7 Online Predictions for 2020
By Jena Kroeker
Do you remember Y2K? If I were writing this blog post 20 years ago, you might imagine the types of online predictions I’d include. Back then, experts anticipated that a computer bug would affect programs that used two digits to represent four-digit years. And as the new millennium dawned, people feared that many systems would show the year as 1900 instead of 2000.
This problem created opportunities for computer programmers and software experts as companies upgraded their computers. Can you imagine being a freelancer back then? You’d have hit a veritable gold mine of clients in need of your services. No one knew how things would work out as the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, so they wanted to be prepared.
As we now turn the page to a new decade, we don’t have a Y2K bug to contend with. But we do see many developments in the digital world and online marketing space that could benefit your virtual business.
7 Online Predictions for 2020
Here are 7 online predictions that may translate to new opportunities for freelancers and virtual assistants in 2020:
1. The freelance industry will continue to grow.
You might have noticed fewer raised eyebrows when you tell people what you do. 20 years ago, people were surprised to hear that I worked independently from home. Now they’re unfazed and even suggest potential clients to me.
According to Statista, the number of freelance workers in the United States has grown from 53 million in 2014 to 57 million in 2019. And predictions are that the trend will continue.
In an article titled “Top 7 Reasons Half of You Will be Freelancers in 2020,” Ayush Jain shares the following insights:
“At present, more than 57 million U.S. workers are freelancers, and there is an estimated increase of 3.7 million freelancers in the U.S. in the past five years. It is predicted that 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2020. From this rapid growth, expectations are to continue for many years to come.”
He goes on to say that opportunities are opening up for all workforces, especially in key demand areas experiencing a shortage of workers, like Artificial Intelligence. And moreover, freelancing has no age limit. In fact, over 30% of Americans older than 55 are freelancers.
What does this mean? As technology develops, companies will continue to rely more and more on skilled freelancers like you in 2020 and beyond.
2. Mobile Marketing will gain importance.
The Pew Research Mobile Fact Sheet shows a growing reliance on smartphones and other mobile devices. It says that 96% of Americans own some type of cellphone, with 81% owning smartphones. Half of U.S. adults own tablet computers. And one in five adults in the U.S. own a smartphone but have no broadband service at home.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index has some interesting online predictions. It says that by 2022, 44 percent of total IP traffic will be smartphones. In 2017, they accounted for only 18 percent.
These facts suggest valuable opportunities for your freelance or virtual assistant business. They mean that businesses would be wise to include mobile marketing in their strategies. In her article “9 Mobile Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore,” Ann Smarty advises incorporating “omnichannel marketing” to keep in mind that people navigate among more than one mobile device to find information.
And Christian Thomson explores the concept of “shoppable posts” in an article titled “Top Marketing Trends For 2020.” Since 72% of Instagram users have bought a product from the app itself, it’s worth it for e-commerce stores to shorten the sales funnel by creating posts that let customers shop directly from social media posts. The article asserts, “By 2020, shoppable posts are expected to be the norm.”
3. Online video will continue to take over the airwaves.
Remember that song “Video Killed the Radio Star”? We’re not talking about radio here, but according to the Cisco article above, 82% of all IP traffic from consumers and businesses will be IP video traffic, with live internet video accounting for 17 percent of Internet video traffic by 2022. Online video continues to gain prominence over other internet traffic.
In her article “New Study: 2019 Promo.com Online Video Statistics and Trends [Infographic],” Hila Shitrit shares that 49% of respondents said they watch more than 5 videos per day, up 5% since 2018. And 67% choose YouTube as the place to watch online video. She therefore suggests creating a YouTube channel filled with reviews, product demos, and tutorials, ideally categorized into playlists.
And according to the article, “9 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Own 2020,” Emarketer has predicted that consumers will watch video content for an average of 92 minutes a day in 2020. If you or your clients haven’t added online video to your strategy, it’s worth considering for the New Year.
4. Artificial Intelligence will create more, not fewer opportunities for humans.
Have you talked with a chatbot today? You probably will in the New Year! The article “25 Chatbot Stats And Trends Shaping How Businesses Will Communicate In 2020” says by 2020, 80% of businesses are expected to integrate some kind of chatbot system and predicts that chatbots will become more human.
It shares a possible opportunity valuable to freelancers and virtual assistants:
“Businesses will need to create teams in charge of training and collaborating to create interactive interfaces unique to their customers. This is becoming more important, as consumer tastes are trending toward more chatbot integration.”
And the Statista article, “AI Is Not Replacing People in Digital Marketing,” reports that only 6 percent of respondents in a survey of digital marketing agencies suggested that they would be using AI to replace humans.
Carlos Gil, author of The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI, shares his thoughts in an article titled “12 Social Media Marketing Predictions From the Pros.” He stresses that AI will require humanizing your brand and suggests strategies like creating content that sounds like it’s coming from an individual and engaging personally in conversations on social media. According to him,
“Artificial intelligence (AI) will be the beginning of the end of marketing as we know it. 2020 will officially mark the start of the next industrial revolution and the social media industry will be affected in a variety of ways.”
5. Facebook and Instagram stories will be key to visibility.
In a previous blog post, we talked about “Five Platforms for Sharing Your Services with the World!” These platforms included Facebook Live and YouTube. If you or your clients haven’t started creating Facebook and Instagram stories, they’ll want to in the New Year.
In the article above, Mari Smith, “the Queen of Facebook,” shares the following online predictions:
“The Facebook and Instagram Stories format will continue to grow in popularity throughout 2020. So much so that regular feed content will noticeably slow down. And it’s quite feasible that both Facebook and Instagram may start rolling out more robust tests of its blended feed and Stories format…”
She recommends creating native stories ads and publishing more organic stories that include interactive elements like questions, donations, sliders, quizzes, and polls. Can you think of ways to incorporate these elements into your own social media marketing or your client’s?
As you explore online video, practice creating vertical videos too. Instagram stories will fit nicely into your client’s or your own mobile marketing efforts.
6. SEO will encourage the creation of meaningful content.
As a writer, I find Search Engine Optimization painful. My thoughts are like music flowing out onto the page… and then my SEO specialist hacks and chops at the copy to optimize it for the search engines.
If you’re a content creator like me who sheds tears, you’ll be encouraged by Google’s new update to its search algorithm. An article titled “42 Digital Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2020” explains how the BERT system, unveiled in November 2019, is meant to help Google understand natural language used in search queries. This development translates into the need for updated articles containing good research.
Liam Carnahan, in his article “The Top 7 Things You Must Know About Google’s BERT Update,” says that content creators can celebrate if they already create natural-sounding copy. Once BERT moves out of the testing phase into widespread use, he doesn’t anticipate it causing problems. Instead, he offers this encouragement:
“Google WANTS you to write natural, user-friendly copy. It wants you to write with the reader, not Google, in mind.
“Yes, keywords still matter. But thanks to BERT, writers can worry less about forcing awkward keywords and phrases in their content just to appease the Google gods.”
7. Email will keep living on.
Email has been around for a long time, so every year you may wonder if it’s finally going extinct. But experts say it’s here to stay. In his article “58 Mind-Blowing Digital Marketing Stats You Need to Know,” Jason Dent shares a number of statistics, including the fact that Gmail is expected to have 3 billion users by 2020.
The challenge is how to keep email relevant and exciting so it can compete with other channels like social media. One interesting development is a new feature called “dynamic email” in Gmail.
Aakash Sahney describes it in the Google blog post, “Take action and stay up-to-date with dynamic email in Gmail.” Essentially, it lets users take action from within a message itself, rather than having to click on a link, navigate to another website, or open another tab.
Leveraging this emerging technology provides a new opportunity for email marketing. In Nathalie Söber’s article, “13 Experts’ Top Digital Marketing Trends Predictions for 2020,” Dr. Matthew Dunn, founder of Campaign-Genius, says, “That sleepy old inbox is waking up; email is turning visual, personal and dynamic.”
2020 is the year to start exploring everything the next generation of email can do!
So, there you have it – 7 online predictions for 2020! And this is just a taste of the many exciting opportunities in store for freelancers and virtual assistants. The new decade promises to be a time of growth for online business owners.
What do you predict will happen in the digital world in 2020? Do you see new opportunities opening up for your freelance business? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.