On the path to marketing success, marketers have had to avoid numerous obstacles and potholes the past couple of years as COVID-19 has dominated the business landscape. It’s not just that, with millions of people getting sick and dying, striking the right tone has been a challenge, marketers have had to confront changing consumer behaviors that have occasionally baffled even the best of them. John Wanamaker, the late department store magnate, once stated, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.” The pandemic probably made that statement as true today as when Wanamaker first uttered it. David Cullinan (@DavidCullinanIO), Chief Marketing Officer at EQIBank, notes, “In the past, marketing was about getting your name out there. In 2022 though, it will be about creating an effective brand, compelling storytelling and measuring the success of that story. It’s no longer enough to create a brand and expect it to sell.” So what challenges and opportunities face marketers in the year ahead? Below are some of the trends experts have identified in the marketing arena.
Changing Brand/Retailer Relationships. We now live in an omnichannel world. That means brands and retailers often compete online for the same consumer. Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo), Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti, writes, “For years, brands and retailers have had mutually beneficial, predictable relationships that follow a classic model of planning, review, negotiating and forecasting. Adding in digital retail media spend adds a consideration lever that is not currently being accounted for in a consistent or, to be blunt, fair way. If a brand commits to a retailer’s media arm for investment to drive sales at the retailer, but the buyer takes no interest or responsibility in the outcomes, this model is doomed.” In 2022, brands and retailers need to look for win/win marketing strategies.
Video Marketing. Cullinan bluntly states, “Video marketing is the future of marketing.” Hannah Else (@hannahelse), Content Production Manager at The Brains, agrees. She explains, “While video content is largely used for entertainment, it is quickly becoming a well-used marketing tool for both B2B and B2C businesses, and is certainly one of the digital marketing trends to be aware of this coming year. … [A survey conducted by Biteable] found that 74% of marketers agreed that video has a better ROI than static imagery, and this is only set to increase in 2022.”
Emptying the Cookie Jar. Mihaela Lica Butler, a senior partner at Pamil Visions PR, predicts, “2022 will be a year of change for online marketers and advertisers. Tracking cookies will work until Google finishes testing and implementing new technologies that don’t rely on cookies and covert tactics. Nevertheless, digital marketers must prepare to adapt and migrate their services to privacy-compliant platforms in time to prevent interruptions or disruptions to their marketing and advertising schedules.”
Leveraging Influencers. Martina Bretous (@MartinaBretous), a marketing writer at HubSpot, predicts, “Influencer marketing will still be a key lead/revenue driver. For most B2C marketers, the power of influencers is clear. In 2022, 61% of B2C marketers surveyed in the study plan to leverage it. In fact, it’s the third-highest trend they plan to prioritize, behind short-form video content and inbound marketing.”
Exploring the Metaverse. Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, writes, “Facebook is betting big on the Metaverse, which is a term for virtual and augmented experiences. This is a big bet on the future of the web. … Marketers should begin to look for opportunities for their business in these spaces.”
Working With, Not Against, Technology. Neher explains, “As automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning take away a lot of the grunt work of digital marketing, marketers must become more strategic. The options in digital marketing continue to grow. … Marketers need to think strategically to focus on what really drives their business growth.”
Enhancing Customer Experience. One of the ways technology can help advertisers is by enhancing customer experience. Neher explains, “Every part of digital marketing — social media newsfeeds, display ads, social ads, search engine optimization and even email — is becoming algorithm-driven. The algorithms all optimize for the same basic thing: user experience. … To stay relevant, marketers should provide a user experience that customers want or their content will be less visible.” Michael Brenner (@BrennerMichael), CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, agrees that customer experience is becoming more important every year. He writes, “Every year is the year of the customer. We’re seeing a massive shift in beliefs about what marketing actually is. It’s no longer about trying to convince people to buy from or work with your company. Instead, the priority has moved towards providing fantastic customer experiences that will keep people coming back for more.”
Getting Personal. Closely tied to customer experience is customer personalization. Marketers must remember, however, that there is a fine line between personalizing ads and getting creepy. Nevertheless, Brenner insists getting personal remains an important marketing technique. He explains, “When a customer has two relatively equal products in front of her, and she needs to decide which one she’ll buy, my money’s on the brand that won her heart. One of the ways to engage your customers’ hearts as well as their heads is to personalize marketing to meet their needs.” Cullinan adds, “The future of marketing is about focusing on customer needs, not selling. Big data and the internet make it possible to create hyper-personalized experiences based on what customers do online. This ability for companies to understand their clients enables them to build better long-term relationships with them. This then leads to more brand loyalty and ultimately bigger revenue opportunities down the line by understanding what makes each person unique, as well as how best you can serve those individuals.” Cognitive solutions, like the Enterra Shopper Marketing and Consumer Insights Intelligence System™, can help marketers better understand their customers.
Prioritizing Mobile Marketing. According to Neher, “Website traffic is overwhelmingly mobile; however, most websites still don’t have fully mobile-optimized experiences. … Marketers must make sure their website is optimized.” This is not the first time experts have recommended a “mobile first” strategy.
Empowering the Voice. There are mixed messages about the value of voice search. According to Brenner, “Voice search shows no sign of slowing down and will continue to be a major influence on how brands create content and market themselves online. We’re not quite at the commonly cited prediction that 50% of searches will be driven by voice in 2021 (we’re currently sitting at about 20% according to Google), but this statistic is probably not that far in the future. The smart speaker business is booming, with around a quarter of US households now owning a Google Home, Amazon Echo, or another smart speaker.” On the other hand, Else insists voice search will have little, if any, impact on marketing, she explains, “Much research has revealed that convenience is an important aspect of the purchasing process for any customer, and some businesses are already implementing voice search functionalities. However, will this actually have an impact on digital marketing efforts, namely search engine optimization? Unfortunately, the most likely answer is ‘no’. Using your voice when entering commands or questions into search engines will not provide any additional SEO benefit for the marketer.” Only time will tell which prediction is right.
Improving Content. “As we head into 2022,” Cullinan writes, “marketers should expect even more fragmentation and noise, making it harder than ever to break through the clutter with advertising messages alone. Content marketing is one of the most important aspects of any digital strategy. Content has become a powerful way to connect with customers, engage them and build their trust. Bad content, on the other hand, can be disastrous for your company. It will do more bad than good in terms of brand image and customer sentiment towards that brand or product. Good content builds up credibility over time, which means that once you have acquired new leads they are likely to buy from you.”
Brenner observes, “The definition of what we consider as ‘marketing’ is constantly changing and becoming broader. Marketing has moved beyond branding and advertising; marketers must work together with other departments to focus on building great customer experiences and engaging them for long-term relationships.” Cognitive technologies can help with this corporate collaboration challenge by helping to eliminate data silos and, using an integrated database, ensuring all departments receive insights from a single source of truth. If I were going to make one prediction, it would be that the future of marketing will be characterized by digital collaboration.
 David Cullinan, “7 Marketing Trends That Will Define Success in 2022,” Entrepreneur, 13 December 2021.
 Elizabeth Marsten, “6 Retail Marketing Predictions for 2022,” Adweek, 4 November 2021.
 Hannah Else, “4 Digital Marketing Trends: How to Get Ahead in 2022,” The Brains Blog, 10 December 2021.
 Mihaela Lica Butler, “5 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022,” Realty Biz News, 13 December 2021.
 Martina Bretous, “The Top 5 B2C Marketing Trends of 2022,” HubSpot Blog, 10 November 2021.
 Krista Neher, “Twelve Digital Marketing Trends For 2022 And How To Take Advantage Of Them,” Forbes, 7 December 2021.
 Michael Brenner, “21 Marketing Trends You Need to Know For 2022,” Marketing Insider Group, 16 November 2021.