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Check out the Engenius Podcast on this topic.

Another year older and another year wiser. Welcome to our 2022 Digital Marketing Trends blog, the place where we fill you in on the latest trends in our industry and what to expect in the new year. 

The Reality of a Digital World

2020 and 2021 saw dramatic changes in the digital world to fit the reality of a viral pandemic. Although digital marketing efforts had previously lagged slightly behind traditional marketing, digital marketing now dominates most companies’ marketing spend. Digital marketing is king and the industry’s growth rate is explosive. Three of the world’s largest digital ad agencies are projecting a 30% industry growth rate for 2022 after a record 2021. The world is going online and companies that haven’t joined the digital revolution might struggle to keep up. 

Although necessary, this rapid growth has also highlighted important industry issues such as security, privacy, and digital ethics. Companies like Google, Meta, Apple, and Amazon continue to face intense scrutiny. Facebook alone has had an interesting year. In the past 6 months, the company has:

  • Experienced an extensive network failure that brought every service under its umbrella to a halt 
  • Faced accusations in Congress regarding the company’s prioritization of profit over the health and well-being of its users, in particular adolescents and teens
  • Rebranded the company name to Meta in light of the company’s new focus on building and growing their impact in the “metaverse.” (Still don’t know what this is? Don’t worry, we will unpack just what the metaverse — and virtual reality marketing — mean for small businesses in one of our upcoming blogs).  

Not to mention Apple cracked down on data privacy by allowing its users to opt-out of ad tracking — which caused Facebook’s ad revenue to take a hit. 

In other words, it’s been an interesting year, and more and more consumers are demanding transparency regarding how their data is being used and how big-tech companies are operating. Digital privacy will continue to be a driving topic in 2022 and it will impact everyone — from large companies to small businesses to nonprofits. 

And so, without further ado, here are our top 7 digital marketing trends in 2022:

1. Localization in SEO Is Key

Local SEO has always been a powerful tool in driving consumers in your area to your business. Thanks to Covid, we’re seeing a national shift as individuals leave larger urban areas and move to smaller, second-tier cities. This movement has made local SEO more important than ever. Unstable supply chains and the desire to “shop local” in a time of tragedy have driven local-product demand increasingly higher. One study found that an estimated two-thirds of consumers shop in neighborhood stores and it’s likely this figure will grow as people continue to resettle. Standing out on Google and showing up in the local map pack will be critical for success in 2022. 

2. Work from Home is Changing the Consumer

Just as Covid has increased the emigration of people from large urban areas to smaller city centers, it has also impacted our cultural acceptance of work from home. The past two years have proven that not only is it possible to run multi-million dollar businesses from largely stay-at-home workforces…for many workers and companies, it’s preferable. Many individuals may not return to the office, choosing instead to work from the comfort of their home where they can balance their work-life with their home life. 

This growth of the “crib economy” will be critical in how marketers target local audiences and will continue to drive localization online. Stay-at-home workers also mean that your target audience might be online at different points throughout the day. Just as people changed their rhythms to adjust to Covid-19, they also changed their rhythms to match their new model of work-life balance. Knowing where your audience is will be key. 

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Everywhere — and It’s Impacting Search

From phones to Alexa, artificial intelligence is something all of us take for granted. Whether it’s asking Siri to route us to the nearest grocery store or having Alexa recite the weather forecast, users are increasingly “searching” their content locally. For marketers, this means a growing focus on long-tail search terms and phrases as opposed to simple keyword searches. A user may not write out “What are local restaurants near me?” but they will certainly ask Alexa that!

Included in this is the rise of website chat-bots. As users become more comfortable interacting with virtual assistants, they also become more comfortable interacting with online bots to get helpful information. Modern chatbots are increasingly more helpful to users and companies alike. Whereas a person needs to take breaks, a bot can answer questions 24/7… and can even grow smarter and be able to predict future questions while doing it! 

4. Quality vs. Quantity on Social Media

Despite privacy concerns and inquiries into their role in facilitating hate speech and bullying, social media platforms continue to be powerful channels.

Online advertising, influencer marketing, and video content will continue to grow in 2022.

While more and more users continue to interact with content on social media, it’s worth noting that the majority are growing more restrictive of the quality of content they consume. Social media will remain a useful place for messaging, but brands will need to work harder and harder to cut through the chatter.

Companies should also consider social media in light of their target audience. With more and more channels being created every day (looking at you, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Parler, etc.) companies should review where their target audience is and which channels match that audience. It’s better to produce quality content for a few select channels than to be on every social media platform with a less thought-out message. Quality vs. quantity is the name of the game. 

5. Short-form Video Content Is and Will Remain Dominant

We noted that video was a rapidly growing channel a few years ago in a blog, but we couldn’t have guessed just how relevant and prominent video would be in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Short-form video content, live streams, and webinars have defined the last few years and will continue to define marketing in the future. 

TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other social media giants have capitalized on video content, and brands are finding that consumers are more likely to interact with video content as opposed to other media. One study suggests that roughly 82% of online content will be video content by 2022 while another study shows that 50% of consumers say their confidence in a purchase is bolstered by watching a video product review. Video has dominated and will continue to dominate content creation for years to come.

6. Mobile Is Increasingly More Dominant

This has been a growing trend over the last decade with the rise of wearable technology and cell phones. More and more users are interacting with the digital world from a mobile device. Brands that can optimize their websites and content for a mobile world will continue to see success as users continue to make reservations, purchase items, and look up information on the go. 

7. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Are the New Future

This can be, and will be, its own article. Five years ago, the “up and coming” trend was video. Today, as we mentioned earlier, video is dominant. Now, the “up and coming” trend is virtual reality. Brands like Meta (Facebook) and Microsoft are pioneering a digital frontier where individuals can interact in an online environment as if it were real. An example of this is a furniture company that allows you to “try” a piece of furniture in your living room using an app. The couch isn’t there, but you’re able to view it as if it was.

While this technology is still young, it’s growing in popularity. Even though brands may not seek to adopt AR/VR tech this year, it’s wise to begin asking “How does my company and brand fit into a virtual world?” and “How do I prepare myself for this new marketing trend?” It’s likely that virtual reality will be the biggest sector of growth in years to come. 

And Finally, Some Things Change, but Others Remain the Same

Trends come and go, and the marketing techniques of today will look very different in 10 years. Adopting video, focusing on local SEO, and considering new design aesthetics for your social channels will only drive your message so far. Marketing, in its most basic form, has always been communicating a message to people interested in hearing it. Thus, the greatest determiner of success in 2022, and beyond, will be how well your organization does two very critical and very basic things: 

  1. Identify your audience, who they are, what they need, and how you can help. 
  2. Make sure your message (on whatever channel you choose) is compelling to that audience. 

People want to hear messages that speak to them. By knowing your audience you can speak, write, and create directly for your target grouping…and personal communication, even in the digital age, has always mattered more than generic messaging. 

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