23 December 2019, 10:16 AM
  • Marc Swann, search director at the SEO and digital marketing agency Glass Digital, has more than a decade of industry experience and offers these insights...
Five digital trends that will affect speciality food retailers in 2020

It’s expected that 2.14 billion people across the globe will buy goods or services online in 2021, which is a huge increase on the 1.52 billion online buyers we saw worldwide in 2016 (Statista). This means it’s more important than ever that all retailers — including those in the speciality food industry — put plenty of time and effort into devising their digital marketing strategies. This will give you the best possible chance of getting your fair share of online sales in the coming years. Of course, the digital space is moving and growing at a rapid pace so, to stay ahead and stand out against your competitors, you need to be looking ahead at what the next 12 months are likely to hold. To help you out, here’s a list of five digital marketing trends your speciality food business is likely to be affected by in 2020.

The popularity of voice search will rise
2020 is expected to be a huge year for voice search, so now is the time to be thinking about how you’re going to ensure your speciality food business is prepared for this. There are plenty of stats that get thrown around when it comes to voice search, but the one that’s likely to be most relevant to your shop or eatery is that 46% of voice search users look for local businesses on a daily basis (BrightLocal). And, they’re typically looking to make reservations, hear your business’ prices, or find out what kinds of products you stock. As a result, it’s important to ensure this information is easy to find on your website, and that it’s written clearly and concisely, so a smart speaker or assistant can read it out quickly and easily.

There are a number of other steps you can take to optimise your website for voice search. If you own an eatery that offers reservations, make sure your booking system is compatible with smart assistant technology. It’s also a good idea to always have an up-to-date menu or list of products that you offer on your site, and you should always ensure the information displayed in your Google My Business listing is accurate. This will help people to find your address, opening times, and any other relevant information without any issues.

Insight-driven marketing will become more of a focus
I also expect that more businesses will make insight-driven marketing more of a focus in the coming year. The better you understand your audience, the better you’ll be able to market your products or services to them, so I would always recommend using whatever data you have available to inform your marketing strategy. This could be as simple as using your Instagram Insights to work out when the majority of your audience are online, and then waiting to post a photo of a new dish you’ve started to serve at a peak time. Or, it might be worth looking at which social media platforms you tend to get the most engagement on, and then only focusing on a couple, rather than spreading yourself too thin trying to post on every platform out there.

Don’t be afraid to ask your target audience direct questions that will help you to gain a better insight into what they want from you, too. For example, you could host a Twitter poll asking your existing customers what attracts them to your business, and then allow this to inform your future marketing, which should help you to pique the interest of more people. 2020 is going to be the year of using the data you already have to grow and improve your marketing efforts.

Brands will have to take customers’ privacy more seriously
Whether you own a deli that asks for people’s email addresses when they pre-order food, or you have an independent grocery store that offers a loyalty scheme people can sign up to, you need to ensure you handle your customers’ personal information very carefully.

Although the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was officially introduced was introduced back in May of 2018, a lot of businesses are still finding their feet when it comes to following the new rules without it having a hugely negative effect on their marketing efforts. But, 2020 is expected to be the year that a lot of businesses finally get a hold on things — and there’s no reason why your speciality food company shouldn’t be part of that.

Essentially, you need to tell you customers and website visitors exactly how their data is going to be stored and used if they decide to provide you with it. You also need to refrain from using their information in a way that they haven’t agreed to. So, for example, if they give you their email address to make a food order, you can’t then start sending them email newsletters without their explicit permission. Privacy and data protection are only becoming bigger concerns for online users, and it’s important that your speciality food business takes these seriously.

PPC automation will become more popular
As the name would suggest, pay-per-click advertising — or PPC — is an area of marketing that allows you to secure online advertising space that you’ll only pay for when an internet user actually clicks on your ad. There are different types of PPC ads, including paid search ads that you’ll often see at the top of Google’s search results pages, as well as display advertisements that appear on other websites that your target audience might visit.

While many businesses — including those in the speciality food sector — are already using PPC ads, the automation of this type of advertising is set to become much more popular in 2020. For example, securing PPC ad space requires you to set how much you’re willing to bid on it, but doing this manually can really slow your whole PPC campaign down. Not only will automating the process make your life much easier, but the system you use will make decisions for you by analysing any relevant data you’ve collected. This should help to ensure your PPC ads are as targeted as possible, which should lead to you making more sales.

We’ll see more conversational marketing
While we’re already starting to see bigger brands giving it a go, I expect conversational marketing to properly take off in 2020. This allows you to build trust and loyalty with your customers, as it involves them being able to directly contact you with a question or issue, which should be answered quickly and with minimal fuss. This is something that’s likely to work very well for small and local businesses, such as deli’s, specialist supermarkets, and farm shops.

There are a number of ways in which you can embrace conversational marketing. For example, you could add a chatbot to your website, and program it to answer FAQs you typically receive from your customers. Then, if they have a query that needs special attention, you could hand the chat over to a member of staff, or request that the prospective customer gives you a call for further assistance. You could also encourage people to contact you with any questions through social media, as long as you’re confident you’ll be able to respond in a timely manner. Being approachable and offering a personalised experience will help to attract more customers, as
well as build loyalty with those you already have. 2020 is set to be a huge year in the world of digital marketing, and it’s likely these trends will all have a noticeable effect on the speciality food industry. Keep my predictions in mind when you’re devising your marketing strategy for the next year, and take some of my tips on board to ensure you stay ahead of your competition.

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