With each monthly update we’ll add several new marketing trends and examples to the top of the list, while letting older updates gradually fall off the list as they fade from interest.
Consistently staying on top of the latest content marketing trends and learning from others’ examples can be a time-consuming and seemingly never-ending quest. Even if you have a desire to learn, you probably don’t have the time to keep up. The good news is that you don’t need to. Every month we bring you a handful of the most intriguing marketing trends and show you real-life examples of how other organizations are using them to their advantage. We’re here to help.
With each monthly update, we’ll add several new content marketing trends or experiments to the top of the list, while letting older updates gradually fall off the list as they fade from interest.
Jump to trends by category:
Digital marketing trends:
1. Dispo uses NBA draft to raise app awareness.
During an evening when many newly drafted NBA rookies are using Instagram, Snapchat, and other more established social platforms to share their good news, number one draft pick Cade Cunningham took a different route by sharing his behind-the-scenes content exclusively through Dispo. Dispo (short for disposable digicam) is seeking to make a mark in the social photo sharing sphere by using NBA players to promote their app. Cunningham’s exclusive, contracted use of the app was a unique way to try to gain attention in an evening when there was already a bevy of social sharing happening from many other sources and players. Time will tell the effectiveness of content marketing trends like this with a smaller, newer app like Dispo. (August 2021)Dispo competes with Instagram, Snapchat, others at the NBA draft thanks to contract with top draft pick Cade Cunningham #influencermarketing Click To Tweet
2. Jones Soda experiments with augmented reality bottle labels.
Although augmented reality certainly isn’t new, brands are still experimenting with unique ways to use it, which is one of the most intriguing content marketing trends for many brands. One of the latest examples of this comes from Jones Soda — who is placing augmented reality-enabled images on bottle labels to allow consumers to have AR experiences by scanning the images with their smart devices. These “Reel Labels” — as the company calls them — allow consumers to watch short videos developed by content creators in conjunction with the soda company. The current video options include examples of fire spinning, street murals, and professional scooter riding. The company is also allowing its fans to submit videos to be considered for the next round of AR labels. (July 2020)Jones Soda's augmented reality-enabled bottle labels allow consumers to have AR experiences. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
3. Crooked Media and Team Whistle forge a unique partnership to drive web traffic.
Crooked Media and Team Whistle have developed a new partnership that is unique in the world of digital marketing collaborations. This is thanks to the fact that Team Whistle will use its Snapchat account to promote Crooked Media’s new “All CAPS NBA” YouTube show. A revenue share model on Snapchat will drive the partnership, though neither company has spoken about specific details. Even though “ALL CAPS NBA” will have its own Snapchat channel that will include the show’s own branding, Team Whistle will be responsible for publishing short clips from the longer 20-minute YouTube show that Crooked Media exclusively publishes on that channel. Team Whistle will also point to the Crooked Media YouTube account from its own YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. (June 2020)
4. Mtn Dew hopes its jump into podcasting is a slam dunk.
Mtn Dew is taking its soda to a place where it has never been before — your favorite podcasting app. ‘The Dew Zone with Druski’ is a new multi-episode podcast sponsored exclusively by Mtn Dew that dives into the world of professional basketball and storytelling in a way that the brand could never do in a web ad or 30-second television spot.
The podcast focuses on the stories of some of the top players in the NBA and WNBA. Expected to run throughout the course of the NBA playoffs, the podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, and other podcast networks. Undoubtedly, PepsiCo — which owns Mtn Dew — is evolving its content marketing strategy to reach a younger audience. They’re doing this via a medium they frequently use during a time when interest in basketball topics is high. In many ways, this foray into podcasting about the NBA makes sense for Mtn Dew, since PepsiCo has already been a sponsor of the NBA and has promoted its Mtn Dew products in NBA-related circles for years. (May 2021)
5. Consumers, marketers don’t see eye to eye on the value of media.
Recent marketing research indicates that marketers and consumers have different opinions about the value of media channels such as Facebook, newspapers, websites, and other types of media. In fact, the report indicates that marketers generally value media channels less than consumers do. Across the board, marketers consistently valued media as less important than consumers with one notable exception — email. Likewise, marketers and consumers value YouTube and LinkedIn near the same level. Consequently, the same study indicates that more than a third of consumers say brands do not understand their needs. (May 2021)
6. Washington Post Live team is thriving thanks to virtual events.
Like most organizations, the Washington Post found itself in the unenviable spot of needing to adjust its strategy for live, in-person events once the pandemic began. However, the news organization has set itself apart from some other organizations thanks to the fact it has found more success with advertiser clients through its new lineup of virtual interviews. Although the organization is planning on beginning to hold some in-person events again in the fall, the virtual live videos and other associated videos will remain a major part of their messaging efforts. The company continues to see increased revenue with these live events. In the first quarter of 2021, the Live team generated more sponsorship revenue in the current year than they did in all of 2020. (April 2021)
7. Report documents technology marketers’ highest priorities in 2021.
If you are investing in website enhancements and content creation, you are prioritizing technology investments in ways consistent with other content marketers across the industry. According to a new report from MarketingProfs, these two investments are the most prevalent tools for content marketers—with roughly 2 out of 3 content marketers prioritizing investments of their organizations’ time, money, and resources into these two activities. The report also details the technology content marketers used most prevalently in the last 12 months. Blog posts take up the top spot on this list—with a full 97 percent of marketers utilizing blogs. Case studies and emails were tied for second place with 83 percent of marketers utilizing these tools. (March 2021)
8. Big brands are creating their own TV shows to put a new twist on their content marketing efforts.
You have probably heard that video is important in content marketing, but some major brands are taking this to the extreme by developing full-length television shows and documentaries to help promote their products. Brands like Mattel, Shopify, Anheuser-Busch, and Pepsi are all among brands that have jumped into producing television content. In Pepsi’s case, the company is developing a dating show for the purpose of promoting its new Pepsi Mango soft drink. Mattel is sponsoring a reality show competition called Barbie Fashion Battle. Industry insiders say that brands who develop long-form video content like this can utilize the show to more effectively show what the brand stands for. (March 2021)
9. 6 examples of why YouTube is the prime spot for influencer marketing.
Although influencer marketing is ubiquitous on the internet, it is not equal across all social platforms. Observation and research have shown that YouTube is most often the prime spot for influencer marketing built to garner engagement from current and potential customers. In an enlightening blog post on HubSpot, author Marina Bretous details six ways that influencer marketing can work on YouTube.
- Day-in-the-life vlogs
- Behind-the-scenes tutorials
- Comedy sketches
- Product unboxing and reviews
The article also explains that before you partner with an influencer to help market your organization or product, you should first make sure the personality of the YouTuber is a match with your brand. (February 2021)
10. How marketers are navigating the world of politics and ideology.
In the earlier, simpler years of marketing, brands and marketers did not need to worry nearly as much about the social and political landscape. However, in recent years (and especially in 2020) marketers have found themselves needing to navigate the world of politics and ideology in what they produce and publish. This interesting piece from Digiday explores some of the situations that marketers have had to deal with in recent years. It also details how marketers have viewed political and social issues from their brand perspectives. For example, how Nike handled the Colin Kaepernick situation (embracing the ideals of its younger audience) and how Coca-Cola has handled the current climate (focusing on unity) are both discussed. (January 2021)
11. Learn what a niche publishing company did in 2020 to increase revenue by 65 percent.
Yes, 2020 was full of challenges for digital marketers, but some of you found ways to enhance your digital marketing efforts in spite of these challenges. In a recent Digiday podcast, Future PLC CEO Zilah Byng-Thorne shared what her niche publishing company did to increase revenue by 65 percent in 2020. Byng-Thorne shared that the company took leaps in advancing their global digital efforts last year by comprehending that there are people in every country who are passionate about their niche hobbies — so it made no sense for the company to limit itself to one market. Byng-Thorne also shared that enthusiast audiences have high intent, meaning that the company put significant effort into helping their audience make buying decisions. (January 2021)
12. New York Times Cooking shows how to deal with success because of audience struggles.
For many industries and organizations, the 2020 pandemic has proven to be a significant obstacle to overcome, however, some groups have needed to deal with the pandemic in a slightly different way because of unexpected success. For example, as conditions worsened in the United States this year, the number of people using New York Times Cooking went up. Though the media company could have potentially increased revenue by keeping up its paywall, it instead decided to drop the paywall in an effort to meet its audience where it was at — while also gaining more subscribers to NYT Cooking. The shift appears to be working out for all involved. The media company has a 66 percent increase in unique viewers since last year and revenue has increased from 2019 to 2020 as well. (November 2020)
13. Travelers’ influencer marketing strategy includes comic book artists, musicians, and others.
Although lifestyle influencers tend to be what one first considers when discussing influencer content marketing trends, Travelers’ is finding that its ability to utilize different types of influencers is bringing success to its marketing efforts. In addition to utilizing lifestyle influencers, the company is working with comic book artists and musicians to promote its marketing efforts. The whole initiative is a part of Travelers’ larger effort to promote insurance to Gen Z audiences so that when the audience reaches the age in which they will need insurance, they will have already built a digital relationship with Travelers’. The company hopes its efforts serve multiple purposes. For example, the company has an “Unfinished Stories” ad campaign in which it uses a comic book narrative to tell the life stories of those who were killed by distracted drivers — if they would have survived. (October 2020)
14. How Google’s surprises — and Apple’s lack of them — are affecting brand loyalty.
Apple’s recent event on September 15, during which it announced updates to the Apple Watch, iPad, and other product updates, has caused some to call into question if Apple continues to be viewed as the innovative force it once was. Author Thomas Gad shared in a recent article how recent announcements and updates (or lack of them) from Apple and Google have affected brand loyalty. In his article, Gad says that Google has embraced the element of surprise in a way that is increasing brand loyalty. He points to the development of driverless cars, acquisition of products like Waze and Nest, and making frequent updates to its logo as items that allow the company to surprise its customer base and increase brand loyalty. (September 2020)
15. Co-marketing efforts continue to pay dividends to those who plan.
There probably has never been a better time to shake up the status quo in your marketing efforts. Perhaps because of this, increased attention is being paid to co-marketing efforts. This guide helps brands understand the trend and determine if it might be beneficial for your company. Though there are many routes marketers can take with co-marketing, some of the successful types of co-marketing content that has recently been developed include blog posts, ebooks, webinars, videos (including live videos), Twitter chats, and online events. (August 2020)
16. Domino’s launches virtual homemade film festival.
In addition to making pizzas, it seems that Domino’s is actively looking for ways to make lemonade from the lemons that COVID-19 has given them. The company is seeking to embrace the situation its customers find themselves in by launching a homemade film festival in which winners can win hundreds of dollars in free pizza. Though participants can create their homemade 60-second movies about any topic, Domino’s is encouraging participants to think of scenarios like utilizing Domino’s contactless delivery or illustrating what a dinner with family and pizza is like now. Seeing that the grand total in gift cards that Domino’s will dole out is just a little over $2,000, the company could see a lot of digital bang for its buck by having people actively promote their own videos. (July 2020)
17. How sprint planning is facilitating the development of marketing plans while working remotely.
HubSpot recently shared a remarkably useful article that delves into details about how its marketing team adjusted its planning techniques while working remotely to develop a marketing plan. The article — written by Nathanael Medina and Chris Eberhardt — discusses the utilization of sprint planning sessions and how these sessions helped the organization develop a marketing plan in five days while working remotely.
The article features practical advice on how you can adapt the same sort of thinking into your own remote marketing planning meetings. Among other counsel, the article defines what your marketing team can focus on for a few hours each day of the planning process, including:
- Day One: Mapping and refinement
- Day Two: Sketching and concepting
- Day Three: Deciding
- Day Four: Prototyping
- Day Five: Testing
18. Psychologists may be able to help your COVID-19 marketing efforts.
Although you are likely trying to be sensitive to world and local events in your marketing efforts, are you capturing the right level of sensitivity? A new SmartBrief article proposes that marketers need to take a page from the book of psychologists to better understand how to communicate.
Among other things, the article proposes the following considerations:
- Remember that people don’t want to feel like victims in extreme times of crisis. Help them feel empowered in their situations.
- Encouraging your audience to do something can help them build a connection with your brand.
- Helping people help themselves and others allows brands to enable people to better cope with stress.
- Build social connection.
- Let people share about what they are doing on your social media and other digital channels. (June 2020)
19. Without sports, sports publishers turn to user-generated content.
Many publishers are now finding themselves in precarious positions of not having the ability or access to publish the content they once freely produced before the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down production. In the case of sports publishers, entire sports leagues have ceased operations, leaving publishers without new content. This lack of usual content has caused publishers to get creative with how they gather and produce content — which has led publishers to turn toward users to help them populate their content feeds.
House of Highlights has seen this shift toward more UGC as a positive element. Although the brand typically publishes sports highlights (and especially NBA highlights), the organization has seen a 30 percent increase in its combined social following since the NBA postponed its season. The company has started to publish classic video clips with UGC clips, but has seen the best results from its UGC content. In fact, 18 out of the top 20 Instagram posts from House of Highlights last month came by virtue of UGC. (April 2020)Marketers can prepare for new workplace trends by embracing flexible work and identifying how technology can help them. #marketing Click To Tweet
B2B marketing trends:
1. Article explores today’s top three B2B digital marketing trends.
According to a report from McKinsey, B2B businesses now view digital interactions as being their most important method for engaging with customers. In fact, digital interactions are viewed as between two and three times more important than face-to-face engagements. Likewise, more than 90 percent of sales involve web, phone, or videoconferencing tactics to complete the sales. Seeing this continued shift in how B2B marketing is evolving, Destination CRM has identified three trends B2B marketers should pay attention to today to increase their effectiveness: chatbots, personalization, and AI. The article explores each of these tactics and explains how they can be beneficial for B2B brands. (August 2021)
2. Account-based marketing (ABM) may be what leads B2B brands out of the pandemic rut.
Whereas B2B marketers have traditionally been reliant on event-based marketing strategies and other lead-generation methods to get potential customers into a funnel, the now prevalent B2B marketing strategy of account-based marketing (ABM) has grown in use and efficacy in recent months as B2B marketers have been forced to consider how they are operating. In just the last year, the number of B2B brands who said they had no active ABM program has dropped from roughly a quarter of brands to only about 5 percent. Examples of brands who have used ABM to their advantage in recent months are plentiful. (July 2020)
3. LinkedIn recognizes examples of B2B marketing successes.
A new LinkedIn Pocket Guide to B2B marketing has highlighted four specific examples of content marketing trends on that platform whose brilliance is leading to success. One example LinkedIn called out was Cisco’s “Me + Moo” campaign which allows for users to download an app that then provides updates of dairy cows wearing sensors to showcase Cisco’s 5G service. In another example, LinkedIn showed how Uberflip has touted its ability to improve the interest in explainer videos by creating an “Explain it like I’m 5 years old” video series that keeps B2B audiences intrigued and entertained. (June 2020)
4. How one B2B company has given its team more marketing confidence thanks to self-service sales.
Logz.io — a B2B company of engineers that helps other engineers — has found some marketing benefits by enhancing its self-service options. This, in turn, is leading to increased budget from savings that is being used on marketing efforts. Logz.io co-founder Asaf Yigal explained this self-service sales option has led to 50 percent of its sales coming through self-service. Yigal shared that the company’s marketing efforts became more consistent with the self-serve option since it removed the bias of person-to-person sales. Because of this, the company is more confident in the results of its marketing efforts. (May 2021)
5. B2B marketers and visitors vary on how they view the importance of content types on marketing sites.
A dual survey that asked B2B brands and B2B buyers what they think is important on a website illustrates how brands sometimes miss the mark in catering to customers and potential customers because they value what they want to tell customers more than what customers are actually asking to receive. For example, 44 percent of B2B brand marketers value a compelling brand message or story, while only 24 percent of B2B consumers value the same. Conversely, only 12 percent of B2B marketers value a beautiful website design, while nearly a quarter of B2B consumers value a beautiful site design. Perhaps the most compelling data point from the study is found in the disparity between B2B marketers and buyers related to search boxes on a website. A full 69 percent of buyers value search boxes compared to 26 percent of marketers. (April 2021)Full 69 percent of buyers value search boxes on websites compared to only 26 percent of marketers. #marketing #search Click To Tweet
6. How Booking.com is using insight to improve engagement with its global B2B partners.
At the recent virtual Adobe Summit, Booking.com’s director of digital experiences, Lydia Kroos, shared with attendees that the company has latched onto three specific steps in an effort to improve relationships and experiences with its B2B partners. The three steps include:
- Uniting the data and technology: Booking.com has taken deliberate efforts to connect all its different tools—including internal apps and third-party tools and systems.
- Walking in the shoes of the audience: Kroos gave an example in which Booking.com sent two distinct emails to partners during the pandemic. One email expressed sympathy and understanding to partners who were having trouble making and keeping reservations. The other email was more opportunistic and targeted to those areas where restrictions were less stringent.
- Experiment to seek continuous improvements: The company has taken opportunities to do many small experiments with partners as part of a bigger continuous improvement cycle. (April 2021)
7. 2021 video benchmarks report helps B2B marketers know for what to aim.
If you wondered how your video performance stacks up against competitors in the industry, Vidyard’s video benchmark report can be a valuable tool to help you answer these questions for your B2B business. Some of the report’s most interesting findings include:
- Those in “High Tech” industries are most likely to create video content, followed by Financial Services, Education, and Public Service.
- Larger companies create more videos. Organizations with more than 5,000 employees created more than 1,300 videos last year—a 135 percent increase year-over-year.
- Businesses—particularly B2B businesses—are investing in product demos, how-tos, explainers, and webinars, with more than 50 percent of those surveyed sharing they have created these kinds of videos in the last year. (March 2021)
8. How forward-thinking B2B brands are embracing Instagram marketing.
Although most marketers would not consider Instagram to be a prime B2B channel, some forward–thinking marketers are finding that utilizing this social media channel is one of the more successful content marketing trends for them. Indeed, one potential reason for B2B marketers to focus on the channel is because roughly 60 percent of B2B buyers are millennials. One of the B2B organizations that has found success on Instagram is digital product design platform Invision, which utilizes the platform to increase brand awareness by displaying the works of different designers. Likewise, Slack utilizes Instagram to promote webinars and new functionalities within the tool. (March 2021)
9. The practice of SaaS companies giving away their products is here to stay.
When the pandemic first started, many SaaS companies needed to adapt in order to continue to operate at high levels. Part of their new strategies included giving away their software at lower prices — or for free. Though there may have been some altruistic motives to help people through hard times, this also was very much business and marketing decisions that look like it will remain well after the pandemic ends. SaaS companies have come to realize the power that comes from getting their products in front of end-users and broadening their potential use to individuals or groups who might have never been introduced to the software with prior marketing efforts. This article explains how this is one of the content marketing trends with which several companies were able to improve their business operations in the last year. (February 2021)When the pandemic first started, many SaaS companies needed to adapt in order to continue to operate at high levels. Part of their new strategies included giving away their software at lower prices — or for free. #B2Bmarketing Click To Tweet
10. An example of how solving your own problem can lead to organic B2B marketing success.
When a freelancer wanted to showcase some of his designs in a simple, one-page website, he found that the solution did not exist. Instead, he created a simple tool that now is used by hundreds of thousands of people, despite essentially no paid marketing. The founder, AJ (that’s right, no last name), shared with OpenView Venture Partners some of the key elements that have made his tool organically successful. Perhaps what is most impressive is that the product he created, Carrd, was never intended to be more than a side hustle. In the article, AJ discusses the importance of combining a great idea with viral growth; embracing constraints that inspire creativity; removing friction from the user experience; evolving the product with care, and aligning with content marketing trends. (January 2021)
11. Proof that video sales now should be a major element for B2B marketers.
A new report from Vidyard has detailed that 2020 saw a 93 percent year-over-year increase in the number of businesses using an element of video in their sales processes. Additionally, 94 percent of these marketers say video performs as well — or better — than other forms of outreach. Vidyard recently recognized a few of the B2B organizations that used video in their marketing efforts in 2020 in remarkable ways. Some of the companies recognized by Vidyard for their video marketing prowess include AQUILA Commercial, Tech Data, IMPRINT Group, and Axonify. See the full list of winners and why they were recognized. (December 2020)
12. Plan on many of your B2B marketing events to be virtual for the foreseeable future.
While there certainly were many webinars, podcasts, and virtual B2B marketing events before the spread of COVID-19, there were also many in-person, face-to-face events and opportunities to dabble in B2B marketing activities. However, Kim Davis, Editorial Director of MarTech Today, sees a future in which we never fully return to where we once were with B2B marketing events. A survey of 500 senior marketers shows they are gearing up for a hybrid of in-person and virtual marketing events over the next 12 months. Marketing leaders are expecting that this continued shift to virtual events will cause event planning teams and marketing teams to work even more closely in upcoming months and years. (November 2020)Marketing leaders are expecting that the continued shift to virtual events will cause event planning teams and marketing teams to work even more closely in upcoming months and years. #marketing #B2B Click To Tweet
13. How paying attention to feelings is becoming an effective B2B strategy.
B2B marketing might have the stigma of being the more “boring” type of marketing compared to its B2C cousins, but the truth is that organizations are seeing more success in their B2B marketing efforts thanks to the emotional pull of their efforts. Empathy can be an effective way to develop content and messages for B2B purposes, but David McGuire of Radix Communications shares that there is an element more important than empathy — data. By using data in your B2B marketing efforts, you can truly understand the pain points of the organizations with whom you want to partner. As you show your stakeholders that you understand their pain and that you can back it up with data, your efforts to partner effectively increase, McGuire contends. (October 2020)
14. Marketers are seeking to adapt to new ways to approach B2B marketing post-COVID-19.
A group of B2B marketing industry experts combined efforts recently to share counsel and observations about the content marketing trends they see on the horizon post-COVID-19. The full article is worth a read, but some of the principles discussed in the article include focusing on fostering connections; decreasing the degrees of separation between you and your customers; implementing omnichannel strategies; developing unique digital experiences; acclimating to remote working; organizing virtual events; and hosting educational webinars. (September 2020)
15. B2B marketers share budgeting concerns amid uncertainty at roundtable discussion.
A recent roundtable discussion allowed B2B marketers to share the challenges, concerns, and ideas related to their current marketing budgets. The B2B marketers found the pandemic is hitting their brands differently. Some have had marketing budgets cut by as much as 50 percent, while others have been able to retain most of their marketing budgets, but because of staff furloughs, have not been able to effectively utilize the budget they have. The summary of the conversation also includes details related to improving stakeholder relationships, being even more driven to show ROI, and other content marketing trends. (August 2020)
16. B2B marketing leader shares insights for leading and learning in uncertain times.
Sometimes it just helps to hear from somebody who is in your shoes and is facing the same challenges you are. A recent article by B2B marketing director Jodie Williams offers some insights of how she is leading her agency through the current uncertainty. Willams provides counsel that is separated into four categories in her article: Rolling with the changes; Focusing on existing customers; Trying new things; and Looking to the future. The full article is worth a read to learn about some of the B2B content marketing trends that are being relied upon by a fellow B2B marketer. (July 2020)
17. How B2B marketers are using emotion to enhance their effectiveness during uncertain times.
According to some B2B marketing experts, one of the things that B2B consumers most want right now is the ability to gain insights that will help them make decisions during a time in which there is still great uncertainty. A recent exploration of this concept delivers some key B2B content marketing trends that marketers should consider at this time as they develop strategies.
The full article provides more substantive information and is definitely worth a read — but one of the key concepts for B2B marketers is to start with truth. This can be accomplished by reframing the value of your brand experience, taking a positive stance, focusing on small improvements that have momentum, and adjusting to customers’ personal priorities — not only business priorities. (June 2020)
18. Adjusting your B2B marketing strategy is necessary in times of pause.
Yes, we know COVID-19 is a concern for many, but the lessons learned during this time period for B2B marketers can also be applicable at other times of crisis for B2B brands. Stephen Tarleton, marketing lead at LogicMonitor, has shared some information he and the company have observed in recent weeks. Tarleton emphasizes that the most important thing a B2B brand can do is be helpful.
In fact, Tarleton references a tool LogicMonitor maintains that helps businesses maintain their work-from-home technologies. Given the current climate, the company now more actively promotes this tool and offers it as a free trial. In addition to being helpful, Tarleton recommends brands be credible, patient, agile, and targeted. (May 2020)
19. Four ways B2B businesses are reimagining marketing events in digital spheres.
The current inability of organizations to hold B2B marketing events may cause some organizations to stub their toes, but examples exist of how groups are embracing the opportunity to go digital. Tom Pepper, senior director at Head of Marketing Solutions UK, shared the following four key benefits of replacing physical events with digital events:
- Reaching wider and unexplored audiences.
- Creating a more personalized experience.
- Exploring new formats.
- Reducing carbon footprint.
See the article for examples of how BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz have embraced digital events. (May 2020)Virtually all marketers use their own email, web and social channels to promote their business and products, but the top B2B marketers are also increasing their use of non-owned channels to expand their reach. #B2Bmarketing #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet
Find a Team to Create Content for You and Keep on Top of Trends
Never miss a chance to engage with customers. Create better content, faster. With ClearVoice, you can tap into vetted freelance teams who can manage your content plans, start to finish. Major content projects to long-term content needs. Articles, motion graphics, posts and more to fill all your content channels.
B2C marketing trends:
1. Two subscription-based companies seek to reduce waste, sell ‘ugly’ food.
Two brands —Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods — are seeking to capitalize on a new landscape that has presented itself in the last couple of years in which people are more concerned about sustainability and are more likely to order their groceries rather than buy them at the store. The result is that both businesses offer subscription services to sell fruit and vegetables at discounted prices that are too “ugly” for farmers to sell with their usual crops. Though both brands started selling produce only, each has expanded their markets. The companies are using marketing tactics — such as driving a branded van across multiple states and storytelling on digital platforms — to build brand awareness. ( August 2021)
2. General Mills partners with Aphetor Games to promote Nature Valley and influencers.
Although the Aphetor Games will likely never be confused with the Olympics, for General Mills and a handful of influencers, these games are worth just as much attention as bigger sporting events. The Aphetor Games are promoted as a content-first sports event for content creators and influencers. The event allows 35 influencers to compete in six challenges over five days. The content creators will invariably be streaming and sharing content from the event to promote their own personal brands, while simultaneously promoting the event’s sponsor — General Mills’ Nature Valley granola bars. General Mills has also collaborated with Aphetor Games to create an AR filter game aimed at Gen Z audiences on Instagram. (July 2020)
3. Frito-Lay’s Snacks.com website is changing how the company sees direct-to-consumer marketing.
For years, Frito-Lay relied on marketing through indirect methods to promote its products, but with the establishment of its Snacks.com website, the company has gained insight into consumers that it never before understood. Frito-Lay quickly started the website last year as the pandemic started to help meet the demand for an increase in online shopping. By allowing customers to build their own variety packs, the company has learned more about the products its consumers want most. The company’s build-your-own variety pack service was so popular that the company had to pull it down for a while to better align itself for meeting demand. The company has allowed consumers to submit their email addresses to know when the service will again be available. More than 50,000 people registered to be notified. (June 2020)Frito-Lay's Snacks.com website has allowed the company to learn in new ways about direct-to-consumer marketing and personal shopping preferences. #marketing Click To Tweet
4. A new app uses AI to personalize the shopping experience — and it might change the way we shop online.
By this point, many of us have become somewhat accustomed to the online shopping experience. We understand we will see related items and will be retargeted to. However, the launch of a new app — The Yes — may change how you shop, and if you are a product marketer, it may change the way you sell online. As a shopper begins her experience, she chooses “Yes! I love this” or “No, not for me” to a series of questions. These questions constantly fine-tune her preferences. The app is always learning so that the home page and search experiences for two individuals are never the same. (May 2021)
5. Marketers expect to spend more in 2021, but aren’t confident in how to measure success.
A recent Nielsen report asked marketers about which marketing activities they were planning on increasing the budget for this year. Most categories saw an increase in budget. This includes the categories of social media, search, email, and video development. In fact, more than 70% of respondents said they would be increasing social media and search spending this year. However, these same marketers were not fully confident they could measure success in these areas. For example, less than one-third of marketers who are increasing their social media budget claim they are “very confident” that they can measure success on social media. Likewise, less than 10 percent of marketers say they are “very confident” they can measure success with podcasts. (April 2021)
6. Casa Blanca seeks to make its home-buying app experience more like a dating app.
Both home-buying and dating can be exciting, frustrating, expensive, and complicated experiences. So, perhaps Casa Blanca’s home-buying app that features some of the same sorts of tools and trends found in places like Tinder is a long time coming. The company is built on more of a direct-to-consumer outlook on real estate. The app, therefore, curates potential matches for prospective home-buyers. Likewise—just as is popular in dating apps—once potential buyers have decided they aren’t interested in a home, that home is removed from the list of recommended options moving forward. (April 2021)Both home-buying and dating can be exciting, frustrating, expensive, and complicated experiences. So, perhaps Casa Blanca's home-buying app that features some of the same sorts of tools and trends found in places like Tinder is a long time… Click To Tweet
7. New data shows why people might have unsubscribed from your marketing lists during the pandemic.
You might wonder, how much is too much when it comes to contacting your customers and potential customers with marketing information. A new report from SlickText helps provide an answer to this question. According to the report, the main reason that has caused people to unsubscribe from marketing lists since the beginning of the pandemic is too much communication. Consumers also indicated that receiving politicized content and receiving impersonal content caused them to unsubscribe from marketing lists. For most consumers, the pandemic hasn’t had a major effect on their desire to open marketing emails. About 40 percent say they open the same amount that they did before the pandemic. (March 2021)
8. Brand activism not only helps the community—it helps organizations’ bottom lines.
In recent years — and particularly in the last year — several brands have stepped out of their normal comfort zones and have engaged in more activism related to social issues. For example, Aunt Jemima was renamed Pearl Milling Company, Hasbro dropped “Mr.” from Mr. Potato Head, and Uncle Ben’s changed its name to Ben’s Original, all in the last year. A recent study shows that nearly half (49 percent) of consumers have a favorable view of the brand activism trend. The study also found that 34 percent of people are neutral and 17 percent don’t view the activism favorably. More than half of those surveyed (58 percent) say that brand activism behaviors by organizations have impacted their brand impression or purchasing behaviors. (March 2021)Research related to changes to Aunt Jemima, Mr. Potato Head, and Uncle Ben's brands shows that consumers often favorably view brand activism. #marketing Click To Tweet
9. Social tokens are the next big advancement in building brand loyalty.
Brands who are seeking ways to incentivize audiences to engage with them may have a new tool at their disposal. Thanks to the continued advancement of cryptocurrency, a new organization, Rally, markets itself as a company that can help brands move beyond giving out T-shirts and knickknacks to foster loyalty — and instead begin to provide digital currency that can be used in many ways. Having a savvy audience is obviously an important part of this social token effort. However, those brands that embrace this opportunity soon may have an advantage over competition that does not. A compelling article in Adweek details some of the ways these social tokens may be used. (March 2021)
10. Oreo finds unique ways to engage with Twitter audience with influencer help.
Because social media is so adaptable, brands often find that they are only limited by their own imaginations when creating campaigns and initiatives for social media. This was the case recently when Oreo launched an initiative with Lady Gaga to help promote a new type of cookie while simultaneously promoting Lady Gaga’s new album. The joint initiative was centered around a virtual Twitter scavenger hunt in which audiences needed to locate answers to clues that were delivered by Oreo and by the singer herself. What resulted was initial earned media awareness about the campaign due to the uniqueness of the effort and continued awareness throughout the scavenger hunt due to engagement from fans of the singer and the brand. (January 2021)Oreo and Lady Gaga join forces to promote Twitter scavenger hunt. #influencermarketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
11. Direct-to-consumer brands are now launching peer-to-peer resale marketplaces.
Direct-to-consumer brands have already cut out the middleman in many instances by marketing and selling products straight to consumers. However, in one of the content marketing trends designed to help build utility and value in visitors coming to brand websites, some of these businesses are now facilitating peer-to-peer reselling directly on their own digital channels. Et Tigre is one example of a fashion company that has opened up its website for peer-to-peer resales. Company co-founder Adele Tetangco told Glossy.co that she feels allowing resales to happen directly on the company’s site will help those who want to test the brand at a lower price point. She also feels less need to run “sales” because discounted, pre-owned merchandise is already available. (January 2021)Direct-to-consumer brands are now launching peer-to-peer resale marketplaces on their own websites. #marketing Click To Tweet
12. What McDonald’s continued personalization work means for your marketing efforts.
Unless you own a restaurant, you may not think your organization has a lot of similarities with McDonald’s at first glance, but given the fast-food chain’s recent efforts with personalization, you may have more in common than you think. McDonald’s has recently implemented a major marketing initiative to allow those using the MyMcDonald’s app and those visiting their restaurants to get more personalized content and suggestions based on location and past engagement with the app. Along with the improved personalization comes an emphasis on a loyalty program that encourages customers to use the personalized app. (November 2020)
13. Could finding humor in the pandemic be the next big thing?
Everybody is tired of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that some marketers aren’t finding bright spots. A recent ad makes light of the cardboard cutout figures prominently on display at most sporting events and shows that even while we are in less-than-ideal circumstances, there are opportunities to find light and humor among us. Of course, marketers should seriously consider where they are trying to inject humor when there are so many things circling around their audiences that are not funny. See Kraft’s recent faux pas for evidence of making light of something that many find offensive. (October 2020)Everybody is tired of the pandemic, but that doesn't mean that some marketers aren't finding bright spots. #marketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
14. Radio-type ads re-emerge as a popular way to reach consumers.
During 2020, companies have found that what’s old is new when it comes to audio ads. People are hearing more audio ads than ever before on their voice devices, but according to a report from Adobe, consumers don’t mind it. In fact, they find the audio ads less obtrusive than ads they receive on print, social, TV, and online. A group of charities in the United Kingdom will put this theory to the test during this holiday season when they produce and publish audio ads promoting giving opportunities. However, these specific ads are meant to allow recipients to use their voice to give back to the charity that sponsored the ad. This give-and-take dynamic will be interesting to track to see if it leads to more opportunities for brands moving forward. (September 2020)
15. KFC’s slogan change indicative of how COVID-19 continues to bring unexpected changes.
KFC has shown that the effects of COVID-19 are more far-reaching than any marketer could have expected. The company recently announced that it is suspending usage of the “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good” catchphrase in its marketing efforts since the licking of fingers isn’t a great idea for KFC’s customers — or anybody else for that matter. To create awareness, the company has developed a 30-second spot that blurs out the classic catchphrase on its products and advertisements. The company has been using the slogan for more than 64 years in its marketing efforts. KFC says it will again use the phrase when the time feels right. (August 2020)KFC recently announced that it is suspending usage of the 'It's Finger-Lickin' Good' catchphrase in its #marketing efforts since the licking of fingers isn't a great idea for KFC's customers — or anybody else for that matter. Click To Tweet
16. What you can learn from Coca-Cola’s marketing efforts during the pandemic.
In times of uncertainty, your best bet with your B2C marketing efforts may very well be to scale back and focus on the basics. That is obviously what marketing executives at Coca-Cola believe. Though people may be consuming Coca-Cola products from home as much as before, the company’s significant “away from home” channels — like restaurants, bars, and concessions at major sporting events — have taken a huge hit. Because of this, the company has chosen to be more selective in the products it supports — focusing its efforts on the products that make the most sense at this time. Coca-Cola joins other companies who have been forced to make the same decision to scale back in recent months and weeks. (July 2020)
17. What brands are doing to make their B2C marketing successful on LinkedIn.
Although LinkedIn is traditionally thought of as a platform that is most beneficial for B2B marketers, B2C marketers who have learned how to utilize the platform are also seeing success. A recent guide provides some helpful examples of what B2C brands are doing to utilize LinkedIn to their advantage. Some of the B2C brands featured in the article that are having success on LinkedIn include Madewell, Spotify, Microsoft, FabFitFun, Yeti, and Warby Parker. The purposes and objectives of each of these organizations on LinkedIn varies, but by remembering that it is important to tap into the personal lives of professionals on LinkedIn, it is clear that brands can build connection in impactful ways. (June 2020)
18. Example of lessons that can be learned from clickbait.
Sure, the word “clickbait” has negative connotations, and sure, there probably is good reason for many of those ill feelings. But HubSpot staff writer Kayla Carmichael recently developed an article that allows marketers to explore if all clickbait is bad and if there are times that it may actually be good to employ clickbait.
Carmichael doesn’t come up with a conclusive answer about clickbait — one of the most controversial content marketing trends — but does provide several examples that can help you decide for yourself what role clickbait should have in your marketing examples. The article includes examples from Buzzfeed (of course), Goodful, ‘America’s Got Talent’, and the New York Times. (June 2020)
19. McDonald’s ad embraces opportunity during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia.
During Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, advertising of food is not allowed, as those who observe the religious holiday fast from dawn until sunset. In order to continue to have a presence during Ramadan — while being sensitive to religious and cultural standards — McDonald’s created a virtual sand clock that counts down to the daily Iftar evening meal.
The live virtual sand clock is being shared on social media channels as well as on McDonald’s digital displays. (May 2020)
Social media marketing trends:
1. Instagram shares what is working best for Instagram marketers right now.
In an interview with SocialMediaToday, Emily Reid, Instagram’s product marketing lead for small businesses, shared some insights about what Instagram is prioritizing on its app. Reid recommended using Instagram’s different tools to achieve the best results. According to Reid, you should use Stories, Reels, polls, etc. until you find the sweet spot for your marketing activities. She also reiterated the importance of using Instagram’s e-commerce tools, such as the Shop tab and shopping on Reels and IGTV. (August 2021)
2. YouTube partners with K-pop artists BTS to promote YouTube Shorts.
While YouTube initially slowly rolled out YouTube Shorts, when it came time to promote the new tool to a wider audience, the video-sharing giant rolled out the big guns. Any YouTube mobile app user can now develop 15-second videos directly from the app. To promote and encourage users to use the new functionality, YouTube partnered with K-pop artists BTS to develop a dance challenge. YouTube will select some of its favorite Shorts of users dancing along to the “Permission to Dance” music video and feature them. Users must use the hashtags #PermissiontoDance and #Shorts to be eligible. (July 2020)
3. U.K. airliner EasyJet develops Instagram augmented reality campaign to transport users.
U.K. airliner EasyJet has found a way to encourage Instagram users to explore the world — even if the exploration is happening only on their phones. A new augmented reality campaign allows a door to open in the users’ own camera that then allows them to escape into European destinations, such as beaches, coves, and other beautiful locations. The “Holidoorways” Instagram campaign allows soon-to-be travelers to get ideas for travel while still staying in the safety of their own homes. (June 2020)
4. Dove’s #NoDigitalDistortion campaign turns TikTok marketing on its head.
TikTok is a social platform well known for its ability to allow users to augment and change themselves and their environments. At first blush, it may not seem like a natural place for a brand like Dove — which focuses on body-positive messages. However, Dove has embraced the channel as an optimal place to shine a light on its #NoDigitalDistortion campaign, which is designed to help women see their inner beauty. Dove is engaging users with influencer messages, sponsored posts, and hashtag challenges. (May 2021)Dove has embraced #TikTok as an optimal place to share its #NoDigitalDistortion campaign, which is designed to help women see their inner beauty through influencer messages, sponsored posts, and hashtag challenges. Click To Tweet
5. Social media’s influence on brand discovery is heavily influenced by the generation to which audiences belong.
More than two-thirds of Americans who have at least one social media account say social media allows them to interact with brands and companies; however, younger generations are much more likely to answer affirmatively than older generations. For example, 76 percent of Gen Z agree that social media allows them to interact with brands and companies. A full 75 percent of Millennials and 74 percent of Gen X say the same. However, not even half (48 percent) of Baby Boomers agree. More than 2 in 5 social media users of all generations say their use of social media has increased in the last year to discover new products, brands, and services. (April 2021)
6. What your brand can learn from Godzilla vs. Kong on TikTok.
Your organization likely won’t have a multi-million-dollar motion picture to promote, but you still can learn from some of the content marketing trends utilized by major motion picture studios and apply how it relates to your own marketing efforts. The #GodzillaVsKongRoar challenge has led to more than 7 billion views of user-generated content that uses sound from the Godzilla vs. Kong film in unique and humorous ways. This marketing effort is a good example of understanding a social platform and audience and encouraging ways for fans and others to get involved in ways that are normal and natural. (April 2021)
7. Newly released social media benchmarks help you know how your brand stacks up.
Marketers who have had the suspicion that their Instagram engagement rates were higher than Facebook and Twitter now have additional data to back them up. According to marketing research of 22 million posts in 2020 across 35 industries, Instagram posts had an average engagement rate of 1.16 percent. This is compared to 0.27 percent on Facebook and 0.07 percent on Twitter. Organizations that posted content about politics, education, and air travel had the highest engagement rates. The fashion, beauty, and retail industries had some of the lowest engagement rates for their posts. (March 2021)For most marketers, tweets have virtually no engagement rate whatsoever. Instagram boasts the highest engagement rates, on average. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
8. How Blue Kazoo and others are using TikTok for customer feedback and product development.
Although Blue Kazoo co-founder Abraham Piper first started using TikTok for fun, he quickly realized how the tool could be helpful for customer service and product feedback. The company combs the unsolicited feedback that customers and others are leaving in their video comments and then answers questions, makes product changes, or discovers trends in the comments that help them better understand their audience. Piper and the company’s other co-founder, Josh Sowin, also established personal TikTok accounts where they asked questions about the company’s products to learn more about the specific product design preferences of people to whom they might market. (March 2021)
9. Ikea’s recent Snapchat campaign shows how augmented reality can be a helpful marketing tactic.
A recent IKEA augmented reality Snapchat effort invites users to declutter a room, while using IKEA furniture to do so. Snapchat users may record the solution that they found and share with their friends through Snapchat stories. This campaign is only one of several recent initiatives by brands to utilize augmented reality in marketing efforts. These efforts are especially popular during the pandemic because they allow customers to do things virtually that approximate what they might be able to do in real life. (February 2021)
10. How YouTube has become a multi-million-dollar maker for NBC News.
Although 2020 was not the first year that NBC News utilized YouTube, it was the first year that the company was deliberately purposeful about how they planned and developed content for YouTube. As a result, the news organization saw revenue in the “many millions” last year and has continued to progress in its efforts thanks to lessons learned. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned in 2020 was that, at the end of the day, platforms like Facebook and Twitter — though valuable for a news purpose — simply cannot keep up with the revenue that comes in through a strong video platform like YouTube. (January 2021)
11. How 2020 forced social giants to fix some flaws — even while some major issues remain.
It is safe to say that 2020 brought some things to light for many of us that revealed our weaknesses and lack of preparedness. The same is true for some of the world’s largest social media platforms. The plethora of inconsistencies and false narratives shared on social media in 2020 about politics, viruses, masks, etc. forced social media platforms even deeper into the role of trying to define truth. Simultaneously, with each flagged post, doubt was raised at what motives social tech giants had in choosing to flag one item — but not another. Shubham Agarwal discusses this and where the road is leading for social platforms in an intriguing Digital Trends article about truth, politics, and moderation on social media. (December 2020)
12. Parler growth explodes from concern that established social platforms hide conservative voices.
Social media news site Parler has seen an incredible increase of attention in recent weeks thanks to an assumed exodus from traditional social media platforms to the site by conservative voices who feel the content they agree with and share is not receiving equal play on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, in the course of one week, the app jumped from 1,023 on Apple’s most-downloaded app list to the most downloaded app. For most brands, navigating politics and content marketing trends on established social platforms is already tricky. For any company not involved in partisan politics, knowing how to navigate the development of new social media platforms that heavily skew one way politically, the challenges would appear to be even greater. (November 2020)
13. Here’s what TikTok says brands should learn from the viral Ocean Spray video.
Following the explosion of TikTok user @420doggface208’s viral Ocean Spray video, the residual effect of a greater interest in Ocean Spray drinks and a renewed interest in Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” has jumped onto the current scene. Though Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac are both part of the viral moment, neither of them could have planned for it. Katie Puris, TikTok’s global head of business marketing told AdWeek that you can’t plan for viral, but you can have a plan for what you will do when virality hits. (October 2020)
14. Twitter shares what brands are doing to use new tweet reply controls.
Since Twitter has rolled out more options for how brands utilize tweet reply controls, some brands have found creative ways to utilize these controls in their social media marketing efforts. For example, Heineken published a tweet about social distancing and turned off comments in an effort to keep the focus on their message — not the comments that certainly would have followed. In another instance, KitKat tagged other candy brands in its tweet and limited the tweet responses to only be occupied by the brands that were tagged in the original tweet — thus allowing for a more focused conversation. (September 2020)See examples of brands that have found creative ways to utilize Twitter's new tweet reply controls. #smm Click To Tweet
15. Instagram introduces TikTok lookalike “Reels.”
Instagram is no stranger to watching other platforms succeed, then taking what works well and adding the successful features to its own platform. The company has done this multiple times with Snapchat — most notably through adding the wildly popular stories feature. Once again, Instagram is striking against a competitor’s main feature in adding its “Reels” feature to the platform. Reels uses short video clips, music, and text elements to share moments on Instagram timeline and stories feeds — and it operates in a way very similar to TikTok. Because of the many questions surrounding the future of TikTok in the United States, the adoption of this feature may prove to be a boon for Instagram, as the young user base has become accustomed to communicating in this video format. (August 2020)
16. Even brands not involved in the Facebook boycott are decreasing ad spend.
Though much has been made of the Facebook ad spend boycott by some major brands due to social and political reasons, it appears that there is a general trend of less social media advertising occurring by major brands across the board — regardless of political or social stances. One year ago, the top 1,000 advertisers on Facebook spent a total of $28 million during the first 10 days of July. This year, these top 1,000 advertisers spent $22.7 million. The trend of spending less on social ads is holding true on Twitter as well, from $2.34 million during the same time period in 2019 to $2.13 million in 2020 — a 9 percent decrease. (July 2020)One year ago, the top 1,000 advertisers on Facebook spent a total of $28 million during the first 10 days of July. This year, these top 1,000 advertisers spent $22.7 million — a 19 percent decrease. #smm Click To Tweet
17. What Crocs is doing to regain relevancy thanks to its social media marketing.
Thanks to a strong social media marketing strategy, Crocs has re-emerged on the pop culture/fashion scene. During the pandemic, social media has become the core location where Crocs is marketing its products and listening to its consumers. The company made some immediate adjustments to its marketing efforts as the pandemic began — including avoiding imagery outside the home and instead leaning into the comfort Crocs provide in the “work at home” environment. Crocs has also expanded its footprint by jumping into TikTok and enhancing its influencer relationships. Find more detailed information here. (June 2020)Crocs is a surprising marketing winner during the pandemic thanks to leaning into the 'work from home' comfort of its product. #smm #marketing Click To Tweet
18. New YouTube “Chapters” update will change how marketers utilize the platform.
YouTube has now introduced a “chapters” tool that it previously had tested and received positive feedback on from early adopters. The tool allows creators to separate their videos into portions by using timestamps and titles for the different sections. Those who upload a video can develop chapters at the timestamps in the video where they best see fit. It is believed that these timestamps will make long-form videos and instructional videos even more consumable on YouTube. (May 2020)YouTube's new 'Chapters' update could be a game-changer for long-form and instructional content on YouTube. #videomarketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
19. Brands on Twitter are finding creative ways to reuse older content.
Brands may have fewer opportunities to create new digital content right now, but Twitter reports that brands are working to utilize older content in reimagined ways to fill the content void. Stacy Minero, Twitter’s head of Arthouse (the team that connects brands with creative talent) shared some thoughts about content marketing trends in which brands are reusing older content.
Minero shared that Twitter’s editing and optimization team is taking existing long-form videos, still photos, and stock footage and creating new video content. Minero also shared how brands like Verizon and Dove are embracing the role to help entertain and connect people. (April 2020)