2022 digital marketing trends: 25 practical recommendations to implement


imageCONVERT: Increasing conversion to sales through online and offline channels Recommendation 14.Consider your use of structured always-on optimization

The options for testing are one of the biggest strengths of digital marketing, yet there are still many businesses that don’t take advantage of these opportunities.From our free Digital Marketing Optimization report we see that around one-third of businesses have no or limited testing while only around one fifth have a continuous, structured programme.Recommendation 15.Review the use of conversational digital marketing trends and communications styles to increase conversion

When discussing the Gartner hype cycle I noted the importance of conversational marketing.This is sometimes perceived narrowly as chatbots which have their place, but have not proved popular with end-users because generally, the AI is not intelligent enough and human-assisted chat and sales support has proved more practical in practice.In B2B categories, the growth of conversational marketing and sales (or revenue acceleration) platforms such as Drift, Intercom and Lyft looks set to continue.

Prompting micro-interactions doesn’t require a full chat-like conversation, it can be a simple dialogue based on an onboarding interaction like this from Grammarly which is aimed at segmenting customer journeys, a similar approach is used on the Smart Insights home page for 3 use cases for using our platform.Recommendation 16.

Dark patterns: Consider the ethical and legal ramifications

Dark Design Patterns emerged from the growth hacking mindset where CRO teams have targets to increase conversion and guardians of the brand aren’t sufficiently involved.With many of the obvious wins from CRO achieved, there may be more tests that involve obfuscation, but this reflects poorly on the brand and with more specific privacy or distance selling laws catching up with these practices.

It might be thought that dark patterns are limited to smaller ‘get rich quick’ schemes, but they also offer big advantages to large brands who test techniques.Econsultancy gives these recent examples of large brands using Dark Patterns including: Airbnb excluding additional amounts, including cleaning fees and Airbnb’s service fee and Amazon prompting new customers who check out with a default order qualifying for free shipping.

It’s ironic, but a recognition of the problem that Tim Allen VP, Design at Airbnb suggests that Brands should champion inclusion.He says: “Designers, business leaders, and engineers will continue to embrace inclusivity and the need for brands to reflect a rich diversity of perspectives.

This will lead to increased advocacy for human interests in technology; a more intentional integration of ethics, equity, and justice into design decision-making; and the dismantling of sustained bias within algorithms, products, and services”.Recommendation 17.

Review the sophistication of your website personalization

According to a SmarterHQ report, 72% of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that personalized and tailored to their interests.

Despite this, the same report also reveals that 86% of consumers are concerned about their data privacy.Of these, Baby Boomers and Gen X are the least trusting consumers, with Millennials and Gen Z being around 47% more trusting than their older counterparts.

80% of self-classified frequent shoppers will only shop with brands who personalize their experience.

So, it becomes important to explain the value proposition of data collection to reassure consumers about privacy and understand what is valued most.

Beyond retail and transactional e-commerce, use of personalization for recommended content remains surprisingly low, but this will increase as platform providers make it easier.For example, HubSpot’s Smart Content criteria to personalize web pages and email, but many people use WordPress for their CMS like us which doesn’t have plugins to support this.This is the case with Smart Insights, so we use rules-based personalization instead, but it’s time-consuming.Accelerate digital marketing growth Accelerate Growth Recommendation 18.

Omnichannel commerce including social commerce

There are clear signs that social commerce will continue to grow.North American e-commerce agency Absolunet has identified the following key signs of the popularity of social commerce: 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision.1 in 4 business owners are selling through Facebook.40% of merchants use social media to generate sales.30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms.

Gavin Llewellyn has examples of the techniques in this Smart Insights post on Social commerce trends .

ENGAGE : Improve customer communications to increase loyalty and advocacy Recommendation 19.Increase use of techniques to understand and improve customer journey effectiveness

Our Digital Marketing Optimization research shows the popularity of AB testing to support conversion, but techniques for assessing voice of the customer are relatively rarely used.Recommendation 20.

Review the relevance of micro-communities

Referring to communities of designers, UX Design give an assessment of online communities that many marketers will be able to relate to:

“The promise of large online communities where designers can talk freely and learn from one another has not panned out…The reality of online communities is quite different from what they initially seem to promise.

Groups with thousands of designers either become inactive once members realize they have little in common, or remain active but end up devolving into an endless stream of self-promotion and content marketing pieces.

Discussion threads on Reddit or DesignerNews don’t delve deep enough into a topic because they are held back by miscommunications between participants.

Design Twitter slowly becomes a shallow stream of polarizing, angry, and loud voices.

Instead, micro-communities are on the rise.Pick one or two trusted colleagues, select a few mentors outside of your bubble, and build your own sounding board if you are looking to have more honest and in-depth conversations”.

Recommendation 21.Assess relevance of community insights platforms

For brands, online support communities are only relevant for some sectors such as telecoms, so the trend I see in larger brands is gaining customer insights by developing a consumer insight panel supported by platforms like Qualtrics or Alida.Traditionally these types of services have focused on research functions about new product development or customer service functions, but they are now expanding across all touchpoints to what Alida are calling ‘Total Experience Management’ – TX.Recommendation 22.

Improving email personalization through lifecycle and behavioural segmentation

Our email marketing lifecycle targeting infographic shows the fantastic potential for using personalized email marketing to deliver more relevant communications through the customer lifecycle.

Reviewing case studies of how businesses are using email marketing automation shows signs of more sophisticated techniques, but if I’m honest these automated techniques like welcome sequences and basket abandons have been possible for over 15 years, so I can’t get too excited about them, it sometimes seems as if just the labels have changed…

We now talk about ‘lifecycle email marketing’ and sales cadences within B2B nurturing.These do highlight the trend to increased integration between channels though and email marketing to prospects and customers is now treated as a channel that is better integrated with web, social, display ads and personal ads.

However, these techniques are exciting for the businesses and marketers involved if they are novel and should result in improvements in engagement and sales.This lifecycle email marketing case study of Nike in Hong Kong caught my eye.Automation of 10 new lifecycle campaigns and improved relevance and targeting increased website visits by +32.5% and automation revenue by 110% (abandoned basket campaigns were already in use).

Lifecycle segmentation included categories like purchase lifecycle groups, first-time buyers, inactive, and defecting customers.Recommendation 23.Applying Big Data analysis and machine learning to improve customer email targeting and website personalization

More novel is the use of these techniques, which weren’t practical 10 years ago.Previously, many email marketing systems were limited to reporting on individual newsletter and campaign email broadcasts.These are still the ‘bread and butter’ of email marketing for many marketers.However, a more sophisticated approach (which I have been recommending for over 15 years for more advanced email marketers) is to consider lifecycle engagement reporting and targeting based on this.Predictive analytics can be used to identify: Best send times to engage an individual (can be based when they originally bought or subscribed, but this can be refined through time) Best timing and offer for follow-up communications based on analysis of latency (average interval of response) Best product or category combinations from cluster-based segmentation Recommendation 24.Using machine learning to create more engaging communications

In addition to these targeting techniques, machine learning has a role to play by boosting relevance and speaking in a more personal tone.

Persado is an interesting tech here.

Persado uses a copy impact classification applied to existing copy, which is used to tailor copy and calls-to-action on an individual basis.

For example, using Persado Natural Language Generation to run an experiment, Air Canada sparked a higher response using Anxiety language getting a 3% engagement lift, compared to a 5% drop using Exclusivity language, and a 3% drop using Safety language.

Another example of AI application is nutrition and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett using AI to provide better-targeted emails.This Machine Learning approach from Tinyclues goes beyond optimizing copy using a tool like Persado, instead, it also involves targeting based on the behaviour of individuals to create more micro-targeted campaigns.

Speaking at a session I chaired at the Email Innovation Summit, Richard Lallo, Head of Digital Marketing, described what he calls ‘ strategic promotions and mono-product pushes ’ in a campaign.The business was able to drive campaign revenue and increase re-purchase rate while sending emails.Campaign revenue increased by 27%, open rates increased by 19%, while email send volume decreased by 23%, which also gives cost savings.

Plan: Creating a strategy to drive improvements Recommendation 25.Put a plan in place to support digital marketing transformation

Our free Digital marketing maturity benchmark report revealed many challenges of how digital marketing is run in companies today.Problems included a lack of focus on integrated strategy, testing, and optimization and structural issues like teams working in silos or a lack of skills in integrated communications.

To counter these types of problems and to make the most of the opportunities for growing a business through digital marketing trends, many businesses are now putting a digital transformation programme in place.

The aim of digital transformation is to develop a roadmap to improve digital capabilities and skills, while at the same time, integrating ‘always-on’ digital marketing activities with brand and product marketing in the business.

This chart from the research shows that many businesses are active in transformation to try to achieve this aim through the success factors covered in this briefing.

Review your digital readiness, either for integrated digital marketing or individual channels, download our free digital marketing benchmark templates or take our interactive capability graders.

These templates will give you a quick review for digital marketing governance and the key channels like search, social, email marketing plus analytics, content marketing and digital experience.

Digital marketing trends in 2022 and beyond

All the best for grasping the opportunities from digital marketing trends in 2022 and beyond! I’ll continue to cover the innovations through the year via my LinkedIn profile, so do connect if you’d like these insights or to ask me any questions.

If you’re looking to rapidly implement one or some of the digital marketing trends covered in this blog, don’t forget to ensure you have an integrated digital marketing plan in place, so you can reap the rewards of the latest digital marketing trends across your customer lifecycle.

Download our Free digital marketing plan template

Our popular digital marketing strategy template will give you an integrated structure for applying the Smart Insights RACE Framework to help you rapidly create an integrated digital marketing plan and incorporate digital marketing trends in your business.

Access the Free digital marketing plan template By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights.

Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts.Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing.Free members can access our free sample templates here .Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice .

My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary .In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question .

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