This post was first published on LinkedIn.
Marketing today looks a lot different than it did 18 months ago. Marketers are facing a landscape that has been disrupted by a pandemic, introduced new and hybrid business models and seen digital privacy updates that have brought sweeping change to the industry. Add all this to a year where in-person events were suspended, where there was a massive shift to online and digital communications and some marketing budgets were put on hiatus. As the economic recovery picks up, the momentum will ultimately leave digital marketers with more dollars to spend. But, how should those dollars be invested?
As marketers, we’re used to a fast-paced and constantly evolving ecosystem of marketing and technology platforms, consumer preferences, competitor trends and general change. However, marketers will need to continue to be nimble and adapt to these trends to ensure success in 2022 and beyond.
Six Trends to Get to Know
If the past year-plus taught us anything, it was that having our digital marketing house in order was key to business sustainability and success. As we turn our attention to 2022, marketers need to consider the mainstream shifts from the past year and transform to meet the needs of the current market.
Here are six marketing trends to be aware of for 2022:
People are craving more good in the world: After a year of constant change, humanity is looking for more positivity and purpose -- and they are also looking to support companies that have a mission or give back in some way. Good news! There is a better way for companies to do business and to craft marketing campaigns to engage these people in the future. B Corps are leading the movement of inspired and purpose-driven companies who are doing exactly this. The future of marketing in 2022 lies in a company’s ability to go beyond the status quo by leaning into and living its values and taking consistent action that leads to meaningful impact. When you buy from, work for, and work with B Corps, you vote for the world you want to live in. These are the things customers and employees are increasingly caring about in 2022.
We’re facing the death of the cookie and the rise of zero-party data: As most marketers have heard, Google announced that they will stop supporting third-party cookies by the end of 2023. This, layered on top of the Apple iOS 14 updates earlier this year (as well as the upcoming iOS 15 updates that will impact email marketing and privacy) means that the data landscape is about to shift significantly for marketers. Up until now, tracking users through cookies has been essential for marketing efforts. When this capability goes away or is minimized significantly, first-party and zero-party data will become even more meaningful to marketers. By enabling and encouraging individuals to willingly provide information and validate their intent, zero-party data is becoming an important part of the data mix. When zero-party data is requested sparingly and applied strategically, it will significantly improve how marketers communicate with customers and drive personalization efforts in 2022 and beyond. Customer retention, a robust organic social and digital presence in this new landscape will also be key.
Contextual marketing strategies are the future: With the death of the cookie in mind, finding new and relevant ways to target and show up for potential customers at the right time is even more important. Contextual targeting enables marketers and advertisers to retain precision in targeting potential customers through contextually relevant content for their brand or business. When thinking about reaching net new customers without cookies, contextual targeting will allow marketers to continue to garner recognition and engagement with hyper-relevant and targeted audiences. Marketers can also continue to drive outcomes while future-proofing against a cookieless targeting strategy that is to come.
Also, the future is hybrid: While the pandemic forced long-term closures and social distancing requirements, marketers, too, faced the cancellation or rescheduling of in-person events, networking, conferences, store grand openings and more. Virtual events and live-streaming were quick to become a mainstay as marketers pivoted to find new ways to engage with customers, prospects and the community. While in-person events will eventually return to ‘business-as-usual,’ they will continue to maintain a strong digital component via a hybrid model. Using platforms like Zoom and technologies like AR and VR to create immersive experiences, hybrid options will provide increased access and comfortability to those who require or prefer the virtual environment.
Short-form video content will be required to succeed, not just a nice-to-have: As people were forced to stay home and shelter-in-place, audio-visual content such as video advertisements, live streams and short-form video consumption increased. TikTok quickly set the record for the most downloads in a single quarter in the first three months of 2020. To compete, Instagram Reels was launched later that year. This type of short-form, ephemeral video content (TikTok, Instagram Reels and Stories, Facebook Stories and Live, etc.) is also projected to rise to over 80% of online content by 2022. Consumers are not only engaging more with short-form video content, but platforms are prioritizing it. Marketers and companies are also being rewarded by social media algorithms for creating and publishing it. Brands who leave short-form video content creation out of their overall strategy will be left behind in 2022.
Progressive, future-looking companies will craft AI marketing experiences that remove bias: Just as marketers can use artificial intelligence (AI) in fun ways to predict audience behavior, identify influencers, create personalized experiences, enable predictive analysis and return dynamic pricing, AI continues to play an undercover role in gatekeeping opportunities for basic liberties like employment, healthcare, housing and education. Through facial recognition technology, algorithms and machine learning, personal autonomy and independence are called into question. Forward-thinking companies will consider their impact and seek to use AI in a responsible way for their customers, including asking things like these 7 Questions to Ask in the Era of AI Bias. Additionally, companies who are ahead of the curve will also use practices like these 3 Digitally Responsible Practices for Your Company in the Era of AI Bias.
As companies continue to compete for consumer attention in this evolving landscape, marketers will continue to be asked to innovate, be change-makers and craft better companies and the strategies with which to market them. By making these seven trends a part of your consideration set for 2022, you can stay ahead of the curve and drive the evolution of the next generation of better business.