You can’t go through something like a one-year (and counting) global pandemic and not expect some things to change. On the other hand, marketers and change are not exactly strangers. Marketers have always lived in a world where consumer preferences are constantly evolving and they are forced to adapt. In the last year, marketers have done it in spades, rolling with the abrupt suspension of in-person events, a massive shift to digital marketing, and for many, tight budgets.
As the economic recovery gathers momentum, many marketers are likely to find themselves with more dollars to spend. But how and where should they spend them? Will people yearn to get back to normal, or will they continue to adopt the habits they developed over the past year? What messages will resonate and what channels will reach the post-pandemic consumer?
As the marketing gaze turns to the future, here are some trends to watch out for in 2022.
1. The future of events will be hybrid
When the pandemic forced closures and social distancing requirements, marketers faced cancellation of all manner of in-person events, from grand store openings to high-value concert series. Instead, virtual events became a mainstay for interacting with potential customers and clients. Increased spending on social media and other digital platforms helped make these events successful.
Now consumers, and the marketers who target them, are faced with two competing impulses. The need to meet again is strong, for sure. But having experienced the immediacy of live events from the comfort of their layers, many consumers are happy to keep things virtual. To serve both audiences, you will need to create hybrid events. In-person events will have a strong digital component, and technologies like AR and VR can create an immersive experience for those who prefer not to venture.
2. Content alignment will never be more important
Any company that wants to own its industry will need to align its public relations, thought leadership and SEO. Consider this Venn diagram of thought leadership, which shows the importance of overlaying visibility, credibility, and authority. If you can line these things up, you can easily stand out in your industry.
That means you need to have source content on your website and other things that you own, like social sites or siblings. Once you get a solid foundation of authority on different topics, work to gain credibility by adding the PR element, where others are quoting or mentioning your content. Finally, make sure people are linked to your content on certain topics you may own … which my next point suggests.
3. Marketing companies will take more ownership
I see more sales and marketing companies taking ownership of the products or services that they help sell. This change makes sense to me because if you can sell someone’s product and generate significant income, you will ultimately increase the value of that company. If you have a stake in the property, you’ll be even more motivated to get it out of the park. It is very beneficial for both sides.
If you are in marketing and sales, start looking first for what products and services will benefit from your services. Then identify which of those companies will allow you to set performance metrics to get some ownership as you meet those goals. For example, TechCrunch recently reported on an outsourced CMO company that created its own venture company to invest in companies that can benefit from company resources.
4. Involving non-profit organizations will be an important part of marketing plans.
Increasingly, consumers are looking to support companies that have a mission or give back in some way. This trend will only increase, and a complete marketing plan should participate in this development by partnering with nonprofits. This partnership opportunity has the potential to not only grow your business, but also to align you with philanthropic missions that are important to you.
Expanding your brand and reach while participating in advocacy for a nonprofit is beneficial to everyone. However, your marketing plan shouldn’t end simply by expressing your support for a charity. It should include effective goals such as product placement, affiliate marketing, percentage of sales donations, and / or corporate sponsorship. According to nonprofit executive coach Mallory Erickson, these types of partnerships can help you reach a new audience around the world.
5. AI will make influencer marketing easier and more results-oriented
The death of influencer marketing, while often predicted, has yet to occur. Valued at $ 9.7 billion in 2020, the market is estimated to hit $ 15 billion in 2022, with a majority of marketers reporting that they budget for more than 20% of their spending on influencer content. It’s not that influencer marketing hasn’t changed over the years; the recent shift towards micro-influencers and their more engaged audiences is one example.
The next change will be the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence. You can leverage technology for everything from influencer identification (AI can view and evaluate millions of influencer videos in ways a human cannot) to performance influencer marketing. In this model, powered by predictive AI, you only pay for the conversions and sales that influencers produce. ROI is practically assured.
6. Marketers will find alternatives to third-party cookies
With Google’s recent announcement, another predicted death, that of the third-party cookie, has been postponed (until 2023). But while the delay means that the need for marketers to put aside 3P cookie-based targeting strategies has become a little less urgent, it is no less critical. Consumers are demanding greater privacy protections and control over their data, and marketers will need to adapt.
You can start by increasing your efforts to collect and fully exploit your source data; after all, first-party cookies are going nowhere. Or you can use tools like Google’s Privacy Sandbox or FLoC (Federated Cohort Learning) to achieve personalization and consumer orientation without interfering with user privacy. Regardless, CRM tools, surveys, and interactive content will become increasingly critical to marketing success.
As brands compete for consumer attention in these still uncertain times, marketers will find themselves in a familiar role: agent of change. By keeping these six trends in mind, you can stay ahead of the curve.