August 23, 2021 Peter Iuvara

The digital and commerce landscape continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace largely driven by technology advancements and brands ability to leverage data to make more informed business decision.

The largest trends we are seeing for 2022 are focused around:

  • Improving customer experience
  • Better aligning brand value(s) with customer’s interests
  • Leveraging artificial intelligence into the marketing mix

Digital Spend Trends

By 2024, eMarketer is forecasting Global Digital Ad Spend to reach $645 billion – a trend that would represent a total percentage increase of 41.8% from 2021 current levels through 2024.


Digital Will Captivate People’s Attention in 2022

Most of people’s time in 2022 when engaged with media will be focused on digital means. Websites, mobile apps, social media networks, digital experiences: like, virtual reality (VR); Augmented Reality (AR) and the Metaverse; interactive commerce; NFTs; voice activated anything; and algorithms in technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and matching and identifying algorithms.

People will use these experiences to gain spiritual feelings, consume a product or service, satisfy a need they would rather outsource, or impulse-driven brain stem responses. The demand for positive/pleasure-based experiences will be the highest segment; wellness and personal health will be the largest growth segment, followed by wealth accumulation, achieving spiritual meaning and feeling content.

For 2022, with regard to audience attention reach, digital is once again leading the way with an estimated 60%+ percentage of share; followed by: TV at 23%; Radio in at 11%; and, print and “other” at 2% each.



Digital Marketing Trends for 2022

RarefiedX 2022 Digital Trends Report
As 2021 comes to a close, we are working closely with stakeholders to help them be in position to start 2022 strong, on the heels of a robust 2021. We will be focusing on the following digital trends now to be in position for 2022.

  • Technology
    • Technology to Replace Cookies
    • Voice Activated Everything
    • Get Personal Already
    • Adopt Marketing Automation Or Become Extinct
    • The Movie Theater Feel in Not Going Away
    • The World Needs Your Automation
    • Make Personalization an Exciting, Informative and Fun Opt-in
    • A.I. Will Make Influencer Marketing Easier and More Results-Driven
  • Marketing
    • Video Will Continue to Captivate
    • Social Media Remains Strong
    • Online & Hybrid Events
    • Simplicity-first Design
    • What Does Your Brand Stand For
    • The Downfall of Marketing Funnels
    • The Rise of Small Influencers
    • SEO: Great Content Deserves Great Ranking
  • Business
    • Have a Positive and Genuine Story Otherwise Commoditize and Exit
    • Invest Time (and Money) in Building a Strong Brand Image
    • Show Us Your Sales Team = Where You’re Going
    • Divest Your Moat and Build More B2B Partnerships My Friends

Below is a subset of some of these trends.

Technology to Replace Cookies

Google announced that it would end cookie tracking in early 2022. Cookies have been a staple in web development for as long as we can remember to be able to “store” user/session-specific information to provide a more streamlined user experience.

Most brands we work with leverage cookies pretty extensively on the website side, changes will need to happen, we can help.

Our suggestion is to utilize zero-party data.

Zero-party data is given directly by the consumer to a brand. It can be done via a survey, gamification, or simple consumer/brand interaction online. The benefits here is that the submission of data from consumers directly to brands is completely voluntary, transparent and genuine. To pull this off successfully, brands will need to rethink how this “data give” will help your consumers, first and foremost.

Our high-level approach is: 1) start with the data required to provide the most relevant value to your customers, 2) re-build the technology to capture this data (this may involve extending your data structure), 3) store and integrate this data into your CRM, 4) leverage this data into your web experience, and 5) test, track and optimize.


Voice Activated Everything

Speaking is more fluid than typing and can help get your customers to the information or “call to actions” that they are looking for quicker. It’s empowering, can potentially reduce screen time, and it’s pretty cool and rewarding.

If your brand is just starting out with this technology,
we suggest starting with voice search.

According to Tech Crunch, after the COVID-19 outbreak, smart speakers have been used more for music and entertainment; especially, so for consumers aged 18 to 34 with 52% using their smart voice devices more. According to Statista, the Amazon Echo (powered by Alexa), leads that market at around 74% of share.

The take advantage of this trend, brands will need to review how consumers currently search for their offerings, and then build out a questions –> answer dictionary. Direct, conversational queries is the best way strategy for voice searches. This approach enables your audience to receive better, more accurate answers to the question they raised.

When architected correctly, the optimal goal is for a consumer’s question to be answered by a singular, most relevant answer rather than dozens of results that need to be further filtered. These include using natural language over keywords; and, framing simple, everyday sentences with less technical words, and little to no acronym. If you operate in a local market, we strongly suggest you get your brand listed online immediately as the voice search algorithm prioritizes local brands.


Adopt Marketing Automation Or Become Extinct

Adding marketing automation to your digital marketing strategy will make it more efficient and effective since marketers will be able to automate their workflows and spend less time on repetitive tasks.

Marketing automation can also help you gain understanding into your customer’s journey which will provide immeasurable insights into how consumers are getting to your web properties, what they are doing once on your website(s) and platforms, and what is working/converting vs. what is not. When you connect the dots from start to finish, your brand will gain the proper insights to optimize, convert higher and provide better value to your consumers.

One-to-one marketing is the future; the “one size fits all”
approach stopped working a long time ago.

Conversational automation can build stronger relationships with your customers. Our go-to platform for marketing automation is Sitecore XP. Contact us for more information on getting started, or extending/fixing your current solution.


Get Personal Already

The “omni” in “omni-channel” is growing. We have more digital channels than ever before, and the list will continue to grow. Some real movers we see in 2022 will be podcasts and community.

One of our “In Focus” offerings, _personalX, combines strategy
around personalization with community building to embrace consumer
interests and trends to a greater degree than has previously been possible.

To excel in one-to-one marketing, your brand will need to operate on the channels most important to your consumers. Building a unified platform, with content that be shared across your brand’s multiple channels (the headless content management model) is the best strategy to connect with customers and avoid duplicate content entry and management.

Our approach is quite robust, but the building blocks are simple. We start with your consumer by conducting a channel review, analyze which channels are being used by your consumers the most, and then work backwards from there to bridge the gap between current capabilities and a truly personalized consumer experience.


The World Needs Your Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay.

Leveraging AI in your marketing and business operations, can significantly increase your process efficiencies, eliminate redundant and routine business tasks that people no longer want to perform, preserve the referential integrity of your brand’s data, match market and/or consumer demands with your product/service offerings, and connect the dots in the consumer journey.

Imagine if Google did not use AI in Google Searches – it would take forever to find anything. Netflix and Shopify have been using AI for a while now when it comes to “recommended for you” media.

The benefits are massive, there of course will be costs, but these cost will be offset 10x over if implemented correctly through the benefits of efficiencies of scale; more relevant matching algorithms; and, a cleaner, more intuitive user experience.

Our _automateX offering is geared towards helping your brand
with automation architecture, design and implementation.

AI can help your website consumers solve their problems precisely and quicker rather than “hunting and pecking” for the right information, and to enhance and extend your consumers capacity to connect and help themselves and other people better.

There is also an increasing need for brands to be true and authentic. More than ever, truthfulness in marketing has become very important to today’s consumers. Aside from helping ensure quality customer service, AI can be used to build systems for tracking sentiment and what is “really” important to your consumers.

Possibly the best use of AI automation is for gathering and evaluating consumer data and for supporting data-driven decisions – this ties into the marketing automation trends seen earlier in this report.


Make Personalization an Exciting, Informative and Fun Opt-in

Personalized content is King and Queen combined – but it needs to be pulled off with decency, trust, and must be exciting, informative and mutually beneficial to your consumers, their circle and your brand.

Cookies be gone – OK, they were useful while they lasted,
but it’s time to change, time to evolve.

To us, this trend is here to stay, and encapsulates a lot of the other trends and recommendation in this report. We suggest taking a holistic view that maps out: 1) your consumer’s interests, 2) your brand’s current dataset,  and 3) your brand’s offerings, with 4) your platform’s ability to map, match, automate and suggest (products, services, information, connections, etc.).

Because this touches on quite a few moving parts, we suggest taking a look at our 3 “In Focus” offerings_personalX, _automateX and _socialX to get you started in the right direction, or to optimize an existing solution.


AI Will Make Influencer Marketing Easier and More Results-Driven

The influencer marketing space has been strong. In 2020, the market size was valued at $9.7 billion; with an estimated increase to reach $15 billion by 2022, with a near majority of marketers reporting they budget more than 20% of their spend on influencer content.

Influencer marketing was the answer to trust concerns in advertising
from consumers about brands over the past few years. The need (trust),
is not changing, but the landscape of influencer marketing is.

If you are not currently using an Influencer Management platform, we strongly suggest you do.

This trend focuses on the shift in influencer marketing towards the adoption of AI. AI will make influencer identification much easier and effective. Matching algorithms are being developed by most leading platforms to better match brands with influencers based on industry, audience, location, gender and even some other psychographic metrics like: interests, attitudes and aspirations.

Another future trend being socialized more and more here is leveraging predictive AI in the influencer space. Like any new technology, first to market usually prevails over ROI, but as the market matures, ROI quickly, and practically always takes the lead. Expect the monetization model within influencer marketing to evolve toward a model in which a brand pays only for the conversions influencers produce.


Online & Hybrid Events

With the rise on online meetings and remote work, people have gotten more accustomed to virtual meetings. From a reach standpoint, the benefits are immense. The potential crowds at your virtual events are exponentially higher than for physical events where people need to book travel, arrangements, and incur those costs to attend. Virtual events require not much more than clicking on a “Launch Meeting” button.

Some events, the more hands-on ones, with exhibits and product demos will still be physical; however, with the advent of virtual meeting technologies, combined with the meteoric rise in adoption and usage, we recommend brands focus on hybrid events to the greatest degree possible to have the best of both worlds.

Physical events your brand hosts should include virtual capabilities to be able to reach a much greater audience. We are also expecting a significant increase for in-person events having a strong digital component, and technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can create an immersive experience for those who are attending remotely.


Simplicity-first Design

Do you remember hearing about mobile-first design 10 years ago when the usage of mobile phones started to spike globally; yes, we do also. Fast forward 10 years, and the amount of content and data has growth “to the moon!” Being able to find the right content is more important than ever before.

We are seeing a divergence in design trends largely due to technical capabilities and project budgets.

On one hand, considering the sheer amount of content on the web, being able to keep things simple and provide design that is clear, concise and lite will be a winning strategy in 2022.

On the other hand, the Metaverse is coming! This is where the technical capabilities and larger budgets will be required to scale up to deliver on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences.

We are focusing on simplicity-first design from a user experience standpoint. Considering the sheer amount of content and options out there, having a design architecture that is intuitive and easy to use saves your consumers time, reduces the learning curve and limits the fear of complexity for them. Within this framework, micro-trends like contemporary design, muted color palettes, and geometric shapes should be applied as well from an aesthetics standpoint.


What Does Your Brand Stand For

People want businesses to be proactive in addressing social issues. This is especially true for the challenges brought about by the Covid. Brands have always played a part in shaping and transforming the world. They have a platform and the means to take action.

Consumers are expecting companies to be more socially responsible. Brands that focus on activities around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will gain more credibility and be perceived with more integrity than ones that purely focus on EBITA and market share. The connection is that brands that care about their consumers and the world we live in will benefit much more and that will lead to better earnings and market share.

Focusing on CSR should be apart of your 2022 marketing strategy. Authenticity will be a major differentiator when engaging with your consumers, so make sure your brand’s advertising efforts are aligned with what your brand truly stands for.


The Downfall of Marketing Funnels

Marketing funnels have been the go-to marketing strategy for the longest time. Research is showing that although they are good creating initial sales in a quicker timeframe, they lack longevity; meaning, the power of the funnel is in getting one-time customers, rather than repeat ones. For most brands, the goal is to create lifetime, loyal customers and advocates, not one and done purchasers.

It’s important to truly understand your customer’s lifecycle and purchase process. The concept of a marketing flywheel model focuses more on keeping customers happy. It also concentrates on how to motivate them to come back for more because they see the benefits they receive from your brand, and more importantly believe in your brand and have an infinity with your brand.

The focus here is to develop client marketing strategies over brand marketing strategies. Some of the best ways to do this is by providing unique content that is personalized to them on a one-on-one conversational basis, helpful blogs and information content, and more in-person and/or personal activities.

Think of the marketing flywheel as a multi-channel approach that can offer value to your consumers way past the the initial purchase. This means that providing excellent customer service for example is by itself its own marketing approach. It also exemplifies how marketing assumes a pivotal role in the whole customer life cycle by putting your customers at the heart of marketing efforts, not your brand.

The flywheel framework centers on customer engagement by working on motivating customers to keep coming back. As a result, the pace and power of your flywheel intensify, along with the growth of your customer base. Having a very satisfied brand audience means that they will promote your products or services on their own which appears more genuine to other consumers than what your brand is saying.


The Rise of Small Influencers

Influencer marketing has been a hot topic for 4 years now. The concept here is that true, happy users of your products or services can express their satisfaction in a way that other potential consumers can believe in.

We have seen so many brands pursue the strategy of go big or go home, and sought out the biggest influencers they can afford with the hopes that these big influencer’s following and perceived marketing clout will create a tipping point where reach converts to sales.

The new trend we are now seeing is multi-fold here:

  1. Customers are seeing brands sponsoring big influencers to be blatantly advertising
  2. Large influencers have millions of followers, but in reality, these followers are fans of the influencer and not necessarily market consumers
  3. Large influencers audience size can be very misleading. For example, using a popular female influencer to sell your beauty products to woman when her followers are 95% male doesn’t make much sense and will not convert.

This is why many brands are now transitioning towards targeting niche audiences through smaller influencers. Brands are now starting to choose smaller influencers, everyday consumers that are very loyal to your brand for organic reasons.

The changing consumer landscape had elevated average, ordinary people among us to become uncanny brand champions. This is because their audiences are their peers with, more or less, the same values and interests. Thus, it is easier for them to establish trust when it comes to their judgment of a product and influence purchasing decisions.

People are likely to trust their friends and family over brands. And, this is popular among Millennials, who already surpassed Boomers in numbers. Studies indicate that the majority (70%) of millennial consumers make purchases based on peer recommendations (Social Media Today).

As always, make sure you are monitoring activity and performance with metrics like: CTR, cost per conversion from UGC content, and conversion rate from influencer content. We also recommend measuring KPI using robust business intelligence tools and AI.


Contact Us For Helping Your Brand Position For These Trends

Building and growing your brand will take planning, hustle and persistence – we’re rooting for you! Utilize RarefiedX to augment your current team with subject matter experts, or, build a team of independent professionals who can contribute to the success of your brand.

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