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 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.
Digital marketing trends:
1. Explore eight ways the workplace is changing for marketers in 2020.
In addition to tools and tactics shifting on a regular basis under the feet of marketers, there is also a gradual shift in the “what” and “how” of marketers’ daily efforts. HubSpot published an insightful look at recent workplace adjustments and provided detail about how marketers can prepare for these shifts.
The eight detailed changes include:
- The remote workforce will continue to grow
- Workplaces will offer more flexible perks
- Soft skills will be even more crucial to your career
- Creativity will be particularly valuable to employers
- Artificial intelligence will take over marketing tasks, but not jobs
- Recruiters will embrace more pre-screening tactics before job interviews
- Effective anti-harassment policies will be even more critical in the workplace
- Wages could become more transparent
Marketers can prepare themselves for these new workplace trends by embracing flexible work. This openness could lead to potential new opportunities. Marketers also should identify where technology can help them. Those who embrace new technologies and ways of working may be at the forefront of a new wave of marketers in 2020 and years to come.Marketers can prepare for new workplace trends by embracing flexible work and identifying how technology can help them. #marketing Click To Tweet
2. Google is building the first chatbot that can talk about anything.
The Chatbot is known as Meena, and no, you can’t test it out yet — but you’re going to want to when it becomes available at some undisclosed date in the future. Google has introduced a new measurement, known as the Sensibleness and Specificity Average (SSA) to determine if the chatbot is capturing the basic attributes of a human conversation. According to Google, Meena already significantly outperforms other state-of-the-art chatbots in this SSA score. In fact, Google claims that Meena’s score (79 percent) is closer to the SSA score it assigns to human interactions (86 percent) than the second-place chatbot Mitsuku (56 percent) is to it. Google is still working on features such as personality, factuality, safety, and bias before it releases the chatbot for wider consumption.
3. Mountain Dew is using a “fan engagement” team to show appreciation to small groups of consumers in unique ways.
You probably shouldn’t expect to see “Mountain Dew” body wash on retailers’ shelves any time soon, but thanks to the company’s “fan engagement” team, Mountain Dew execs made the decision to create a limited supply of the product anyway after a Reddit user published a photo of what was a make-believe product. The purpose of the ‘fan engagement’ team isn’t to directly affect sales. Rather, the team is commissioned to scour the internet for content ideas that would resonate with customers. Mountain Dew claims this team allows it to be less proscriptive in its marketing and provides the company more opportunities to reach people on an individual level, in addition to its broader marketing efforts.Mountain Dew is using a ‘fan engagement’ team to show appreciation to small groups of consumers in unique ways. #contentmarketing #digitalmarketing Click To Tweet
4. The 2020 U.S. Census Bureau campaign is expected to reach virtually every U.S, household.
You may never know what it’s like to have a $500 million budget and a government-sponsored mandate for your marketing efforts, but, apparently, this kind of support can make a huge dent in awareness efforts for those who get it. This is the exact situation in which the U.S. Census Bureau finds itself as it embarks upon its 2020 effort. The organization’s “Shape your Future. START HERE.” campaign features more than 1,000 digital, radio, TV, and print ads. The bureau estimates that between now and the end of June, ads will reach 99 percent of U.S. households more than once.
5. A new tool has made tracking pixels obsolete for the New York Times.
The New York Times has developed its own tool, known as TAFI (Twitter and Facebook Interface), that has allowed the company to more accurately predict which articles it should share on Twitter and Facebook to receive the best engagement. In a nutshell, the tool measures the articles on the Times’ own website to see which articles are getting the most natural engagement from audiences.
The company then shares on its social channels, using ad spend to raise the visibility of the posts that its tool says are most likely to be successful. As a result of the tool, the company has removed tracking pixels from most of its pages.
6. How South Dakota is using a controversial campaign slogan to its advantage.
South Dakota’s state Department of Social Services us using a controversial campaign slogan to raise awareness of a real problem. The state has released a new website (onmeth.com) and a bevy of digital and social ads that communicate the dual-interpreted slogan “Meth. We’re on it.” Despite a swift critique from individuals across social platforms, South Dakota is owning the campaign and its associated critiques. In a recent tweet, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem simply responded to the critics: “Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working…”
7. You really need to develop a conversational marketing strategy.
More than 4 in 5 customers say the service you provide is as important as the product you sell. If your customer service does not extend in effective ways into digital spheres, you might be risking the success of your business. In order to provide customers with the experience they desire, you must have a robust conversational marketing strategy in place. In a comparison of person-to-person contact and chatbot contact, researchers found that the expectations of personal and digital solutions are nearly identical. For example, 44 percent of survey respondents say that they expect a response within five seconds when corresponding with a human.
8. Observations from Mozilla’s 18-month departure from Facebook, Instagram.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mozilla executives decided their commitment to user privacy was more important than their ability to target Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users. Therefore, the company ceased using Facebook-owned platforms in its marketing efforts. Although this may seem like it would seriously hamper Mozilla’s marketing efforts, the company claims otherwise. Instead of utilizing Facebook properties for advertising, Mozilla is using Google-owned properties. Likewise, the company has utilized non-digital marketing efforts to promote its services. For example, it has a traveling display that combines elements of an art exhibit with a pop-up store to show users what happens with their data online.
9. Six modern tactics to advertise to today’s attention-deficient audiences.
Thanks to technology, the average human attention span is about 8 seconds. This means that if you aren’t quickly grabbing a user’s interest with your content, they will rarely make it to your call-to-action. Visiture Chief Marketing Officer Ronald Dod shared in an article for Marketing Land six strategies for advertising to an audience that is predisposed to not pay attention.
10. Chase sees surprising results from marketing copywriting machines.
Three years ago, Chase began testing a pilot program with Persado, a company that uses artificial intelligence to draft marketing copy. Thanks to the results of this pilot program, Chase announced in late July that it has signed a five-year deal with Persado to expand its services in more of the company’s marketing efforts. According to Chase, the copy written by Persado consistently led to more clicks from users than the marketing copy written by humans. In some instances, the AI-written copy received twice as many clicks as its human-written counterpart. Is this an inevitable content marketing trend that shows no signs of stopping? Perhaps.
11. Facial recognition advertising brings opportunities and concerns.
A new facial recognition tool being tested in Walgreens stores may have a great impact on all digital marketers in the upcoming years. The tool is a cooler door that includes cameras, sensors and digital screens for the purpose of developing smart displays to target individual customers who approach the cooler. The cameras are able to determine a shopper’s gender and age range as well as how long a shopper stands in front of the door. The technology can also pair this data with external information — like what the temperature outside is — and determine what kinds of ads to serve to shoppers to promote specific items found inside the cooler doors. Critics question how accurate recommendations will be and fear the perpetuation of overstimulation.
12. Gatorade’s newest AR experiment is an extension of its “video everywhere” strategy.
Gatorade has not shied away from utilizing new technologies — including augmented reality — in its marketing efforts. The company’s latest augmented reality venture — a Snapchat lens — focuses on allowing users to use their rear-facing camera to become part of a world where the sole focus is a soccer ball. Gatorade representative Jill Abbott says this new venture is simply a part of Gatorade’s “video everywhere” strategy — which calls for the brand to think less about premium, online and linear videos and instead consider how its videos can be wherever its athlete audience is.
B2B marketing trends:
1. What B2B companies are doing to help their video advertising stand out.
It’s great to create videos, but if you are a B2B marketer, the videos you create need to be engaging and serve a purpose in helping reach your marketing goals. Some companies are ahead of the curve in how they evaluate content marketing trends and utilize video advertising to achieve these goals. For example, Bayer used a video series to humanize its brand and promote its research. Likewise, Jabra has created videos that showcase their products in an “unboxing” format in an attempt to model the behavior it wants consumers to take.
2. B2B brands are increasingly using thought leadership videos to establish authority online.
In many instances, marketers have honed in on video creation in one or two key categories to establish themselves as experts of content marketing trends. There is no one single way to create a series of thought leadership videos, but B2B marketers have seen success with interviews, webinars, and keynote speeches. These videos are distributed through blogs, emails, and social channels — but perhaps one of the top channels for thought leadership video distribution is LinkedIn — where native videos are 20x more likely to be shared than other types of content on the platform. Thought leaders may also apply to utilize LinkedIn live video streaming to further increase their ability to stand out as a leader in the industry.
3. Trend report: Top B2B marketers use non-owned channels to drive success.
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, according to the newly released 2020 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report. Examples of non-owned channels that B2B marketers are using to share their messages include media and influencer relations; guest posts or articles in other publications; and speaking engagements. The data shows that 46 percent of top performers are actively involved in influencer and media relations. Similarly, 63 percent of this group publishes content in third-party publications and 70 percent participate in speaking engagements and events.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
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B2C marketing trends:
1. What marketers can learn from short Super Bowl ads.
Because marketers need to compete with a variety of distractions and ever-decreasing attention spans, the ability to effectively share a message in as little time as possible is a skill brands continue to develop. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look back at some of this year’s Super Bowl ads. Cheetos’ MC Hammer ad used humor mixed with nostalgia to grab and keep attention. WeatherTech and Olay used their ads to highlight their brand’s passions — something easy for most brands to talk about. In each instance, brands focused on creating a connection with their audiences to help promote video views.
2. Startup companies are seeing success with SMS marketing — but struggle to define the frequency at which they should send.
For example, sneaker company Cariuma has found the SMS marketing has helped the company attract new customers, but is cognizant of not sending text messages too frequently. One way the company has found success is by texting customers who put an item in an online cart, but didn’t complete the purchase. While the company has found that text open rates are between 95 and 100 percent, the company’s chief digital officer Felipe Araujo says the company is being careful to not exploit its presence there. According to Araujo, text messaging is a more personal channel often used by friends and family, so the company is careful to try to balance the quantity of messages it sends in SMS form.
3. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s introduce Snapchat Scan for brands.
Snapchat has been utilizing augmented reality for as long as it has been around, but a new development is allowing brands to get in on the AR game while utilizing their own trade dress. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are the first brands to utilize Snapchat Scan—a new tool within the Snapchat app that allows users to scan real-life objects and get a digital experience. In the case of McDonald’s, Snapchat users can scan the company logo on a box of fries, burger wrapper, or food tray and receive an augmented reality experience. Similarly, Coca-Cola drinkers can scan their cans and receive a customized augmented reality experience as well. Any brand can use Snapchat’s free AR creation tool, Lens Studio, to create a marker tech lens.
4. How rapid market-testing helped one company succeed with its product release.
CEO of Tenlo, Kip Botirius, recently shared an article that detailed how his company utilized a strategy called rapid market-testing to drive success with a recent product release. According to Botirius, his company was tasked with marketing a game called Battle Toss. Rather than launch the game in one fell swoop, the company utilized the rapid market-testing tactic. This process began with building up a social media presence for three weeks, during which it gathered customer feedback and identified those who have a particular affinity for the product. Next, it hosted an event where it invited people to play the game while being filmed. The company’s in-person and on-film observations helped it understand what to include on the game’s website and YouTube channel.
5. The Economist is attempting to make YouTube followers paid subscribers.
Earlier this fall, the Economist started publishing YouTube videos to its channel that were specifically designed to increase interaction and spike watch-time on the platform. The videos, which often share a behind-the-scenes look at the news being covered, have employed YouTube’s tools to help drive traffic back to the Economist’s website — which allows users to engage with more content related to what was discussed in the video. Because of this increase in YouTube views due to more engaging content and the subsequent driving of YouTube viewers to its website, the company is making efforts to gain more paid subscribers.
The Economist is also looking at ROI. In 2019, marketing costs increased by 14 percent for the company — but subscriber numbers have increased by only one percent.
6. Honda uses “Engine Room” content hub to shift focus to storytelling.
Honda has, ahem, shifted gears in its content marketing practices to now focus more of its efforts on creating content that specializes in telling unique stories — rather than short, splashy bursts of information as the company has done in the past. At the Festival of Marketing conference, Honda digital content and social media section manager Nick Bennett shared that the company decided 16 months ago it wanted to focus on a content hub where it could share all of its storytelling content. The result of this effort is a hub known as “Honda Engine Room.” Within this hub, Honda owners and would-be Honda owners have the opportunity to consume and share more than 140 pieces of storytelling content.
7. See YouTube’s 10 best 6-second ads.
Creating a memorable video is hard. Creating a memorable video in 6 seconds is insanely hard. However, it can be done — and it can be done well. In fact, not only does YouTube want you to know it can be done — it wants you to see examples of the best 6-second bumper ads so you can be successful too.The company developed a creative rating test to determine the top videos, then used an algorithm that counted total views and engagement. Based on these criteria, here are the top 10 YouTube 6-second bumper ads in the last year.
8. See what’s trending with email marketing.
A recent analysis of four billion emails in 126 countries found some interesting information that can help email marketers in understanding current trends. The following items are included among some of the findings:
- The three most effective words to use in an email subject line are “e-book,” “PDF,” and “newsletter.”
- Double opt-in emails are resulting in higher open rates and shares, while decreasing the risk of security threats.
- Email marketers who send newsletters weekly have a higher clickthrough rate than those who send more often.
- Auto-responder emails that include something like a “welcome” or a “thank you” along with a link for meaningful content have nearly a 90 percent open rate.
9. Financial Times is using newsletter polls to increase retention.
In an effort to encourage its readers to interact more with its email newsletters, Financial Times has started to insert polls into its First FT newsletter. Early results indicate that these polls are helping increase subscriber retention. Financial Times has run more than two dozen polls in its email newsletter — which has more than 100,000 subscribers — since March. During that time, the company has seen the polls drive the highest click-through rate to its articles. For now, the publisher is mostly focusing on “yes” or “no” polls, though it expects to branch out into developing broader poll questions soon.
10. Betabrand uses ‘Adception’ to turn commenters into buyers.
Betabrand — a women’s and men’s clothing seller — has developed a strategy that allows social media comments on ads to become one of its top methods for engaging potential buyers. In a process that social media coordinator Emilia Hildreth calls “adception,” the company closely watches the Facebook comments that get the most likes and replies on the company’s Facebook ads and then capitalizes on them. When company social media representatives notice a user comment has garnered a lot of likes or comments, the company quickly creates a plan to get involved in the conversation by publishing witty, entertaining and useful information relevant to the conversation. Betabrand spends millions of dollars on its social media ads and engagement each year, but even much smaller businesses can follow this same principle to engage potential customers. Learn more about how transparency on social media can be good for your business.
Social media marketing trends:
1. LinkedIn and Twitter join the Stories bandwagon.
It has taken a while, but LinkedIn and Twitter also now can be counted among the social platforms who offer marketers — and users — a stories format to share content in new ways. For both LinkedIn and Twitter, the stories are not yet available to be used by the masses, but both will likely be available in the near future. No doubt, each of these platforms hope that the availability of stories will help boost usage and engagement. Given that more than 500 million people on Instagram use stories every day, there is reason to be hopeful.
2. A new director of worldwide social media at Lenovo has allowed the company’s social media accounts to rally around a single strategy.
Though the individual global accounts were creating good content, director Kirsten Hamstra focused on a few key initiatives to train the team and bring in new talent who could execute the new strategy. In order to make the strategy work, Hamstra focused on building a sense of community among the global social media workforce early on. Part of this involved looking at social media content and usage from a global perspective. Hamstra also developed a social media center of excellence that focuses on four key areas of focus: content and strategic campaigns; paid media and analytics; education and advocacy; and insights and technology.
3. Samsung launches creative “choose your own adventure” Instagram story.
Samsung and social agency, The Social Chain, teamed up to create what might be the most complex, collaborative, and fun promotional campaign on Instagram. The campaign involves “you” receiving a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G in Samsung’s story and you are given the task to deliver the device to its destination. Using stories from multiple Instagram accounts and using interactive tools within these stories, Samsung offers you a choose-your-adventure story that puts you at the forefront of the digital experience. Along the way, Samsung showcases phone features to help promote its product. The campaign is pretty ingenious and you can try it out yourself.
4. Chatbots saved companies an average of $300,000 last year.
If your executive leadership hasn’t wanted to bite on the price tag of developing chatbots just yet, the report that companies who utilize chatbots saved an average of $300,000 last year may be enough information for you to close the deal. Marketing Land details that nearly 75 percent of online consumers expect to engage with some sort of chatbot. Rather than simply being a marketing tool, chatbots have grown into tools that also help drive sales. In fact, forecasts predict chatbots will drive more than $100 billion in sales by 2023.
5. Social media marketing trends to remember when making when creating effective stories and story ads.
We’ll spare you from the endless data points about stories. Suffice it to say, stories continue to be huge. More than one billion stories are shared daily between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. A recent MarketingProfs article details trends you should know to successfully utilize stories. A couple of these trends include:
- Limit stickers: Too many stickers create extra noise and make sending a clear message more difficult.
- Emphasize the CTA: Encourage users to “swipe up” to view the product page or other website you want them to visit.
6. Like it or not, Facebook likes Instagram’s plan to hide likes.
It looks like Instagram’s test of removing public-facing likes is gaining traction with Facebook as well. Facebook confirmed it is experimenting with likes to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong in early September. Currently, Facebook’s experiment consists of hiding likes to those who come across others’ content, however, users can continue to see the like count for their own Facebook posts. Facebook hasn’t said much about this test — but it doesn’t need to. The impact will be obvious. If you have been reliant on Facebook likes anywhere in your marketing strategy as a “showcase” of the popularity of your content, you may need to rethink your social media strategy to ensure that each piece of content is engaging on its own without relying on empty likes.
7. Instagram expands effort to remove public like counts.
How does your brand measure success on social media? Do you take “likes” into account? A trend to remove public “like” counts is gaining steam and may change how people — and brands — view “success” on social media. In May, Instagram first tested removing the public like counts from some posts in Canada. In a recent tweet, the company announced it was expanding the test to hide public like counts for some users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Instagram said the test would not affect measurement tools for businesses, but time will tell if not having a public display of “likes” will cause more — or fewer — likes on-brand Instagram posts.
8. Virtual Instagram influencers raise ethical questions about what is “real” in advertising.
Anyone who scrolls through Instagram with any regularity already knows that some things just look a little too good to be true. Perfect shots on the beach, cozy evenings at home and scenic shots in the outdoors are not only common — but expected. Despite the expectation that Instagram portrays an enhanced reality, some solace can be found in knowing the posts are still based in reality. However, the current (and growing) trend of utilizing virtual Instagram influencers to promote products and initiatives calls this into question as well. Perhaps most prominent among these virtual influencers is Lil Miquela, who has promoted everything from Calvin Klein to Black Lives Matter to its 1.6 million Instagram followers. The use of these influencers presents difficult conversations about body image authenticity, and brand responsibility.
9. Moderation matters more and more.
In recent weeks, news about unchecked predatory comments on videos featuring young children has caused concern among parents, viewers, content creators and advertisers. In short, everybody is concerned — and for good reason. After a vlogger detailed how a few bad actors were using YouTube as a sort of “soft-core pedophilia ring,” advertisers were quick to jump off YouTube until the video giant made changes. Among others, a couple of the big advertisers who pulled ads from YouTube include Walt Disney Co. and Nestle SA. YouTube has been quick to attempt to resolve the issue. In a recent blog post, the company detailed that it has disabled comments on most videos featuring children. Some creators will continue to be able to keep comments enabled if they prove to YouTube they can effectively moderate the comments on their videos.