So much has changed in the digital space in the last two years. Nobody would have thought that the marketing sphere can be compared to the art of making traditional Japanese mochi. As one kneads the dough with his bare hands the other pounds it using kine, a wooden mallet. All done continuously and swiftly to achieve the perfect texture of an airy and sticky light dough. The word agile comes to mind here, being slow isn’t an option when making mochi. Yet that is what the marketing ecosystem is like, we’ve seen businesses embracing new technologies day after day in hopes of stepping out from the red. 

Nobody could have imagined how 2020 would alter the marketing landscape. We saw the need to be agile with our plans as nothing is certain. The only thing we can offer are useful insights and predictions into some of the possibilities of 2022. 

But now that we’ve indeed barely stepped out of COVID’s shadow, a conundrum remains. Is the future of marketing all about technology? Or is it the humans behind said technology? We’re here to give you our thoughts over the top marketing trends of 2022. And surprise surprise it’s not all about the technology.

Though technologies such as AI and data-driven marketing continue to evolve, the focus of marketing will remain on people rather than technology. The trend in marketing is to make it more human; so  we’ve got you prepared with the top marketing trends to know and act on in 2022.

#1: Curate Phenomenal Customer Experience

Marketing is no longer about persuading people to buy from your brand. The proliferation of online information has given consumers more choices than ever before. Consumers are no longer a passive party.Instead, they are actively conducting their own research. 

So, you have to offer them more than just information. The marketing emphasis has changed from shoving information down their throats to offering exceptional customer experiences that will keep them coming back for more. Customers today are not only impatient, but they also demand a seamless experience. From the moment they express an interest, to the customer service provided after the transaction. In fact, 73% of individuals feel that customer service is an essential component in their purchasing decision.

Efficiency, convenience, knowledgeable and friendly service and easy payment options are all expectations consumers have. From personalised marketing messages to delivering quality service, many things add up to the overall customer experience. 

Personalisation

Personalizing your marketing campaigns to match the needs of your audience is the way to capture their hearts and minds. Today’s consumers are bombarded with marketing messages from different media to the point where they’re immune. Traditional advertising is losing its effectiveness, so personalised marketing is the way to go; to build real connections between the brand and the audience. In fact, brands that give a personalised experience were favoured by 80% of consumers

Advancements in technology today have tremendously improved a customer’s journey and experience. A phone call or visit to a physical store has since evolved to emailing or filling up an online form. Customers today don’t want to talk to robots following a script, they want an immediate response that’s specific to their needs. Which goes to say, less formal communication channels in the form of instant messaging and chatbots are blessings in disguises. 

Conversations

Conversational marketing was a hit among businesses to provide customers a more holistic experience, especially in the pandemic. With quick and authentic experiences being a top priority for businesses and users, personalisation is no longer an option. While instant messaging remains a popular option for most businesses, employees can’t be there to assist 24/7. This is where technology comes into play, AI intelligence in the form of chatbots. The power of automation and ability to engage with customers 24/7 is a competitive edge to any business. With machine learning and natural learning, AI chatbots are given a distinct human personality. This enriches the customer experience by providing instant personalised care and solutions.  

#2: Be Authentic and Support Causes

Consumers of 2021 are more informed and cautious when making purchases. To cut through the noise and stand out to your audience from the many marketing messages out there, it’s best to be sincere in expressing your brand values and purposes. 

Be frank and transparent with your customers; stop sugar-coating everything and show them the nitty-gritty of what goes on behind the scenes. By being honest with your audience, you will be able to build genuine relationships with them by removing the shell of perfection that they may find difficult to relate to.

The pandemic has brought to light, and in some cases exacerbated, underlying injustices. People’s expectations of brands to take a more nuanced approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion are growing in the wake of this. 

Brands have always had an impact on how the world is shaped. They have a platform and the necessary machinery to carry out their mission. And immense power entails great ethical responsibility. 

Understand the causes that matter to your audience and include them into your creative processes. Create campaigns that are representative of the brand and the causes it supports as you play a part in shaping the world for the better. 

Authenticity is everything when engaging in brand social activism efforts. Consumers, as they say, can smell bullshit from a mile away. So, before endorsing, be sure that your brand truly supports the cause. 

An exemplary: Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty made waves in 2017 and became the biggest brand launch in YouTube history. Why was it such a success? Because of the vision of “Beauty for All.” This inclusivity mission launched 40 beautiful shades of foundation which allowed women of different cultures to find themselves within the brand and feel included. 

One message that the Fenty Beauty marketing team had in mind was “show, don’t tell.” Never once did they use the word “inclusive” in their messaging but instead they showed it. Sharing true tales that are steeped in culture and emotionally significant to the people you serve is the best method to break through with inclusive marketing.

Following its launch, articles began to popularise the term “The Fenty Effect.” A rallying cry for all industries to disrupt the existing status quo. It’s waves were particularly strong in the beauty industry, triggering a chain reaction of positive reactions. Voices were heard, changes were made. Brands took up the call of inclusivity by broadening their collections.

#3: Video Marketing Strategies are a Must

2021 has been a terrific run for video platforms. TikTok became the top downloaded app of the year and surpassed its billion user mark in September while YouTube was the world’s most organically visited site and recorded over 30 million users daily. This demonstrates that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is definitely worth a million!  

Short-formed videos were a massive hit in the past year. The rise of TikTok, the widespread uptake of Instagram Reels, and the launch of YouTube Shorts all focused our attention on 15-second messages. But fret not, long-formed videos are making a comeback, with TikTok expanding its length to 3 minutes, Instagram Reels to 60 seconds and not to mention, YouTube still being one of the most massively visited sites. 

So, how do you build a video marketing strategy for different social media sites?

Twitter

Short clips that are easy to consume performs the best for Twitter; brevity is a key aspect. You can try generating short, personal videos to engage with your audience if you want to be a little more adventurous with video on Twitter. These very personal, one-on-one response videos are an excellent method to humanize your brand while also developing personal connections with your engaged followers.

Facebook

Facebook algorithms favour longer videos, with the optimal length being 2-5 minutes. This length is supposed to evoke the most interest and repeat viewing from the audience. Upload videos directly to Facebook as well. When compared to cross-posting from other platforms, natively uploaded videos had a much better reach. Don’t forget to keep your posts light-hearted and entertaining to grab the attention of your audiences!

Instagram

Instagram reels are getting the most organic reach of any type of posts. You don’t have to apply the most extreme effects and transitions to benefit from it’s exposure. Instagram Live is another alternative to reaching a broader audience. Customers want more closeness on social media, from the brands they buy from, more than ever.  Bottom line, Instagram is no longer the photo app it once was, and it is well beyond time to take advantage of its capabilities.

TikTok 

When it comes to creating videos on TikTok, brands have to remember to “Not make ads, but to make TikToks.” Essentially, don’t overthink it and just be authentic and have fun. TikTok is an immersive entertainment experience, where people build and discover community. Brands that appear authentically, and really desire to be part of everyday conversations will fare best. 

YouTube

You can make a variety of different types and genres of videos on YouTube. You could be creating commercials, interviews, product videos, documentaries or even animated videos. It is crucial to understand the audience you are targeting and which style, tone and messaging would appeal to them. Videos on YouTube would require a more professional setup (e.g. camera equipment and editing softwares) as compared to other social media platforms, but the results will undoubtedly be fruitful. 

#4: Broaden Up With Influencer Marketing

While one door closes, another shall open to take its place. The influencer market grew 42% yoy from $9.7 billion in 2020 to $13.8 billion in 2021 amidst the pandemic. It’s without a doubt that the pandemic has altered social media consumption for many. A whopping 60% increase according to Nielsen, it is an opportunity too good to miss for advertisers and influencers alike. 

A blessing magnified by Apple’s data collection crackdown, iOS14 updates have prompted advertisers dependent on social ads revenue to look for alternatives. Influencer marketing thus became the preferred method that advertisers would have otherwise not considered. 

Brands are now turning towards micro or nano level creators that align with their business model and vision. These creators are not just less expensive but can also give brands a dedicated audience and engagement as compared to a general audience. Ambassadorships or brand advocates will flourish when values are united and brands are supported by true lovers and believers. 

It’s not just the interaction between advertisers and creators that have changed, creators themselves have taken on new roles. New categories are emerging, from skinfluencers, granfluencers and even petfluencers, the pandemic has prompted an outburst of passion from everyone. These new categories of creators have given the everyday consumers a breath of fresh air. More importantly, the personalised/human aspects behind the creators result in an overlapping of boundaries. Skinfluencers for example will likely transverse into lifestyle or even food territory as they go about their daily lives. 

In 2022 , do expect these trends to stay:

Whitelisting

User generated content has been around for a long time and has considerable benefits. Primarily stemming from the trust in 3rd party content and the engagement driven. When used properly can also assist in seo efforts. Whitelisting takes this one step further by promoting user generated content on a creator’s page rather than the brand’s. Naturally this form of advertising converts better as trust in traditional advertising drops. Currently whitelisting is available on Instagram and TikTok via their respective ad managers. 

Live streaming and the social commerce

What started in China soon spread like a wildfire globally. Brands found live eCommerce to be a great way to connect with the right set of audiences and turn them into ‘customers’. Creators have a larger role to play here, enabling connections between the brand and consumers. Authenticity plays a large part as creators have to communicate in real time, resulting in a larger scope for personalised driven conversations and interactions. 

#5: Utilise The Power of SEO

2021 has seen the rise of many viable marketing tools like short form videos, AI and even AR/VR. Coming into 2022, SEO still remains a key element to connect with audiences online. Keywords and their performance have been the core focus of 2021, yet they presented a missed opportunity; an opportunity to connect with the audience. What are they searching for, and how can that need be filled? Topic, keywords and competitive research needs to be grouped to better identify and match a searcher’s intent. 

E-A-T

Google’s core updates continue to up the mantle for marketers who want their content to be discoverable. E-A-T, the demand for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, continues to be the benchmark for identifying what qualifies as high or low quality content. However, the concept of E-A-T continues to be a challenge for many. Unlike performance metrics, these can’t be measured. Marketers should thus create unique content experiences with the readers’ perspectives in mind. Understand what it takes to build trust and develop that relationship with your audience. 

Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)

Search engine result pages (SERPs) are what experienced marketers will look out for. As Google continuously updates to improve audience experience, SERPs is an opportunity to engage with audiences by keeping up-to-date with the latest changes. The 2021 August update for instance, included changes to page titles. Moz’s SERPs features summary is a great resource to understand what you can focus on and stay in-the-loop of Google’s updates.

Ranking first in SERPs is no longer the end goal to be aiming for. On SERP, features can provide the same information you are looking for without clicking into a website. Featured snippets is an instance, where information is right there on the search results page. This means to analyse the SERPs of where you want your content to appear and to optimize for the search results to get you there. In essence, review and refresh both newer and older content to optimise for new ranking opportunities and types.

What would be the biggest challenge for SEO? According to Neil Patel, content will be the biggest challenge, not SEO.  SEO is only going to get more competitive and harder over time, as such you should focus on writing great experiential content that stands out from the rest.

Are you prepared for 2022?

These are only five trends that we believe will be important for 2022, but there will surely be others. Marketing in 2022 will be more about the human touch than brands, so create a plan that is relevant, gives value to the customer experience, and most important of all, genuine. 

We wish you all the best for navigating the marketing sphere in 2022. Here’s to a fruitful year! 

Check us out on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn. Contact us at marketing@benefit.sg for more information.

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