How to reach your customers in a restless digital realm.
Marketing never sits still.
Just when you think you’ve hopped on the latest trend to boost your web rankings and position your branding for optimal customer engagement, the marketing world has already moved on to the next best thing—and it takes all you can do just to keep up.
That’s because marketing responds to the whims of outside forces—namely, people, and how people consume media and develop brand loyalty. Your customers are online—which means you need to get your marketing online too. Your customers are responding to real stories featuring real people, and connecting with brands that foster education, engagement, and interaction.
“There is an increasing need for brands to deliver their message in a way that tells stories about their products and services that are authentic, entertaining, and educational.”
We’re near the end of 2021, and we’re through with traditional “Me, me, me!” advertising. It’s not about what your business offers, but the difference it can make. Customers nowadays can sniff out false advertising like a bloodhound on the chase. They’re looking for benefits over features. They’re looking for stories over sales pitches.
“Humans are emotional creatures. Believe it or not, experts confirm that people make decisions emotionally and justify those decisions rationally.”
You, the business owner, want to bring customers in and build a relationship with them. You want your awesome product or service to impact their lives. So how can your digital marketing make that happen? It’s all about meeting your customers where they are, and making sure all touchpoints are geared towards the customer journey.
That requires authenticity and effort—but we know you’re up for the challenge. So let’s get into it.
Here’s a special sneak peek at the Top 5 Marketing & Branding Trends coming up for 2022.
Get your dates, data, and facts right
If you list a year or a range of years on your website copyright notice, update it for 2022! Many websites update on a daily basis, and copyrighting your site for the entire year protects all your current and future content from copyright infringement.
Updating your copyright notice as soon as January 1st helps your customers feel confident in working with you. Make sure you include the copyright owner’s name, and place the copyright notice in the footer of the homepage—and that’s the only place you need to put it to protect your entire site! (Though of course you can put it on any other page, as well).
“Your website should be mobile friendly.”
If you have statistics featured on your website that indicate the years you have been in business or how many clients you have served or products sold, you’ll want to jump at the chance to update these dates for the New Year as well! This makes your website appear active, up-to-date, and trustworthy.
Google Ends Cookie Tracking in 2022
What does this mean for you? Cookies help companies track users across the web in order to learn more about their customers and improve their user experience. You may have seen an option pop up on some websites asking if cookies can track you—and usually, cookie tracking is harmless. It helps marketers and advertisers determine the behaviors of their target customers so they better reach them.
“Increase customer engagement, build trust, and promise valuable information-driven interactions in the future.”
However, privacy has become a major concern since the implementation of the GDPR in 2016. In response, Google is ending third-party cookie tracking for Chrome starting in 2022. Considering that a whopping 65% of internet users use Chrome as their preferred browser, that’s a significant roadblock to many advertisers who use cookie tracking to segment their audience base.
Digital advertisers are looking at other ways to track consumers that focuses on zero-party data. Examples of these are the completion of surveys, subscribing to mailing lists or signing up for a promo code. In short: content marketing. This is organically derived data that is given directly by the consumer. These methods increase customer engagement, build trust, and promise valuable information-driven interactions in the future.
This coming year, you’ll want to focus on boosting your CRM toolkit and expanding your audience touchpoints, as such data will become crucial once cookie tracking is no longer available.
Storytelling is getting bigger and more important
Humans are emotional creatures. Believe it or not, experts confirm that people make decisions emotionally and justify those decisions rationally only after the decision has been made. A main driver of emotion is story: watching a relatable narrative play out that activates our senses and influences our decision-making.
Marketers can learn from these habits of mind to better reach consumers in a way that is not only effective but ethical. Stories tap into the heart of who we are and what we want from our products. They drive connection and build trust. There is an increasing need for brands to deliver their message in a way that tells stories about their products and services that are authentic, entertaining, and educational.
“Studies show that it takes the average internet user 50 milliseconds to decide whether or not they are staying on your page. You want to catch them in those first 10 milliseconds.”
Customers are connecting more with the people and stories behind the brand. They don’t want to hear about how fantastic your features are, they want to know the story about how you created your brand, or how you helped solve a problem using your product. It’s okay to present flawed “characters,” to show your weak spots, to start with the negative and grow towards the positive. These are the stories that most appeal. We want to connect; and connection requires some vulnerability, honesty, and growth.
Storytelling requires a deep knowledge of your customer base and an empathetic understanding of what they want and need from your product. You can tap into these pain points and solutions by drawing on the real-life experiences of your brand ambassadors, repeat customers, and personas informed by detailed consumer analytics.
“Capitalizing on UCG is another way of incorporating natural storytelling into your brand image and product.”
Make sure you collect real-life examples that showcase the advantages of your product or service when planning your marketing campaigns for 2022. These stories can be disseminated across all your active channels—social media, email, website, etc—to drive brand unity and ultimately inspire customer engagement.
For some storytelling inspo, check out our favorite storyteller, Kindra Hall! You can find her here on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kindrahall/
User Generated Content is a hit!
What is UCG? User-generated content is simply any form of content—text, videos, images, reviews—that is generated by product users rather than brands. This is when an Instagram user shares your brand or product on their story, exposing your brand to a larger audience and boosting your credibility.
Businesses are increasingly incorporating UCG into their social medial marketing strategies and even sharing it on their websites. Brands that incorporate UCG have a 20% increase in customer return and a 90% increase in the time that consumers spend on their websites (WebPurify). Think of the images that Target adds to their clothing product pages to show you what real life customers look like in their pieces – this is UCG, and customers are interacting with a personalized experience.
“Meet customers where they are looking for you, and fill a need that they already have.”
Capitalizing on UCG is another way of incorporating natural storytelling into your brand image and product. Users share their experience with your product and in doing so enhance your brand’s authenticity, build trust, and drive sales.
Mobile First Marketing
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more people are accessing your website using their phones rather than their desktop computers. In fact, mobile devices drove 61% of US website visits in 2020, up from 57% in 2019 (Perficient). Which means one thing – your website should be mobile friendly.
Responsive design is key to website development in 2022. In essence, responsive design means that your website adapts to user behavior based on screen size, platform, and orientation, and allows access across various devices (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc).
Responsive design—as opposed to adaptive design—is the most flexible kind of website design currently on the market, using HTML and CSS coding to adjust page layout based on device. (So you’ll also want a coding language expert in order to optimize your web design and keep things looking fresh).
“Customers are connecting more with the people and stories behind the brand. They want to know the story about how you created your brand, or how you helped solve a problem using your product.”
First impressions matter. Studies show that it takes the average internet user 50 milliseconds to decide whether or not they are staying on your page. (50 milliseconds! That’s 0.05 seconds!!). If your website lacks responsive design, it will perform poorly on mobile and likely deter customers from visiting. You want to catch them in those first 10 milliseconds—and you can do that by making mobile access seamless and eye-catching.
The take-home message for marketing in 2022 is to meet customers where they’re looking for you, and to fill a need that they already have. You can do this by telling stories they can relate to, and nurturing engagement that ultimately leads to a durable relationship that delivers on your investment.
To get help with making these changes to your website, visit our Marketing and Branding Service Page.