As the old cliché goes, if you’re not moving forward, you’re standing still (or going backward, or something like that). There are few industries where that’s truer than in digital marketing, which is continually evolving to adapt to new technologies and changes in the way consumers interact with the products and services they love.
As 2021 winds to an end, it’s helpful to take a look at how organizations are approaching their marketing efforts in terms of budget and strategy. Every year, HubSpot, one of the most popular CRM platform providers, conducts a thorough study of over 1000 marketing professionals to identify the trends shaping the industry. As a HubSpot partner, we’re always eager to see how organizations are planning to utilize their marketing resources in the coming year. While you could say we have a vested interest in those plans (guilty as charged), we also find it helpful for thinking about where to prioritize our own resources when building strategies for 2022.
7 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022
Here are some of the highlights that caught our eye in HubSpot’s most recent marketing trends reports.
1. Marketing Budgets Are Growing
Organizations of all sizes are relying on marketing efforts to generate additional leads, improve customer satisfaction, and increase brand awareness. That’s why they’re investing more money than ever before on areas like automation tools, content creation, and marketing software. HubSpot’s research found that 63% of marketers saw their budget increase in 2021. Companies also expanded the scope of marketing to foster better relationships with their customers to improve retention and deliver a better overall experience across every touchpoint.
2. Automation Is Increasingly a “Must Have” Feature
While software tools have long made it possible to automate various marketing campaigns and tasks, they are fast becoming the standard approach rather than an optional one. In 2021, three quarters of companies reported using marketing automation software for task management, content delivery, and chat bots. Of the companies that had yet to adopt automation tools, 26% planned to do so throughout the course of the year.
3. Social Media Remains a Major Focus
Nearly 70% of organizations identified social media as their primary marketing focus. Throughout 2021, a majority of them also used social listening as the primary tactic for engaging with social media channels. Social listening is a relatively new approach marketers use to understand how people feel about a particular brand. Rather than simply tracking engagement data, social listening provides insights and alerts that allow social media marketers to quickly spot conversations and events that could potentially impact customer sentiment. According to HubSpot’s report, 62% of companies using social media are already implementing social listening to inform their strategy.
4. Content Is (Still) King
While we’re referencing longtime marketing clichés, we might as well talk about the ongoing importance of content generation. In a nutshell, content still matters. A lot. Video, blogs, and infographics were the top three types of content deployed in 2021, with 82% of companies reported actively using content marketing. That was a 12% increase from the previous year, and 28% of respondents planned to invest in new content throughout 2021. It’s a good reminder that for all the emphasis placed on automation and optimization, successful marketing depends upon quality content to stand out from the competition.
5. SEO Continues to Make a Difference
Search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved significantly over the last decade. Where SEO specialists once spent all their time stuffing website content with keywords, refinements to search engine algorithms have prompted marketers to focus on creating more tailored website experiences. The use of strategic keywords is still important, but localization, website performance, and mobile device optimization have become just as crucial to helping connect users to the content and services they’re searching for.
According to HubSpot’s research, 69% of marketers invested in SEO in 2021 and 75% of them felt those tactics were effective at achieving their goals. Since more than a quarter of organizations are not yet implementing SEO best practices, there is a tremendous opportunity for them to make rapid improvements in their marketing performance (if you’re one of those companies, we can help you get started).
6. Email: The Michael Myers of Marketing
Much like the villain from a slasher movie, email simply refuses to die no matter how many times people think it’s been mortally wounded. The mass adoption of social media, increased privacy restrictions imposed by GDPR, and SMS texts were all supposed to play a role in undermining the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns, but email continues to be a reliable and efficient way of reaching customers. In 2021, a stunning 77% of marketers actually saw more engagement on email than the previous year. Much of this success was likely due to improved personalization and segmentation strategies, which make emails feel less generic and more relevant to a customer’s needs. While organizations send fewer emails per week than they have in the past, over 30% of them still send out three to five each week, while 15% send more than eight.
You can tell we think this is an important finding because we’re dedicating a second paragraph to it. The standout statistic from the report isn’t just the way companies are using emails, but rather the returns they’re getting from them. Email delivers an astounding $36 for every $1 spent, giving it far and away the best ROI of any marketing channel. Selecting the right email marketing platform is critical to implementing the segmentation, automation, and personalization strategies that make these returns possible. MailChimp and Constant Contact are both used by about 30% of companies and are especially popular with small to medium businesses. Enterprises are more likely to use the email features incorporated into their existing marketing and sales platforms, such as Salesforce (about 20%) and HubSpot (about 15%). There are plenty of options available on the market, so organizations should make sure to select the one that’s best for their business needs.
7. Video Reigns Supreme
It’s difficult to convey the extent to which video has come to dominate internet media consumption. While lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic unquestionably affected how much video people watched online in 2020 and 2021, the numbers are still pretty jaw-dropping. Overall video uploads increased 80% in in 2020, with people watching over 12 billion minutes of video content. That’s the equivalent of about 23,000 years, and we’re pretty excited to have made our own award-winning contribution to that number! Nearly 90% of marketers are planning to invest in short-form video for 2022, although longer-form video (30-60 minutes) saw substantial growth in 2020 (up 140% from 2019) and should continue to grow as well. Incorporating video into email also proved a potent combination, producing an impressive 15% conversion rate. If you’re not thinking about how to integrate video into your marketing strategy, 2022 is a good time to start.
Ready to Ramp Up Your Marketing? We Can Help!
Keeping up with the latest marketing trends and executing complex strategies can be difficult for marketing teams with limited bandwidth. Partnering with an experienced agency that knows how to put your best foot forward when it comes to connecting with your customers is one of the best ways to quickly expand your marketing reach and bolster your brand’s visibility.
The award-winning team at Roger West can help you implement a variety of innovative marketing strategies and develop engaging content that separates your business from the competition. To learn more about our comprehensive marketing and branding services, give us a call today!