What Online Marketing Will Look Like in 2022

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A global pandemic, material shortages, issues of ethics, equity and race, civil unrest, and economic struggles all combined to make 2021 an exceptionally hard year. Brands who hope to see success in 2022 must adapt to the changes in the marketing landscape which mirrors the world around us. Finding the right tactics to engage can drastically improve the chances for quality engagement and create lasting impact for years ahead.

Hybrid Events

Event marketing in 2022 will continue to merge physical and virtual worlds as travel restrictions, vaccine requirements, personal health, and business philosophies debate the risk of returning to fully onsite conferences. The new hybrid approach has revealed unexpected advantages. More people can attend which means sponsors can engage a greater number of attendees in the digital space then they could manage in a physical booth. Starting in a digital space also enables interaction and conversation to flow without travel interruption, lost business cards, or time consuming manual follow-up. A conversation started online can pass from a chat transcript to email follow up and online meetings without any disruptive feelings associated with changing communication mediums. This frictionless path should lead to increased conversion rates. 

The increase in hybrid events and digital gathering spaces have also given rise to a more diverse cast of voices participating in panels and presentations. New speakers who would not be comfortable on a large stage are having their voice magnified by virtual events. The flexibility of live discussion, curated panels, and pre-recorded sessions let’s speakers craft the experience in a way that suits them, their presentation style, and the sessions’ intent. 

Intersectional Representation

The diverse consumer involvement also requires brands to have a keenunderstanding of equity/access/and representation as they are under vocal scrutiny by people with direct experience. Understanding the issues of equity is not enough, a brand must also utilize intersectional representation in their marketing to ensure that the brand’s philosophies translate to real-world action. How can brands leverage this in 2022? The first key is transparency and genuine ethical alignment. If a company’s key stakeholders and decision makers do not align with a message of inclusion then it will come to the surface and damage the brand. Corporate marketing and communication teams must include diversity within the team, and in the voices they consult. The more diverse your staff, the easier it will be to check campaigns before you land unwittingly in a horrible PR position. For smaller companies your marketing personnel should be trained in Intersectionality, Diversity, and Inclusion. 

Campaigns should incorporate intersectional representation in order to reach the broadest audience possible while allowing individuals to see themself represented. We’ve seen representation pick up in advertising, especially in commercials - people with a range of body types, abilities, sexual and gender orientations, and varying depictions of family units. This is a wonderful start but can feel insincere when done on a single level. The authenticity increases when depicting the complexity of individuals who personify multiple categories - especially when the categories they represent fly in the face of old tropes or bias.

Brand Values

Tying values such as equality to a brand is an important key to 2022 marketing efforts. Brands adopting core values has erupted over the last decade in an effort to humanize brands and transform engagement tactics from the cold impersonal branding of the past. The mission and vision often provide an obvious starting point for identifying the key values a brand holds. This should then weave its way through all marketing campaigns and brand voice. This means all social interactions, press releases, and channels should conform to the value but it does not mean to hyper-focus in a way that sounds preachy. The core value should seep through as a driving force of the brand. People want to buy from “good” brands the same way they choose to engage with “good” people. Also note that a value can come in many forms and may not equate to tackling a topic like equality head-on. Instead the emphasis may be more subtle such as the value of transparency, honesty, commitment to quality, or it may be a value of consistency. Whatever the value, its purpose is the same, a human element to let individuals buy with conviction. Consider your competitors and your key audience, what do they value and do you share values that would differentiate yourself in a head-to-head bid for their business?

Basics Matter

While new tactics, social platforms, and increased reliance on AI will surely be part of 2022’s marketing landscape - it’s imperative to not forget the basics that will always make or break a company. Metrics, Automation, Email, and Advertising. Metrics are key as they will drive every decision made for marketing channels and campaigns. Track the metrics that matter - conversion rate, cost per impression, cost per conversion, lead time, and raw conversion number for each channel and main content types. Find what ongoing passive or semi-passive channels can keep baseline conversions going at a marginal cost and then identify the secondary tactics that when employed are cost effective. Two of the key channels that brands often undervalue and therefore underuse are automation and email. Despite a decade of marketers predicting the end of email it continues to be a top driver for web traffic and key conversion tool for all sectors. Automation is a more complex undertaking and does require expertise and effective software but can be a game changer. Even simple personalization can make a world of difference in providing consumers with the right product at the right time to the right individual. When used correctly automation can effectively carry an ongoing two-way conversation from initial marketing lead to sales qualification. Once set-up these programs operate passively in the background multiplying their ROI the longer they successfully run. Advertising is the marketing channel that everyone wants to employ and very few do so successfully, even name brands are known to have invested millions in an ad campaign to have it underperform and lose the company money. The stakes are high and so this is not something advisable to tackle blindly in the coming year. Contracting with an expert in a particular advertising channel will maximize ROI. Understand the industry and where consumers are identifiable and reachable. Also understand the competition for your demographics outside of the industry. It’s not commonly thought of but if advertising on a per click basis then the advertisement is bidding for that individual - and while they may be an ideal C-level executive B2B target they could also be the ideal high-salary B2C shopper of designer shoes. Know who ads are competing with outside of direct competitors and bid carefully.

In Conclusion

The coming year will likely blindside us with some new adventure now that the murder hornets have disappeared and parts of the world finished bar-b-queing. With each cultural shift marketing must adapt and mirror the world around us. No more cold faceless corporations, the consumers want to know what a brand stands for, what they believe, and who they are selling to. Connecting with these consumers as fellow humans in key, humanizing through brand voice, representation, and the choice in communication channels will all play their part in creating a successful marketing strategy for 2022.  

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