The game is getting harder … but there’s hope.
If I have learned one thing in nearly two decades immersed in digital marketing, it’s that you can never rest on your laurels. Yesterday’s hot trends are tomorrow’s old news. Once everybody jumps on the bandwagon and starts doing the same things, it’s time to move on and innovate.
In that spirit, I’m dusting off my crystal ball. Everyone knows that digital marketing Gods and Goddesses like myself have an inerrant ability to predict the future, so here are my infallible predictions for five digital marketing trends to watch for a prosperous 2022.
1. Customer Service Comes First
No one is happy about global supply chain trainwrecks, rising costs, and continued COVID uncertainty. Forget about how hard it has made things for you — from a digital marketing standpoint, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer. The challenges of 2021 may have been an existential threat to your business, but customers are prepared to jump ship at the onset of mere inconvenience.
That’s why smart businesses have to think of customer service as a cornerstone of marketing. Upping your customer service game is not only the key to standing out to potential new customers, but also to keep the customers in the face of the unexpected.
2. A New Era of Personalization
“Personalization” used to be as simple as the customer’s first name autofilled in an email, or some personalized display creative. That’s not good enough anymore. Everyone is doing it, which means it doesn’t stand out.
Winning the personalization game means finding ways to unify the personalization of the customer experience across the entire journey — for example, a personalized email that references that personalized ad creative and projects to a future personalized experience. The point of personalization is to position your customers as being in conversation with your brand, and that conversation has to feel more real than ever.
3. Buckle Up for Less Data
Petabytes’ worth of blogs have been written about “Big Data,” how the internet is saturated with more and more data. Well, here’s a table-turn for you — get ready for less data.
As online privacy becomes a greater priority — and easier and easier to achieve — there will actually be less data in the environment. Building audiences based on user data will no longer be as easy as falling off a log. Instead of fighting it, brands and marketers will need to accept this trend and learn to do more with less. Don’t worry, the game isn’t over — it’s just changing.
4. The Only Presence is Omnipresence
In times of yore, you could afford to find a channel that works for you — Facebook, Google, etc. — and stick with it. Those days are over. If you try to do that in 2022, competitors will steal food right off your plate.
To even get in the game, you need to take an omnichannel approach. Your prospects need to see you everywhere, with a unified message. Only then will they conclude that you are the right solution — because you have drowned out everyone, everywhere.
5. Be Prepared to Stand for Something
Brands used to be agnostic, refusing to take stands. The hope was to please everyone by having an opinion about nothing, especially not hot-button topics.
However, in this golden age of “purpose marketing,” you will actually do better by taking a stand. Even if you piss half the people off, the other half will latch onto you with a passion. No one gets excited about milquetoast brands, so don’t be afraid to be polarizing.
In other words, all signs point to the digital marketing game getting harder. Lots of pretenders to the discipline will get squeezed out by the changes. But don’t worry — that’s happened every time Google or Facebook updated their algorithm. The pros, who have put in their 10,000 hours, know how to adapt and be agile. Work with a pro, and you will have a leg up.