Marketers live for the newest products, innovations, and trends. It makes our job exponentially more exciting as we gather with our teams and brainstorm how we can make our business stand out. These new and innovative techniques help us engage our customers and stay at the forefront of what’s popular, but sometimes it can be challenging to predict where the industry will shift. Facebook or TikTok? Virtual or In person? The changing climate in a post-pandemic world shows that marketers have to continue to be flexible and knowledgeable about upcoming trends that can impact our brand awareness and online presence. However, with a solid understanding of marketing trends and the direction in which the world is heading, marketers can start 2022 developing their strategies with trends top of mind.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, marketers have to consider new trends when strategizing how to grow customer engagement. For example, will VR allow for more immersive programs? Should the company invest in chatbots, and should they be integrated into other marketing channels such as email and social media? How can marketers use big data to understand their audiences better and achieve desired results?

As we start planning our quarterly strategies this year, here are five key trends that marketers should consider as they are creating their 2022 calendars and roadmaps.

Virtual and Hybrid Events

If you thought the terms “virtual” and “hybrid” were staying in 2021, they are coming full steam ahead in 2022. Virtual and hybrid events are quickly becoming a staple in the marketing community. Introduced as a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have completely shifted the industry. Both hybrid and virtual events provide an opportunity to connect and engage with more customers on a level we hadn’t experienced pre-pandemic. Virtual and hybrid events allow audiences to engage with businesses, products and services more than ever. This shift has allowed marketers who are early adopters of this trend to maximize their reach. With an increase in accessibility and better engagement, virtual and hybrid events will be here to stay in 2022, so marketers should consider integrating them into future strategies.Virtual Reality (VR) technology has become an integral aspect of marketing strategies from BMW to Tommy Hilfiger. Businesses are adopting VR features into their social media and hybrid events to enhance the experience for the audience. For example, if you’re hosting an event selling cars, you might allow potential customers to test drive different models in VR. This way, they’ll know exactly what they’re getting before making a purchase.

Social Media Growth

To say that social media has grown over the past decade is no stretch of the imagination. From Myspace to TikTok, we’ve seen a drastic increase in how users are engaged daily with each platform. Social media algorithms continue to work against businesses, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This year, it will become a full-contact sport to remain relevant and grow your audience, especially as new platforms continue to launch. There is not just one platform that marketers should be concerned about either – you have to develop a strategy for each platform across all demographics where your target audience exists. If you do not have a solid strategy on each platform, it will be tough to grow an audience in 2022. We’ve just started Q1 which means there is plenty of 2022 social media strategy with current and foreseeable trends in mind whether that’s shorter videos for TikTok or how to maximize your next campaign.

Email Marketing

The email inbox has become a more crowded and competitive space, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable than other marketing efforts. With more customers at home and remote jobs increasing, the ability to engage with and open emails has never been easier. The ROI for email marketing is currently averaging a $36 return for $1 spent which means it is still providing one of the best returns of any marketing channel. In order to stand out in the inbox, senders must focus more and more on delivering relevant, timely and highly personalized offers/content to their users. This means developing a deeper understanding of your audience and researching what types of emails truly resonate with them and bring value. Nobody wants another generic coupon or poorly targeted message taking up space in their inbox. Start segmenting your audiences for a strategic marketing effort that delivers the important blurbs, blogs, webinars, and white papers they actually need to their doorstep.

How Brands Engage with their Audience

If there is one aspect of business that hasn’t changed, it’s the need for excellent customer service. Customers are flocking online to connect with their favorite brands and businesses and can have a mixed experience based on their interactions. This year, you can aim to improve your customer service experience by investing in tools and platforms that maximize engagement. For example, chatbots are projected to start incorporating voice and text-based programs for a personalized experience. AI driven tools not only handle customer feedback, but allow teams to learn common customer inquiries and de-escalate complex problems not often remedied in the FAQ section. In addition to high tech software, video will become a tertiary part of phone and chat support by allowing customers to have real time interactions with support for their questions. Overall, engagement will be at an all time high across the board as brands seek to build and create innovative alternatives to traditional forms of communication.

The Future of Live Streaming

Live streaming is on the rise, and it’s only getting bigger as we begin 2022. While live virtual events will remain a staple, brands are finding unique ways to utilize them as a way to reach their audience. For example, brands can engage with consumers through chat or webinars while simultaneously broadcasting the content to their audience. As a result, live streaming is not just for brands that are looking to generate more revenue but also for marketers who want to engage with consumers on a deeper level. While live streaming has been a staple for media events and award shows, we’ve seen social platforms like TikTok partner with retailers like Wal-Mart to adopt the trend that will allow users to shop their favorite products in real time. Start researching what platform is the best for live streaming and how you can create a unique experience that allows your audience to connect with your products.

Marketing is not static; it continuously changes. This year, marketers will need to keep up with the latest trends in marketing and how they can best utilize them for success. Ultimately, what’s going to be important for marketers this year is what is important all of the time: understanding your target audience and creating an engagement strategy that resonates with them. Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for your audience personas. Personalized, and real-time content will drive successful marketing strategies in 2022.

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