The year of 2019 will soon be no more and with 2020 comes the prospect of a whole new set of product marketing trends to master and employ. But what will they be? How can you get ahead of the curve? And who’s already leading the way?

That’s what we’re here for.

Disclaimer: we don’t claim to be fortune tellers and everything included in this list is a prediction, not a playbook.

1. The rise of augmented reality

Virtual reality’s been mainstream for some time and while augmented reality’s (AR) nothing new (it actually first came onto the scene back in 1968), it’s set to surpass the former in popularity next year.

Did you know? Three in 10 consumers believe AR can bring them benefits and by 2020, it’s predicted there’ll be one billion users of it.

So, how will this impact product marketing? Potentially, it will raise the user experience bar to a whole new level. Think Ikea. With their app, shoppers can see what an item of furniture looks like in their home without stepping out of the door. As well as being just pretty darn cool, it adds enormous value to their journey and makes the decision-making process that much easier.

Ikea isn’t the only one, either. Lacoste, MTV, The New York Times, Tesco and Cadbury are just a handful of others who’re already making use of AR (see how here) and the more brands that do, the more of an expectation there’ll be for others to follow suit.

2. On-demand, always

“Marketing is headed toward being on-demand - not just always “on,” but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.” - McKinsey & Company

Sticking with the evolving technology theme, things like near-field communication (NFC) are set to shape interactive user experiences too. Take a look at this infographic McKinsey created:

As with AR, it distinctly separates traditional buyer journeys from future expectations and takes personalisation and simplicity to a completely new realm. Consumers aren’t silly and they know technology’s advancing at an exponential rate and so they no longer want, but expect, to see brands infusing these kinds of capabilities into their experiences.

Remember, it’s not a case of “if”, but simply “how soon”.

3. Defined revenue goals

At the moment, you could say product marketing KPIs divide opinion. We’ve spoken to people who’re both for and against but as the prominence and value of the role evolve, many believe the placement of revenue-led goals will too.
Here’s how Lauren Culbertson, Co-founder & CEO of LoopVOC, envisions this happening:

And it makes sense, too. Businesses spend money to make money and so the more we demonstrably prove the monetary value of product marketing, the more (and quicker!) the role will continue to rise in importance.

Forrester’s 2020 predictions back this up too and their report says:

“CEOs will demand that CX initiatives move out of the experimental phase and prove their contributions to top- and/or bottom-line growth. Measurement, metrics, and analytics will become critical to the success of CX initiatives.

“The result will be extreme bifurcation of CX. Leaders will keep getting better, raising the bar not only in their industry but across the board as customers get a taste of what’s possible. We expect innovative, customer-delighting experiences to come to market that combine technology, creativity, and deep customer understanding.”

4. Content will continue to be king

...but more and more of it will be served up interactively. Content’s had a place on many companies’ mantlepiece for some time but because so many brands are heavily investing in it, it’s becoming somewhat saturated.

Within any given industry and niche there’s an overflow of articles on ‘how to do this’, ‘why you should do that’ and ‘what to do if’, which makes it increasingly tricky to cut through the crowd and get yourself a) noticed and b) heard.

Enter interactive content.

Almost all buyers (91%, to be precise) seek visual and interactive content over their static counterparts and there’s a reason. It’s engaging. It’s different. And it’s memorable.

The bad news for brands who aren’t already on the bandwagon is that it’s fast becoming more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. Here are a few pretty neat examples to steal some inspo from:

5. Personalisation will be increasingly pivotal

Again, nothing new, but the key for 2020 will be taking existing best practices and amplifying them. Consumers can whiff a generic email or ad from a mile off and require personalisation to extend far beyond their name.

Did you know? 79% of buyers say they’d only engage in an offer if it reflected their past buying behaviours.

Going against all those conversations we hear and probably have around ‘creepy’ browser stalking - on and offline - buyers actually want you to know this stuff. They want you to know what they’re into, what they’ve bought, what they need and why they need it, all to ensure everything you’re sending them is relevant.

With inboxes and social feeds inundated with 100s of brands competing for attention, consumers don’t have time to entertain content that’s kind of on point, it has to hit the nail on the head or get out of the way.

So, what does that mean for product marketers? More data. More analysis. More research. More granular segmentation.

6. Moving more towards management

Siddhartha Kathpalia, Product Marketer at VWO, predicts product marketing will become more of a management function, take a step up the hierarchical ladder and begin to take on reportees who don’t directly sit under the current product marketing umbrella - like marketing specialists, for example.

Given the rise of the role and change in dial we’re seeing within the industry, we’d definitely be inclined to agree and if the position’s going to continue to grow, this needs to happen.

Tying in with this, it’ll be interesting to see where departmental structures go, too. At the moment, the vast majority of product marketers report into either Marketing (73%), Product (19%), Business Development (3%) or the CEO (2%), but could the future see more product marketing departments become their own entity?

Got a prediction of your own? We’d love to hear it. Drop us a message in the comments below or send us a DM on Slack and we’ll see if we can feature it.