Marketing is essential. If your customers never hear of you, that’s terminal. And if they don’t hear from you in the right way, you may as well spend your marketing budget on staff severance pay! So – now that we’re entering the second quarter of 2022, it’s a great time to take stock of marketing strategies that work now and which marketing trends to keep an eye on in order to stay ahead.
You have to be sharp to identify new trends quickly and recognize ones your business can benefit from.
Journalist Flora Tsapovsky says that “a trend consists of at least three examples of something new or novel occurring.”
But do trends really matter that much? Don’t they come and go like moths round a flame? Can’t we just plough on in our familiar furrows and still bring in business?
Let’s review why they should matter to you – and then delve into this year’s important trends.
Why Are Marketing Trends Important?
1 They help you stay ahead of your competitors
Trends determine who has the competitive advantage at any moment in time. They help you embrace the current zeitgeist and incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
Jumping on a trend (one that makes sense) also allows you to remind your audience of your
- brand identity, and
Whenever you remain in your customer’s minds, you’re winning against your competitors! For instance, if a firm thinks “water cooler specialist with good online customer service” and immediately Waterways springs to mind, we’ve won!
2 They keep you up to date with customer expectations
Small businesses in particular must understand that customers continue to evolve in their expectations. Possible clients assess your offering in these new ways and often have more recent upstarts to choose from. If you monitor trends, you’ll keep on top of these expectations.
For instance, you only have to think “sustainability” and “sourcing” to realize that you can’t afford to go against the standards customers now want. Your business plan needs to incorporate all this.
3 They strengthen your brand’s positioning
How customers perceive your business in the overall marketplace will let you know how relevant you seem to them and what position your brand holds in their minds.
For instance, if your customers perceive you as being on top of their needs and adapting to their preferences, they’ll remain loyal. They won’t be thinking “trends” as such, but they will notice:
- that they can move from channel to channel while shopping with you and you’ll still remember what they were selecting (the trend for omnichannel availability), or that
- they can find you in many channels and not just one (the trend for multichannel availability).
Marketing Trends You Should Note This Year
Trend 1: Content Marketing
Among digital marketing trends that have grown exponentially, we find that customers are consuming content more than anything else. No matter what product or service you’re providing to your customers, you should utilize this marketing trend as a priority.
How? By creating valuable content in the form of
- social media posts,
- videos, and
These spark interest in your brand. Content marketing is a form of nurture. It can certainly be a direct sales message, yes, but its main purpose is to nurture your prospects down the funnel towards a sale.
You’re less likely to be directly promoting your brand and more likely to be educating your customer gently about your service or product. This strategy works and it’s here to stay! There’s no right or wrong way of creating successful content marketing. But it pays to plan a series of messages that cohere over a period of time.
The key is to have:
- Great content. It’s easy to be noticed by your target customers if you create content that’s relevant and valuable to them! They search online with intent – wanting to find the answer to their query. Give it to them! 72% of online marketers describe content creation as their most effective SEO tactic.
- A definite purpose. Whether that’s to create brand awareness, drive more traffic to your site, or get new customers, be clear about your goal. Then content planning becomes easier and more effective.
- Careful placement. There are a lot of platforms where you can create and put your content. But your customers are not everywhere. Understand where your customer segments hang out and put your content in front of them in the right format for that arena.
Trend 2: Visual and Video Marketing Trends
Of all the online content that’s out there, studies show that videos are extremely popular. Visual and video marketing:
- helps you promote your products in an understandable way – we process visual information something like 60,000 times faster than written information,
- creates credibility by showing that you are real people behind your brand, and
- creates a better relationship with your customers.
Examples of the visual/video content you can create include webinars, digital ads, live video consultations, virtual events, and product demos (e.g. on YouTube).
Trend 3: Virtual and Augmented Reality
Emerging technologies have allowed major changes in the way we interact with each other. One of these technologies is virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). This allows you, or your clients in this case, to have an immersive and interactive experience using screens and headsets in a computer-generated world.
As a result, you can
- Build the gap between experiences and action (imagine seeing a water cooler in the corner of the office and trying it out to get a feel for convenience)
- Showcase the development and production of your product
- Give your customers a unique experience from the convenience of their mobile devices as they shop
- Offer your customers the opportunity to – for example – see themselves sitting in your innovative armchair, color-matched to their décor so they can visualize it in their home).
This marketing trend is definitely one to take note of in 2022 if you haven’t already!
Trend 4: Customer Personalization
This has risen and risen in importance. Much as we don’t like Google following us around noting what we’ve searched for, we do like to find our needs noticed and acted on. Correct data use is important for this.
So – when your customers are bombarded with marketing campaigns from multiple businesses across multiple channels, one of the best ways to engage them is to personalize marketing to meet their needs.
With the help of today’s technology and tools, you can learn a lot about your customers from the data you collect. Personalization no longer simply means calling a customer by their name and asking about their day so far!
The right way to personalize is to use the data from your modern, all-encompassing CRM and carefully curate your messages and campaigns. Think of dynamic ways to let your customer know you’re speaking to them personally and mind about their pain points.
Trend 5: Conversational Chatbots
Do you have a chatbot on site? Is it AI-driven with robotic answers that ignore the question or default to “Can you rephrase that for me?” What you really need is a conversational chatbot.
Customers used to read your FAQ page in search of answers. They now want a decent, realistic chatbot. Not a robot.
Conversational chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) to engage in conversations with users. They do this by offering choices at each stage so that your customer can specify more and more closely what they want from you. And in between they have normal sounding relational phrases!
They’re an invaluable asset in both improving customer experience and assisting marketers with common tasks so they can focus on other activities until they need to step in. The bot will have
- a name,
- a character that meshes with your brand,
- the honesty to say they’re a bot, and
- the ability to pass your customer on to a real person at any point when it becomes wise to do so.
Meaningful conversations ensue.
This trend links into the AI and personalization ones, and leads to these benefits:
- You’ll be offering help that’s specific to the customers’ needs and situation.
- You respond in real time – no awful music while your customer waits and/or gives up! These helpful bots can deal with thousands of interactions at the same time.
- You present a more friendly, accessible business face. You can offer discount coupons, re-direct to your shop, or gather a contact email or cell number to offer additional information by text or email immediately.
Trend 6: Influencer Marketing
The rise of social media influencers has created a new marketing trend that’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Influencers are mostly normal, non-celebrity people who reflect your customer demographic and create content that’s able to, well, influence their audience of thousands to millions all at once. Most will honestly review your products or services in order to maintain trust with their audience.
The use of the influencer movement by businesses has gained traction recently. That’s because it works better than traditional celebrity endorsement. Engagement via an influencer simply seems more believable.
As with any other marketing campaign, try to ensure that:
- Your values and goals align with those of the influencer.
- You’ve communicated all the Dos and Don’ts about the campaign to your influencer of choice.
- You source influencers who best fit the campaigns you want to create i.e. those who post content in a similar industry or relate to your products.
Trend 7: Social Media – the Rise of LinkedIn
When it comes to social media, many marketers have forgotten to include LinkedIn in their planning. That’s because they see it as merely a professional platform for job seekers.
This has recently changed. LinkedIn is the rising star in the digital space. Marketing on LinkedIn allows you to engage with your ideal B2B customers. They’re able to read and react positively to your content (see Content trend above).
For instance, logistics companies provide content that will be of interest to any business struggling with their supply chain. Pharma companies will interact with pharma chains interested in new products.
As long as you’re in business, you’ll always benefit from LinkedIn. But you’ll require a slightly different approach. This is B2B not B2C. Apparently, businesses operating on LinkedIn gain 277% more leads on average than those gained from Facebook alone.
Trend 8: AI and ML
AI is one of the major technologies that have revolutionized marketing. It’s made many of the marketing trends possible, such as bots, voice search, and smart assistants.
All AI does is analyze data – at super-fast speeds. Machine learning (ML) learns from the data and produces algorithms to adapt to, and predict, human experiences and behavior. Through a combination of AI/ML, you can therefore do the following:
- Make sense of – and see patterns in – the enormous data lake you have. Use this analysis to inform your marketing strategy this year.
- Tailor your ads and create more powerful messages and marketing content.
- Gather more actionable insights from your customers and your previous strategies.
However, there’s a caveat! Because AI and ML has simplified the work so much, marketers need to be careful not to forget the human aspect of marketing. The idea is to use technology to help you get closer to your customers and enhance your efforts – not replace them.
Trend 9: Customer Training and Events/Webinars
Businesses that want to get ahead in services or product marketing have now started providing online training to educate their customers in how to fully utilize the product they bought.
Videos on YouTube or your website, or invitations to webinars or training events, means you avoid the endless queue of “tickets” being presented at your customer service desk. We all know how long those take to answer and how frustrating the wait is, especially when firms are closed at the exact time you want them!
In addition, with tools like chatbots and VR, customer training in these additional ways doesn’t have to be boring. It can be more immersive and customizable.
Which Trends Will Help Your Business This Year?
Marketing trends are continuously changing, as we said, and maybe the “three occasions” never becomes three million occasions! And there will naturally be a time where some of the trends here will pass their sell-by date. But thinking innovatively and noticing relevant trends will help you manage many of today’s business challenges!
If you’d like our help to introduce new ideas in line with these marketing trends, our team of sales and marketing experts is ready to help! Contact us and use the rest of this year to gain an added advantage in your marketing strategy!