11 Jan 2022 Strategy

Marketing things to pay attention to in 2022

Marketing, like most other things, doesn’t happen in a stop/start way that conveniently ends/begins at the change of the year. It evolves continuously, so any predictions were probably in the pipeline this time last week. But, you know what? Blog posts with a year in the title do quite well – I’m just being honest, which gives me a chance to look at what 2022 has in store, and what you should perhaps pay attention to. 

What follows is simply my view, based on what I see. I’m no closer to Mark Zuckerberg, Adam Mosseri, Parag Agrawal or any of the other CEOs out there determining what happens. 

Short video continues to thrive 

Hardly a huge prediction and certainly not controversial. TikTok is massive, Instagram Reels are hugely popular and, although we lost the story format from Twitter and LinkedIn, the idea of consuming something quickly and moving on seems to meet our need in a low-attention economy. 

Short bursts of entertainment, this type of content is like eating Quality Street: you go in for just one and end up troughing the lot and ruining your tea. Two hours later, you’re still stuffing your face. Each video gives us just the right amount of dopamine to not be overwhelmed, meaning we have the energy to watch the next. 

Look out for YouTube Shorts as the stealthy underling getting attention from younger audiences. 

Here are some facts from HubSpot on this: 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Work out how you can get your message into a succinct 60 seconds. Find a member of your team who is believable to the platform you choose. Spend time studying what other people are doing on the platform before launching into creation. 

Email unsubscribes start to rise again 

When the pandemic first hit, we saw an increase in the power of email marketing. It felt personal at a time when everyone was posting the same thing on social media. It allowed people to send something more heartfelt and emotional when we needed that (despite the million ‘we’re still in business’ emails sent at the start of the first lockdown). During the last two years, email open rates and conversions have increased steadily as trust is built. So why do I think unsubscribes will rise? 

I’m seeing a return to some of the pre-pandemic practices on email: content for content’s sake, over-sending without anything interesting or new to say, less focus on adding value in the content. As a result, I think people will get tired and re-evaluate who they want to receive email from. It’s likely there’ll be a cleanse at the beginning of the year. 

None of this is actually a problem for a business. You don’t want people on your email list who aren’t interested in you or your business. Embrace the unsubscribes. 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Review your email content strategy. Are you still adding value in the body of the email? How frequently are you sending? Is it still relevant to your list? 

Acceptance of the benefits of targeted ads 

When iOS14 was released, the ability to stop your activity being tracked by platforms was heralded as a way to stop prying eyes tracking our every move. In reality, it’s just left people with the same amount of ads but that aren’t really relevant to them. For us in business, this is good news – who wants to waste ad spend on people who aren’t in your target audience? Of course, that depends on you and setting up your audience correctly. You still want to define it well enough so you can reach the people who allow tracking. 

The people who disallowed tracking are unlikely to be bothered to try to undo it. For everyone else, it’s business as usual. 

I don’t feel that people dislike ads enough to do anything about it. Sure, a few people will pay subscriptions to go ad-free, but that will mainly be to avoid interruptions (eg YouTube premium, Twitch or ITV Hub). 

This viewpoint seems to be hugely controversial, with others focusing much more on ‘cookieless content’. 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Make sure your ads are targeted to specific audiences. Create multiple audiences and craft messaging to be as relevant to each group as possible. Use your own data and submit to platforms as a way to offer a helping hand to the platform in finding lookalikes.  

Social commerce finally takes off 

You can already sell directly on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Pinterest. This year, we’ll see Twitter get in on the action in the UK, and further developments with Meta to allow direct payment within its family of products will make it the obvious choice for buying convenience. 

Instagram says that 70% of what is calls ‘shopping enthusiasts’ (ie people who like to buy things) are using the platform for product discovery. The other platforms say similar. Opening a social shop is like opening an additional branch of a store, but without the overheads. The stock all comes from the same place but offers a new demographic a way to buy from you. For any business selling online via ecommerce, social shopping is a no-brainer and now is the time to start the process if you’re not there already. 

It’s also perfect for anyone using influencers to help sell. More of that next. 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: If you’re an online business that sells physical products, you need to set up your integrations with social media platforms right now. 

Influencers available to all; collaborations are better 

Personally, I’m not a fan of the influencer ‘industry’ and what it seems to have become. People of influence have always been around (they didn’t used to call themselves that) and they can all be used to help you sell more, or have a positive impact on your business. Famous Love Island-types are too expensive for most businesses and there’s not always a decent match with a brand. But the concept of collaborating with people to make a positive impact on your business will, hopefully, become more of the norm. 

When people collaborate, there is something for all parties, and I feel businesses will get wise to excessive demands and gravitate towards people of similar stature, industry-specific people who can contribute expertise and more equity in the parties that work together. Collaborating doesn’t need to cost anything, and with inflation a concern for many businesses, this feels a more satisfactory outcome. 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Look for similar, complementary businesses that you can work with to collaborate on a project or a campaign for mutual benefit. 

Case studies revival 

Businesses have always liked case studies when they are making decisions. There are often multiple people involved and evidence helps them make a judgement when you’re not in the room. The difference now is that people don’t have time to read a 3,000-word whitepaper with reasoning and huge amounts of detail. 

Instead, a summary of the background, the problem and how it was solved, and the outcomes for the subject with succinct copy is what will hit the spot. Throw in some visuals, especially headlines statistics and a few ‘wow’ moments, and you have a nice printable piece that can be left with a decision-maker to ponder. 

These case studies need to be multimedia in 2022, so think landing pages with trackable URLs and tools like Leadfeeder to identify businesses that visit. Video versions made using templates or Canva are easily achievable and mean you don’t need to go to great lengths to film (although that really would be even better). 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Plan which of your customers would be happy to provide you with a case study and start collating your evidence.  

Digital experiences get better 

While I’d love to get back to full in-person events and experiences, I’m not convinced this is going to return as quickly as I would like. If you haven’t found ways to recreate some of your customer experiences or sales interactions in a digital way, you really need to sort this out in 2022 because I don’t think it’s going back to how it was before Covid. 

Most of us are used to buying things in ways we previously did not. We’ve become comfortable having meetings without being there in person, using the tools that are available to us, however unstable they may sometimes be. Now, the challenge is to better the experience for our customers. 

Accepting that change is permanent is sometimes hard, but as we see big companies with big budgets invest more, it will give smaller companies the chance to see that it can be done and allow them to recreate their own versions of them. For example, customer onboarding may be more hybrid with a mix of digital contact and physical delivery. The customer support experience may become slicker with video/phone interventions. 

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say we will see businesses embrace the voice message on social platforms as a way of bringing a human voice to the anonymous relationship. 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Analyse your existing customer touch points and find ways to create a new experience online rather than trying to recreate the old way of doing it, but digitally. 

Sustainable and ethical marketing becomes the default 

It’s a slow road from Glasgow and COP26 but it seems to me that businesses are finally starting to take sustainability seriously. Some businesses will go for B Corp status, others will merely talk about what they are doing with packaging. Whatever a business does, it must be able to prove it – it’s no longer enough to simply talk. 

I’m really hoping to see the death of pricing that ends in a 9 or a 7. £997 is £1,000, we all know it; it just feels shady to even attempt to hoodwink someone into buying something in this way. 

People will ask more questions about where things are sourced, but they’ll also accept different ways of delivering services as a result – consultancy and meetings can be done online as the pandemic has proved. Saying you don’t want to travel because of the environmental impact will become completely acceptable (if it isn’t already) and not just used as an excuse. The subsequent experience will be paramount in building confidence that it is so (see the previous point). 

ACTION FOR BUSINESS: Understand how you provide services, how you source products and what you are doing to become more sustainable. Specifically, build narrative about why you are doing it and how it is reflective of your company values. Put that narrative front and centre of your pitch. 

Things I don’t yet think we’ll see, but are talked about 

Full equality/inclusivity in ads – we still have some way to go yet. Some people get very upset at an ad featuring a Black family or two men kissing, so it will seem edgy for some time to come. 

The Metaverse to take off – personally, I think there will be some way to go for this to even develop into something readily available, let alone acceptable. Before it is, there are all sorts of issues to work through, especially about the types of behaviour we’ll see. 

Widely available AI technology for marketers – it would be great to see AI accessible to smaller businesses. Sadly, it will remain out of reach for most companies trying to be smarter. People still talk about chatbots as a way to help, and it’s true they can help to a certain extent, but this hasn’t really taken off in the way everyone claimed it would. 

As I said earlier, these are just my thoughts based on nothing particularly scientific or research-based evidence, more what I’m seeing and hearing people think about. We’ve learned from the past two years that things change fast, so being adaptable in approach and flexible in thinking will help many businesses navigate change in whatever form it arrives. 

Writing and designing case studies, email marketing strategies, social commerce and paid social media advertising are all services we offer at LikeMind Media. Contact us if we can be of any help to your business. 

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