Trends, trends and trends. Trends are just predictions of what might be! How are trends born? Digital marketing trends are born of foresight by subject-matter-experts like you and me, technology upgrades, and disruptions. Talking about digital marketing, it has come a long way in the last two decades, primarily because of the evolution of technology and the ideas to leverage it.
Given the challenges that we as marketers face, biweekly or monthly online marketing trends are more useful considering that disruptions rule the roost every other day. For any business, being competitive is the mother of being innovative. The faster we adopt innovative technologies, or ideate and put technology disruptions to best use, the quicker we grow.
Being in this unusually innovative, every-changing, crowded landscape called online marketing or web marketing space for 18 years and practicing with passion, I am putting forward my best 22 trends and disruptions which will give you an idea where digital marketing is headed from this Christmas to the next. For us, the rising trend of psychology marketing is quite interesting and disrupting, however, we will not speak about it in this piece.
We will look at detailed digital marketing trends in each of the primary marketing functions across the year.
Brand creation is a marketing exercise that helps consumers identify your business, recognize it, and experience it. It is the psycho-visual effect that your business creates using omni-design concepts across all aspects and departments of the business, an aesthetic, consistent and continuous omni-channel presence. Trends for branding in 2002 will be huge.
Trend #1 – Minimalist branding
Less is more and that, my friends, is minimalism. Using simple text, basic shapes, lots of white space and limited color palettes to create perfect and uncluttered aesthetics is the new digital marketing trend in graphic and website design.
The minimalist design concept is going to trend because there is way too much clutter across the web sphere. To create a minimalist brand, one needs to get back to basics and convey a simple personality and let their products and services speak for them.
Simplicity is the in-thing and the concept of minimalistic branding design is making its way into a lot of branding elements, like the logo, font, white space, and typography for many brands and startups.
Actionable: Check your brand analytics juice in relation to your past strategy and the future one. If you see that your market share has dropped or not growing, it is time to rebrand, and minimalist is the way to go since it is a long term online marketing trend.
Read our guide to minimalist branding.
Trend #2 – Brand Activism
Brand activism is where your brand takes a stand to help resolve immediate social problems by driving a positive change across all channels and following it up with results. We base this activism on the brand’s purpose, beliefs, and values.
Nike is a prominent brand that engages in brand activism, a marketing approach wherein it brands itself as socially progressive by adopting public stances on controversial social issues. Because Nike lives at the intersection of lifestyle and sports, both of which are gender-biased domains, Nike uses it to construct and integrate gender into its commercials. This makes brand ‘Nike’ showcase the authenticity of its brand activism and progressive politics.
There are many activist brands that are driving societal change across the globe. While wearing the heart on the sleeve works for many brands, what needs to be seen is how a consumer relates to such activism, and the viability and scope of business resulting from it. This is a critical digital marketing trend going into the future.
When the values, purpose and beliefs of an activist brand align with the customer’s belief [make that most customers’ beliefs], the brand is on its way to unprecedented growth. Sales and repeat sales will distinctly drive it besides the word-of-mouth and sustainability. Nike brand rightly illustrates the phenomenon.
Actionable: If you feel your brand addresses a social issue or fills a gap in the society, it is time you used activism in your branding campaigns. If it does not, it is time to brainstorm ideas that can help align your brand’s products and services to an urgent social need because brand activism drives fierce customer loyalty and is a futuristic online marketing trend.
Trend #3 – Be quirky
Chaos rules. Brand designs that include overlapping elements, asymmetry, handmade illustrations, collages, funny typographies, bright colors, and bizarre imagery result in chaotic or quirky design. Many brands, even major ones, are using quirky designs in their branding to bring a sense of individuality of being unique or simply fun.
Many marketers believe that a quirky branding exercise helps showcase the personal side of a brand, though I differ, being the more orthodox marketer. For me, my brand’s personal side is not quirky at all. I mean, how can I be asymmetric, colorful, unappealing and a brand, at the same time? Probably this would work in certain domains where the brand sells toys or fun products to the young.
Me aside, I can see that this is going to be an upward trend in 2022, given that 35% of the world population are gamers and 42% are under 25. This is the population that prefers such quirkiness and catering to them is catering to half the world and more. So, you could actually inject some punk into your brand as you deem fit as quirky branding depends on the target audience.
Actionable: If I were you, I would ride both the boats, the traditional and the quirky one. You can actually segregate products and services you offer into segments and brand some of them quirky (those that cater to the population I mentioned). Or, better still, create sub-brands that are quirky and ride them on short digital marketing campaigns. This is more dependent on products and services you offer, and therefore, your call.
More on branding in 2022.
Search engine optimization or SEO is getting your webpages ranked at the top of search engines. This is real hard work, involves a lot of knowledge, discipline, and a long-term marketing commitment. We as marketers face challenges executing SEO strategies as search engines evolve month after month. For example, 2021’s search landscape, depicted by Oncrawl beautifully. SEO in 2022 will become leaner and more challenging.
Trend #4 – Voice Search
Though Google’s voice search algorithm launched on May 20, 2012, it did not see many takers in the initial years. Exactly 4 years after the rollout, only 20% of all searches on mobile devices were coming from voice.
Today, rechristened Google Assistant, it caters to 75+ languages and dialects with over 123 million searches worldwide, which is 58% of consumers. With 7 languages added in 2020 alone. Today Google Assistant voice search caters to almost all devices [over 30,000] it supports through all 75+ languages.
Google Assistant’s 1 million actionable commands and Alexa’s 100,000 skills together form a huge chunk of the search market. With voice searches nearing 1 billion a day, it is critical that your search engine optimization process should optimize for voice search and integrate it in your marketing strategy.
This is a fast-growing digital marketing trend and your competition must hit up the market with audio content, which means voice search is trending for you. The marketing grapevine has it that Alexa will answer your question while mentioning a “word from her sponsor”. So be there, be a sponsor.
Actionable: Voice search is certainly not for the sales process. It is a form of interactive marketing and will lead to turning into a connected brand experience because voice search saves time. Of course, appearing on voice search is as important for SEO. I am seriously considering including audio content hereon on various channels where audio becomes an omni-channel experience.
Trend #5 – The latest in digital marketing trends – Ground “0” SERP
The rise of the featured snippet is a story that we need to understand getting to ground “0”. The last two years have seen a dramatic rise in featured snippet’s appearance in Google search results, especially for DIY and ‘how to’ search queries. Since it is at top of the search results page and more often than not occupies the top fold, we also called it the result “0” in SERP.
A featured snippet offers a small description of the page like a morning shows the day. This is very helpful and shortens the time of clicking in, checking and coming back, if the result is not suitable besides aiding voice search on mobile devices.
Google says – “We display featured snippets when our systems determine this format will help people more easily discover what they’re seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click on the link to read the page itself. They’re especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice.”
Coming to the SEO perspective of results, ground “0” is where you should be. You will get most clicks (?) and it occupies the entire “first fold” of search results. This is an enormous challenge. The downside is that if you get there, you may lose out on traffic as the featured snippet resolves the query with no click.
By the way, there is no way to SEO a webpage to be showcased as a featured snippet. And Google says – “Google’s automated systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet to highlight for a specific search request. Your feedback helps us improve our search algorithms and the quality of your search results.”
Now, there is an opportunity to get there. Read out blog on Google’s helpful content update and make merry.
Actionable: Before making the effort, I would check if the keyword has a featured snippet, apart from the other considerations. And, if I get there, I will ensure that I don’t put the entire information there for all to read. I need the click, don’t I? Remember, you cannot optimize for 0 SERP.
Trend #6 – Alternate search engines
For many of us, when someone says “search engine”, we type in Google into a browser. For all the 2 trillion searches in a year Google gets, we don’t know how many search terms were “Google”. Reminds you of ‘direct traffic’, eh!
And, that fact is not without a reason, Google gets over 92% of all search traffic across the globe, and the percentile has fallen by 1% over the last 2 years. All other search engines have grown. This digital marketing trend is going to stay on.
Today’s alternative search engine in focus, apart from Bing and Baidu, is DuckDuckGo, and there is a good reason for it. With security concerns overwhelming the internet, DuckDuckGo offers privacy-focussed search. Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo’s tagline says “the search engine that doesn’t track you” because “search engines don’t need to track users to make money.”
No one knows how much money DuckDuckGo makes, being a privately held company, however they are doing well with them hitting 92 billion searches in 2021, a growth of over 29 billion in the same year [46%].
Jack Dorsey, ex-CEO of Twitter, also uses DuckDuckGo according to information published elsewhere.
Actionable: I am a big fan of Jack Dorsey, however, he is not a digital marketer, so I would stick to Google. Since most of your audience comes from Google, probably you should stick to it too. But, alternate search engines are here to stay in the digital marketing trends for long, so no harm in considering their optimization algorithms and catering to them.
Social media marketing has taken off in a major way and it has a reason. Social media helps brands get one on one with customers and vendors. It is a medium of support and branding for businesses and leveraging it, makes great sense to marketers and brands alike. Read on to understand which way is SMM headed in 2022,
Trend #7 – Social messages
Many of us look at social messaging as a pastime and having fun. Apart from talking to friends and family, social messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp and FB Messenger comprise of about 5 billion users, which is more than YouTube or Facebook.
Social messaging is on the rise, and, believe it or not, about 60% of users use these apps to message brands for more information during their buying or service journey. Social messaging apps are a part of the conversational messaging strategy. And, having conversations with customers is always a positive. Your customers expect you on these apps, since it is easy for them to interact with you.
In fact, Android messaging has introduced branded SMS and today, inbound messaging comes with a lot of detailed brand information. No wonder, it is an ongoing online marketing trend.
Actionable: I would consider being on social messaging apps to cultivate customer contacts, regain potential leads, involve customers, provide support, deliver important information in real time and boost sales. This is a big digital marketing trend going into 2022, give it a fair thought.
Trend #8 – Image or visual search
Image search is the new kid on the block, as far as marketing evolution goes. Although Google Lens launched on 4th October 2017, it did not take off initially. Image or visual search involves searching for an item using an image or the camera.
In the last two years, customers have found it more useful as Google expanded its object recognition database. Today Google Lens can recognize over a billion items.
Mostly used to recognize unknown items, the use of visual or image search is limited, unless the user is lazy enough to speak or type.
The next platform on visual search is Pinterest Lens, which can recognize over 2.5 billion items. Launched in 2017, it has seen about 600 million searches on its app. And, it is growing by about 140%, year after year.
Actionable: Visual search like voice search saves time. If you are an e-Commerce entrepreneur or sell products in the B2C category, you should be on Google Lens and Pinterest Lens. Since I have been marketing e-Commerce websites for a long time, I consider this a fast-growing digital marketing trend, going to be big in the future, and will pay off in the long run.
Trend #9 – Stories on social media are trending
Social media stories are actually social media posts that disappear after 24 hours. These stories enable businesses to connect with customers one on one, and share short-lived content or suspenseful/teaser content.
The pioneer of social media stories is Snapchat, after which Facebook and Instagram joined the bandwagon followed by Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Actionable: Stories on social media are a great tool to engage audiences for proactive marketers. Using stories to create polls, location tags, live videos and effective CTAs can help grow your brand. If you are hip and happening always, leverage this online marketing trend. We make social media stories just for you. Important trend, give it a thought.
Trend #10 – Social Commerce
E-Commerce promoted by a social media platform is social commerce. This is not about you and me hustling to sell using social media marketing. Social commerce is about the platform itself selling B2C.
The pioneer of social commerce is Instagram, which started the live shopping concept way back in 2017. Today, Instagram has over 1 billion users and they say that 90% of them follow brands. That, by god, is a huge number. Since then Instagram introduced various features that help in advertising for brands, as well as facilitating sales through secure channels.
Facebook marketplace has been at social commerce since the end of October 2016. However, for some reasons it did not take off as expected.
TikTok, with its 1+ billion users, launched TikTok Shopping on 30th September, 2021. Yes, that is quite like yesterday. They have gone ahead and smartly integrated with Shopify, one of the larger e-Commerce platforms on the planet, to pull from their product catalogs.
TikTok users can buy from within the app, without leaving it.
Actionable: Social commerce is on the rise. If you are in the retail space and looking to take your business worldwide, consider being on these social commerce platforms. With so many users, this digital marketing trend will grow leaps and bounds. Adding one more sales funnel to your business will help.
Search engine marketing PPC, Google Adwords etc. are quite known facets of online advertising and in all probability your business has already spent money advertising or doing so currently. While search engine advertising and social media advertising goes on, the secret sauce and a big digital marketing trend for businesses selling products is Amazon ads. SEM in 2022 is going to unwind and get complicated.
Trend #11 – Adverts on Amazon
Until now, most of us marketers think about AdWords, PPC, Social media ads. What is going to trend and grow is Amazon Ads.
If we put Twitter, Snap, Pinterest and Roku together, Amazon’s revenue from advertising is 2.4X and is growing 1.7X faster.
If you are an e-Commerce brand and ignore Amazon ads, you are not doing justice to your spend on other platforms. The best part is Amazon owns the data of over 200 million Prime customers and creates its own targeting options without third-party dependencies. Good news is that you can use the same data for your own advertising.
Amazon’s targeting uses purchase intent. If you are looking to buy cutlery, say ‘bone-china dinner set’, searching it on Google will give you varied results that are generic and broad. This is because they base those results on keywords, reviews, comparisons, specifications and other data and not primarily on purchase intent.
If you search for the same on Amazon, you will get intent based product results, making your buying journey easier.
No wonder then, Amazon is the second largest search engine after Google for e-Commerce or product based searches. And, Google is moving towards purchase-intent based search.
Amazon also provides a lot of advertising options that are easy to choose and get your adverts going.
Actionable: If you are looking at the e-Commerce market, there is no need to explain the importance of Amazon ads. Getting on the bandwagon is the best step ahead.
Trend #12 – Notifications
Privacy laws introduced in 2018 [GDPR et al.] have taken the sheen off email marketing in many European countries. Add to this, the newer generation is looking for lesser touch-points to deal with brands going ahead, the trend will be exponential growth in push notifications.
In recent past, push notifications have increasingly gotten personalized and AI driven. These factors make them highly clickable and convertible. Statistics say that push notifications get about 7% open rates (54% conversion at the end of the funnel) compared to 3% (15% conversion) for the generic ones.
Push notifications help customers who were interested but forgot to take action. Similar to re-marketing, but a little more sophisticated. A prime example of push notifications in action is ‘abandoned shopping cart’ notifications. Integrating CTAs and images can help improve effectiveness.
Actionable: Push notifications are short and sweet. Paid advertising is ROI based, and to get the best bang for your advertising buck, push notification can do wonders. It is not only about CTRs but also about better conversions. Wisdom is in deploying them for good use.
Trend #13 – Native Advertising
With more and more people opting for ad blockers on browsers, marketers have faced an avenue of closure to advertise and push ads. Looking at new acquisition channels became critical, which gave birth to native advertising.
Native advertising is advertising that blends seamlessly with the content of the webpage or mobile display you are looking at. It is difficult for a normal reader to distinguish the ad from the content.
Recent data shows native ads get a CTR of 1% compared to standard display ads that get about 0.1%, so they are about 10X more effective. Native advertising spend is growing at an alarming rate and is an important digital marketing trend. It will be 5X of what it is today by 2025.
Actionable: Growth of native advertising is inevitable and leveraging it as a part of your search marketing strategy makes sense. Unless some other form of more effective advertising comes up, this is the best way to go ahead, for now.
“Content is King” – We have heard this many times and leveraged it. However, most content on the internet is sadly of little use for a consumer. In time, people are losing interest in reading simple content. The latest online marketing trend is to offer interactive content which will be consumed better. Content marketing in 2022 is going to be about customer consumption.
Trend #14 – Interactive Content
Interactive content warrants input from the consumer, so that he or she can actively consume the content for better understanding and action.
This is currently the biggest digital marketing trend in content marketing and is going to bring on some revolutionary changes in publishing, purposing, and marketing in the years to come.
Integrate immersive experiences into content and they can become very rewarding in terms of data collection, analysis, repurposing, and creating new content on the schedule.
Some examples of interactive content doing the rounds are polls and quizzes on social media, embedded calculators in insurance and banking domains, augmented reality advertising, 360 degree videos, etc.
Until now, video marketing has been at the top. However, out of every 100 consumers that watch your video, only 20% listen to the content. In comparison, 29% of consumers watch 360 degree videos because they are very involved and listen to the audio, which results in 100% more conversions. That is the power of interactive content.
Brand connect increases exponentially with the use of interactive content and thus over 90% of users actually look for interaction.
Actionable: Interactive content works wonders. In terms of content marketing, doing more with less is effectively possible with interactive content. Going by the data that I am talking about here, interactive content is going to make or break your brand in the near future. Jump on it.
Trend #15 – Enter podcasts – the latest of digital marketing trends
We can classify podcasts as in-trend marketing tools because people naturally like listening when there is no video to go with it. According to data, those who listen to a podcast will listen to at least 80% of it. The reason is we are all born with the listening gene, thanks to the radio.
Today, search engines like Google are integrating podcasts into SERPs directly, since May 2019, which is another reason for them to stay trending in the coming years. Optimizing podcasts is critical to getting there.
Podcasts are making a comeback. We can relate the podcast to a voice SEO tool, and consumers interact with voice-enabled devices more often than not.
Actionable: Podcasts have been slow to come up in popularity but they are going to trend in 2022, not only because Google shows them in the SERP but also because voice-enabled interaction has grown with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Keep focus on the market and optimize your podcasts wisely.
We as marketers, have always believed that email marketing works best. Of course, many marketers also said the email marketing is dead. With due respect to everyone, email marketing can never be dead. It brings consistent results, so keep at it. The latest digital marketing trend for emails is personalization and I firmly believe that this will change the email marketing equation forever.
Trend # 16 – Email personalization
Personalization is a very in-thing for email marketing in 2022. All aspects of marketing are seeing increasing levels of personalization, and emails more so. This requires carefully scoring marketing leads. This is because 73% of consumers take action on personalized messages which are crafted according to their interests and tastes.
According to a Salesforce survey – personalisation helps improve customer experience by 64% and improves conversion rates by 63% and engagement by 55%.
Prime examples of personalization are Amazon’s product recommendations and Netflix’s movie recommendations. Many data driven personalizations have been successful too, like
- Cadbury’s video campaign (AI matching of Dairy Milk flavor with users based on data like age, interest and location from their Facebook profiles). This campaign saw a 65% CTR and a 34% conversion.
- Starbucks’s gamified mobile app based on consumer location and purchase history used personalized data to offer customized drinks in tandem with a rewards system. This campaign helped them skyrocket revenue to $2.56 billion.
Actionable: Creating personalized campaigns is critical to success. Personalization depends on data and getting the right analytics out of it, is the job of artificial intelligence. Integrate AI, personalize, personalize and personalize.
Video marketing has been trending for the last 3 years and will continue to do so for the next 3, to say the least. The latest digital marketing trend in the video domain are going to bump up the demand for videos like never before. Videos are going to see a sea of change.
Trend # 17 – Video Marketing data
The present trend is video marketing, and it is going to remain so for the next 3 to 4 years. Today 60% businesses use video as a marketing tool, 53% say video marketing helps build trust, 62% of marketers see video marketing as a critical part of marketing strategy and 75% feel that video garners better ROI than images.
As perceived by most marketers, video marketing is not expensive or difficult. Also, it comes with a much better ROI. One idea could be to repurpose one of your old blog posts into a video or vice versa. Reuse the audio to turn it into a podcast or even generate more impressions by using parts of it with PPC.
Actionable: Video is the most sought after medium for consumers today. The video marketing bandwagon has certainly grown to make consumers consume more content. Leveraging this digital marketing trend to grow your business is an amazing idea. Get on the bandwagon, today.
Trend #18 – Stream live
Did you know people prefer watching a video compared to reading a blog? No wonder then, best-selling books turn into movies, increasing their reach and becoming box office hits.
More interesting statistics – Over 65% of millennials watch live streams regularly and people watch live videos 3X time more than pre-recorded videos.
Live stream videos are interactive content and people love interacting with the creator or narrator, making them feel they are a part of the action.
Instagram’s Live Rooms and YouTube Live are two of the biggest live streaming platforms today.
Actionable: Businesses continuously innovate marketing, and live video streaming is a preferred choice for them. If you think that your business promotes actionable products and services, then certainly live streaming videos are for you. Make them a part of your marketing strategy.
Trend # 19 –Twitch is the latest digital marketing trend
Amazon’s Twitch is an old kid on the block for video streaming. Twitch today, is growing by leaps and bounds. Founded in 2011, Twitch caters only to the gaming community. Today, Twitch is expanding its horizons to cooking, painting and music.
The pandemic has confined many of us to homes and Twitch has grown considerably in this period to expand its user base and influencers.
Twitch differs from its peers in the aspect that it does not support ads or sponsored links and it does not offer any content to its users, apart from sharing what they upload across the community. As a result, the community connections are powerful and work well for live streaming services.
Twitch users have promoted interviews, webinars, events and workshops on the platform, making it convenient for businesses to live stream a plethora of content.
Actionable: If your business is gaming, Twitch is cutout for you. For businesses looking to stream live content, Twitch can put together a more cohesive and well-knit audience. If your business is to live stream, Twitch should be an integral part of your entire digital marketing strategy.
Website design and development has existed since the advent of internet and it was seen as more of a technical domain unrelated to marketing. However, with digital marketing trends like UX, CX, color psychology etc. getting on to the scene, website design has more or less turned into the marketing domain.
Trend #20 – PWAs (Progressive Web Apps)
Progressive Web Apps are nothing more than websites that are like mobile apps in functionality and use. However, PWAs offer faster load times, offline usage, and allow push notifications. The best part is that PWAs are platform independent and are deployable on any device through a browser.
In short, a PWA can open up on a mobile phone with blazing speed, though it exists on the web. With mobile phone numbers slated to reach 7.5+ billion by 2025 and mobile page views growing almost 60% a year, PWAs are here to stay for some time to come.
Actionable: Progressive web apps mimic the mobile-centric culture. If you already deploy a mobile app, PWA may not be as useful, but if your business domain is not really mobile specific, PWA can grow your business faster. Your call, consider all pros and cons before you take the leap.
Trend #21 – Web security
As the positives grow, so do negatives, and with online businesses growing, the negatives are also growing, which makes website security more important than ever in the vast and expanding virtual space.
If your website does not offer https, the dwell time on your web page will be much lower. The consumer needs to feel secure to browse your page. And, remember dwell time increases the bounce rate, both of which are SERP ranking factors.
Google’s Core Web Vitals also make it mandatory for websites to be secure. Enabling https protocol has just become mandatory if you want to rank on search engines. I recommend, you display the seal of trust on your website always.
Actionable: Seals of trust instil trust. It is mandatory to get a https protocol as quickly as possible. Not only does it secure your website and give visitors a sense of security, it will also give your website the much needed protection by keeping the bad bots away. This is not a what you ‘can’ do, this is ‘mandatory’.
Trend #22 – First-Party Cookies
The enactment of California’s CCPA and EU’s GDPR have limited the use of customer data. As a result, big businesses have seen ‘fines’ in millions of Euros because of violations of privacy in these countries.
The implications are huge and non-use of third-party cookies is the biggest digital marketing drawback in history. The enormous gap of not using 3rd party cookies impedes marketing. Since these cookies can help with data-rich insights to create ads and marketing campaigns, marketing strategies go for a toss. Today, marketers can only use data they own and cannot use technology to further their needs.
This brings to the fore first-party cookies collected with consent. Of course, we collected them with user permission, however, this can bring monumental changes to the marketing function.
Deploy first party cookie boxes enticingly, and using the data to drive an omnichannel marketing campaign is the only road ahead.
Actionable: No one wants to be on the wrong side of the law. We may as well comply and get things going before we miss the bus.
I have mentioned the broad digital marketing trends expected in 2022. Since the online marketing function is about omnichannel marketing and has a lot of integrated workflows like Branding, SEO, SEM, SMM, Content marketing, Email marketing, Video marketing and Website design, I will post detailed trends on each of these trends in the coming weeks. I hope you like this read and you will flow with the trend with some wonderful ideas posted in comments.
Meanwhile, if you feel that you need to understand a trend better, we are only a form away.