8 noteworthy trends in marketing and technology

A year ago, Globe Content Studio launched MarTech Mornings, a monthly breakfast series bringing together technology experts, marketers, business owners and students to learn and network. We’ve presented discussions on topics ranging from blockchain to podcasts, social media to cannabis.

It’s been a year of learning for us, too. To inform our recent keynote at the Marketing Evolution: C-Suite Summit in Toronto, where we highlighted eight noteworthy industry developments, we drew from the well of knowledge collected at nearly a dozen of our events.

Marketers looking to reach new audiences or better connect with existing audiences need to be thinking about these topics, or they risk getting left behind.

1. Cannabis

With heightened interest leading up to legalization in Canada on Oct. 17, stakeholders in a number of industries need to sit up and pay attention: finance, pharmaceuticals and insurance will be among those impacted. Marketing regulations are strict. Companies should work closely with marketing partners and pay attention to Health Canada guidelines to stay on the right side of the law.

2. Environmental marketing

Now, more than ever, consumers are interested in the bigger picture around the products they buy, from how they’re made to what impact they have on the environment. In response, tech companies are emerging to capture this increasingly conscious consumer base and provide it with convenient and easy solutions for going green.

3. Women who market to women

Yes, using pink in your marketing for a product that’s directed at women is okay! Not only is it not overdone, it’s not a faux pas. But before going pink, make sure you’re building a product or service that caters to an actual need expressed by female consumers. It’s important to include those people on your team and talk to them in focus groups so that you can truly and deeply understand their needs.

4. FinTech

Financial technologies are emerging to help consumers manage money, apply for a credit card, understand their credit scores and invest in bitcoin. However, the average consumer may not know a lot about finance. That’s why emerging FinTech companies need to be able to communicate with their audiences on simple terms.  With straight-forward messaging, FinTech services can draw in consumers, which they can then educate and convert into valuable customers.

5. Influencers

It’s time for marketers not already utilizing influencers to get in the game. Consumers trust influencers three times more than brand ads (Environics Index Report, 2018). Your competitors are investing in influencers and you probably should too.

There are reservations about using influencers due to lack of trust in authenticity. Technologies are emerging in response to this lack of trust to help advertisers make accurate, data-based decisions about the influencers they work with.

6. Podcasts

It’s no mystery why the sweet spot in terms of podcast length is half an hour – that’s the average commute time for many North Americans. It’s also an opportunity for advertisers to speak directly to listeners in an intimate one-on-one conversation.

Because of this intimacy, quality of execution is important. Don’t discount good sound, good music or having a host who’s been coached on audio-friendly phrasing. Also consider toning down the heavy-handed branding – you want a genuine experience built on human connection and audience loyalty.

7. Chatbots

The conversational channel is exploding. And while chatbots are not going to overtake social, email or apps any time soon, it’s an area marketers simply can’t ignore.

The underlying AI technology is still in its early stages and currently the best use of chatbots includes leading consumers on very pointed, linear user journeys.  As Russell Ward, CEO of chatbot company Massively says, “You can’t be all things to all people, but you can be something to someone.”

8. Blockchain

Despite popular opinion, blockchain is not just cryptocurrency. At its root, blockchain technology is a way to transmit information securely by keeping the data decentralized and updated constantly via peer-to-peer.

Not only is the technology picking up steam, it’s already setting itself up to be a potential solution for ad fraud, which is a huge problem for many programmatic ad strategies. Think of the benefits of being able to track where the ads are placed and viewed, and being able to trust that dataset.