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What the Heck Happened to Digital Marketing in 2020?! – Doug Bell // Searchmetrics


Episode Overview:

Join host Ben as he speaks with Searchmetrics’ CMO Doug Bell about the current state of digital marketing after a tumultuous year. Together they examine how the U.S. economy started strong in 2020, the initial shock of the pandemic and how some companies recovered heading into the end of 2020.

The U.S. economy started 2020 on a high note, with an eighth consecutive year of increasing growth. Most companies expected a downturn of some sort to occur, yet were prepared to spend an estimated $800 billion on marketing in 2020 according to a study from Forrester. Marketers were aiming to spend more on content and influencer marketing until the emergence of COVID-19 stalled those efforts.

The shock caused large retailers to collectively slash their marketing budgets by an estimated 80%, which caused a trickle down effect. Traditional media was decimated, where billboards and advertisements in airports were instantly devalued due to travel bans and lockdowns. 

After the initial shock some marketing budgets rebounded, but didn’t reach the prospected levels projected at the beginning of 2020. Companies began investing marketing budgets into affordable top-of-funnel ventures and preserved budgets for organic SEO endeavors to boost online visibility as brick-and-mortar locations closed. Companies also sought to automate their marketing due to layoffs and decreased headcounts, turning to companies like Marketo to automate their digital marketing processes.

Ecommerce brands like Amazon and Shopify saw growth throughout the year as people turned toward online shopping to satisfy different consumer needs. Furnishing home offices, buying clothes online and new gear for outdoor hobbies were the main drivers behind ecommerce growth. Meanwhile the hard-hit travel industry saw little growth throughout 2020.