The new year is upon us, and many are looking forward to a fresh start in 2022. The coronavirus pandemic has altered the business landscape, and we’ve seen many changes to the marketing industry, including Google phasing out cookies and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). But as you’re looking ahead to your 2022 goals, you may be wondering what else has changed and what tactics you need to adopt.
You’ll probably hear and read about plenty of other strategies, but we’ve narrowed the list down to the top five marketing trends to try in 2022:
- Gathering zero-party data
- Putting the customer first with flywheel marketing
- Optimizing for voice search
- Growing and supporting your email list
- Hosting online or hybrid events
1. Gathering zero-party data
Google has announced they’re discontinuing cookie tracking in 2023, making it more difficult to know your audience. One trend that’s gaining traction is gathering zero-party data. Also called explicit data, zero-party data is a term from Forrester Research, which defines it as “(data that) a customer intentionally shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them].”
To obtain helpful zero-party data, you need to provide something valuable back to your customers. For example, a restaurant might give their customers a survey to ensure their new recipes are on track, while a home or fashion design company might offer a get-to-know-your-style quiz. Another business might hold a feedback panel that lets consumers weigh in on new or potential products or services.
If surveys, quizzes, or other interactive content are new to your business, consider partnering with a marketing agency to help you gather valuable zero-party data.
2. Putting the Customer First: Flywheel Marketing
Fewer ways to track and know your audience means word-of-mouth business will be more important than ever. Focusing on your customer experience and relying on a flywheel approach is the ideal tactic to grow your business in 2022. According to Janelle Estes of Marketing Dive, “Companies can no longer compete solely on their product or pricing, [but instead must offer] what the customer wants and needs… in a way that delights and makes them feel like they’ve benefited from the transaction.”
Businesses used to rely on the funnel to sell; the linear process would involve customers finding or receiving marketing collateral, talking to a salesperson, and purchasing a product or service. But the problem with this tactic is that it puts the product and buying process first, then the customer. Because the buyer is an afterthought, the sales funnel prioritizes revenue over relationships (whether that’s intentional or not).
But today, there’s a better way to market: the flywheel. A flywheel is simply an efficient wheel that stores and outputs energy based on how fast it spins and how much friction it meets. A wheel uses momentum to keep spinning, and your business should do the same! Think of your marketing strategy as the wheel; your momentum consists of customers spreading the word about your company by sharing your content or engaging with your brand. In other words, your buyers are helping your business succeed!
The flywheel encourages customers to become curious about, enlightened by, and ultimately committed to your brand. Because this concept is a continuous process, it accounts for repeat purchases, referrals, upsells, and buyers doing their research before the sales process even begins. Unlike the funnel, the flywheel puts your customers first and maintains relationships with them, so you can help them solve even more problems while growing your business.
3. Optimizing for Voice Search
Smart devices are now considered a staple. Whether it’s Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, voice assistants are becoming a part of everyday life. Invoca reports that 55 percent of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022 — and that voice-based shopping will grow to a $40 billion channel this year. What’s more, 65 percent of 25- to 49-year-olds speak to voice-enabled devices at least once a day.
This shows us a couple of key points. First, people are asking longer, more conversational questions with voice queries. For example, a customer may type “Lafayette, Indiana weather” into Google but ask their Google Home, “What is the weather like in Lafayette, Indiana today?” You can optimize for this sort of query by using conversational headlines and specific longtail keywords. Just remember that it’s better for your customers (and your website’s rankings) if your content provides helpful answers in the right context, not just a perfect string of keywords.
Second, with so many customers asking voice assistants for help instead of typing out a question, it’s clear that people are busy and on the go. Make sure your website is responsive so you can meet buyers’ needs to access answers and information via mobile devices.
4. Growing and Supporting Your Email List
What may sound old is new again: email. Many small business leaders underestimate the value of an email, or they don’t know how to use their email list effectively. When a customer gives you their email, it’s like an invitation into their personal space. So as you’re growing your email list, make sure you’re providing value by writing relevant, helpful emails that customers will actually enjoy reading.
How can you ensure your email newsletters feel current and are effective in 2022? First, make sure you’re avoiding these email marketing pitfalls and incorporating up-to-date practices. For example, FifteenDesign recommends including user-generated content in your emails (photos from happy customers, reviews, and more) as a way to build trust and convert.
One reason email is such a high-value tool is that an email list is something you own, and you can track whether subscribers have received, opened, and read your content. Social media posts may get lost amid changing algorithms, and if a social platform falls out of favor, it could be tough to attract those followers elsewhere. With email, you can keep your list clean and employ strategies to re-engage inactive subscribers, such as sending out a “We missed you!” coupon.
Additionally, your email newsletters can support your goal of gathering zero-party data. Consider including a link to a survey or poll at the end of your email to learn more about your customers and their experiences with your business.
5. Hosting Online or Hybrid Events
The coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to rethink how they operate and changed how customers prefer to shop, socialize, and more. Virtual events became a way to make up for necessary closures and cancellations and will continue to be popular with many consumers. According to John Hall of Inc.com, two groups are emerging: those who are eager to gather, and those who prefer the comfort of participating from their couch. Hybrid events allow you to cater to both audiences. He predicts that “in-person events will have a strong digital component, and technologies like AR and VR can create an immersive experience for those who prefer not to venture out.”
Types of online or hybrid events you can develop include:
- Hybrid in-person and online classes
- Virtual product launches
- Expert-led webinars
- Conferences with a hybrid of in-person and virtual panelists and participants
- Online shopping parties or advance online sales
It’s important to note that online and hybrid events take a lot of time and resources to create. For example, if you’re live-streaming an event to virtual participants, you’ll need to make sure you have sufficient equipment and a backup plan if technology fails. Take a look at what you can create in-house, and consider outsourcing other interactive content to a marketing agency.
The only constant in life (and marketing) is change, so staying on top of these 2022 marketing trends will really benefit your business. By putting these tactics to the test this year, your marketing plan will help you stand out from the competition and attract great customers!
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Treefrog Marketing is an agency focused on small business and located in Lafayette, Indiana. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.