2020 is happening. And while the chill of winter seems never-ending, the signs of things to come this year are strong. We’ve taken a moment to pick out a few communications trends we think will be clear and present during this next year.
Farewell demographic audience segmenting. It’s all about the tribes from here on. Realising the limitations of postcodes and ages, income and job status, we will all be embracing more sophisticated audience segmentation based on interests, wants, needs. These choice-based components exist entirely outside our standard demographic description. Instead, tribes encompass all ages, all income levels, all locations. From the Ambitionless Youth to the Hyper Qualifiers, tribes are multiple and we all belong to many, not few.
We can look forward to deep diving into these complex audience groups, to understand what is important to them, how they overlap, what information they’re digesting and where. And crucially how we can speak their language? Solve their problems? Answer their concerns? And reach them through the noise? When we understand what truly motivates our audiences and how to access this community of like-minded people, marketing will turn to nurturing these tribes in order to shape them into powerful brand advocates.
We all know video to be a more interactive, more engaging marketing tool than linear communications but now we need to be thinking along the 360 video lines. Giving the consumer a sense of insight and control that is simply not possible with other content types, 360 video takes the flexibility and relevance of regular video to the next level. Access to Virtual Reality is on the rise. It’s easier and more accessible so brands should be looking to take action, be industry leaders and integrate this technology into their marketing plans.
When it comes to statistics, 360-degree video is more effective, cutting through the marketing noise and offering novelty and engaging content. It gives consumers a ‘real’ experience when they may otherwise not have had access. They could for example shop a full home collection from all angles while at their kitchen table (John Lewis). Or tour a travel destination before booking their flights. The revenue and competitive implications for brands are huge so this is firmly marked as one of our 2020 priorities.
Cookies have long been part of our digital marketing life. For the last couple of decades, nearly all ad tech and martech platforms have relied on them for retargeting, display advertising, and behavioural marketing. These clever cookies represent a clean and clear way to track online behaviour. Thanks, however to recent changes in legislation (hello GDPR and rulings from the European Court of Justice), the cookie days are numbered. And in many cases, already on their way out.
With regulatory barriers, browser blocks, and the requirement for active opt-in (instead of passive opt-out) from consumers, we should all be considering what is going to fill the cookie gap in our marketing arsenal. The answer is third party research and it’s an option we should all welcome. Taking the time to undertake independent research and due diligence for each new campaign means we can validate our strategy, curate targeted plans, and ensure we’re rolling out objective, fresh, and responsive actions for clients.
The digital and data trends continue to evolve and to layer on creating even more complex systems of reporting. It’s very real. The huge brands that have equally huge budgets can max out on data and digital pathways to inform their strategies. But what about the rest of the industry? Our money is on a move back to basics. At heart, PR is about relationships, trust, brand building. These things should be done with the ‘personal’ at the forefront. Not necessarily the data (or at the very least combining the two).
Brands that have more limited budgets will be looking at the user experience. At the community around their brand. The basic changes in communications they can make that will engage directly with their audience and build authenticity from this personal contact. That’s not to say that data doesn’t have a place. Of course it does. But big budgets are becoming scarce and we’re observing consumers who are turning away from flashy campaigns and impersonal messaging, for whom back to basic marketing will no doubt appeal.
While a focus on employer branding has long been central to modern recruitment marketing, we expect a bigger shift towards all things ‘employer culture’ in the next year. We live in a world of increased corporate transparency and candidates, on the whole, expect to be sold a compelling corporate environment, so ensuring a quality business culture is no longer optional, employers should consider it an imperative.
Putting the stories of real employees and the experiences of team members at heart, focus will be fixed on positioning the culture of a business as the key draw for candidates. This will be instead of a focus on the specific role itself or even the financial conditions attached to it. Employees report that they often value culture more than salary. It has also long been accepted that an improved corporate culture helps drive performance and long term company loyalty. This shift towards elevating the employee experience is one no business can afford to ignore. It’s clear that creative recruitment marketing is the way to show and tell.