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2022 Marketing Trends – Defined by Data

  • Chad Engelgau

    Chad Engelgau

    Chief Executive Officer

Created at December 15th, 2021

2022 Marketing Trends – Defined by Data

While the last two years accelerated all things digital through necessity, now is not the time for marketers to slow down. The future of marketing requires an aptitude with data and technology, combined with an appetite for change.

Looking ahead to 2022, I see four key trends that will drive how we use data to better connect with the customers we love and those we’d love to have.

Trend No. 1 – Marketing automation on the rise

Marketing automation uses data and technology to expedite engaging with people whether through external marketing channels, or on your owned properties, e.g., you mobile app. While speed is core to automation, when coupled with true customer understanding, it’s the ability to interact on customer journeys that brings value to people and revenue to your brand.

Tailwinds: Employee burnout is real and it has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, often cited as a contributor to the “The Great Resignation.” New solutions that automate standard, repetitive tasks that add little value and burn people out will be prioritized. These machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are not the applications themselves, but the underlying smarts that free up marketers to focus on what matters most.

Headwinds: Out of the box AI/ML algorithms are not enough to solve complex use cases like customer journey management. Brands face unique challenges and need solutions that are customizable. Skills needed to develop these solutions are in demand and take time to acquire. Disconnected marketing platforms and systems also make it difficult to automate the entire customer journey workflow, with marketers struggling to find the right integrations.

Your next step: Look to map, measure, and understand how people interact with your brand on your owned properties first. Begin automating tasks like direct remarketing (versus cookie based) to provide more personalized and relevant messages to your customers and prospects whether interacting via email, direct mail, or inbound call centers.

Trend No. 2 – Cloud acceleration heating up

Acceleration to the cloud is the process of migrating data and technology solutions from your own, or your marketing services provider’s (MSP), data center to a public cloud offering like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud, or Snowflake, a vendor independent platform. The cloud is not new, but a 2020 survey of 500 global IT decision makers found that 87% believe COVID-19 is causing organizations to accelerate their cloud migrations.

Tailwinds: The cost to deploy solutions in the cloud is falling, and the massive scalability of data processing is beneficial for marketers deploying complex solutions. Cloud platforms also offer core toolsets and technologies that are native to the platforms, like analytics capabilities, and expedite the development of custom solutions. As many brands flock to the cloud to upgrade their bespoke legacy solutions, it also feeds the “everyone is doing it” mentality.

Headwinds: The cloud ecosystem is booming, which makes the right choice difficult. For large brands with complex use cases, a hybrid approach is likely to evolve, which means egress charges can pile up in a hurry as you move data between clouds. Talent is another challenge, as most companies don’t have the skills to build the new solutions or to migrate existing ones. Concerns about data leakage and being locked into proprietary tools in a single vendor’s cloud are also likely to persist.

Your next step: The beauty of a cloud approach is the low cost to entry. Understand the use case you’re trying to solve and evaluate the right cloud solution based on your needs. Scale up or down as needed. Don’t be afraid to use multiple solutions, just be sure to understand the total cost of ownership if data movement is a factor.

Trend No. 3 – First-party data required

First-party data is a brand’s most valuable data asset. Collected directly from a brand’s customers, it enables critical insights into, preferences, buying habits, customer journeys, and lifetime value. The world’s biggest companies all have explicit data-driven strategies that focus on the collection, management, and use of first-party data.

Tailwinds: Many brands are finally recognizing the need to build stronger, direct ties with their customers. The pandemic has pushed people to engage with brands in new ways, creating more opportunities for data exchange, e.g., app-based ordering and delivery. Add to that the decline of the third-party cookie, and brands are re-thinking the importance of first-party data in advertising.

Headwinds: As a society, we are more conscious of data collection practices, and we are beginning to demand a clearer value exchange in return for our data. It’s no longer just about first-time offer discounts – it’s about developing real incentives for people to share data and engage with your brand. Well-intended governments and regulators at all levels are also restricting what and how data can be collected and used for what purposes. Marketers need to ensure compliance and transparency are at the forefront of data practices.

Your next step: In today’s digital first world, there is no better way to delight your customers and grow than by being data-driven. Having an enterprise data strategy and focusing your efforts on using data and technology is critical. Whether you sell directly or indirectly, the collection of first-party data at scale is vital.

Trend No. 4 – Customer experience defines every brand

Customer experience (CX) solutions help orchestrate customer journeys and use identity and data to personalize, recommend, and expedite transactions.  As markets become increasingly crowded and competitive and the quest for brand loyalty shifts, CX becomes even more important.

Tailwinds: Investing in CX pays off. In some industries, it’s estimated that improving CX by just one point can result in more than $1B in revenue. In addition, people want to engage with brands they care about. According to a recent McKinsey report looking at consumer behavior during the pandemic, 40% of people report switching brands, with younger segments citing value and purpose as key drivers. Ensuring relevant CX every time drives cross-sell, upsell, and ultimately loyalty.

Headwinds: COVID-19 continues to impact many in-person engagements. How CX truly becomes “surround sound” where both online and in-person experiences are fueled by the exact same data is likely still years away. In-store experiences might become out of store – consider Meta and their quest to fuel augmented and virtual reality, introducing yet another twist for already overwhelmed marketing organizations. Many CX tools exist, but integration is not easy or always possible

Your next step: CX is being supercharged, as devices allow people to engage brands across the digital and physical worlds – on their terms, at any time. Look for ways to differentiate your experience. Question the status quo and use data to provide new insights you might not have considered. Brands who differentiate will reap the rewards happy customers offer in spend and loyalty.

The bottom-line – data is your starting point for 2022

Everything I highlighted for marketers is grounded in the requirement for a data-driven strategy that backs marketing decisions and actions. Brands need customers, and customers need and want relationships with the brands they trust and, in some cases, love. Data and technology make that connection possible. 

Every day, brands are either gaining or losing ground because of the data they use to fuel marketing and engagement with their customers.