15 marketing predictions for 2020

The new year is full of possibilities, especially when it comes to marketing. There’s nothing our team loves more than thinking about what the future holds for our industry and ways technology will continue to evolve marketing. This year, we asked a few of our in-house experts to give their 2020 predictions.

Here’s what they said: 

(Spoiler alert: It’s going to be a pretty incredible year.)

1. We’ll see brands focus even more on their email strategies. 

“Many brands, especially direct-to-consumer companies, will double-down on email because, while it’s becoming increasingly expensive to acquire and nurture customers on social platforms, highly personalized email capabilities are becoming more accessible to brands at all levels.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 

2. Dark mode will lead the way. 

“My prediction for email design in 2020 is that dark mode will help push forward the cause of email accessibility. From voice assistants encouraging us to re-examine how our emails are experienced when read aloud all the way back to smartphones making us rethink how our emails display on different screen sizes, dark mode re-emphasizes the principle that our subscribers will and do experience our emails in a variety of formats, and that designing inclusively is not only the right thing to do, it’s simply necessary.” – Logan Baird, Professional Services Team Manager

3. Automation is on the rise. 

“No, the robots aren’t taking over, but we’ll see more and more marketers adopt email automation. It’s no longer a nice-to-have or ‘Well, our welcome emails are automated.’ Email marketers need to fully adopt email automation to send smarter, more relevant email. The fast-paced nature of how customers are interacting with your brand through various channels means you’ve got a lot of data on your hands, and the brands that use and automate that data will rise above.” – Leah Miranda, Senior Email Marketing Manager

4. Data privacy will change the way we view marketing leadership.

“Marketing leadership and marketing technology leadership will emerge as being much more in the forefront of marketing than just execution as data privacy continues to evolve. That’s mostly because you don’t want to be engaging with consumers or launching campaigns without the assurances that you’ll be compliant in how you roll them out. Strategy will not just be campaign and marketing strategy, it’s also consumer engagement strategy and ensuring that you’re compliant.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 

5. 2020 will be all about the subscription model. 

“I predict a rise in niche or very specific subscription services. Right now, we’re seeing very large brands like UO and other traditional retailers launch subscription services. The idea of a subscription economy is going to become much more focused. Rent the Runway, for example, just launched a service where you can do hotel closet rental, where if you’re traveling, they will fill your closet in your hotel room.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


6. ...But subscriptions will be for more than just your closets.

“It’s no longer just subscription to a product, it’s a subscription that provides product and service. That’s what we’re going to see much more of as big brands get really smart about the moments where they can can capture loyalty and boost revenue through very specific services.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


7. The cost of customer acquisition through paid channels will continue to rise. 

“Due to the intense scrutiny of data privacy and security, rising costs are accelerating quickly. With talks of Facebook's various businesses (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) being unbundled, these major social networks will likely become a less stable advertising investment for ecommerce brands. As a result, we expect a push from brands to diversify where and how they engage with prospects and customers.” – Adii Pienaar, VP of Commerce Product Strategy


8. Get ready for the death of “digital transformation.” 

“2020 will bring the death of ‘digital transformation.’ Now that brands are well past this, we’ll see the next generation of transformation happening as they focus on personalization. Now that organizations have their data foundation where it needs to be, we’ll see that next generation of transformation happening at the world’s largest brands.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


9. Everyone will (finally) be able to enjoy emails.

“In 2019, we’ve seen a rise in interactive emails and accessibility awareness. In 2020, we’ll see those two marry, creating truly interactive emails that can be enjoyed by everyone." – Leah Miranda, Senior Manager of Email Marketing 


10. Higher education will level-up their technology. 

“Universities will move away from generalist technology providers to platforms with purpose-built functionality that meets their needs. It’s getting to a place of technology-by-maturity for these organizations that have traditionally built it themselves, and they’re going to look for specialists.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


11. The fitness industry will be all about customer experience. 

“Club fitness will become about measuring the total customer experience—In shifting towards centralized technologies that enable coaches, trainers, and individual clubs, to message their club members through multiple channels from a single place in a measurable way.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


12. E-commerce companies will become more confident about data privacy. 

“Small businesses and small business owners will get over their data privacy fears as technologies that enable us in marketing will become much easier to manage customer/consumer preferences and give you the ability to truly be compliant without fear. Big brand marketing and big brand resources will be basically gifted to these small businesses through evolving technologies.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


13. The greater economic climate will likely slow e-commerce spending, which has experienced a steady increase in recent years. 

“While this will affect how brands think about their advertising and marketing budgets, many online retailers still have a long way to go in becoming financially informed. This is especially true with regards to brands’ most important unit economics. In the SMB sector, for example, most brands don't have an accurate measure of their cost of inventory, gross profit margins or customer acquisition costs. These cracks have been plastered over by revenue growth, but in tougher economic times, the focus will need to be on becoming leaner and understanding how those financial metrics impact the business.” – Adii Pienaar, VP of Commerce Product Strategy

14. The moment for podcasts may be over. 

“I think we’re going to see performance marketing pulled out from podcasts. It will be driven by lack of attribution, and until podcasters and podcasting companies determine how to measure what they do in a meaningful way, they are going to become increasingly challenged to attract anybody besides super big brands.” – Jason Grunberg, SVP of Marketing 


15. Companies will put a greater focus on building profitable and sustainable brands. 

“We believe winning brands will be those that are inclusive and prioritize diversity, especially as it relates to representing their customers. Consumers want fewer ‘stereotypical heroes’ to aspire after and prefer to relate to ‘people like me.” – Adii Pienaar, VP of Commerce Product Strategy

What do you predict for marketing in 2020? 

See what we predicted for 2019 here. 

Happy New Year! 

About the Author

Kaitlin Wernet

Kaitlin Wernet is a content specialist on Emma's marketing team. When she's not restraining herself from using too many exclamation points or grabbing one more La Croix from the office kitchen, she can be found working on her first book or planning her next big travel adventure.

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