The Future of Marketing: Recovering from the Pandemic

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future of marketing The world changes in unpredictable ways but change it does. Unless you’re in the enviable position of being the industry goliath, you’re only option is to adapt to changes in the external environment using your internal tools, such as the 4 Ps. Today, we’ll look at the future of marketing and adaptations you must make to respond and succeed in an ever-changing world.

Obviously, the pandemic presented a number of challenges and requires major accommodation to fear and lockdowns. And, the pandemic is far from over, challenging businesses to remain agile as they adapt to changing conditions.

But, other aspects of the external environment changed and you may have missed these changes in your scramble to stay afloat. People working in marketing must adopt flexibility because even when the pandemic is over, consumer behavior will likely change. This is why marketing experts from around the world work to predict the future of marketing. Today, I’d like to share some of the major changes you can expect and how the future of marketing is different. So, let’s dive right in.

The future of marketing

Remote work

For many people, working from home became the new standard as businesses adapted to the pandemic. Now, there’s push back against returning to the office, especially in high-cost cities where employees. In response, some tech firms announced they’re are never returning to 100% office workers. This, and the newly established “Digital Nomad” lifestyle (and other various newly introduced work styles) impacted marketing immensely. Businesses, especially cross-functional departments such as marketing, struggle to manage these remote workforces in a way that’s both equitable and effective.

Change is the norm

Almost all businesses must reestablish their marketing strategies, as they must hurry through their milestones, as well as implement new tools and software. Agile methods moved past engineering and operations, helping brands reach their goals in a matter of months rather than years. Another big element of marketing transformation is shortening the customer journey, cutting out elements that are ultimately dispensable. This not only makes the consumer journey faster and more efficient, but most of these methods even foster a more personal approach that consumers value.

Digital investments also grew greatly this past year. New tools, software, and capabilities were introduced, and companies had a short amount of time to adopt these to create efficiencies. These have become pillars of the evolution of marketing, and they grow stronger each year. These tools also allow markets to experience a higher level of transparency and relatability, as they now gain a closer look into the workings of their favorite brands and companies.  2021 brought the following mantra; experiences are the method, outcomes are the goal, and time-to-value is the metric. Without these, it is harder and harder to stay one step ahead.

Utilize Google’s new update

Google’s Page Experience Update was introduced in May 2021, and with it, new metrics called Core Web Vitals. With a focus on visitor experience, this metric assesses site load time, content stability, and interactivity, which require brands to modify their digital strategies to ensure they continue to show up at the top of search results. Because of this, brands must optimize using tools supporting Core Vitals quickly by becoming more user-friendly than ever before.

The goal of these metrics is to allow users to interact with pages and all elements of a site as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Also, unexpected and sudden changes can now impact your site negatively. You can assess your performance related to these new metrics from your Search Console.

The end of cookies

Next year brings new, and potentially negative, changes to cookies. New privacy regulations in California end the use of third-party cookies everywhere. Privacy-first data collection practices are the new norm, so brands must focus more on developing one-on-one relationships with their consumers, which offers many benefits that we’ll discuss below.

This is the new “data revolution”. Brands must start to collect first-party data using new methods. These include owned digital properties, loyalty programs, but also dating apps, consumer websites, and even sponsored Wi-Fi hotspots. These methods make data easy to collect and utilized easily.

The end of third-party cookies also changes how digital marketing elements act in the future, and how they track consumers. And while the meaning of this change is still unknown by many, one thing’s for sure. This year is your final chance to brace and educate yourself for the upcoming impact of this cookie-less future.

Agencies and marketing specialists must develop a clear plan regarding campaigns after this change. It’s not enough that consumers get used to the new privacy-first data collection, brands also must build their own data collection infrastructure from the ground up to comply with the upcoming regulation changes. In addition to personalization, this first-party method brought improvement to advertisement efficiency as well. Investment in these new data collection methods is the new norm for all companies if it’s not already the case.

First-Party relationships & customer retention

Brands are rapidly migrating to online landscaping and reaching digital consumers. This means that direct relationships with your customers are more and more important. Additionally, one-on-one relationships help brands personalize content, resulting in a better user experience.

Using the correct customer data platform or technology is crucial. The tool must be able to process millions of records, including real-time signals that require your immediate attention before the data goes stale. Utilizing this change and taking advantage of new customer data platforms allows brands to generate millions of personalized messages, doubling the revenue or even higher returns.

E-Commerce & social commerce

Everyone experienced the rising need for selling on digital platforms, including social media. The future of marketing, even beyond the pandemic effects, is increasingly digital, as you can see in the graph below.

sell more products online
Image courtesy of Smart Insights

Facebook and partner, Instagram, implemented shops into their platforms. And while most people weren’t swooned by these changes, it’s undeniable that most of us use these new features, proving once again, that this is part of the future of marketing. Most marketing experts see that more focus on social commerce is the way to go in 2021, as it shortens the customer journey from search to purchase.

This trend also allowed people to resell their purchased items or antiquities easier than ever. This means that not only customers follow these sites, but people looking to sell, trade, or gift hand-me-downs. This doubles the audience you can reach via social media, and users frequent these sites more often on a daily basis.

Trust & transparency

With the acceleration of the pandemic, consumers are beginning to look to brands that share their values, and brands they can trust. In fact, younger consumers will pay more for brands that express their values and use these values to guide decision-making. Taking advantage of this requires a level of transparency foreign to some organizations.

Consumers everywhere are increasingly selective as to where they spend their money. They demand equitably employee processes, good morals, and the genuine support of a value important to their target market. Supporting values requires more than simply spouting them but living them. Make promises publicly, and keep those promises. This way you earn the trust of your audience, therefore, they’ll gladly support your company.

customer trust
Image courtesy of Marketing Charts

Utilize voice-search

Voice-search is a big part of our lives through devices such as Alexa, Google, and others. The future of marketing must adapt to voice searches that look more like natural speech than typed queries. Not only that, but voice search requires more than links and favors images as these devices are increasingly visual, as well.

The pandemic accelerated this change further, so today, no matter what companies planned, voice search is a priority. Additionally, with the introduction of smarter technologies, people are eager to explore what their “smart homes” can do through open dialogue. Brands can utilize this by optimizing their voice-search abilities, focusing on longer key phrases to stay ahead.

Be casual

The trend toward social videos continues in the next couple of years. This too promotes transparency and relatability, resulting in the growth of your audience and their trust towards you. But, consider that younger consumers relate to the TikTok phenomenon. Today, when we open TikTok, we see experts in design, fashion, the sciences, and more sharing their knowledge and experiences. Some small businesses even post the packaging process, tagging the customer in their video, thanking them for their purchase.

After the raging success of TikTok, Instagram introduced its own version of the platform through Instagram Reels in August 2020. Using these platforms allows businesses to naturally weave content into their target audience’s feeds. These videos don’t require cinema quality that’s beautifully shot, designed, or edited to gain attention, meaning that it doesn’t even take that much time and effort out of your day. In fact, most people value a more natural-looking and feeling video rather than a long, heavily edited one.

Live videos are also a form of publicity that became more and more popular on social media, and audiences react to them better than other forms of activity such as posts, blogs, or pictures. Real-time interaction is also a great way to stay personal, and remain relatable and transparent.

Some brands even create these live feeds because they know how lonely and secluded the home office can become, and they offer a way to interact with people through social media. Restaurants, for instance, teach free cooking classes, yoga studios offer free live sessions anyone can join, keeping everyone engaged and sane during these trying times.

influencer marketing success

Influencer marketing

In the past few years, the golden age of influencers began. Everyone wants to be one, and more people are actually pursuing this dream. Brands take advantage of this trend by working with a micro-influencer who can spread the word, and are happy to connect with brands. This power of influencers is expected to grow in the next few years, so now’s the time to join the trend.

Influencers are a great investment because more people use social media on a daily basis, and these young influencers already built trust with a certain audience. Marketing through them allows your product to be seen and trusted faster than other types of “consumer recruitment”.

Brand partnership

Another great investment is establishing brand partnerships. People see more collaborations across brands, like Adidas and LEGO for instance, and it’s likely that more partnerships are the future of marketing. This proves that it’s a good investment, as two established brands can only make each other stronger. Also, these collaborations translate reliability regarding each other to their target market. Unexpected partnerships attract media attention, and generate social buzz, keeping your customers engaged at all times. Joining forces with another well-established company means doubling your customer base, and it makes both companies look more interesting and intriguing.

Augmented reality & automation

Implementing new technological trends is crucial for the future of marketing. Augmented reality is now used by a lot of companies, allowing consumers to see an object in 3D to remove hesitancy common with the lack of tangibility. IKEA uses AR catalogs that people love, especially in times when they can’t visit stores. Also, clothing lines implement AR to allow customers to “try on” clothes and accessories. Additionally, AR is actually more budget-friendly than other traditional channels people tend to use. They’re environmentally friendlier than print ads, cheaper, and more interactive than other marketing mediums known by the public.

The same goes for automation. It can decrease the budget and increase efficiency in the long run. It can also do good in your business, as it can free up employees from those monotonous boring tasks, like data collection, data entry, and so on. Marketing automation is part of the future of marketing as it ensures you sustain marketing efforts even when the environment is challenging.

Conclusion

Overall, the future of marketing is a function of changes in the external environment and new opportunities available. The shifts started before the pandemic, were accelerated by shutdowns, meaning that most of a brand’s goals shifted and agility became critical. The rise of influencers, the trends in social media, and the evolution of data collection are changes that are sure to represent the future of marketing far into the future.  Staying constantly aware is the only thing someone can do to ensure they can stay afloat in the next five years.

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.