The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend how consumers buy and businesses operate. We’ve seen more products and services move online and many employers have permanently moved to either a hybrid or remote work engagement. Almost two years of varied customer responses to COVID-19 have given us insights into the marketing trends that are working in this new normal and what you can expect in 2022.

What are the key digital marketing trends for 2022 that your business needs to consider to engage and retain current customers and generate more traffic, leads, and revenue? We’ve identified eight areas where savvy managers should invest their time and resources next year. If you don’t know where to start, start here — because these eight industry trends might prove the best bang for your business’s marketing buck.

1. Diversified Social Media Increases Reach

Organizations should be prepared to dedicate more resources to social media marketing in 2022. An incredible 400 million new users joined social media during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people connected digitally. People have dramatically increased the amount of time they spend online - which includes how they research products, brands, and organizations. 

In a review of recent social media trends, Global Web Index emphasized social media's growing influence on purchase intent. In fact, 30% of Gen Z strongly consider the favorite brands of the influencers they follow when making their buying decisions. The report from Global Web Index also suggests that social media continues to fragment. Facebook is no longer the go-to for social spending as a large number of consumers have moved to TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter. In terms of B2B social advertising, we continue to see our customers reallocate their marketing resources toward LinkedIn.

These consumer shifts create new opportunities for marketers to increase their reach with new audiences and re-engage with long-time customers. For only a few hundred dollars a month, a good social media marketer can develop a content plan, make regular posts, monitor and drive customer responses, and attract new business. If your small business has been putting off adding social media services to your marketing mix, now’s the time.

2. All-in on Google Listings and Local SEO

If you own a small business, THE most important thing you can do is ensure your local listings are verified and kept current on various search platforms. That’s because for B2C businesses that draw customers primarily on a local level (think dentist office or car dealership), the Google My Business listing provides valuable information about your hours, services, and geographical location. It’s one of the key factors in search and business owners are often blown away to learn how many directories there are out there.

Top Directories for Local SEO

Source: HubSpot 2020

One tip to implement today: ensure you have a geographically-defined service area within your local listings as this will help your business show up in “near me” searches. That’s because many search engines (especially Google) prioritize relevance in their search algorithms. It may seem counter-intuitive to limit your business service radius, but by doing so you’ll more deeply penetrate that market in search results. Keeping your listings updated also allows your customers to know of any changes in your hours, promotions, blogs, or any other information you would like to quickly convey. 

3. Improved Communication of Availability

According to McKinsey, the availability of products and services is the number one reason customers are switching their brand allegiance right now. And it doesn't look as if the supply chain issues are going to resolve themselves any time soon. Marketers can meet this challenge in a few ways. The most obvious (if most difficult) solution is to increase the days of inventory on-hand of products or the availability of time-slots for services. Get creative. For example, most physicians and dental offices with whom we work have reallocated staff toward more daytime slots and fewer night and weekend hours. 

If adjusting stock levels or servicing hours is a challenge (or worse), timely communication becomes paramount. Be clear about what you can and can’t do and set reasonable expectations. For high-volume items, consider placing a banner on your site to indicate when key products will be in-stock. If you aren’t collecting customer contact information, now is the perfect time to create a subscriber list so that you can be proactive with notifying customers of availability changes with an automated text or email. 

4. Automated Bidding in Google Ads

Speaking of automated… Google Ads marketers constantly tweak and adjust campaigns, keywords, and bids to get the most for your advertising dollars. The problem is all of the tweaking comes at a cost: more hours, and higher management fees. Enter Automated bidding, which allows Google to automate prior moves to adjust your bid in real-time.

Now, automated bidding isn’t new, having made its debut way back in 2016. But continuous improvements, especially in the past year, mean that it’s due to break out in 2022. Our increased reliance on automated bidding tactics means that we can devote our time to optimize other aspects of PPC performance, which ultimately delivers a better outcome at a lower cost to our clients. 

5. The Power of Voice Search

Voice search is currently not a part of Google’s algorithm; however, it is still dictating current search results. Voice search queries often yield different results than if the user had typed in a text-based search. For SEO, it’s a good idea for businesses to be on their toes with voice search components for their consumers who are adapting and switching over to that medium. 

Voice Assistant Use, By Type
Voice Search Stats

Source: HubSpot and Luc.Id 2019

According to experts in voice search, content must be specifically optimized for voice. It needs to be more direct and conversational so that it will accurately sync with search queries. This will help boost traffic by staying relevant and more visible to consumers. New to voice search? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our more in-depth explanation of The Power of Voice Search.

6. Improved Retention via Segmentation

Because it takes less money to keep your existing customers than earn new ones, marketing experts always recommend exerting more effort into later stages of the buyer’s journey. Happy customers tend to tell their friends and provide referrals to help increase revenue. They’re also more likely to give your direct and honest feedback about issues that will only strengthen your brand.

Be sure to keep them informed on your organizational changes or processes that would impact your relationship through email marketing or engage with them on social media. By collecting data and segmenting your customers, you have an opportunity to save costs while delivering on your products and services. You can also target them in a more cost-effective fashion, allowing you to stretch your marketing dollars even further.

7. More Interactive Content

Adding interactive elements to your website or social media is a great way to provide value for visitors, get them to engage with your brand, and learn more about them. For example, suppose you are a realtor and add a simple but effective mortgage calculator to your website. You’re now offering value to your visitors while also learning more about them based on the data that they enter into the calculator. This info, in turn, can help you refine your personas and offer-targeting. 

Interactive Marketing 2021

Other examples of interactive marketing includes assessments, quizzes, games, polls, interactive videos, surveys, and contests. Contests are a great way to exponentially increase your reach and visibility, quickly. The fastest way to get your brand in front of lots of new prospects, cheaply, is to have your current customers share a Facebook post of a contest. Many of our clients take it a step further and make it a referral contest, often promising an attractive reward to the client who helps bring in the most new business. 

8. Focus on Employee Recruitment

HR professionals recognized early on that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact employees. A historically tight labor market has now compounded these issues. In response, many of the clients with whom we work are now using a larger slice of their marketing budget to attract new employees instead of (or in addition to) new customers.

Proactive efforts to bring in new employees will dominate the recruitment industry in 2022, as recruitment technologies, automation, and an array of digital marketing options allow for a more aligned and aggressive talent search process. These advances will create a competitive marketplace for employees and businesses need to ensure they work with agencies and recruiters who are able to leverage the digital options available to them. 

It’s also critical to keep hybrid employees connected, as motivated employees will communicate better with each other and ensure better client outcomes. As a manager or business owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your customer-facing teams (service, marketing & sales) are all working together toward the same common goal. Break down projects into sizable chunks and set clear milestones. Then, ensure that you set up multiple communication channels and be prepared to share successes with the entire team on each channel.

Where Do You Go From Here?

While these digital marketing trends don’t represent a complete list, they are a great place to start when planning your 2022 marketing strategy. Taken in concert, most CMO’s and marketing managers could improve their chances just by shifting more resources to social media and local search, adding more personalized and interactive content, and improving the engagement within their customer-facing teams. 

These eight key trends can help you increase your site traffic, generate more leads, and grow sales, all while retaining your hard-earned customer base. They are also critical to help you understand digital marketing trends and how they will impact the larger competitive landscape. 

Want a more detailed and tailored approach to propel your business forward in 2022?
Contact one of our digital marketing consultants today!

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