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Marketing Trends: How Good Were My Predictions?

March 16, 2021

Dog as fortune teller wearing turban and sitting at crystal ball images of bones swirling inside as he attempts to predict the futureblank vertical space, 24 pixels highBack in September, 2019, I was one of 28 “marketing pros” who contributed to an article on Future Marketing Trends.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Buncha people making guesses, really, and some of those guesses were pretty safe: “More marketers will be using video!!”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The article was published on September 10, 2019, and you can read it here.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I made 5 predictions back then, and I’m printing them below, verbatim.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Beneath each one I’ve added some commentary from the here and now.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

1. A move away from influencers.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

There are signs of influencer fatigue. So many (mostly major) brands have embraced influencer marketing, we’ve reached the saturation point.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It’s increasingly difficult to trust influencer endorsements when you know influencers are being paid or otherwise compensated.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Many smaller brands will be focusing more on user-generated content and customer testimonials.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Commentary:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A lot of people still put their faith in influencer marketing.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I remain unconvinced.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I don’t have any hard numbers, but in August, 2020, Forbes published an article titled, Is Influencer Marketing On The Decline?

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highSome excerpts:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Despite reports on the growth of influencer marketing last year, it appears that this marketing channel could be becoming less effective. Some research found that influencer engagement rates dropped significantly from 2019 to 2020. And some marketers reported seeing a consistent downward trend in conversion rates last year.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Think along the lines of a popular YouTuber from a local college to a major celebrity like Kim Kardashian, and you will have a general idea of the range of influencers that sprang up to help marketers push their brands and their products and services.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The luxury lifestyles of some influencers have been exposed as facades (think pretending to be on planes or in Paris when they’re really at home). Some influencers have also been known to purchase fake followers and engagement to increase their salability to marketers.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Many consumers are beginning to realize that influencers aren’t necessarily authentic product users; they are spokespeople who are paid to pitch products on social media instead of on TV.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high2. A move to shorter posts.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

People argue that you should write long-form posts, because Google likes them; hence they’re better for SEO. In a strict sense, that’s true.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But you have to weigh that against short attention spans and an ever-growing content glut.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

There’s a lot to be said for brevity in the form of a ‘best answer.’ Shorter posts are also better at retaining reader attention.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Commentary:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The evidence here says I’m wrong: blog posts are getting longer.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

According to IsItWP, a WordPress technology firm, average post length increased 42% between 2014 and 2018, from 800 words to 1,151 words.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

According to Buffer, a social media solutions firm, the ideal blog post length is 1,600 words.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Maybe so, but I’m a one-person shop. Like most small businesses, I don’t have time to research and write long posts on a regular basis.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

True, Google does reward long posts with better search results, but what are the odds that I’m going to appear on Page 1 of a Google search?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Zero.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Which is OK because the kind of clients I’m looking for don’t sit down and google “freelance illustrator.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They hire people they’ve gotten to know through LinkedIn or other social platforms. People they’ve come to trust and are ready to take a chance on.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I do write the occasional “whopper,” like Humor In Content Marketing: It’s NOT About Being Funny (3676 words), but that’s an exception.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

And I think it makes sense: save your time and energy for select topics that get to the heart of what you do, and why you do it.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high3. Using comics to explain complex topics.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The June 1-2, 2019 edition of The Wall Street Journal had a story about an engineering firm that puts its employment contract in comic book format to help prospective employees better understand what’s expected of them.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It’s been a big success because it’s eliminated a lot of ‘legalese.’ Visuals keep people engaged; jargon does the opposite.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Commentary:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I guess this one was just wishful thinking on my part. I haven’t seen any similar stories since I wrote the above.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I stand by the idea, however. A few excerpts from the WSJ story:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Hayley Wardrop didn’t know that taking a job with Australian engineering and consulting firm Aurecon would require reading a comic book.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

That’s the unusual format for Aurecon’s employment contract.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Contract lawyers don’t exactly have a reputation for innovation. And contracts make for dense, boring reading. Some companies are hoping some people might actually read them in comic-book format.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Comic contracts “spark people’s imaginations,” said Camilla Andersen, a law professor at the University of Western Australia who worked with Aurecon on the contract… “Even people who hate lawyers are going, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ You don’t get that a lot as a legal researcher.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

At Aurecon, a survey of more than 250 employees found the comic contract scored higher than the previous text-based contract in comprehension, perception, and engagement.blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high4. More guest posts.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Most of us have company blogs, but a limited readership. Most brands try to get more views by reposting content to LinkedIn and other social channels.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But all those channels have algorithms that limit organic reach; to get seen, they force you to buy ads.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Guest posting is a no-cost alternative: publish your content on high-profile sites with many readers.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Commentary:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I couldn’t find any hard numbers here, either. I don’t know if more people are writing guest posts now than in 2019.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

FWIW, I’m writing more guest posts. That’s because I found a great match for me: the Business 2 Community platform.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

There’s an application process: you have to submit published samples if you want to become a contributor.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The key for me: B2C doesn’t require original material, which means I can update and republish my best blog posts.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

(Most high-level, high-readership platforms do require completely original posts, which means a serious time commitment.)blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The update part is important: I want the information to be current, the best that it can be. I often revise my original posts, and add new information.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s an example: Curating Content: What It Is & How To Do It Right [Infographic]

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highFor a comprehensive look at guest blogging, I recommend Melissa Fach’s A Guest Blogging Guide for SEO: 2021 and Beyond.

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels high5. A greater emphasis on word-of-mouth.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

You can’t beat people talking about your brand, and singing its praises. Social media helps spread the word, but you’ve got to get people talking first.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Jay Baer says you do that with a talk trigger: doing something for every customer that’s so remarkable, they’ll want to share it with their friends.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

When that happens, happy customers do your marketing for you.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Commentary:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

You have to read that one bit carefully: doing something for every customer…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Every customer. That’s the hard part. It’s no good having an occasional give-away or special drawing.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

What good is having one lone customer tell their friends they got lucky??blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Jay gives some great examples of talk triggers, but alas, I’ve had no luck coming up with one myself. Still working on it.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

It’s not hard to find compelling stats about word of mouth marketing:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

  • 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends.
  • WOMM brings in 5 times more sales than paid media.
  • 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a critical influencer in their purchasing decision.
  • 88% of customers trust online reviews.
  • 64% of marketing executives consider word-of-mouth to be the most effective form of marketing.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highIf those numbers are even close to being true, marketers should be obsessing about word of mouth marketing.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Are they? I never get that impression.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Most businesses seem to rely on paid advertising— a far cry from getting a recommendation from a friend.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highI’ll close with a laugh. I just put this post through a word counter. Post length: 1312 words.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

So much for me writing short posts!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       * blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highYou can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Daniel Tideman, Creative Director, 3amCreative LLC

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2021 3:13 PM

    Fascinating!

    Like

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