Staying ahead of the digital marketing game is about more than just understanding and applying basic industry principles.

The digital world is ever-changing, as is every member of your target audience, so a huge part of successful digital marketing is staying in the know when it comes to trends.

Trends can come and go in the marketing world just as quickly as they do in fashion, tech, or pop culture. But it’s easy enough to stay ahead of the game.

By analyzing past trends and staying aware of ongoing changes, marketing experts worldwide can get a pretty good read on what’s next for the coming year.

In 2021, individuals and businesses worldwide have been thoroughly engrossed in recovering from the COVID pandemic, one of the most jarring global shocks to hit us in a while.

In 2022, industries everywhere will continue responding and adapting to the associated changes.

Here’s a closer look at essential digital marketing trends.

1. Interactive Content

As social media continues to connect consumers and the brands they buy from on exciting new levels, the idea of what it means to have a relationship with a brand is evolving.

Yes, your customers want to interact with you on a more personal level. But people are also looking for content experiences that go beyond just traditional text, no matter how snappy that text might be.

Interactive content has been one of the fastest-growing trends in marketing for a while now, and you can expect that to continue into 2022.

Stay ahead of the curve with creative, immersive marketing materials that invite your audience to become part of the experience.

Great examples include but aren’t necessarily limited to:

  • 360-degree virtual reality videos and 3D images.
  • Helpful tools like interactive calculators.
  • Augmented reality materials.
  • Polls, quizzes, and questionnaires.

In fact, it’s worth noting that interactive content receives two times more engagement than static content.

Content types like the above examples offer consumers the personal connection, engagement, and freshness they want in the branded content they consume.

2. Conversational Marketing

In the interest of forging increasingly personal relationships between brands and consumers, more businesses are adopting a conversational approach to many aspects of how they communicate with their audiences, including via marketing.

When today’s consumers want to get in touch with a business, they don’t want to wait days or even hours to hear back, and marketers everywhere are taking note.

According to research, 82 percent of modern consumers want an immediate response from a business should they have a question or concern.

They want what they’re looking for right when they’re looking for it, even if that happens to be at an odd hour. Otherwise, they may go elsewhere.

Conversational marketing takes the guesswork out of giving customers what they want by leveraging a dialogue-focused communication style to drive engagement and convert leads.

Examples include:

  • Personalized email exchanges.
  • Chatbots and virtual sales associates.
  • Personalized media, such as video.

The beauty of conversational marketing is that you can use it via nearly any channel, making it easier than ever to meet your customers where they live.

3. Voice Search

Have you ever started a web search by verbally asking your virtual Alexa or Google assistant a question instead of typing it into a browser or app?

If so, then you’re already familiar with the convenience voice search brings to the table.

Voice search isn’t just popular these days. It’s becoming a massive part of how nearly everyone finds the information they’re looking for.

This includes information about products, services, or brands they’re interested in. 

And the more nuanced and specific options like Alexa or Google Assistant become, the more comfortable consumers everywhere will become with using them.

As it stands, over a billion voice searches occur every single month, and over 20 percent of all web searches are voice searches.

In addition, just under half of all people say they use voice search daily, and just over half have expressly stated they’ve used it to find info on businesses in their area.

So what does that mean for your 2022 marketing campaign?

Voice-activated ads are just around the corner, meaning getting prepared now could make your material what Alexa or Google handpicks in response to a spoken search query.

4. Hybrid Gatherings and Events

When COVID first hit, people were devastated over the fact that activities like parties and in-person events were a no-go for the foreseeable future.

Virtual events rose in popularity to fill the gap and succeeded quite nicely.

However, marketers have some tough choices to make now that people are slowly becoming comfortable resuming their everyday lives.

While some consumers were thrilled to start getting back to normal and gathering with other people in person again, others felt differently.

During the pandemic, they not only got used to virtual events but found they preferred them and wanted to keep attending them.

In other words, marketing professionals now have two different audiences to appease.

That’s precisely why you can expect hybrid events that provide the best of both worlds to be huge in 2022.

So definitely move ahead with your plans to schedule live events, but make sure you include a virtual component to keep those who’d rather attend at a distance happy.

5. Social Media Stories

Since Snapchat first pioneered the idea years ago, social media stories have been red hot.

Instagram would be the next to jump on the bandwagon, followed by other big platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and even Twitter.

At this point, it’s safe to say that stories are more than a digital marketing trend. They’re here to stay and can be expected to increase in popularity over 2022 and beyond.

Stories differ from traditional social media posts in that they’re only available for 24 hours.

That makes them a perfect avenue for individuals and businesses alike to share rawer, more genuine posts more frequently with those who’d like to see them.

Effective ways top brands have been leveraging stories to reach their audiences include:

  • Experimenting with live video.
  • Reaching out to specific geographic audiences by using geofilters and location tags.
  • Encourage consumers to act on timely offers via powerful calls to action.
  • Gathering data in a fun, casual way with polls.

In 2022, more brands will be looking for ways to drive customer relationships and cultivate authentic connections via story-like features across all the big platforms.

6. Geofencing

Location-based marketing has been around a while, but it’s evolving in some exciting ways every digital marketer will want to be aware of.

Geofencing, in particular, is an innovative marketing technique expected to grow exponentially in 2022 and on through 2023, right along with the expanding importance of mobile technology.

Geofencing takes locational marketing to the next level by marketing to consumers on a real-time basis as they physically move through their days.

For example, the target area for a specific shop or restaurant might be a radius of a mile or two. If a user enters that radius, they may receive a text or a push notification containing an appropriate message.

Geofencing is currently being used to help consumers locate services they may need more quickly to the tune of great success.

For instance, associated ads are taking the guesswork out of getting gas, finding someplace to eat, or securing a place to stay while people are traveling.

And since people find the notifications so helpful, the conversion rates are solid. 

Expect this to become even bigger for companies and businesses of all types that need a reliable go-to way to get more digital users through the doors of a physical location.

7. First-Party Cookies

With consumers becoming increasingly concerned with how their personal information is used, laws are now entering the books that drastically restrict what marketers can do with such data.

Because of this, the marketing world is looking at the pending end of third-party cookies.

Up until now, third-party cookies have been the driving force behind many of today’s most widely used marketing tools.

They made it possible to collect insane amounts of data that could then be used to personalize their advertising and make their ongoing marketing campaigns more accurate.

A switch to first-party cookies will force marketers to rely on only their own collected data. 

This, in turn, will make it essential to be more mindful about what data a company collects and how exactly it’s used, which is in line with the trending “people first” approach to marketing.

Here are a few tips for preparing your marketing campaign for the switch.

  • Employ a full transparency approach as to how you use your customers’ data.
  • Leverage the power and reach of multiple marketing channels to maximize the amount of helpful data you can collect from your audience.
  • Invite your customers and web visitors to opt into your data collection efforts in a polite, friendly manner.
  • Give your web visitors and customers the ability to modify the way their data is collected and used, so they always feel like they’re in the driver’s seat.