Digital marketing never stands still, but thanks to the pandemic, the pace of change is accelerating as consumers and businesses alike adapt to a rapidly evolving marketplace environment. For 2022, these are the eight most important trends to consider in your marketing strategies and budgets.
1. SEO and user experience (UX) will be more closely linked
Google’s introduction of Core Web Vitals is the company’s most far-reaching initiative to factor UX into its search engine rankings. What this means is, business websites must deliver a high-quality user experience on desktops and mobile devices in addition to high-quality, optimized content. To improve SEO in 2022, technical website deficiencies such as slow page loading speed, shifting images, and delays in interaction response must be addressed. More generally, companies must cultivate a close working relationship between the SEO team and the web design and development team, involving both groups in the SEO campaign.
2. E-commerce will be everywhere
Pandemic lockdowns created widespread buyer enthusiasm for BOPIS — buy online, pick-up in store. Even though lockdowns have subsided, interest in BOPIS keeps rising. Why? Because even those buyers who distrusted and disliked e-commerce prior to COVID found BOPIS to be more convenient and cost-effective than in-store shopping and in some cases, home delivery. B2B and B2C enterprises with e-commerce capabilities will need to expand functionality in 2022 to keep pace with competitors; enterprises with no e-commerce capability will need to implement one if they serve markets where BOPIS has appeal.
3. Marketing and privacy must strike a new balance
Even though Google recently announced a delay in withdrawing support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, don’t assume that privacy issues are going away. Consumers and business buyers alike have deeply rooted concerns about how their private information is collected, stored, and used. In addition, email spam, phishing schemes, and sensational, widely reported incidents of large-scale security breaches and ransomware attacks contribute to a digital marketplace where legitimate email and paid search advertising campaigns are viewed with suspicion. Digital marketing campaigns of any kind must go the extra mile in 2022 to implement user-friendly privacy policies and communicate them broadly, clearly, and frequently. Without doing so, establishing the trust necessary for lead generation or online revenue growth will be next to impossible.
4. Keep your marketing moving by going mobile-first
Only a few years ago, mobile marketing was a mere afterthought for the majority of B2Bs and even many B2Cs. However, mobile Internet access has reached the point where mobile-first marketing is the best strategic option for a substantial number of companies regardless of what they sell. In 2022, optimizing website content and UX for mobile users should be among the highest priorities, especially for businesses that serve local markets, have an SEO campaign underway, or already have a high percentage of mobile website traffic.
5. Headless commerce goes hand-in-hand with omnichannel marketing
Headless commerce, separating the front end of e-commerce applications from the back end, began trending in 2021. Headless commerce enables companies to modify user interface design and content quickly and inexpensively, making displaying different storefronts on their websites, social media platforms and third-party websites easy while keeping fulfillment and analytics centralized behind the scenes. Headless commerce strongly supports omnichannel marketing by enabling companies to present a consistent brand and robust shopping experience across all platforms. These are powerful capabilities that your competitors will be trying to exploit in 2022 — at your expense if you allow them.
6. Chatbots won’t stop talking
You’ve probably noticed chatbots cropping up in your travels across the web, and that is no accident. A chatbot is a form of AI that improves website UX, pleases customers, encourages conversions, and liberates customer service teams to focus on more urgent and complex customer issues. In 2022, website visitors will most likely prefer doing business with a chatbot-enabled company than one without this capability, making next year the right year to introduce chatbots or refine and expand their use.
7. Event marketing will be a real and virtual blend
We all hope live events make a big comeback in 2022, but whatever the environment may be from a health and wellness perspective, a significant segment of the population will prefer attending events virtually rather than in person, whether due to health concerns, convenience, or a limited travel budget. Consequently, firms must tightly integrate the virtual experience with in-person meetings, seminars, tradeshows, and social events. This requires a deep look at virtual meeting technologies, training virtual event hosts, and developing post-event communication techniques to keep live and virtual attendees engaged.
8. Uncompromising flexibility will be the key to a successful strategy
Whatever your marketing strategy looks like going into 2022, make sure it is flexible. We’re experiencing a high degree of uncertainty now, with respect to supply chain stability, pandemic lockdown potential, market volatility, and a host of other political and economic issues. Business may be strong or weak across the board next year, or, as in 2021, verticals may experience widely divergent levels of success depending on short-term marketplace conditions. Meet regularly with your marketing team to make sure goals, budgets, and the overall strategy are consistent with what you expect in the current and next quarter. Embracing change will be the key to great marketing execution.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. With decades of marketing, sales, and management experience, Shorr has written for leading online publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and for the American Marketing Association.