Rachel Swann, commercial director at 3radical and responsible for client acquisition, retention and project delivery across the UK and Europe, identifies the key digital marketing trends to look out for this year.

We live in a time when digital marketing moves fast, as do consumer behaviours and interests. The ability to adapt and evolve is more important than ever before if organisations are to remain competitive. 

Forward thinking is therefore essential in this space, and as we ring in a new year – and perhaps more significantly, a new decade – it’s a great time to look at what’s really going to happen in 2020.

Investment in the customer

In the next 12 months we will see a huge emphasis on organisations prioritising the customer. Marketing is no longer about simply convincing consumers to buy from your company; brands have moved on to providing great customer experiences. 

Customers want something more than just information, and organisations are now focusing on what will keep them engaged for longer to boost conversion and retention, such as real-time responses and rewards. 

Customer incentive programmes are a great method of collecting customer data to discover why they want to make purchases. Experiential incentives programmes – providing memorable experiences to loyal customers, such as access to exclusive events – is the latest trend to come out of this space, and is on the rise among several brands.

Brands are beginning to engage with consumers directly and create an emotional connection in order to gain their loyalty, moving customers from awareness to advocacy much quicker than ever before. 

Social commerce

While e-commerce and social media are powerful marketing tools in their own right, we are now seeing a huge number of brands combine the two to maximise opportunities for sales. Brands no longer have to worry about prompting social media followers to visit their online shops, as shoppable posts become more and more popular. 

Since the launch of Instagram Checkout in March 2019, shoppable posts are getting more and more attention. And this is not surprising when you consider that 54 per cent of consumers use social media to research purchases.

Not only will this help brands to reach new customers, it will shorten the sales funnel and give customers almost instant access to the products they want. 

Sentiment analysis

While this isn’t a new trend in the digital marketing space, new technology is making sentiment analysis more popular than ever before. Sentiment analysis allows organisations to understand whether people have a positive, neutral or negative opinion about their brands. This data can then be used to fine-tune products and services, and help to form strategies for sales, social media, content creation and more. 

Sentiment analysis is likely to have the biggest impact on the gaming industry in 2020. The insights extracted from multiplayer communications or discussions with virtual characters will offer an increasing number of game developers valuable insights into the how people feel and interact during game-play.

The combination of traditional & digital marketing efforts

If you ask marketers about traditional vs digital, the majority will still draw a hard line between the two methods, both in the way they think and the way they operate. However, this viewpoint is becoming increasingly expensive, not to mention inefficient – duplication of job roles, two separate marketing strategies and the inability to make digital relevant to consumers are all examples of wasted money and time due to the disconnect between traditional and digital marketing efforts. 

The solution is a shift from the typical traditional vs digital marketing thought process to “marketing” – an integrated effort to understand the needs of and develop a connection with the customer. Brands should create content for people, not platforms, and dive deeper into how individuals are interacting with a business in order to optimise customer experience across all marketing channels.

Anyone who works in marketing will tell you that change is a fundamental part of the job and as I mentioned above, it’s essential for businesses to look forward and adapt in order to succeed. 


Influencers have taken the digital marketing world by storm over the last few years, with celebrities, musicians and sports personalities making millions from their ads on social media. However, we are now starting to see a shift from the famous, big-time influencers to small-medium sized influencers who work with small-medium sized brands.

Not only are these influencers much more affordable and popular within narrower niches, they often have much higher engagement rates and are therefore in touch with their followers.

In the gambling industry for example, a sector that has historically struggled to gain the trust of a new and young millennial following, micro-influencers can have a particularly powerful impact. Thanks to a much higher engagement rate, every interaction with their followers is authentic, resulting in a greater level of trust in the brands they endorse. 

The market isn’t set to slow down anytime soon, as brands discover that less really is more.