The new decade presented a new marketing playbook, but the script is still in draft. As we head towards Q2, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the most influential trends that have defined Q1 and continue to shape the brand marketing industry in 2020.
Since last year, over 50+ CMOs have joined Social Native’s Marketing Mix podcast to share their insights and predictions for top trends marketers should implement into their strategies. Here are 3 of the most noteworthy:
1. Micro-Influencer Marketing
While many started to speculate whether influencer marketing was dead, the industry is now on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022. Influencers have played a huge role in marketing since the beginning of time. Lisa Perez, Head of Social Media and Influencer Marketing at Savage X Fenty states that “influencers aren’t new, but the way we now interact with them is”.
The rise of social media and the proliferation of the iPhone simply digitized word of mouth marketing and gave rise to many more. Brands found a new, more humanized way to connect with their consumers through influencers. However, cracks started to appear when brands began to prioritize audience size over audience authenticity and when influencers lost sight of their creative autonomy. Karen O’Brien, VP of Social Media at Signet Jewelers explained that the key to empowering influencers is by giving them creative freedom to stay true to their brand, rather than just pushing yours.
As the influencer marketing industry grew, authenticity began to diminish. But this year, authenticity is back on the rise. Social media platforms began cracking down on bots and fake followers, Instagram started to test the hiding of public likes to shift how engagement was measured, and brands have finally started to restrategize the creative ways they can unlock the powers of influencers.
Micro-influencers are also largely to thank for this revitalization and will continue to offer high-value to brands in Q2. With only a few thousand followers on average, micro-influencers possess more authentic relationships with their smaller, more engaged audiences. And with a lower cost per activation, brands are able to scale their influencer strategy locally or globally far more efficiently.
2. Merging Brand & Performance
In 2019, immediate spikes in revenue led many brands to believe that performance marketing was the key to success. This year, many brands have realized that a focus on direct response can cost you your brand and LTV.
Amanda Goetz, VP of Marketing at The Knot warned brands that, “if you are solely a performance-driven company, you are going to find yourself a leaking bucket that you have to keep filling to reacquire customers.”
Similarly, Kristen D’Arcy, CMO at PacSun shared that it’s fundamental to ensure there is a good balance between brand and performance marketing, without getting too caught up in immediate results.
Having admitted to over-investing in digital, market leaders such as Adidas are continuing to merge the powers of brand and performance marketing throughout 2020 as a way to solidify their relationship and affinity with consumers.
A great way to do this is to use performance spend to amplify your brand content across social media channels instead of just running ads with a CTA to “Buy Now.” Brands will find more long-term value in using performance dollars to deliver more meaningful content with consumers so that when they’re ready to buy, your brand is already top of mind.
In this decade, brands need to do more than sell. With so much choice in the market, consumers crave personal connection and purpose more than ever, which is why brand building will continue to be of the most important trends for Q2.
3. The Shifting AOR Model
While many big players continue to maintain a very successful Agency of Record (AOR) — think Nike and Wieden+Kennedy — technological advancements in the marketing landscape have led brands, especially direct-to-consumer ones, to rethink their relationship with agencies.
Nick Jacroux, Head of Brand Marketing at CAULIPOWER explained it best:
“Nobody knows a brand better than those who build it. It’s crazy to think that the same agency partner is going to get it right every single time. Certain groups are better at doing certain things…Work needs to be allocated based on skillset to ensure maximum productivity and performance.”
As an alternative to opting in for a one-stop-shop, we will be seeing many brands benefitting from a project-based approach with specialized partners who can fulfill their marketing and advertising needs in quick turnaround times and at a lower cost in Q2.
While the beginning of 2020 has presented its challenges, there are still many trends to keep in mind when crafting your brand marketing strategy throughout the end of the year. After all, who knows better than the top marketers at some of the world’s biggest companies?