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Martech trends that will shake up your strategy

Marketing technology and digital marketing predictions 2020

With marketing technology developing at an ever faster rate, a lot can happen in twelve months. 

A year ago, we predicted that 2019 would see more brands complement the power and scalability of AI with human marketing know-how.

As we move into the new decade, we asked Fresh Relevance and friends: Which trend will have the biggest impact on marketing technology in 2020?


Mike Austin
Co-Founder, CEO


AI will save marketers time and effort

AI will start to make life easier for marketers. Automated testing and optimization will start to become useful, and automated creation of alternative content, as is already common for email subject line testing, will begin to be used for websites and email body content. The automated choice of AI strategy for individual people based on personification will start to save marketers time and effort in optimizing their marketing tactics, allowing them to focus more on strategy.

The data protection and privacy environment will continue to become tougher. The "new normal" already requires marketers to closely abide by consent legislation such as GDPR, and new laws such as CCPA will increase the importance of this worldwide.

Tactics used by some USA-based marketers, such as preventing access from the EU "due to GDPR", will no longer be viable as all regions will be affected by one or more similar acts.

Marketing systems will integrate better - both in terms of content and in terms of data. GDPR concerns will push data integration as IT departments become increasingly risk-averse and unwilling to create custom data migration. Content sharing - for example between marketing systems, ecommerce systems, merchandising systems, will become much easier to achieve.


CMOs will fight for survival

The benefits of digital marketing - enabling access to an unprecedented wealth of data and subsequent data-driven decision-making - have also turned out to be a pitfall for marketing. Over the last 20 years, marketing teams have evolved from story-telling brand builders to short-term revenue drivers.

As a consequence of this fundamental shift to tactical and executional tasks, the role of the CMO has come under attack. In 2019, a number of global brands, including Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, and Netflix, got rid of their C-suite marketing representative altogether.

Looking ahead, Forrester predicts that "2020 marks the beginning of the CMO’s final desperate fight for survival." In order to remain relevant, marketing will need to widen its focus and take ownership of every single aspect of the customer experience.

By managing all interactions between the company and the customer and orchestrating an experience that adds value throughout the customer lifecycle, marketing will be able to grow the brand and drive profit in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Martina Poehler
VP of Marketing



Pete Austin
Co-Founder, CINO


Ad targeting will become more challenging

There's about to be a big change in online advertising (programmatic marketing). Currently, players such as Google broadcast third-party personal information about the person browsing to hundreds of ad serving companies. These companies bid on which advert to display in real time.

The GDPR and similar laws make sharing third-party data problematic, so Google has announced that it will stop broadcasting some personal information.

Because ad targeting is more challenging, the cost of each good quality lead arriving at your website is higher, and it's more important that they don't bounce. So "AI cold-start" (automatically inferring the likely interests of each visitor, based on non-personal signals such as location, time-of-day and current events) is very important to marketers.

Because third-party data is being shared less and is in the cross-hairs of regulators, properly collected first-party data is increasingly valuable. And since people are exposed to less personalization using third-party data, automatic personalization using first-party data makes more impact and is more effective.


Email marketing strategy will be crucial

In 2020 I predict that email will climb back up to the top of marketers' focus lists. Post-GDPR, the data that remained has proven itself (in a lot of cases) to be much more engaged, leading brands to realize how much they rely on email as a channel.

With this new focus comes an increased importance of having good data and a solid strategy in place. Understanding what you have now, what’s missing and how you go about collecting it, as well as merging that data together into the coveted single customer view (SCV) should be a major focus. Good data is critical for a successful email marketing strategy in 2020.

From a design perspective, interactive email will become more widely used as it becomes more accessible to implement (through direct coding and AMP), with an aim of making the customer experience better, easier and quicker to encourage action. Think about what interactive features may be available to you (e.g. a carousel, in email survey / form, flashing CTA buttons etc.) and how these elements could support your email marketing goals. Interactivity for the sake of it won’t increase your results long term. It's key to make sure you're using these features to support a goal and entice a specific action or result.


Kate Barrett
Founder & CEO 
eFocus Marketing


Eddy Swindell
Co-Founder, CRO


Marketers will seek a different skill set

Hype in AI may have peaked in 2019, with 2020 seeing elucidation of how it can be effectively applied to specific tasks.

As the value of personalization and automation involving AI becomes clearer, I expect to see companies seek out a different skill set in their team recruitment.

Automation orchestration is increasing at a greater rate than human execution of marketing tasks, and a slightly different skill set is required to fully exploit the opportunity that this technology provides to improve user experience.


Online shift will give marketers power and responsibility

As our lives increasingly move online, FOMO will be at an all-time high, and social proof will be increasingly important to win over discerning shoppers.

It will be easier than ever to collect and coordinate customer data. Companies will be able to pinpoint where shoppers are in the buying journey and customer lifecycle, and consequently provide them with helpful, engaging content.

Alongside this, the rise of online stores, apps, instant delivery and 'shop now, pay later' have added an entirely new dimension to the concept of a shopaholic. Businesses will need to take responsibility to improve the customer experience without encouraging addictive behavior.

Huriyyah Dhanse
Head of Account Management



Tom Ricards
Account Director


Marketers will get ahead with data capture and geo-targeting

Last year I wrote about how I expected to see the "in-your-face" style of popover be replaced by more relevant and timely instances. That has happened with a good handful of our clients, but I hope to see this approach be widely adopted this year.

By adopting persistent, non-intrusive data capture methods, combined with exit intent popovers reminding the customer of the products in their basket, clients have seen results skyrocket.

Anything that boosts overall identification rate increases the amount of people that you can personalize to - and therefore the amount of additional revenue generated. So these tactics should definitely be adopted more broadly this year.

I'm expecting further advancements in geotargeting to very much be on the agenda for 2020 too. Currently, we’re seeing great success through targeting different content depending on where someone is based, or personalizing an offer based on their proximity to a relevant airport or store.

Being able to refine the whole buying experience based on where a customer is, or where they plan to be, has enormous potential to increase conversions.

'Customer Experience' as a whole is very much a buzzword for the next year, so anything to improve this - whether through data capture, geo-targeting, social proof, or more targeted AI - is going to be paramount.


Customer experience will be personalized at scale

Businesses will be able to give customers a truly cross-channel experience, where no single customer journey is the same. All of the content that you see on the website and in emails will be entirely different according to the individual who’s viewing it.  

Partly, this will be fueled by the shift to Artificial Intelligence. AI makes it easy to automate personalized content at scale by predicting the customer’s needs and motivations.

At the same time, better integration and the rise of headless commerce will empower marketers to take creative control of the customer experience from beginning to end. Advancements in APIs will allow marketing teams to deploy superior CX and personalization technologies to make this a reality.

Simon Nooranvary
Customer Success Consultant