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Digital marketing trends 2020 - for start ups and SMEs

Digital marketing trends 2020 - for start ups and SMEs

Posted 19th December, 2019 by Sarah

7-minute read

Google the term ‘digital marketing trends 2020’ and you’ll find articles full of predictions on how things like artificial intelligence and influencer marketing will be priorities for businesses in 2020.

But what if you can’t afford to build a robot or hire Kim Kardashian?

Okay, we’re being a little tongue in cheek here, but not all start-ups and SMEs have the time or the money to invest in these sorts of things, even on a small scale.

At tsoHost, many of our customers are in the process of launching and growing their businesses. They use our affordable domains, efficient web hosting and, eventually, our powerful dedicated servers to help them along with their business journeys.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the terms that not only should be, but realistically could be, on the radar of start-ups and online entrepreneurs and SMEs in 2020.


Every year Google releases a report called Year in Search that analyses billions of data points to find out what the most searched for term was in different parts of the world that year.

In 2019, the most searched for term in the UK was Rugby World Cup. In the USA it was Disney Plus.

Google’s report concluded that one single overarching theme linked the most popular search terms in countries around the world.

That theme was heroes.

Google said: “In 2019, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the ICC Cricket World Cup demanded our attention. “Avengers: Endgame” and “Game of Thrones” captured our imaginations. And Hurricane Dorian and the burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral brought us together. Through it all, the common thread was heroes.”

So, what’s that got to do with digital marketing for small businesses?

It’s certainly something to keep in mind when you’re preparing your marketing campaigns, content campaigns and social media drives in 2020.

If the world wants heroes, it can’t hurt to help your customers find them. Who are the heroes in your business? Who are the heroes that buy from you? Think about these questions and start telling stories around them.


It’s a well-known fact that many online shoppers like to research products and services online through both written and video reviews before they commit to buying. But research by YouTube has recently uncovered a new emerging trend in buyers’ journeys.

YouTube said: “Somewhat surprisingly, people aren’t looking up shopping content simply because they need help knowing what to buy; they’re also looking to be entertained.

“YouTube creators blurred the lines between “shopping” and “entertainment” in 2019.”

Examples of content that clouds the distinction between shopping and entertainment include the Letting the person in front of me decide series of videos that show people committing to spending a day buying the same things as the person in front of them in the queue.

Then there’s the Anything you can carry I’ll pay for line of shopping related videos.

So, what’s the take away for start-ups and SMEs here?

It could be that if you’re planning on building marketing around products in 2020, it might be worth brainstorming ways you can make some of your marketing content more entertaining.

‘With me’ marketing

In September 2019, Laura Ludena, global head of research for YouTube advertising revealed that there had been a surge of interest in ‘with me videos’ around the world.

Cook with me videos had become three times more popular in Japan, study with me videos had become twice as popular in Germany and clean with me videos had become three times as popular in the USA.

In these videos, people film themselves going about everyday tasks.

Ludena said: “Viewers turn to “with me” videos for company, in-depth information, and even motivation.

“People make themselves more self-sufficient — and empowered to act — with these videos.”

‘With me’ videos are cheap to make and can even be filmed and edited on a smart phone. When you’re considering your marketing formats next year, ask yourself if a ‘with me’ video might be beneficial to your customers.


Unlike the above terms, the word BERT isn’t necessarily one you can act on right away. It’s definitely an acronym you should keep your eyes on throughout 2020, though.

If you’ve not heard about it before, BERT is Google’s latest algorithm update that’s been implemented to help the search engine understand its users’ search intentions more intuitively and naturally.

In October 2019, Google’s Pandu Nayak wrote about the science, saying:

“Last year, we introduced and open-sourced a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or as we call it--BERT, for short. This technology enables anyone to train their own state-of-the-art question answering system.

“This breakthrough was the result of Google research on transformers: models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order.”

In a nutshell, what BERT does is help Google’s search engine understand search terms in context instead of on a word to word basis.

Why should this matter to SEMs?

Because it’s estimated that the update will impact one in 10 search terms. For now, there are no hard and fast rules for adapting your SEO efforts to please BERT. However, one thing’s for sure – ensuring your website is full of quality content laid out in a clear, contextual way, can’t hurt in preparing for any BERT-related changes.

Categories: Blogging, Marketing, Small Businesses

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