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Over the past year, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and other advertising giants have adjusted their ad formats to provide more opportunities for users to connect with brands without ever leaving the platform. To continue successfully acquiring traffic (and leads) from these platforms, advertisers must react to this changing landscape, and craft innovative and informative messaging that captures these users directly on the platform, without relying on a landing page to convert.

Shifting Trends in Digital Marketing

With a new year (and decade) fast approaching, there is no better time than the present to reflect on the trends that started to take shape in 2019, and are sure to drastically affect how marketers and consumers interact moving forward into 2020. In the past year, we’ve witnessed search engines and marketing platforms evolve the manner in which they provide information to customers, prioritizing instant answers and connections, and subsequently decreasing traffic to landing pages or websites. This shift signals a need for brands and marketers to reconsider how to engage with prospective audiences on these key platforms. By adopting an approach that promotes an earlier connection with consumers, and evolving the formats, messaging, and creative utilized across these platforms, marketers can effectively boost performance and continue to excel in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Search Engines Have Become Knowledge Engines

It’s no secret that Google is constantly iterating; testing out new features and formats across organic and paid mediums to provide the most beneficial and effective results for user queries. More than ever, Google’s algorithm (and layout) is focused on providing the best answer for a user query, as opposed to the best link or site. What does this mean for us, both as consumers and as marketers? It means that instead of seeing a full page of links and descriptions, we are instead skimming more featured snippets, suggested answers, and smart reactive dropdowns. As these data-driven solutions conquer more real estate on results pages, the need for users to click to navigate to another page to answer their query decreases. By becoming the central hub of knowledge, Google is retaining traffic at a higher rate than ever. This has significant lower-funnel effects for marketers, as a reduction in web traffic simultaneously decreases site-based retargeting pools, and limits the efficacy of landing page forms and phone numbers.

The search engine giant doubled-down on their confidence in featured snippets and suggested answers as well with the growth of voice-based search assistants. In a test conducted by Moz on 1,000 Google Home Voice Searches, the Moz team found that text-based snippets on a search page matched with the voice search result 87% of the time. All this correlation does is reinforce the fact that regardless of how a search is being conducted – Google is happy to provide a user with the answer on their own property.

Harness Heightened On-Platform Activity

All of this change doesn’t spell the end of organic traffic or paid ad clicks; in fact, the near transparency of Google and Facebook about their intent to keep users on the site is a huge advantage for marketers who are eager to embrace a new solution. Major advertising outlets – including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram – offer lead capture forms that collect user contact information, without requiring the user to ever leave the platform. As these platforms make it known that they have a stake in keeping users on the site, it is imperative that marketers follow suit and provide ample opportunities for users to connect with their brand, learn about their programs or services, and engage or take action directly on-platform. By reducing the number of clicks required, and the number of pages that need to load before a form submission can be completed, marketers can expect to see an uptick in lead generation by harnessing these ad formats and welcoming a new way of connecting with audiences.

Creative Follows Strategy

Adopting a new ad format won’t be enough to continue to drive positive return on advertising platforms. To maximize the yield of new ad formats, take into consideration how the request for information should look at this earlier stage in the target prospect’s journey. Instead of teasing out an offer in an ad, and then converting users through the in-depth storytelling and navigation on a landing page, advertisers should seek to tell more and offer more directly within the ad. By relying less on the landing page to function as a sales engine, ad copy and imagery must encourage users to connect with the brand first, offering a valuable trade-off and fulfilling a promise to inform and nurture the leads through the funnel.

Welcome Change in 2020 and Beyond

As marketers, we thrive in a constant state of flux. The days of “set and forget” marketing campaigns have long past, and the most successful brands and campaigns are those who welcome change with an open mind. Survey the digital landscape from a birds-eye view and it’s clear – the most powerful, data-driven platforms are fixated on retaining more traffic than ever before. By adapting your approach to marketing, and accepting that more users want or expect to connect with a brand without having to leave Facebook, success is on the horizon for 2020 and beyond.

To learn more about how to harness on-platform lead generation for social media and paid search advertising,contact Primacy’s marketing team here.