Modern marketers require a broad understanding of the best, most effective ways to reach consumers in the moments that matter. It sounds simple enough, but every year brings new challenges that can derail plans and complicate marketing plans.

There are no shortage of disruptive forces influencing how we engage customers and prospects every day but understanding how all these trends shape our marketing plans is critical for success. Without the broader context of what’s happening across the industry and how consumer behaviour is evolving, marketers are left a step behind.

We’ve rounded up ou top five trends every marketer needs to know before planning their 2022 strategy.

TREND 1: Democratising data

The explosion of data collection over the past 20 years has fuelled the business world’s obsession with data-driven strategy. However, we’re now at a critical point. The total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally has increased by more than 5000% since 2010 and is expected to continue growing at an exponential rate. Such explosive growth means businesses today sit on a wealth of data. Now the focus becomes how to best activate it and it all lies in Data Democratisation.

Data democratisation rests on the idea that access to data is spread throughout an organisation—spanning cross-functional roles and departments—with the goal of harnessing its power to create 360-degree views of customers that drive better experiences and business outcomes.

Expect artificial intelligence to play a critical role here as data moves from the hands of the few to the many. Business leaders will need to make sense of an overwhelming amount of information and to connect data between organisational siloes. Sales will need to connect with marketing, and marketing will need to connect to customer service and so on, so that customers can enjoy a truly seamless experience.

TREND 2: Personalisation grows up

Today’s brands no longer compete only within their market category or industry. The personalised experiences delivered by disruptors such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple and many other digitally native brands raises the bar for every brand. Consumers have come to expect that same level of service and experience no matter who they’re doing business with.

Now, personalisation plays a critical role in a business strategy. Once considered an umbrella term for better targeting and serving prospects with the right offers at the right time, personalisation now spans all parts of the business. From the service centre to marketing emails and advertising, all the way to the in-store shopping experience, customers expect an experience tailored to them.

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the move to digital for many businesses. In doing so, customer experience transformation projects that would have previously taken years have been brought forward.  And marketers are in the hot seat here. As owners of the customer relationship, they’re tasked with delivering omni-channel personalisation to ensure seamless customer experiences across channels, devices, and platforms—a herculean task at the best of times.

On the back of this effort, expect to see the walls between traditional digital channels such as email, web and mobile, begin to fall. There will be a focus on removing the siloes associated with sales, service, and marketing, as that’s the only way to deliver on the lofty expectations of a connected, omni-channel experience.

TREND 3: Driving retention and loyalty through trust

As the world recovers from the global pandemic, customers want to buy from brands they trust, and they will stay loyal to brands that treat them with respect. Trust is the equity on which brands can build through retaining loyal customers so they can become their biggest acquisition asset through referrals and social media networks.

This trend is seeing brands shift their budget from acquisition to retention. Forrester expects “spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% as CMOs assert control over the full customer lifecycle.” Brands are adopting loyalty programs that not only reward members for spending, but also for engaging and interacting. This means your most active loyalty program members are also building, sharing and evangelising your brand.

TREND 4: Marketing moves to the centre of the sales process

Social isolation due to regional lockdowns throughout the pandemic has likely reinforced a ‘research before you buy’ mindset. As a result, we’re witnessing a significant investment in digital transformation for marketing and its connection with sales and service as a complete end-to-end experience ecosystem.

Marketing now plays a vastly more critical role in driving sales and business success than ever before due to its proximity to the customer, and its involvement with their day-to-day lives. With the need to build consumer trust and loyalty—both elements driven by marketing—marketing finds itself firmly at the centre of the sales process.

Customer loyalty and trust represents the foundation for long-term customer relationships. With marketing at the helm here, 2022 will see many businesses emphasize lifecycle marketing campaigns and initiatives designed to keep consumers both engaged and invested in the brand.

Investment in the customer base not only pays off in increasing existing lifetime value but also in acquiring new customers in a digital ecosystem devoid of cookies—where understanding mindset and targeting important life moments is now as important as historical behaviour.

Trend 5: Outdated targeting habits crumble with cookies

What do modern digital marketers have in common with prehistoric life on Earth? Mass extinction and a forced evolution event. For ancient flora and fauna, it was an asteroid. For marketers, it is the less celestial death of 3rd party cookies.

3rd party cookies have been the de facto targeting method for as long as digital advertising existed. As the industry moves on from cookies, big questions remain around what will take its place and how marketers will adapt to a new audience targeting environment.

The reality is that there will likely be gaps in reach and scale versus what we are traditionally accustomed to through the use of cookies and audience IDs. However, marketers must be ready for a future where customer privacy plays an outsized role and adapt accordingly.

The solutions will be mixed and vary depending on which end of the marketing and advertising spectrum one falls in.

  1. Enhances customer intelligence where the focus shifts from just looking at your best customers’ historical behaviour to also considering their likely mindset and targeting important life moments. There are already new tools that will enable marketers fill the gap.
  2. Audience identifiers designed to operate in a consumer-centric, privacy-friendly ecosystem.
  3. Contextual intelligence that enables anonymous targeting capabilities based on page content and consumer mindset. Objective measurement solutions built on technologies constructed with a privacy-first approach to measuring real people, across platforms.

While change can be intimidating, modern marketers should be confident and embrace this next evolution of the journey. Yes, operational processes will need to change. But a renewed focus on understanding real prospects and customers to inform new targeting and audience solutions should deliver the same value in reach and scale that they have enjoyed with cookie-based solutions until today.