If there’s one thing we know about digital marketing, it’s that it’s always changing. Each year, new trends emerge that lay the foundation for both the long and short-term future of marketing; and after a year as unpredictable and tumultuous as 2021, marketing trends have once again evolved to fit a society that is very different from what it was a year ago.
Digital marketing will be about compelling storytelling, personalization, and creating a brand that really resonates with your audience. Connecting with new customers as well as existing customers is key to brand success as competition in the online environment grows at unprecedented rates.
Here are the top three digital marketing trends you can expect to see in 2022 and, of course, some advice on how to immediately implement them so that you’re ahead of the curve.
1) Email marketing continues to thrive
If you travel back to 2015 and ask most marketers whether email would be more or less relevant come 2022, we have a suspicion that the answer would be a resounding “less relevant.” Digital marketing channels have evolved at an incredibly rapid pace recently; given the first email was sent in 1971, it only felt natural that old school email would fall by the wayside.
“Will email be more or less relevant for small businesses in 2022?”
Thanks to the power of hindsight, we know that email has become the radio of the last few years. Against all odds, it has not only survived but thrived. In fact, 89% of marketers named email as their primary marketing channel in 2020.
Still not convinced? What if we told you:
- 99% of email users check their emails every day
- Email can generate up to a $42 ROI for every $1 spent
- 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last year
- There are 4 billion daily email users, which is expected to increase to 4.6 billion by 2025.
It’s hard to argue with statistics like that! But the “spray and pray” approach to email has already fallen out of favor. Your inbox is probably filled with hundreds of emails from businesses; promotional mailers, welcome mailers, updates, and more– the majority of which remain unopened.
To garner real success, you have to stand out against the digital noise which means your email campaigns have to be slick. Automation, personalization, and interactivity are where audiences find real value. And don’t forget about optimizing for mobile!
Trends like videos, image carousels, and gamification continue to thrive while boring static copy continues to get phased out. Pair these trends with an easy-to-use email marketing tool that allows you to send personalized offers or content to specific segments of your audience, schedule emails for prime open times, A/B test different subject lines and other variables, and design with mobile in mind, and you’re already starting 2022 off on the right foot.
2) First-party data is waiting in the wings
In 2021, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. If you’ve ever accepted cookies on a website (and we don’t mean the chocolate chip variety), you’ve agreed for information about your browsing habits to be sold to advertisers who can then build a profile of a user based on their search and browsing history, purchases, activities, and interests, third party cookies are an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
Firefox, Safari, and Bing have also announced that they’ll be restricting access to third-party data in the future. Combined with global regulations likes GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, advertisers will have less access in general to third-party data in 2022 and beyond.
To stay ahead of the game, digital marketers will need to rely more on first-party data – or data that you’ve collected yourself. Be that first-party cookie from your own website, data you’ve collected through surveys or voice calls, transactional data, or other customer touchpoints. Ideally, all data should be collected and stored in a centralized location (such as a CRM designed for small businesses) so that you can build an accurate profile of any given user and ensure they’re served advertisements and communications that are relevant and engaging to them specifically.
First-party cookies are also useful when it comes to personalizing website or app experiences. This is done quite well by, for instance, grocery and clothing stores. After making a purchase, you might return to the app or website to see recommendations for a dress in a style you love or a deal on the butter you bought last week, for instance.
As consumers become more privacy-focused and restrictions tighten even further, reliance on third-party data will wane. In 2022, the need for marketers to prioritize gathering accurate first-party data will only become more apparent.
3) Video is still king
Video was the most popular form of marketing media being created online in 2020 followed by blogs. YouTube was the second most-visited site in the world in 2021. And we’ve all witnessed first-hand the explosive growth of TikTok over the last two years.
According to Wyzol, only 63% of businesses used video as a marketing tool back in 2017 while 86% of businesses did so in 2021. Their data also suggests that the global pandemic has only increased the need for video content. Both marketers and consumers say they feel video is more important than ever before, with consumers specifically stating their video consumption has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it isn’t just dancing children (but admit it, you love watching those dance trends) – video is playing an increasingly important role in the purchasing journey too. After all, videos give you a chance to connect with a brand, see a product or service in action, and share it with friends quickly to gauge their opinions or approval.
Videos are an increasingly important part of SEO strategy as well as content marketing in a broader sense. Not only are live videos, stories, and short-form content a good way for brands to connect with people and solidify their voice and personality, but video snippets are starting to become more common in search results.
What it boils down to is that wherever you look, video is ruling the internet. But instead of blindly following trends without any solid strategy, how can you take advantage of them?
One of the first things to do is investigate YouTube as an advertising channel. It might seem left of center, but YouTube can offer a significant ROI for small businesses. The network is enormous, while the advertising network is currently underutilized. And there’s no minimum spend, which is a huge bonus if you’re working with a limited budget. WebFX says that the average cost of YouTube clicks is between ten cents and thirty cents while the average cost for Google clicks is between one and two dollars.
Then there’s TikTok. Though TikTok is growing at a rapidly accelerated rate, it still hasn’t reached the levels of business users which Facebook and Instagram have. In 2021, only 10% of marketers advertised on TikTok – which means you have less competition! Anecdotally speaking, TikTok seems to offer more chances of going viral and racking up views and followers than Instagram. As a result, it’s also an ideal platform to tap into when it comes to influencer marketing. You can even try their creator marketplace to find the perfect influencer for your brand or campaign.
Moral of the story: Connection reigns supreme
Video might be King, but if there’s one common theme when it comes to digital marketing trends, it’s that consumers expect brands to really connect with them. Creating a product or service and expecting it to “sell itself” is no longer enough.
Content marketing is here to stay for the foreseeable future, though it is constantly evolving to fit an ever-changing landscape. While digital marketing trends will wax and wane, the overarching message remains the same: understand what your audience wants and needs, and connect with them in a way they love.