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Digital marketing changes as quickly as the wind, impacted by everything from new technologies and consumer trends to privacy concerns and even a global pandemic. As a business owner or marketing manager, it’s vital to keep your finger on the pulse to give your brand a competitive edge both online and offline.

With so much happening in the digital landscape, it’s easy for time-strapped professionals to get overwhelmed wading through the clutter. That’s why we’ve compiled digital marketing predictions for 2022 to separate the essential from the noise, making it easier to refresh your strategy in the new year. The clock’s ticking, so let’s get right to it!

Digital Marketing Trends to Watch

A key element that all successful marketing plans share is timeliness. As we previously touched on, the world of digital marketing is constantly changing so if your strategy doesn’t evolve, it’ll become less and less effective over time. The new year is an ideal period to review last year’s performance, ramp up the conversion generators, and fix what’s broken.

Here are our top 10 digital marketing predictions that you should know for 2022 to help mold an industry-disrupting strategy:

1. Continuation of Dark Posts

While less ominous than they sound, ‘dark posts’ are unpublished social media posts that are promoted as ads to appear in a target audience’s newsfeed. The benefit of dark posts is that they blend in with organic content, and allow advertisers to better leverage influencer content and partnerships. That stellar photo an influencer posted for your brand can be turned into a dark post, and boosted to your target audience, unifying your paid and organic social media efforts. Although dark posts can’t be found on your page’s timeline or through organic search, users can still see all of your Facebook Ads through the Page Transparency feature.

Brands can split test dark posts with different audiences, visuals, CTAs, and more to craft ads that knock it out of the park. Another way that dark posts are helpful is that they keep your timeline from being overloaded with promotional posts. A timeline with mostly organic content will attract more followers than a nonstop stream of ads.

2. Social Channels Merging with eCommerce

More social channels are integrating eCommerce for a seamless shopping experience so users stay on-platform longer, thereby increasing revenue opportunities. In October 2021, Spotify announced a partnership with Shopify that gives artists the ability to sync merchandise from their online store to their Spotify profile.

Twitter is also dipping its toes in eCommerce with a new feature called ‘Shop Module,’ an area at the top of profiles where brands can display their products. Finally, Instagram completed the transformation to eCommerce platform with their app interface redesign. Prior to 2021, users had to navigate to a brand’s profile to view their shop. Now, there is a link to Shop in the navigation bar, and users can make in-app purchases much easier than ever before.

As social channels expand their shopping tools, brands should think beyond typical eCommerce avenues (e.g. website, Amazon) to reach more customers and boost sales.

3. New Social Channels

It probably seems like just when you got used to one social platform, another pops up! Fortunately, your brand doesn’t need to be everywhere. Focus on platforms that are the right fit for your audience so you’re not wasting resources. TikTok, a relatively new player, has shown that it’s here to stay, surpassing the 1 billion user mark in September 2021.

Another platform with significant growth is Discord, a chat platform that first gained popularity with gamers. It doubled in size during the pandemic and now 70% of users are outside of the gaming community, showing broader appeal. A new channel to note is Caffeine, a social broadcasting platform where users can stream and watch live shows, have real-time conversations, and earn rewards. Emerging during the pandemic, Clubhouse allows users to join chat rooms about a variety of topics, where they can anonymously listen and participate. Heading into 2022, we anticipate the bigger players to roll out audio-only options to their platforms. Twitter is already getting a head start, with their launch of “Spaces”.

4. Companies Shifting to Connection

Storytelling is becoming increasingly prominent since users want a personal connection with the brands they interact with. That’s why more companies are shifting their narrative to build connections and maintain relevancy. Take for example Instagram’s announcement that it’s “no longer a photo-sharing app,” but an entertainment platform with more interactive features.

Facebook’s rebrand to Meta is another instance of a company evolving its storytelling — and trying to shed its old image. As the world changes, it’s crucial to evaluate your brand’s narrative. Does it align with your company’s future and resonate with your target audience? When storytelling fails to grow engagement, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

5. Customer Transformation Is the Future

If you’ve created a customer persona before, then you already know that everyone has goals and challenges. Products that help customers achieve a positive transformation into who they want to become will create an experience that resonates stronger than other brands. When customers seek to change themselves or a situation for the better, they’ll be willing to invest more to make it happen.

Tap into this innate desire for improvement in your marketing and storytelling. Focus more on how the product will transform them into who they want to become rather than the features, benefits, and price. Prospects will eventually seek that information later on in your customer journey map when they become more serious about making a purchase.

6. Immersive Event Experiences

Experiential marketing is a strategy that immerses consumers beyond the product or service to deeply experience the brand. When an experience is engaging, customers not only will want to see it for themselves but also share it online with others. Art exhibits like Meow Wolf and Van Gogh Exhibition demonstrate this well — they invite attendees to explore art in a whole new way through multimedia installations.

Consumers have high expectations from brands. With your business, make sure that every touchpoint of your brand experience is empathic. No matter which business you’re in, you’re competing with Uber and Netflix. Customers have more channels to interact with your company, so broaden your perspective to a holistic user experience. Just like all the little details that artists put into their work, do the same with your business.

7. Data-Driven Marketing

Data-driven marketing is an approach that puts data at the center of marketing decisions. It plays a very important role in digital marketing, as well as offline activities like print, broadcast, direct mail, and in-person. With so many moving parts in omnichannel marketing campaigns, data is critical for making better-informed decisions so customers receive a consistent, personalized experience.

Analytics and marketing automation are no longer an option — they are the standard now. They must be part of your company’s DNA and customer journey. For instance, if a prospect gives their email and doesn’t receive a timely reply, it sours the relationship before it’s even begun. Ask us about our new Marketing Automation Services to learn more!

8. Going LIVE on Social

Social live video streaming is when you connect with an audience in real-time on a social platform like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Live streaming allows for audience participation since users can respond with comments, likes, and reactions. This creates an authentic conversation that audiences find more engaging and meaningful than pre-recorded videos.

By going live on social, your brand will be able to reach and interact with audiences where they like to hang out online. But, it’s only effective if people know about it. Share announcements on social media and other channels about when and where you’re going live, as well as what users can expect from the event. Also, practice going live beforehand to avoid poor streaming quality, disruptions, downtown, and other gaffs.

9. Influencers vs Ambassadors

Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful because consumers tend to trust other consumers more than brands. That’s why companies are increasingly working with influencers and brand ambassadors to promote their products on social media.

First, let’s break down these two types of word-of-mouth social marketing. Influencers are people with large followings who are able to sway the purchase decisions of their audience. While ambassadors also tap into their social networks, they have a true passion for the product, and ideally are already loyal customers prior to becoming a brand ambassador.

Build a team of ambassadors, not influencers. Ambassadors care deeply about your brand — they live and breathe it. Influencers just want to be paid to post about your product and move on to the next deal. Additionally, influencer campaigns are more short-term than ambassador partnerships, which usually don’t have defined end dates.

10. Diversity in Marketing

As our population becomes more diverse, inclusivity is being pushed to the forefront of marketing conversations. Diversity marketing (also called ‘inclusive marketing’) is a framework where marketing communications appeal to and include various subgroups of consumers, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, etc.

Be inclusive in your marketing. It’s no longer an option, but a requirement and will be more expected in 2022. However, it’s not enough to simply include diverse audiences in your communications. Immerse yourself in their world through research and conversation to understand their point of view, otherwise, you risk tone-deaf marketing that alienates them.

Disrupt Your Industry in 2022

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to digital marketing — data, audiences, channels, communications, and so on. Not only do all these pieces need to gel together into a cohesive strategy, but it’s also critical to weave new tactics and approaches to prevent stagnation or decline in your business.

As you build a 2022 marketing plan, take these digital marketing predictions into consideration to help take your company to the next level. Furthermore, partner with an experienced agency that specializes in strategy development to establish your brand as an industry disruptor to be reckoned with.

The right strategy is key to growth. Connect with Mavericks Marketing to discover your path to successful results!