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2020 was a chaotic year and 2021 thus far has turned out to be almost equally unpredictable. Therefore, many trends that had been predicted before the pandemic didn’t happen after all, while others went in unusual directions due to the unique set of circumstances.
Most significantly, e-commerce took off in an enormous way, people spent far more time using social media platforms, and the use of video conferencing software became widespread.
All of this has added up to a considerable shift in how brands are now connecting with consumers. As 2022 approaches, which digital marketing trends are likely to arise over the months to come?
Over the past couple of years, quarantines and lockdowns have meant that many events ended up being cancelled. Consumers couldn’t go to events in-person and this caused more people to turn to live streams in the form of live videos, online workshops and branded live streams.
Live viewings on Facebook increased by as much as 50% during periods of lockdown and Instagram viewings went up by 70%. In 2020, the number of users on TikTok also increased dramatically and those figures only continued to grow during 2021. It’s likely this trend will continue next year.
A lot of brands have struggled to succeed during these tough times, and have had to look for new strategies to appeal to customers. The savviest brands have grasped where they can fit into the lives of their customers on social media platforms and have found more creative ways to fit into their conversations.
Right at the heart of this lies a need for greater transparency. Consumers cannot connect effectively with any brand they view as insincere or shady. They don’t want to invest any time, effort or money in something they neither believe in nor trust.
Brands that are keen to stay trusted during 2022 will, therefore, be looking towards more purpose-driven and goodwill missions, and the emphasis is likely to be strongly on these over the year to come.
In 2022, customer experience will be more important than ever before. They’re craving enjoyable experiences but want them to be with memorable and user-friendly brands. They demand proof before purchase and they’re keen to be reassured that they’re making the right decision. UGC or user-generated content is vital for connective content because:
For some time, UGC has represented a good way for companies to strengthen their customer relationships and supply social proof. This looks set to remain a trend throughout 2022.
Over 80% of consumers believe companies need to do more to protect the environment and brands are consistently working towards a future that is more sustainable by changing their packaging, materials, systems and more.
As a drive towards eco-friendliness continues, consumers are increasingly drawn towards brands that are environmentally aware and more purpose-driven. In 2022, this is only going to become even more important.
Over the past couple of years, inclusivity has attracted a bigger focus and that focus is going nowhere in 2022. A cultural move towards greater inclusivity has also impacted on purchasing behaviour – over 40% of shoppers have moved away from those retailers that fail to reflect their own views about diversity and inclusivity.
Almost 30% have admitted to being open to completely changing brands if those companies fail to show sufficient diversity. Those brands that aren’t viewed as inclusive enough are likely to see major impacts during 2022, while those brands that showcase openly their involvement with inclusive clauses can reap more benefits and create stronger connections with buyers.
More consumers have begun to carry out searches using voice-activated tools such as Alexa. The lockdown may have added to this trend since limited opportunities to have conversations arose, or maybe this technology has just become more available.
Yet it isn’t only voice searches that are set to prevail throughout 2022 – other methods of creative search are also likely to become more popular, such as visual search. Google Lens, for example, allows consumers to search for things they’re able to see, and this means that marketers must focus still further on image sitemaps and alt-texts. In the year to come, it’s highly likely that visuals are going to be extra important for SEO.
The past couple of years has also seen people turning more readily to content that is easier to consume, such as podcasts that can be listened to while on the move, or newsletters that directly land in the subscriber’s inbox.
Evidence has shown that over half of all Americans are now listening regularly to podcasts and mentions of newsletters increased by 14% in lockdown. Also, advertisers have spent more of their budgets on making podcasts over the last couple of years, so it’s likely this trend will continue.
Content that is readily available and convenient such as newsletters and podcasts can help brands to connect deeply with their customers and give them more intimate ways of remaining in touch.
The unpredictable events of 2019 and 2020 have made brands think hard about the ways in which they choose to connect with customers. As stores have been closed and lockdowns have been enforced, people were kept indoors and this meant they spent considerably longer online. As a result, brands have been pushed into branching out to create ways to reach buyers that are more human-centric.
As 2022 is around the corner, it’s very likely that this trend is set to continue over the 12 months to come. Live-streams are set to become even more common, brands which are purpose-driven and which champion sustainability are likely to carry on achieving greater success and it’s highly likely that UGC is going to stay as a key component of marketing strategies.