This article explores eight key trends marketers should consider for their 2022 people, data, and experience strategies.
Trend #1: Purpose-driven organization
Whether it is reaching zero emissions, protecting the environment, or creating more sustainable practices, many organizations are changing the messaging around why they exist and how they make an impact beyond profit.
Transparency, ethics, and social responsibility are important to the modern consumer, and businesses have begun to realize this. Since Covid, consumers want businesses to be more socially responsible and proactive in addressing social issues. A report by Accenture states that 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on current and relevant issues like sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices. Climate change, in particular, headlined the media in 2021, so naturally, consumers have become increasingly conscious about buying goods and services from socially responsible brands.
We also saw employees voice their frustrations and inequality in the workplace this year. Research carried out by McKinsey predicted that customers would support the brands that demonstrate their care for their customers, employees, and shared causes. Many brands promote their approach to diversity and inclusion in their messaging and web channels. Optimizely has a dedicated section on their website to show their support to people of all backgrounds. Contentful even has a diversity and inclusion tag assigned to their blog.
Businesses are beginning to recognize the effectiveness of showing a sense of social responsibility, so we will likely see brands continue emphasizing the values, causes, and inclusive initiatives they support in their marketing communication and messaging in 2022.
Trend #2: Customer centricity and personalization
In a world where people switch between numerous digital and physical channels, linear customer journeys are almost a thing of the past. But that has not stopped consumers from expecting products, services, and information to be available to them exactly when they want them. Covid has brought a new meaning to convenience, and consumers expect even more personalized experiences than before.
Up until recently, marketing communication focused more on the business. But today’s consumers do not respond well to brands that focus on themselves. Companies that recognize this are shifting their focus to meeting customers’ needs in real-time and putting the customer at the center of their efforts: real-time customer-centricity. Customers expect information that is relevant to them when they need and expect it. For businesses to achieve this, all processes and technology must be capable of capturing and processing data in real-time. They then must be able to react quickly and dynamically adapt content to the user context.
Trend #3: More AI and Marketing Automation
Artificial intelligence grows in importance for businesses and their digital marketing strategies. Today, marketers need a powerful toolset to manage data, uncover real-time insights, and rapidly innovate to deliver the relevant and personalized experiences customers demand. Using AI helps brands predict consumer behavior and deliver creative content.
Marketers are increasingly using AI to aid with creative tasks such as ad copy, headline creation, and even logo designs. AI enables businesses to interpret, analyze and understand vast amounts of data, impossible with human input alone. This knowledge provides teams with a far greater understanding of their target audiences' past and future behavior.
In recent years, AI and marketing automation tools have become more accessible for marketers. For example, Recommendations by Optimizely provides AI-generated insights in real-time, so you know exactly what content will drive engagement and conversions—without the need for manual audits. The user can analyze all content with big-data analysis to make informed decisions on what to create next.
Trend #4: Privacy and Data Security
Data privacy is currently one of the most important topics in the digital sphere. According to Pew Research Center, there is an evident distrust of corporate data collection practices in the US, with 79% of Americans questioning how businesses access and use their data. Elsewhere, a survey from 2020 by the EU Agency For Fundamental Rights reports that 41% of EU-citizens are not willing to share any personal information with private companies.
Then there is the much-talked-about GDPR regulatory that came into effect in May 2018 and caused upheaval to marketers all across the EU. All you need to do is look at some of the largest GDPR fines in recent times—including Google and Amazon—to understand there are huge lessons for marketers to learn in terms of consent. And with the death of the third-party cookie quickly approaching, organizations are searching for alternative means of accessing consumer data.
So, how can marketers use other data strategies to effectively target and engage with their customers? One of the most practical ways of reducing the reliance on third-party data is to collect and invest in your customer data. First-party data provides valuable insights that can help deliver better customer experiences and drive business results. Provide easy, intuitive ways for people to share information about themselves and then use this information to build stronger relationships and deliver a more personalized experience.
Utilizing a Consent Management solution or Customer Data Platform (CDP) is another way of ensuring you remain compliant with data regulations when tracking users online.
Trend #5: Efficient Content and Multimedia Management
Google and other search engines continue to prioritize high-quality content. Therefore, brands that focus on providing a positive user experience by delivering relevant, informative, and engaging content position themselves to rank higher and convert more leads.
The goal of content is not just to provide people with information and then hope for a positive response. Instead, it aims to encourage audiences to share and engage with it. Whether it is a blog article or a product video, your content is what connects your audience to your brand. This connection is vital for building relationships and trust with your customers.
And that goes for visual content too. Websites must be highly visual and fully optimized to engage and convert visitors. Users want and expect high-quality imagery, video, and content that loads quickly and provides a robust web experience. If the page-load time increases from just one second to three, the probability that a user would bounce rises by 32%. As a result, many businesses feel they have to choose between quality and performance.
Media Optimizer by Cloudinary eliminates this dilemma by delivering small files coupled with high visual fidelity. All the standard transformation tasks for images and videos, such as format, quality, or size variants, are all handled by Media Optimizer. You can automatically deliver images and videos in the quality and format suited for each end-user browser, device, and connection speed.
Another solution to the speed-quality predicament is the welcomed arrival of AVIF and WebP2—new image file formats that produce high-quality compressed images without compromising much on quality. With major companies already supporting these formats, the future of the fast-loading, high-quality image looks bright.
Trend #6: Hybrid and Live Stream Events
Although hybrid events existed pre-pandemic, they have grown in popularity over the last year in light of remote working and travel restrictions. However, as people begin to feel comfortable again gathering in a physical environment, what will become of hybrid events? Should events be entirely physical? Or, should they remain virtual to serve audiences who prefer attending live events from the comfort of their home? A hybrid approach seems to be the answer.
While in-person events enable companies to network, meet like-minded professionals, and inspire innovation, they can be extremely costly and difficult to measure in terms of ROI. On the other hand, hybrid events combine in-person with virtual components making them more sustainable, inclusive, and eco-friendly.
With the benefits clear, hybrid events are expected to continue into 2022 and beyond. With that in mind, event organizers must adjust their business models to include a robust digital component and utilize technologies to create an immersive experience for those who wish to attend digitally.
Trend #7: Data-driven Marketing
At one time, data-driven marketing was an ambitious concept bordering on the ridiculous, but today, it is one of the top digital marketing trends. Data-driven decision-making accurately answers questions like who, when, where, and what, and makes those answers actionable.
Using data in an automated or semi-automated way allows for a more optimized marketing strategy. By leveraging machine learning and algorithms, marketers remove a lot of ambiguity from their media planning and buying. With the use of data, the age of generic marketing messages is over. Messaging can be highly targeted and optimized to ensure it will resonate with the relevant audiences.
Take Echobot, for example. Their machine learning processes gather and sort data from publicly available online sources, which is then centralized in their Data Cloud. The huge data repository has stored more than 10 billion unique articles to date organized for users to access for market research, sales intelligence, lead generation, etc.
Trend #8: Remote Working in Marketing Teams
One of the most significant changes we have seen over the last year has been the global move to remote working. Many organizations can see the massive benefits and cost savings associated with this new way of working and have fully embraced the culture for the future of their business.
Working from home has proved convenient and safe but has also shown to increase work productivity. And this would not be possible without all of the online collaboration tools available to us. Marketing teams worldwide have been relying on a variety of solutions for content management, communication, SEO research, and other activities.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the most popular tool talked about was Zoom. The video conference platform has worked for everything, from large team meetings and webinars to one-to-one calls. Communication applications such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have empowered collaboration and made contacting coworkers easy and convenient. WeTransfer has made it effortless to share large files, with Jira helping greatly with project management. With so many tools available to choose from, marketing teams worldwide have been able to continue successfully and uninterrupted with their role responsibilities.
As the marketing world constantly evolves, keeping up-to-date with current trends is vital for survival and growth. Businesses need to react and adapt to the changes that are happening in the digital realm to remain relevant and competitive. To do this, they need to have a versatile tech stack.
Here at Bright, we propose implementing headless, API-first technologies where they make sense. To learn more about how we can help with your 2022 strategy, book a meeting with one of our knowledgeable Martech experts who would be happy to help.