By Michael J. Collins

Marketing is deeply in flux as rapid acceleration of digitalization and technological advancement continues to unfurl. To better predict the future of marketing requires learning from the past and accepting that the only thing that’s constant is change. The past year, in particular, has been remarkable, albeit disruptive, which has contributed significantly to the transformation to come.

For example, while Facebook advertising didn’t exist ten years ago Facebook generated $26.17 billion in revenue in Q1 of 2021 alone, mainly from advertising – which equals over $100 billion in ad dollars a year. This gets me thinking about where we invested ad dollars a decade ago.  While this is just one example of a major shift, it’s imperative to be prepared for the new technologies and marketing practices that will certainly emerge and shape our business model as we know it.

I anticipate a variety of changes as we look to the future of marketing, but here are some of the ways I expect marketing to evolve over the next few years.

Original and interactive content will rule.

People crave originality, creativity and authenticity in content a lot more now than they used to, but there is stiff competition for share of voice. According to Microsoft data the average human attention span is now only eight seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish.

Digital fatigue is real, and consumers are becoming much more selective about the type of content they digest. Businesses and brands will need to invest more in original and unique content and tap into a higher level of creativity to retain and keep their audiences happy and engaged.

Additionally, original content helps gain mentions from media and influencers, which in turn, can drive additional brand visibility and increased website traffic. There’s no question that producing high-quality original content can be challenging.  It requires tons of research, time, and effort; however, if you think about the exceptional benefits that you will get from your content and the impact on your brand you already know that it’s worth the investment.

The role of influencers in marketing will continue to evolve.

Influencer marketing has garnered a lot of interest over the last few years.  In fact, over the last three years, Google searches for “influencer marketing” has increased by 1500%.  This goes to prove that the future of influencer marketing is bursting with opportunities.

We know that influencer marketing is here to stay.  But what does the future of influencer marketing hold?  Just like all other marketing strategies, it’s bound to change with new technologies and trends. As modern consumers become more and more averse to traditional advertising, influencer marketing emerges as a promising advertising channel.

In particular, I predict that micro-influencers will play an increasingly important role. While micro-influencers may have fewer followers, they offer a more personal connection with their audience and an opportunity for much higher engagement.

Events will remain a mix of hybrid for some time.

I predicted earlier this year in a LinkedIn article outlining marketing predictions for a post-covid 2021 that many companies would make a move towards more in-person meetings by 2022. A global survey of event planners found that 30% said they would execute virtual-only events in 2021, versus 42% who said a hybrid approach would be their strategy.

At CFA Institute during the pandemic we found that our digital events were able to achieve high levels of engagement while broadening our reach beyond those who traditionally attended our in-person conferences.

I predict that moving forward, the combination of in-person and virtual elements, especially those that prioritize interactivity, will help businesses continue to deepen connections with their audiences. Brands that figure out how to include hybrid into their event marketing strategies through additional content development will stand out and have higher retention rates.

Audio platforms will continue to emerge as a solution to ease digital and video fatigue.   Digital fatigue also encompasses Zoom fatigue, which today’s marketers are no stranger to. Luckily, the rise of audio has offered marketers and event planners globally a new way of hosting online events.

This past year Clubhouse, an exclusive invitation-only social networking platform, has emerged as a voice leader. Just like a conference call, Clubhouse provides a conversation room and once the conversation is over, the room is closed. The platform offers a sense of authenticity and real-time conversation, a breath of fresh air among those who embrace this emerging channel.

In addition, live podcast events are a great way to deepen relationships with customers, expand audiences and strengthen brand loyalty.  The audio nature of podcasts offer a unique and more intimate user experience, far removed from the visual cues that we’re accustomed to.

The rise of audio options will continue to emerge in the future since listening stimulates a different part of the brain that makes us visualize concepts, creating an entirely different experience from watching on a desktop or smartphone.

It’s hard to know what other technology will emerge, but I’m eager and excited to see what the future of marketing holds.

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

By Michael J. Collins

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