During the past two years, customer experience and customer centricity has been at the forefront of marketing and customer service strategies. As we recover from the original shock of the coronavirus pandemic, we remain cautious due to fluctuating cases. 

Planning promotional activities around what we knew before won’t cut it anymore. In 2020, marketing strategies were turned upside down and marketing teams had to go back to the drawing board. This year and next year are about recovering from the original shock. It is about adapting to the new consumer behavior and new emerging marketing trends. 

Digital ad spend alone is forecasted to reach $465 million by the end of 2021. Therefore, it is important to stay up to date with the latest digital marketing trends in order to increase the efficiency of your marketing efforts. 

In this article, we’ll explore emerging digital marketing trends from using voice search, live chat and artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing to good old SMS campaigns, to help marketers adapt to these new dynamics. 

Digital marketing trends to look out for in 2022

More customers are switching to digital channels. It is forecasted that by 2025, 4.4 billion people will be on social media, and 7.3 billion will have smartphones. In comparison, there are currently 7.9 billion people in the world. 

What is more, by 2025 , 68% of the total ad spend is expected to be generated through mobile. Here are some of the best digital trends to consider in your upcoming marketing campaigns.

  1. Future of digital marketing is shaped by Gen-Z 

The emerging digital marketing and digital experience trends are highly driven by Gen-Z. True digital natives, born between 1996 and 2010, Gen-Z is a creative generation grown up in the Internet, smartphone and social media era. 

Focusing on the creative content, the rise of UGC on TikTok and Instagram reels have paved the way for brands that are using this opportunity to accentuate their digital marketing efforts. For example, Walmart recently partnered up directly with TikTok, to create livestream shopping events with some of the most popular TikTok influencers in order to increase their social media engagement

What is more, the trend has made it possible for small independent brands to create their online presence and sell directly to consumers. For example, sportswear brand Gymshark has established themselves mainly through social media presence on TikTok and Instagram through UGC and influencers. 

  1. Programmatic advertising 

With endless digital advertising possibilities like SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, email and mobile marketing, customer analytics and different channels, it can get overwhelming. With ever-evolving trends and shifts in consumer behavior, choosing the most relevant type and channel based on the target audience is getting more time consuming. 

Programmatic advertising automates the process of buying and selling online advertising. Technology platforms that identify and target the right customers on the right channel, based on their age, interests, location and device, without marketers having to identify the best channels  manually.

85% of Digital Advertising revenues are to be generated through programmatic advertising by the end of 2025, according to Statista. You can leverage programmatic advertising in order to optimize your digital campaigns and save time spent on choosing the right channels.

  1. Voice search optimization  

Voice search optimization is becoming increasingly important. Voice search is a more convenient way to look for answers on search engines by speaking to the device rather than typing in the queries. 

And recent statistics prove that. Studies show that 65% of 25 – 49 year olds speak to their voice-enabled devices daily to find answers to their questions. Global voice recognition market size is expected to grow by 18% between 2021 and 2026, reaching $27 billion in 2026.

With advances in technology, speech recognition has become more precise and accurate. Google, for example, has claimed to reach 95% accuracy in their voice searches. Voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant have all contributed to the rise in popularity of voice search. 

Therefore, optimizing voice search for your business is a great idea. In the US, more than half of consumers (53%) did their product research on voice search already in 2018.

Shopping and looking for restaurants and services through voice search is rising. Thus, it will be an important aspect going forward, for both retailers as well as service providers to optimize their voice search.

  1. Chatbox and live chat marketing

Chatbot or live chat is a rising digital trend in both customer service as well as for marketing. Promoting your products through live chat can be helpful to drive more sales and grow conversions. Live chat in customer service has been extremely successful and popular in recent years thanks to automation and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Both chatbots as well as live chat are innovative channels to upsell and encourage repeat purchases through customer service interactions. Over live chat people can message with support directly through the web shop or web page instantly, without having to switch channels or pick up the phone, or wait for an answer to an email. 

Live chat has become the top most preferred method of contacting customer service. Therefore, using live chat or chatbot for marketing is one of the top trends in digital marketing in 2022, and one that is expected to develop further. 

  1. Localization 

If you are a business operating in several countries, you should consider localization to make your offer more relevant to the local audience. Content localization and local SEO are both trends worth noting.

As businesses shift to online, global e-commerce sales globally are expected to reach $4.28 trillion by 2024, businesses have to accentuate their online presence. Local brick and mortar storefronts would usually do the job, but for e-commerce marketing, it should now be reflected in localized content. 

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in marketing and customer service

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can boost return-on-investment (ROI) through leveraging technology to improve customer experience. By gathering target audience customer insights through machine learning and data analytics, you can create a more efficient marketing campaign. 

For example, AI can be used to automate processes for email marketing, customer service to PPC campaigns. 

Email marketing platforms are using AI to manage contact lists, find the most suitable content and subject lines to the specific audience cluster and send out offers and promotions at the right time, increasing ROI.  

  1. Shoppable content – everywhere

Social commerce is fast becoming the preferred method of shopping, expected to grow by more than 35% to surpass $36 billion in sales by the end of 2021. It’s where consumers can click directly on the shoppable content, and is a part of social media marketing tactics. It can be either a process of being redirected to the product page, or checking out directly through platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

Shoppable content can also be elsewhere besides social media, for example in email campaigns, blogs or online magazines, video or even TV content. Making content shoppable can cut customer journeys in half – fewer clicks help to reduce bounce rates and drive conversions. What is more, adding information such as prices on the content directly, customers won’t have to do any extra research. 

For example, in July 2021, ITV in the UK rolled out shoppable TV, allowing viewers to shop for items in its TV shows on screen. Using AI, the service identifies and tags products during the shows and would notify viewers, if these products are available. These notifications are sent to the viewer’s phones and would include a link to the seller’s product page, where customers can make the purchase.

  1. SMS marketing 

SMS marketing is making a comeback. During its heyday in 2011, an estimated 2.3 trillion SMS and MMS messages were sent in the US. After a continuous decline between then and 2017, SMS usage has grown again to 2.2 trillion messages in 2020.  

A good SMS marketing strategy will allow you to connect with your audience instantly, even if they don’t own a smartphone or have WiFi connection. What is more, it can be extremely effective – various sources report SMS open and response rates to be as high as 98% and 45% respectively. 

SMS allows a highly targeted approach compared to social media, where content can get lost easily. What is more, SMS communication helps to reduce abandoned cart rates and establish a higher brand loyalty through personalised messages. SMS marketing can be so efficient for e-commerce marketing strategy, as it can be used for sending promotions, exclusive offers and even providing personal 1-1 customer service.

  1. Email campaigns – interactive and minimal

In 2022, email marketing will still be one of the most popular ways to reach consumers digitally. However, there are two noticeable trends emerging. 

For one, emails are becoming more interactive. Enriching your email campaigns with interactive content such as shoppable imagery, video content, rollover imagery or polls and surveys in exchange for a discount offer can all help to engage more readers and achieve higher CTR and conversion rates.

At the same time, the exact opposite trend is emerging – plain text-based emails. Short and simple, minimal emails can help to get the message across, without any extra distractions. Nowadays, when people have less and less time and their attention span is getting shorter, simple emails can just be the winner. What is more, they require less budget! 

  1. User generated content (UGC) and customer reviews 

User generated content (UGC) and customer reviews are becoming increasingly important, especially in e-commerce. Statistics show that nearly 53% of Gen-Z consumers are influenced by comments and reviews on social media, to communicate and connect to brands and retailers online. 

User generated content has been at the forefront of social media strategies for years. Naturally, customers trust each other more than they trust marketers. UGC and customer reviews have proven to be a trustworthy source of information when doing product research online. And they can be used effectively for marketing purposes. 

Using reviews as a part of your marketing strategy is a great way to increase consumer trust and influence their buying decisions. Social proof from UGC and reviews can improve traffic and have a positive impact on conversion rates. 

  1. Optimal mobile marketing experience 

Mobile usage is growing, especially mobile app usage and mobile shopping. It is forecasted that by the end of 2021, mobile commerce sales will reach $221 billion in the US. Forecast for 2024 is expected to nearly double, topping $400 billion. That is an astounding growth. What is even more astonishing is that in comparison, desktop sales would remain below $70 billion by 2024

More people can access the Internet on mobile over desktop. Mobile apps can bridge the gap between online and offline, ensuring shoppers get a personalized omnichannel experience. Therefore, it is important to keep focus on optimizing your mobile marketing in 2022 and create optimal shopping journeys. 

Digital marketing to create a complete shopping experience

With so much changing around us, now is the time to start thinking about the best digital marketing trends to leverage for your business. With the new year approaching, get ready and  define goals you want to reach for your e-commerce marketing strategy. 

Whether it is winning over new customers, increasing engagement, retaining existing customers or optimizing your marketing campaigns, make sure to have a clear plan ready of how you are going to achieve these goals. 

One thing is for sure, user generated content and social media marketing will get bigger, mobile marketing will grow, and usage of artificial intelligence and automation will help marketing teams to optimize their campaigns and save time. 

But at the end of the day, keep customers at the centre of everything you do. The most valuable aspect in 2022 is building trusting relationships with your audience, to keep them engaged and coming back to your store. To truly succeed, keep customer-focus at the heart of everything you do. Building connections with your customers is now more important than ever.