A post-pandemic world is one where uncertainty is the only certainty. Companies are pouring money into their marketing budgets in an effort to keep their customers active, but even with increased spending comes the need for innovation and leadership in a sea of competition for attention.
Enter marketing and creative agencies as the thought leaders of marketing innovation. Agencies are the creative masterminds, marketing gurus, and branding experts. And now, as we’re in a hotbed of tech innovation and shifting consumer behaviors, it’s more important than ever to be helpful stewards of the post-pandemic digital marketing trends in 2022 and beyond.
Digital Marketing Trends for Agencies to Watch in 2022
1. Uncertainty is the new normal
If 2020 taught us anything, it was to embrace and expect change at a rapid speed. While we’re no longer in the throes of frequent lockdowns, the pandemic is still changing public health recommendations regularly. With these changes comes the need for quick adaptation.
Consumers may be more resilient to these changes. With consumers spending an average of 13 hours and 35 minutes online every day, there has been an increase in online shopping, particularly on Instagram–where 90% of users follow at least one business account. As a response to the pandemic, consumers have steered away from in-person shopping and into the virtual walls of eCommerce.
While consumers may have developed an aptitude for change, they’re even more wary of false certainty. With so much changing in the last few years, consumers now understand that changing policies, products, and expectations are often beyond a company’s control. Promising certainty may be a fool’s game. Instead, having a system to mitigate uncertainty could benefit marketing strategies.
Agency Tip: Unexpected cancellations, be it an event or travel plans or something else have made consumers expect the ability to change their plans. Highlight free cancellation policies or automated refunding systems to give your clients’ customers that added feeling of security.
2. The Metaverse has officially launched
With its clunky rollout and odd BBQ sauce cameo, Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is at the forefront of the digital marketing trends to watch in 2022. While many big brand companies are making investments to prepare for the new Metaverse, smaller brands are simply on the sidelines keeping watch.
The Metaverse is unlikely to be a major player in how companies choose to market products in 2022, but this digital marketing trend is growing. And as Zuckerberg sees Meta, once Facebook, moving away from a social media platform into an entirely “new digital frontier” – an immersive experience equipped with NFTs, blockchain technology, VR, and more, agencies need to be alert to this new world. VR advertising is close enough for agencies to start thinking about product placement for their clients as first-movers.
3. Short form, interactive video is King
TikTok took the world by storm with its short-form video platform, and with its rapid success, other social platforms wanted a piece of the user engagement pie. YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels adapted to the short-form video model, both with equal fervor as TikTok.
And user engagement doesn’t lie. Short-form video is here to stay. With Gen Z’s average attention span at a whopping 8 seconds, short-form video may be the only way brands can engage with younger audiences, quickly.
Read more: Marketing to Gen Z: 7 Ways Your Agency Can Reach Them
Ford shook things up in the summer of 2021 by partnering with TikTok on an AR campaign for the new Ford Maverick truck. As short-form video becomes the norm for users across social, we’ll see an increase in brands who want to work with marketing agencies that can deliver interactive marketing like Ford’s campaign.
While the growing concern of curation vs. accountability continues, short-form video content platforms will continue to struggle to monitor harmful content while balancing one’s right to free speech. As an agency, make sure your social media management deliverables clearly outline how frequently you monitor comments across social media platforms, and adjust it as your clients expand to new platforms.
4. Audio and podcasting is on the rise
Podcast popularity exploded in 2021. Maybe it was due to quarantine and lockdowns making people crave human connection. Or maybe it was Spotify’s unprecedented $100 million deal with The Joe Rogan Experience the year before. Whatever it was, listeners consumed 15 billion hours of podcasts in 2021–a 25% increase from 2020.
This is an exciting avenue to consider for marketing agencies: 20% of people have bought a product or service after hearing it on a podcast. Podcasts takes word-of-mouth recommendations to a whole other level, leaving podcast advertising a ripe opportunity for agencies and their clients to invest their marketing dollars in.
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5. First-party data marketing is the new norm
While Google is slated to phase out its third-party cookies, digital advertisers are keeping a close eye. Although they’ve punted the change to 2023–preparing for a first-party data world makes sense for agencies and their clients.
Third-party data has helped marketers – especially smaller companies–access data for prospecting and lead gen. First-party data is arguably better for lead generation and overall conversions because users have personally opted in on their own accord. But it leaves larger companies with the advantage because they have larger pools of first-party data to pull from.
Agencies can start to build more robust first-party data initiatives to prepare for a cookieless future, and harness the power of their audiences for more streamlined and targeted marketing campaigns.
6. Going back to core values to attract Gen Z
As the digital world prepares for the uncertainty of a cookieless third-party data future, brands are hunkering down and tapping into their core values to strengthen their online communities
Companies like Hulu and Gap are going back to the basics. This is one of the key digital marketing trends this year because not only does it build more first-party data collection opportunities, but it connects with younger audiences like Gen Z who spend their money on companies they believe are investing in the things they care about.
7. Shoppable links are everywhere
Shoppable links are becoming a popular digital trend and are expected to increase in 2022. These little handy links allow consumers to buy everything they need in one place, so they can consume content and make a purchase–all at once!
These are links that allow for a seamless purchase. Whether that’s through a link in bio shoppable link for Instagram or a food blogger allowing you to send all the ingredients you need right from their blog to your grocery store’s curbside pickup. Shoppable links make purchasing decisions quicker and easier, and brands are partnering with each other in order for consumers to enjoy hassle-free online purchases.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Social Commerce for Your Agency Clients
8. Quality over quantity is the new content strategy
In the early days of SEO marketing, quantity meant you were pumping out content in higher volumes than your competitors. It didn’t really matter who was writing your content or how good it was. What mattered was that your keywords were stuffed in the content. Google would crawl that content and you’d be rewarded with high SERP rankings. Rarely did you ever have an SEO reporting tool that could allow for better insights into your content’s performance on search engines.
Well, those days are behind us, and forecasting into the digital marketing trends of today, Google’s algorithm has gotten smarter, and SEO has gotten more nuanced. Agencies need SEO reporting tools that offer robust insights to inform your SEO strategy.
Keyword stuffing is no longer admired or recommended. Now it’s about quality content over your quantity. Is your clients’ content converting leads or customers? If the answer is no, then dive into what its true purpose is and decide if it makes sense to continue its production. If it’s not helping build your client’s audience, it’s unlikely a strategy they’ll want to invest in.
9. Augmented reality (AR) is a game changer for eCommerce
Augmented reality has changed the game for online shopping. Snap Inc. reports that in 2021 there were more than 100 million shoppers using AR either online or in stores. Now, consumers have the opportunity to see how something will look in their house before they even make a purchase. Will any of us really miss measuring and taping down an outline to decide if the furniture will be a good fit? Probably not.
While big-name brands like Target, Walmart, and Crate and Barrel have implemented AR technology in their apps, they’ve also set the stage for online retailers. As many digital marketing trends start with those who have the most resources, smaller companies take note and implement the successes learned from larger ones.
We’ll likely start to see more AR technology throughout the online shopping experience. And agencies who work with retail clients can learn from the success stories of others and implement them into their marketing strategies.
10. AI-generated content is here to stay
While we can’t help but laugh at the endless AI-generated content fails, it’s a growing trend in 2022. While AI content isn’t likely to replace writers in the near future, agencies can best prepare for a world of AI-generated content by equipping their teams with the knowledge and expertise behind these technologies.
For instance, 79% of consumers prefer using a chat rather than another method of contact. Chatbots have become the go-to resource for companies to efficiently handle customer service inquiries at any hour of the day. While there’s still some time before consumers fully adopt the idea of chatbots, we’re heading into a future of more AI-generated content.
Implementing Digital Marketing Trends for Agencies in 2022
The pandemic changed the way consumers interact with brands – it propelled many marketing innovations to adapt quickly, and consumers responded. Now we’re moving towards an even more innovative, interactive, and automated digital world.
Agencies remain the go-to expert for clients to understand the digital marketing trends of tomorrow. While these are exciting–and even scary–changes for digital marketers, clients will still approach agencies to help them with their lofty and exciting goals, and agencies stand to gain when they invest in future technologies and innovations.
With these popular shifts, agencies will see more clients requesting and expecting innovation in their marketing strategies. Staying current and engaged in today’s digital marketing trends will allow agencies to offer their clients what they want: inventive solutions for growth.
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