Like the Dubai skyline, the digital marketing landscape is always evolving. Whether you’re running a startup or a global business based in the MENA region, staying up to date with current trends in digital marketing can help define your marketing strategy in this year, and beyond. What might the future hold for digital marketing in 2022? How can you leverage those trends to get the best results for your business?
An online survey conducted by the RedFish Group in 2020 asked digital marketers to identify the digital marketing technique with the biggest commercial impact for their clients or their own businesses. In response, 17 per cent of marketers cited content marketing, whilst 17 per cent identified marketing automation as the most effective digital marketing techniques. These top ranking tools were closely followed by big data, AI and machine learning, and social media marketing. Let’s take a closer look at these trends.
Social media marketing
Its parent company may have recently become ‘Meta’, but Facebook and its social media peers are very much here to stay. In the third quarter of 2021, there were over 1.93 billion daily active users on the platform. And never underestimate the power of word of mouth in converting prospects to customers.
Even as far back as 2015, a report by Nielsen identified that 83 per cent of consumers from 60 countries tended to trust recommendations of people they know, such as friends and family. This trend in trust also extended to consumer opinions posted online (66 per cent).
What does this mean for your business? Find ways to stimulate positive user-generated content (USG) about your brand, business or product and get it shared through social media.
How? In the wake of TikTok’s ascent in popularity (over 1 billion users), short videos are the way to go in 2022: providing an opportunity to post short and powerful messages, and engaging content which incites participation such as surveys, polls, and challenges.
Influencer marketing, which works on the same principle as word of mouth, is another way to provide content and relevance to your product or services.
AI and machine learning
For businesses based in Asia, marketers tend to be more experimental with the use of AI, using it to create content, whereas in other parts of the world it’s more commonly used for automation, personalisation, and content optimisation. Whichever way it’s being used, reports indicate that AI is helping to increase sales, customer relations, and new product launches. In fact, the number of marketing leaders using it as part of their digital marketing strategy ballooned from 29 per cent to 84 per cent between 2018 and 2020.
Amongst marketers and agency professionals, AI is now being used to create brands which take both an empathetic approach to customers’ needs and a data-driven approach to growth. Commonly used applications include the creation of personalised ads, tailored social media posts, and demand sensing across a geographic area (such as the sales of specific retail items in a given location).
As AI becomes more intuitive, it will move beyond automating tasks – such as monitoring the traffic on your website – and more into using big data to anticipate a customer’s next move. As data continues to arrive faster and in greater volume, AI is able to analyse these increasingly large datasets to build a detailed picture of customer behaviour so that it can start to predict the next product or service required.
Improved predictive capabilities help to narrow down the messaging so that customers feel better understood, which in turn leads to higher conversion rates. As your business scales and your customer data increases, a clearer picture of what drives your business growth will emerge, enabling you to sharpen your strategic focus.
Making use of AI, big data and software, automated marketing can take care of repetitive tasks such as emails, and social media posts. And while it can obviously make your marketing efforts more efficient, automation can also help you to provide a more personalised customer experience.
In the same way that human tracking of multiple prospects is virtually impossible, software designed for marketing automation can help you to identify potential and existing customers needs and show them the right content at the right time in order to make the conversion – and just as importantly, keep them converted. In effect, all these trends around marketing automation boil down to the same goal: optimising the user experience (UX).
The benefit of improved UX is that your business can start to leverage personalisation-at-scale, which in turn starts to uplift sales and customer retention. The evidence for this? A paper commissioned by IBM in 2019 identified that enterprises getting personalisation at scale right, see an average of 5.63 per cent increase in sales revenue, almost 11 per cent increase in email-click through rates, and 11 per cent decrease in marketing costs.
Covering all of the above and more, content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as being the creation of ‘valuable, relevant, and consistent content’ that appeals to a target audience (and helps to retain them as a customer).
Perhaps one of the reasons why it shares the top spot for the most impactful digital marketing technique, is because it has been successfully used by prominent brands and small businesses alike to better serve their customers. Put simply, if you produce quality content that has a clear and useful benefit to your audience, helping them to solve pain points and problems, they’re more likely to become and remain loyal customers to your business.
Looking for a competitive edge in 2022?
Marketing can be a complex area to navigate, but it’s business-critical to get right. If you’re looking to launch a new business, or infuse an existing company with new approaches to marketing innovation, it’s definitely worth exploring some of these trends – as part of a strategy that’s tailored to your business needs.
Anisha Sagar is the head of marketing and communication at Meydan Free Zone