If you’re like most organizations, the past 18 months were likely a catalyst for you to embrace new ways of reaching your audience. And you had to do it fast. Since the traditional methods of connecting with your prospects and consumers have changed, you may have adopted a host of new digital solutions to continue moving your business forward. And to keep up with the pace, you may have patched together temporary, stop-gap solutions that may not yet be efficiently executed for long-term growth.
But now? It’s time to make those temporary solutions permanent and optimize your marketing and brand operations to effectively engage your audience in a personal way.
From our vantage point, there are four emerging marketing trends that provide exciting areas for your brand to grow and evolve in 2022 and beyond. But in order for these trends to look like opportunities rather than threats, you’ll need to equip your marketing and brand operations for what’s coming.
1. Multi-channel marketing will give way to a hyper-personalized approach
We know that your consumers spend enormous amounts of time online; and the pandemic only increased this tendency. People now visit their doctor online, do their banking and grocery shopping from the comfort of their couch, work remotely, and connect with friends and family via videoconferencing.
Because of the ubiquity of handheld devices and the reality of constant digital connection, multi-channel marketing is no longer sufficient and 1:1 marketing campaigns are on the rise. These campaigns involve putting highly targeted messaging in front of your audience daily, everywhere they spend time.
All these digital channels collect copious amounts of consumer data that give you the opportunity to speak directly to individuals rather than segments or groups. Therefore, you have the option to personalize your messaging to an audience of one.
In order for your organization to implement a more dynamic, real-time, and perhaps personalized, marketing strategy, you must invest in the appropriate technology and resources that can analyze and translate data insights into actionable plans. The other vital step you need to take is to hire data analysts that can dig into the data and identify the patterns that matter most to your prospects. Which brings us to the next trend.
2. Marketing teams will need to add data analysts and strategists to effectively harness data insights into action
Over the past several years, there has been a decrease in emphasis on following broad marketing strategies. Instead, lean into what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience. The good news is there’s plenty of data available to inform your business decisions and deliver the results your organization needs. But the challenge lies in making sure you can keep up with the proliferation of information at your fingertips, let alone get ahead of it.
It’s not enough to look at the “Digital 1.0” metrics of success we’re all accustomed to, like analyzing time spent on website pages and number of clicks. These won’t provide the insight into consumer behaviors that will take your marketing program to the next level.
That’s why marketing leaders will need to add new data-driven roles to their marketing operations teams.
Data analysts are adept at identifying underlying patterns that inform consumer behavior. For example, they’re able to use complex regression analysis to find if/then behaviors in your data. They might look at whether a prospect spends a certain amount of time on one page and then proceeds to complete a specific sequence of behaviors. Tracking each move enables analysts to predict what consumers will do next. Then by cross-referencing those patterns with other trends, your marketing team can create campaigns that reach your audience in very targeted ways.
The war for talent will make getting ahead of this trend all the more challenging. One of the ways that brands are setting themselves apart as an employer of choice in this talent shortage is to really lean into their values and impact within communities and causes.
3. Companies will increase their brand’s social impact to differentiate themselves from the competition and to elevate as an employer of choice
In the battle for talent and market share, companies that demonstrate a genuine commitment to social concerns like environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have a greater chance of winning hearts and minds of both customers and employees. Therefore, to recruit the people you need to position your brand for success, consider how you can align your brand’s values with opportunities to make a positive impact in the world.
That might mean investing in sustainable packaging solutions for your products or identifying tangible ways to support marginalized members in the community your organization serves.
To recruit the people you need to position your brand for success, consider how you can align your brand’s values with opportunities to make a positive impact in the world.
Whatever it may be, once you’ve zeroed in on the social impact you want your brand to make, be sure to operationalize it across your organization through robust employee training and engagement. You do not want to risk any misunderstanding or miscommunication about what your brand stands for. Therefore, make sure your employees fully understand how your social impact investments function as part of your overarching brand promise and strategy.
4. Marketers will face increasing pressure to prove the ROI of in-person experiences and events — and may need to shift to virtual permanently
During the pandemic, virtual marketing events replaced in-person gatherings as a matter of necessity. And since COVID-19 continues to present health and safety concerns, you’ll likely need to provide alternatives to meeting in large groups for the foreseeable future. That might mean embracing a hybrid approach to events — or shifting to a virtual setting until the pandemic is truly behind us.
But even when the coast is clear and marketers can once again plan grand-scale events with confidence, should you? After all, organizations will want to measure the ROI of in-person events versus less expensive virtual options. And you might find it difficult to truly quantify the value of meeting in person. If you can’t prove that in-person events deliver the ROI your organization wants to see, you may not be able to justify the budgetary investment they require.
Perhaps it’s time to look at whether digital events can offer the measurable results that in-person events can’t. If you invest in the right marketing technology and the people who know how to use it, could virtual events become more than a short-term trend and instead be the way of the future? Could they give you the insight you need to reach your audience more effectively?
Your experiential team will need access to robust technology and reporting tools to demonstrate the ROI your organization is looking for.
Optimize your marketing and brand operations now to position your brand for the future
We’ve all heard the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” But in the world of marketing, nothing could be further from the truth. In order to position your brand to reach its full potential, you must embrace the fact that everything is changing — and it’s changing fast.
Your marketing and brand operations must be efficient yet agile to take advantage of all the opportunities coming your way in 2022 and beyond. So to be ready for whatever lies ahead, invest in the people, processes, technology, and tools that will propel your brand forward for many years to come.