utilizing hidden navigation. We already see this in a lot of current apps, but in 2020, more businesses will adopt this Internet trend.

Hidden navigation is a covert way to guide user behavior on your site. Assuming you know your optimal sales funnel, implementing hidden navigation can seamlessly direct users through the right messaging in the right order. All, or most, functionality of a website or app stays available through collapsed menus, allowing people to explore more in-depth, without feeling like they are being shepherded through a sales process…even though they are.

BRAND DO NOW

Figure out your sales funnel. What is the simplest, yet most compelling path through your site that results in the action you want. Once you determine the exact steps you want mobile visitors to take, ensure that your mobile site or app follows that arrangement.

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5. Voice

Voice Search Trends

In 2020, the Internet is moving towards voice. Like hard. Projections are saying by 2020, 50% of searches will be done by voice. That’s HALF. Thirty percent will be done without a screen.

What does that mean for your business?

Optimizing your site takes on a whole new direction. Focusing on keyword research is dated and will not help you with voice. The trend towards voice search in 2020 means marketers need to optimize their sites for natural language, particularly questions.

Further, the majority of voice search tends to be local and personal assistant type of queries. The upshot of which means that despite successfully optimizing for voice search, you may never get visitors to your site. They may go directly to your brick and mortar location or call you on the phone.

We know that voice will be a major Internet trend in 2020, but we don’t know a lot about its implications yet. Measuring results of voice search and voice optimization will be a whole new ball game. However, businesses that start the voice optimization process now will be better positioned to capitalize on this growing trend.

BRAND DO NOW

Talk to SEO experts about how you can optimize your site towards voice search terms. Try to determine what type of voice questions or commands you want to show up for and what results you want from that. You may want to start setting up metrics internally to track voice search results and identify missed opportunities.

6. Visual Search

Visual Search

2020 search will be dominated by the 3V’s: Video, Voice and Visual. Visual search enables users to find what they are looking for based purely on images, not words. We have been talking for years about the importance of Alt Tags in a website’s SEO, but that is truly just a drop in the bucket for visual search.

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Social media listening and new visual search technologies are creating a lucrative space for marketers who are properly optimizing their content. The visual search pioneers like Pinterest Lens, Bing and Google are creating new business and marketing opportunities for brands optimizing their unique imagery. Shoppable images, particularly in the fashion and home decor categories are becoming huge conversion drivers.

Anything people see in the real world can now be searched. From the shoes on someone walking by, to celebrity endorsements, to finding related recipes based on taking a photo of food packaging. Brands need to make sure their products are poised to be found purely on this new visual basis.

BRAND DO NOW

To take advantage of visual search, marketers and developers need to prioritize metadata associated with each image, including schema markup, reviews, pricing, availability and ratings. The structured data component of websites can no longer be ignored or minimally completed. Ensure that all of your products and images are fully updated throughout your site.

Appearance

7. Dark UI

Dark UI is a growing trend on mobile and digital content providers. It will only get bigger in 2020. Content streamers like Netflix and Hulu have switched to black backgrounds to accommodate the majority of their users nighttime viewing. Mobile apps and operating systems are offering Dark UI options to toggle back and forth based on time of day and context.

The growing popularity of a dark UI is based on both aesthetics and functionality. Dark backgrounds instantly add a sense of drama or sophistication.

People are reading their screens at night, in the dark. Bright, white screens are glaring and strain the eye, not to mention disturbing to others in the room who may be trying to sleep.

More digital content providers will adopt the Dark UI Internet trend in 2020, but it will not replace traditional white or light colored option. Reading longform text will continue to require lighter backgrounds to ease eye strain and maximize readability.

BRAND DO NOW

Evaluate how users are using your site. Is it at night? On their phones? Are they spending time reading or mostly focused on finding something quickly and leaving? Talk to a web developer to determine whether your current site design can offer a dark UI option.

8. Background Video

In 2019, we saw a huge influx of background video on websites — and this will only continue to grow in 2020. Sites that employ videos in the background provide a subliminal sense of the brands’ culture and essence, an impression that paragraphs of text in an “About Me” section could only hope to achieve.

Not only that, but background videos add a touch of professionalism and excitement to sites, drawing users in and establishing an implicit positive first impression. Background video is powerful, impactful and emotive – helping brands break past consumer’s initial barriers and draw them in, without saying a word.

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BRAND DO NOW

Do you have a compelling testimonial or atmospheric video about your brand? Something that draws people in without the need for audio? Test out running on the background of your site. If you don’t have something, talk with your marketing team about creating a short, punchy video that you can use for your site.

9. VR + AR

Virtual Reality Trends

Advancements in technology going into 2020 have enabled brands to introduce exciting new virtual reality and augmented reality features on their mobile apps and websites. Better cameras, artificial intelligence and improved battery lifetimes are ushering in a whole slew of personalized, consumer-focused experiences.

Some VR and AR examples we will start seeing more commonly include:

Large indoor spaces, like shopping malls, arenas, and airports will begin offering indoor mapping systems, directing visitors to their exact destination, tracking traffic flow and serves as a base for geo-centric ads.

Home decor brands can help visualize what products and furniture look like in your home or help you design around your specific space.

Cosmetics and fashion brands will incorporate facial recognition technology to help style looks personalized towards individual buyers.

Virtual assistants will take the tedium out of shopping. In-store AR can help shoppers find the best product deals or highest rated items on the shelves.

Industries from automotive to retail will all introduce revolutionary new VR and AR technologies that simplify and personalize the researching, buying and using experiences

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BRAND DO NOW

Host a focus group or develop a survey to talk to customers and see if there are any features that they would love to see added. Investigate what other brands in your category are doing. Think of your site or mobile app as an extension of your sales team – what do your sales people do in a one-on-one scenario that really drives a sale home? Then decide if that concept can be translated into an AR or VR service.

Social

10. Interactive Gaming

Interactive Gaming

Don’t worry, we are not claiming that interactive gaming is new. It’s not. It has been around for decades. What does seem to be a new and growing Internet trend for 2020 and beyond is the idea of interactive gaming as the “new social.”

The social media landscape has been dominated by just a few players over the past few years – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. None of these are going away, but Gen Z and millennials are increasingly using a new medium to connect with their friends – gaming.

Games like Fortnite have created an online community or meeting place for friends and strangers to interact. Its popularity and setup have turned it into a social network in itself, with younger generations spending their time communicating with friends via in-game chats and talking over headsets.

In addition, beyond games themselves, entire social networks like Discord have erupted on the market, providing a space for game enthusiasts to chat via text or voice and hangout with their friends to discuss their favorite games and interests.

What does that mean for marketers? Traditional social media advertising may not effectively reach younger target markets on its own. Brands looking to attract millennials and Gen Z need to consider the emerging media channel of in-game advertising and marketing.

Unlike many forms of advertising, in-game advertising is generally appreciated by consumers. Mobile gamers understand that in-game advertising allows them to download and play apps and games for free. When done well, users voluntarily interact with video ads in order to earn prizes and move forward in the game, without using microtransactions.

BRAND DO NOW

Identify who your target market is and where they hang out online. Don’t forget to consider who will drive future growth. If a large portion of your consumers is or will be Millennials or younger, start looking at the gaming market. Identify which games fit your brand best and decide how to provide value to gamers, while still promoting your brand.

11. Social As News Source

We have already witnessed the transition of social media into consumers’ primary source of news. Twitter and Facebook have been delivering news alerts, first-person coverage and in-depth analysis of current events in real time. Often, based on ease of publishing, social networks are able to alert the public to events before traditional news outlets. The power of viral content enables all news to quickly spread, regardless of the original source.

This has come with many positives and negatives, as we have recently witnessed in the news lately. As a result, more strenuous oversight will likely be imposed at the network level. Yet, that doesn’t change the growing trend of people relying on non-traditional sources for their local and national news content.

BRAND DO NOW

Be the first to share news, events and developments in your industry. You know your industry well. Quick tweets, short videos or social updates about what is happening will gain traction, especially if you are early communicators. Even if you don’t feel ready to ‘report’ news, proving your company’s insight or reaction to related news can help you stay in the spotlight.

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12. Going Super Local

Social behemoths like Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting individuals with global issues, celebrity news, hot trends and the minutiae of everyone they have ever met. But as everything gets bigger and broader and more exposed, people are starting to turn turtle.

Instead of putting photos, opinions and personal information out on mass social networks, people are starting to keep it close to the vest. Hyperlocal social networks, like Nextdoor, are gaining popularity all around the world. Currently in nearly 250,000 neighborhoods, Nextdoor creates digital communities that reflect the towns that people actually live in. With address verification required, local social networks tend to have less trolling and more pertinent content.

Super local social networks won’t be replacing traditional ones anytime soon — people still want to keep up with old friends and the latest memes. But content like service provider or restaurant recommendations, events, and other local information will likely see migration to these more local communities.

BRAND DO NOW

Brands looking to capitalize on local marketing have to continue local best practices: update directory listings, complete structured data markups. Make sure your site works seamlessly on mobile, with easy to use features and shortcuts. Include content on your site or app that references or focuses on local events, landmarks and community specific topics.

eCommerce

13. Mobile Shopping

Just a little over a decade ago, shopping on the Internet was still the wild west. People had credit cards just for online shopping, because they didn’t trust online security. Shipping was expensive–and took *gasp* days, if not weeks. Filling out forms was tedious. Returns were a headache. The list of barriers went on.

Today, shopping online is the norm, even preferred method, as evidenced by constant brick and mortar stores closing their doors and escalating e-commerce sales. But online shopping has moved beyond the website. People are now buying straight from their phones. As the computing power of phones continues to escalate, often passing home computers, less people are taking the time to boot up their laptop and shop. Instead, they are just a few finger taps away from purchase right on their mobile device.

Mobile shopping offers immediate gratification — it is shopping for multi-taskers. Consumers see something on TV and can have it purchased and on their way to them before the end of the commercial break. If they are hanging out at a friend’s house and a new product is recommended, a few taps later, they can own it too. Think of mobile shopping as the impulse buys of the Internet, replacing PoP displays and quick trips to the store. People are not making major purchases, or ones requiring research, on their phone just yet, but everything else becoming a ‘tap-to-buy’.

BRAND DO NOW

In order to capture this growing mobile commerce market, ensuring your mobile site — whether its a mobile app, responsive site or a progressive web application — is fully optimized for shopping. Cart abandonment on mobile is high, so eliminating checkout barriers is essential. Things like easy to click buttons, auto-complete forms, guest checkout, PayPal or Venmo options, simple return policies and low shipping costs will help encourage mobile sales.

Internet of Things

14. 5G

5G is knocking on our doors. For years we have been hearing about the potential, life-altering changes that 5G will bring. Upload and download speeds will approach instantaneous. Augmented and virtual reality features will become commonplace. Brands will be able to offer more personalized experiences to consumers on mobile devices. Homes will become networked, with lights, entertainment, security, comfort controls and other systems all linked to personal preferences and user behaviors.

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BRAND DO NOW

If you are a hospitality, retail or in-person shopping location, ensure your wireless infrastructure is 5G capable. This likely means upgrading your systems to the newest versions, and possibly adding in some discreet small  cells within your building. Once you are ready for 5G, investigate new options relevant to your business, like VR + AR features, virtual assistants, and personalized shopping experiences.

15. Smart Homes

Smart Homes

Nearly every thing consumers buy for the home will incorporate some sort of smart home enablement, linking it to Amazon Echo or Google Home. From mood lighting to smart doorbells to kitchen appliances to electronics, smart home devices will deliver complete home control at the touch of an app or upon simple voice commands.

Taking advantage of the power of voice will be a major undertaking for brands in 2020. As mentioned previously, voice search continues to grow in usage, requiring a different type of optimization. In addition to optimizing their sites for voice, brands will start developing brand-specific ‘skills’ to use on smart home devices.

BRAND DO NOW

Skills make it easier for consumers to be loyal to your brand. Innovative brands are producing skills that allow easy ordering, valuable content and research, tips, quick Q&As, loyalty programs and more. Based upon how consumers are interacting with your product, research what skills could help simplify reordering or provide an added value to users.

Personal Information and Data Security

16. Privacy

Privacy has become a major concern on the Internet in recent years. New regulations like the GDPR and CCPA have started combatting data security and privacy concerns, which have a major impact on digital content in the future. Nearly every website doing business in Europe or California will be required to upgrade their online privacy processes.

While currently California is the only US state imposing strict digital privacy laws, 2020 and beyond will likely see more legislation regarding online data. Which means every business should pay attention and start addressing concerns now. This includes updates to written privacy policies, who has access to collected data, how data is collected and what it is used for, as well as consumers’ ability to access, edit and opt-out at will.

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BRAND DO NOW

Moving forward into 2020, brands should start streamlining their website and the types of data collected. Not only will this reassure their customers, but focusing only on the most needed data will make it easier to comply with all of the new digital personal information regulations on the horizon. If they haven’t already, brands should also establish internal processes to follow regarding customers’ personal data and how it is handled internally and externally.

17. Less Oversharing

The saying “The Internet is forever” has started to impact the way people interact online. As people are starting to understand the permanence of what they put on the Internet– and the possible ramifications — users are gravitating towards more temporary ways to share. Services like Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook Stories are gaining in popularity, with the idea that content is only available for a limited time.

As a result of this trend, this disappearing content is viewed as more exclusive and has soared in popularity. In 2020, brands will eagerly jump on this trend, creating exciting content for their customers.

The benefits for brands using Stories are huge. It is a great way to interact with consumers, building a loyal following that continually keeps up with your brand. Content does not have to be professionally shot, reducing production costs, while at the same time giving a more ‘behind-the-scenes’ appeal to content. Stories keep brands connected with their followers, while developing deeper relationships and creating more interactive, user-led content that resonates.

BRAND DO NOW

Start sharing. Quick, frequent stories help connect you to your customers. Stories don’t need to be ground breaking, and it doesn’t need to be perfect. Share exciting new happenings, take viewers on a tour, bring them to tradeshows with you, or introduce them to the people making things happen at your brand. Take polls and surveys. Do Q&A’s. Live videos. The possibilities are limitless. The important thing is to get your brand out there and in customer’s feeds.

2020 Vision

Truly, so many exciting and innovative changes are happening for 2020 and beyond. We could literally write entire blogs about each one of the 2020 Internet trends listed above. Clearly, not every trend will affect every type of business. Determining the right choices for your business can be challenging, but the experts at CMDS are here to help.

Our world-class web design and development team can help get your site ready for 2020, whether through improving your mobile shopping interface, transitioning to a responsive web app or designing a more engaging and user-friendly appearance.

CMDS also offers premier marketing and consulting services, to help you identify which trends will make the most difference to your brand’s reputation and bottom line. We can walk you through the biggest digital opportunities in your category and then help you execute a strategic plan to grow your social, content and marketing initiatives.

Contact CMDS at 732-706-5555 or click here to get started. We’ll help you get 2020 vision.

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