A Quick Reflection on a Crazy Year (in Marketing)

Trends in 2020 — and a look at what lies ahead

Good evening! Thank you for joining us.

Eh hem.

2020 shook things up a bit. Haircuts and hygiene are down. Video chats and meditation are on the rise. This year has forced us to rethink grocery shopping, major holidays, passing people on the sidewalk, toilet paper . . .

. . . and of course, Marketing.

You probably already know that the pandemic caused an immediate rise in the use of digital media. You might even know that this occurred most dramatically among older generations, or that there was a 2,000% increase in Google searches for “veg box delivery” during shutdown.¹

When you dig a little deeper, you find plenty of new insight on Email, Podcasting, Data Analytics, Social Media, and more.

This is an important time to reflect on the state of marketing—where we’ve been and where we’re going.

So let’s talk digital marketing.

Email Marketing

While digital marketing constantly evolves, the importance of email remains strong. Today, if done right, you can make as much as $44 for every $1 spent on email marketing.²

If you’re not using it, you’re losing potential profit. Let’s look at two of email’s most crucial aspects.

Relevance — During shutdown, open rates on government emails grew year-over-year from 32.5% (pretty good) to 41.5% (off the charts!).³ Numbers increased across the private sector too, as consumers tuned into COVID-19 updates. This all illuminates the fact that you boost engagement by tapping into the lives of your prospects.

Deliverability — Deliverability is key. All else follows. If email marketing is done incorrectly, algorithms will put you in spam folders and on blacklists. Your efforts will be wasted. The stakes are high, but done right, your emails will be deliverable and effective lead driver.

Pivots from Traditional

Single Throw is Digital First for a reason. Sure, we love the creativity of traditional advertising. But as the prominence of print and TV ads slipped more and more into the digital realm, we saw the writing on the wall. (Just above the TV—we looked away when it went to commercial.)

In 2020, the shift to digital accelerated in a number of industries.

Automotive – In the information age, car shoppers enter dealerships informed and visit an average of 1.5 dealerships before buying. Before COVID, only 1% made purchases online. In March 2020, that number was nearly 10%. And with that, an attitude shift—63% say they’d now consider buying a car online, and 65% expect more online purchase options in the future.⁴

E-commerce – Total US e-commerce revenue has grown from $598 billion in 2019, on track to hit $839 billion in 2020. That’s huge! It’s expected to top $1.2 trillion by 2025.⁵ How do you advertise to customers who shop online? Let’s just say, the first rule of marketing is, Meet the customer where they’re at. (eh hem) *…where they are. (This 2020 vernacular is getting to us.)

Telehealth – Perhaps the medium that most precisely captures the 2020 reality, by combining virtual mediums with healthcare. As people learned (out of necessity) that telehealth was an option, the industry has boomed. It is predicted to grow from $25.4 billion in 2020 to over double—$55.6 billion—in 2025. That’s an annual growth rate of 16.9%.⁶

This is just a sampling. In all digital trends, we saw a high water mark during shutdown. Afterward, numbers remained greater than they’d been before. Why? Because people learned new (digital) ways of doing things. When the necessity went away, the availability remained.


Podcasts are in the dawn of a golden age, with 37% of Americans listening monthly.⁷ They’re relatively easy to produce, super easy to listen to, and a great way for content creators (and businesses) to get their messages out. They can also be powerful lead drivers.

Do you have a favorite podcast? If so, do you ever feel like you know the host personally?

A podcast can provide value to your listeners and create authority in your field. Podcasts are also extremely bingeable and can lead to a sense of connection between creators and listeners. With a strong following in place, your podcast is a fertile platform to promote engagement via email, social media, and (of course) your products and services.

HEY! You wanna be a guest on my podcast?

There’s another, less-discussed benefit of podcasting— Networking. Your podcast can be mutually beneficial for you and your guests, who may then reciprocate those benefits with referrals and other business opportunities. Conversely, you can promote your own business as a guest on someone else’s podcast. Trust us, we’ve seen this work.

Data Science and Business Intelligence

Have you ever wondered – Is this ad working for me? With data analytics, you can find out.

As digital marketers, we act on data. When you can measure every effort you make, you can know what works and what doesn’t. Then you can prioritize your marketing dollars toward the highest channels of ROI. In other words, you can make more money.

Closed loop – This is the holy grail of marketing analytics. It occurs when you have the full picture of user data and you can see the entire digital journey of your customers. For example, someone saw you on Instagram, clicked through, signed up for your email list, then two months later made a purchase.

This ability to see data is the difference between casting a large fish net (which may rake in more garbage than fish), versus setting lines with bait on the end of each hook– bait that is the proven favorite of the fish you’re trying to catch.

Not all marketing dollars are created equal. Some will result in a loss, while others get 10x ROI.

Social Media

As of June 2020, social media usage had increased by 21% globally from the start of the year.⁸ (Another rapid shift due to COVID!) In the US, 51% of adults reported increasing their social media use in spring 2020, with Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok seeing the greatest rises.⁹

Engaging and re-engaging your customers – Brand loyalty has changed. It is no longer as common for customers to buy a brand because they’ve always bought that brand. But there is loyalty in content consumption. People go online more often to learn or be entertained than to shop. They want content that adds value to their life. It is now more important than ever to build a following online, targeting the audience that is most likely to patronize your business.

TikTok – This year, TikTok made headlines and rattled the political world. It was downloaded 315 million times worldwide in Q1 of 2020 and now has 130 million monthly active users in the US.¹⁰ Huge numbers! If you’ve used TikTok, you know it’s very engaging and often used to market products by showing them in everyday use.

This year in social media, we also saw advancements in social commerce, influencer marketing, paid social advertising and remarketing, LinkedIn inboxing, and more. We’ll be diving deeper into these subjects in May and June 2021. (Did we mention we’re big on content calendars?)

We’ve Got a Feeling ‘21 is Gonna be a Good Year

The turn of 2020 into 2021 is a rare and important inflection point in our culture. This is as true in marketing as anywhere.

We will soon put this anomaly of a year behind us, and we’ll have the opportunity to take the transformations and lessons from 2020 and put them toward an exciting future.

The Moral of the Continuing Story

If 2020 did anything (and it certainly did), it erased doubt about the importance of digital marketing. While traditional will remain with us for years to come, digital has proven to be the most effective realm of marketing for the vast majority of businesses.

Within digital, gone are the days of siloes. SEO, paid and organic social media, podcasting, email, and all the rest, do not work as well on their own. They do better together, as part of an ecosystem, offering many ways for customers to engage with your business.

Stay Tuned

As mentioned above, Single Throw will be delivering further insights, going into more depth on each of these topics, as we move through the year.

We hope you’ll join us.

For now, stay safe and finish 2020 strong! We’ve got an exciting year ahead of us.

If you want to grow your business in 2021, don’t get left in the digital dust. Get ahead with the experts who’ve been helping businesses get marketing right for over two decades. Contact Single Throw, to discuss your 2021 marketing goals today.

¹ Google, Inc. “Data Shorts: Rethink Ready, Spotting the Signals.” thinkwithgoogle.com, 2020, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/trending-data-shorts/online-signals-and-disruptive-trends/. Accessed 25 November 2020.
² Campaign Monitor. “How Do You Calculate Email Marketing ROI?” campaignmonitor.com, 2020, https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/how-do-you-calculate-email-marketing-roi/. Accessed 25 November 2020.
³ Campaign Monitor. “Email Marketing Benchmarks: COVID-19 Edition.” Campaign Monitor, 2020, https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/covid-19-email-benchmarks/.
⁴ Keogh, Kyle, and Thomais Zaremba. “With car shoppers more willing to buy online, auto marketers must bridge the divide.” Think With Google, September 2020, https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/automotive-digital-transformation/. Accessed 25 November 2020.
⁵ Ali, Faheera. “5 ecommerce data forecasts for 2020.” Digital Commerce 360, 20 November 2020, https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/5-ecommerce-data-forecasts-for-2020/. Accessed 9 December 2020.
⁶ Saxena, Prateek. “7 Trends Shaping the Future of Telemedicine.” Appinventiv.com, 30 September 2020, https://appinventiv.com/blog/top-telehealth-trends/. Accessed 25 November 2020.
⁷ Baer, Jay. “Podcast Statistics for 2020 – Charts and Data.” Convince & Convert, 2020, https://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/podcast-statistics-for-2020-charts-and-data/. Accessed 25 November 2020.
⁸ Statista.com & Watson, A. (2020, June 18). Increased time spent on media consumption due to the coronavirus outbreak among internet users worldwide as of March 2020, by country. Statista. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1106766/media-consumption-growth-coronavirus-worldwide-by-country/
⁹ Samet, Alexandra. “2020 US SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE: How the Coronavirus is Changing Consumer Behavior.” Business Insider, 9 June 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/2020-us-social-media-usage-report/. Accessed 9 December 2020.
¹⁰ Doyle, Brandon. “TikTok Statistics – Updated October 2020.” Wallaroo, 6 October 2020, https://wallaroomedia.com/blog/social-media/tiktok-statistics/. Accessed 9 December 2020.