2022 is just around the corner, and that means year-long marketing plans, budget updates, Q1 campaigns, and making predictions the best we can. What will our customers want? What will our stakeholders want? Heck, what will Google want?
We learned so much from talking with the experts last year — and heard about trends relating to personalization, diversity and inclusion, and creating authentic connections with audiences — that we wanted to reach out again.
Here are trends and predictions that marketing leaders are anticipating in the months to come. Does this line up with whatever’s on your team’s horizon?
Rachel Neff, Associate Vice President, Finn Partners
As people begin to rethink the pros and cons of convenience versus data privacy, more will likely reduce the frequency with which they choose to visit large social networking sites. Instead, I predict people will move toward more private or closed online spaces such as messenger apps, groups, forums and newsletters. Social selling will still be a thing, but the shift will be toward content creators and friends — reviews that feel authentic and trustworthy.
Moreover, brands reaching their interested customers directly through text messages and emails will become even more important in 2022. The prolonged outage of service for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp drove home to many business owners that those shouldn’t be the only platforms they rely on to reach customers.
However, customers will still continue to get their news and information from social media platforms, so brands should be prepared to continue the pay-to-play model that most platforms have implemented. Followers should be considered vanity numbers and impressions a metric tied to spend. In 2022, content should be created with future search behaviors in mind so that a story isn’t a one-and-done deal. Content should be worked into emails, snippets, social media posts — think of using content like your holiday leftovers: there’s always room for leftover turkey in a sandwich with homemade cranberry sauce and some cream cheese.
Jon Bauer, Solutions Consultant, Technology Partnerships, FFW
The continued essentialness of personalization
We all know that personalization has been a trend and has become the norm over the past ten years, but what we’re seeing now is that it really is essential for organizations that want to capture the attention of new customers and existing clients. We have all gotten so used to a personalized experience in everything from Facebook to Amazon that if we don’t get that personalization, we’ll immediately leave and find another option that provides us with that personalized experience. This is especially important for large organizations that have multiple arms, brands and even companies. You cannot rely on your big name to encourage users to wade through non-relevant content to find what they’re looking for. Whether you’re Microsoft or a one-person shop, you need to provide an exceptional, personalized experience.
The (continued) rise of DXP
The phrase Digital Experience Platforms has become a buzzword over the past year now that all-in-one platforms like Acquia have embraced the methodology. But the exciting thing is that there are a lot of options, from headless to all-in-one, for companies looking to utilize DXP as part of their digital transformation. From a marketing standpoint, this has continued to excite me as it will bring all of your marketing efforts under the same platform and, at least in theory, create synergies across all marketing and tech efforts across the company. As with all buzzword topics, success in this area is greatly dependent on successful implementation, proper deployment, buy-in across leadership and different departments, and appropriate training for everyone who is utilizing the platform. Now that the big names are getting involved, we can expect every CEO and CMO to jump on the bandwagon, but it’s our job to make sure it’s implemented and utilized correctly.
Rachel Gray, Director of Strategy, Brandpoint
If there is one thing all marketers know, it is that what works today may not work tomorrow. Pandemics, algorithms, the eminent death of third-party cookies — there’s always something that shifts and upends our original plan. But it also tends to highlight the need for the basics, and I believe that 2022 will be all about getting back to those basics and doing them well. Things like taking the time to do brand-building, better defining and segmenting your target audience, and building a strong digital foundation (SEO-optimized website, social channels, email, etc.). And it’ll be important to make sure all of your channels have a strategic content plan in place and that you are monitoring and optimizing along the way. So, when the algorithm changes or you don’t have the same targeting capabilities, you have the infrastructure there to build trust and show value to your audience.
Arik Hanson, Principal, Arik Hanson Social Media
In the social media marketing world, I’m tracking and talking about three big trends with my clients heading into 2022: 1) Less focus on Facebook — more diversification. As Facebook trends older, continues to lose its “cool factor” and keeps taking PR hits, I’m advising clients to mitigate their risk and think about how they can spend less time using Facebook and more time exploring other social networks like Pinterest, Twitter and TikTok. 2) Executives get real on LinkedIn. In 2021, we saw more execs become active on LinkedIn — and it was about time! However, in 2022, we’ll see those same executives realize they need to get a lot more personal and transparent with their content to succeed on the platform. Sharing corporate statements and stories isn’t going to cut it in the long run; and 3) Social media gets back to its roots. Yes, social media can drive leads and revenue — especially as e-commerce capabilities continue to expand. But it’s not what social media does best. Brands will start to realize this truth and increasingly use social to retain customers vs. always acquiring them, to build community and to raise awareness.
Sara Blood, Business Development Manager, Brandpoint
The Facebook whistleblower and changes by Google and Apple to privacy and data collection will have marketers rethinking their marketing mix. This may have brands spend less on advertising on paid and shared (social) platforms and invest more in earned (PR) and owned strategies, such as email marketing directly and through channel partners. Platforms that rely on digital advertising for revenue will need to invest in new technologies like artificial intelligence to help serve ads, according to IBM Watson, and in charging subscription fees.
Lainey Escarcega, Marketing Manager, GSMI
We entered 2021 with a great deal of uncertainty and daunting questions about the future. Remote work may carry over into 2022, but thankfully, the world is not on complete lockdown as it once was. Conferences and events will be returning to in-person, and our team has made the decision to remain in the virtual event space. After a surprisingly successful year transitioning to strictly online events, we are excited to build on this momentum.
This brings new challenges to our marketing team as we will now have to compete with both virtual and in-person events. Continued success will require attentive listening to customer feedback and actionable response. The customer will be the center of every decision. I look forward to listening and learning from our attendees to redesign authentic marketing strategies in 2022 that will reflect what matters most to them.
Kurt Schmidt, President, Foundry
In early 2020 the pandemic stormed in and then stayed sitting on the couch like some bored step-sibling with a sudden urge to “re-connect with family.” Much like everyone else in that situation we were exhausted and low on snacks with no one to blame for it.
With all the negativity happening daily we knew there was only one thing left we could get excited about and that was by supporting our team and local tech/design communities during these uncertain times.
We re-focused on becoming evangelists for the greater good rather than simply lead generation. Community became something that we talked about daily. We virtually attended events for our communities, volunteered our time with causes near to us, created values-first messaging, and engaged with those communities on social media.
Community around a brand does not just happen. You have to plan for it, create it, nurture it and respect its boundaries when need be. It takes time to build community but we have the patience, the tenacity and the collaborative spirit to make it work, and we are in it for the long haul.
We believe that tending to the garden that helped create us is a better use of our time and money than erecting billboards around it. That being said, you still might see me spinning a Foundry sign nearby on a corner from time to time but I do so only in hopes of drawing more attention to the amazing community of technologists and designers we have here in the Twin Cities.
Jennifer Zick, Founder & CEO, Authentic Brand
The past year can be best described as “squishy.” The market has been up / down, high / low, hot / cold, and in / out in terms of commitment to marketing strategy, execution and overall investment. I’ve never had so many conversations with business leaders who are so interested in upping their marketing game, but also so hesitant to make the commitment and approve the budget. And I understand why: The world has been an unruly and unpredictable place.
It’s been hard for business leaders to feel confident in moving forward when the ground is still shifting. But I do believe that we are starting to find some firmer footing, and confidence is on the rise. There is a collective sense that — while the ripple effect of labor and material shortages are going to continue for quite some time — we will eventually get to the other side of things. And when we do, businesses need to be on top of their game and prepared to scale.
Brands who have continued to invest in marketing, with a focus on customer experience, product innovation and culture, will be best positioned to move at the speed of the come-back market. Those who paused or downsized marketing will find themselves playing catch-up.
I predict that 2022 will be a year of substantial marketing investment — with some brands accelerating from a position of health, and others spending fast in hopes of regaining ground. Those who held off on key marketing hires, laid off marketing teams, or severed ties with trusted agency / freelance partners will now find it challenging to refill those roles.
Fractional marketing leadership will play an increasingly important role for companies scaling and rebuilding — helping to bring experienced leadership to the helm quickly, while lowering risk in a challenging talent market.
Susan Wright, Group Director, Content & PR, Stephens & Associates
COVID jet propelled the role pets play in people’s lives. As specialists in animal health marketing and communications, we’ve always focused on pets. Many brands, regardless of whether they’re specifically related to pets, are now highlighting the human connection to dogs and cats. Connection is the operative word for these brands — and any brand.
To meaningfully connect, brands must create authentic content that goes beyond the surface to show how they help people — and, for many, pets. How and why brands engage audiences will be crucial in 2022 to break through the ever-increasing messaging clutter. Put people first by communicating how the brand helps individuals and families (pets included) navigate the new normal and solve everyday challenges.
Content must meet customers’ needs, be present where customers already get their information, and tell an authentic story. Heavy-handed brand messages that lack connection and understanding of the challenges audiences face will fall flat.
Strong content builds lasting relationships that are meaningful, honest and relevant, and 2022 will be a year of content like no other. We expect continued heavy demand for useful, engaging and credible content that benefits users.
Are you ready for 2022?
2020 and 2021 were years of big changes, trying new things and reacting to the rollercoaster that we were all on. After hearing from these experts, it’s clear that 2022 will be a year of rebuilding. If you need help digging into your marketing strategy — or just plain getting business results — we’re here to help you! Reach out and we can get started.