We’re already well into the new year, and like many other marketers, you’re probably knee-deep in finalizing budgets and getting your marketing plans off the ground. Whether we like it or not, we’re jumping headfirst into the third year of the pandemic, which has fast-tracked digital transformation and in turn shaped the way brands interact with their consumers.
The pandemic has led to more people spending time at home as many companies shift toward permanent work-from-home or hybrid work models. Consumers are more digitally connected now than ever before, utilizing the internet to make purchases, video conference, stay in touch with friends and family, stream video and more. eMarketer reports that digital media consumption has grown by about 17% since 2019, and it’s expected to continue this upward trend. This presents more opportunities for brands to engage with their consumers and expand their digital brand presence across platforms.
As you kick-start your marketing plans for the year and think about how you’re reaching your target consumers, it’s important to understand where they’re spending the most time online and how they want to be engaged. With the constantly evolving digital landscape and general uncertainty about what lies ahead, brands should remain agile in case they need to adjust their marketing strategies to respond to changing behaviors.
As we look ahead to the next 12 months, we’ve compiled our predictions of the top three B2C digital marketing trends that will influence the digital advertising industry in the year ahead.
1. Take Center Stage With Influencer Marketing
The accessibility of user-generated content has grown rapidly with the rise in social media use. TikTok’s and Instagram’s algorithms have been instrumental in distributing content based on users’ interests, creating experiences that are seemingly curated just for them.
Brands have quickly caught on, partnering with both macro and micro social media influencers and content creators to promote their products in order to sway consumers’ purchasing decisions and establish trust with their target audience. Last year, advertisers spent around $13.8 billion on influencer marketing — 42% more than they spent in 2020. By the end of 2022, it’s projected these budgets will reach $15 billion according to MediaPost.
A survey conducted by HubSpot found 61% of B2C marketers plan to leverage influencers in 2022. Influencer marketing will be a large part of brands’ advertising budgets because it helps expand brand presence on social media and deliver a strong ROI.
2. Customize Experiences With Personalization
Despite ongoing privacy concerns, personalized marketing tactics are here to stay — and data shows many people are on board with it. Forbes reported that nearly 70% of consumers prefer personalization if it’s connected to the brand’s own first-party data rather than being purchased by a third-party data provider.
Companies are reaching consumers through their websites and apps, text notifications, connected TV (CTV) and social media with messaging and experiences tailored to match consumers’ buying behaviors, locations, interests and so on. In addition to the growing trend of custom messaging, we’ll continue to see growth in product customization. From cherry-picking ingredients they want to add to their haircare products to choosing custom elements to add to a computer, customers want the option to have products tailor-made to fit their individual needs.
This type of people-based marketing ensures your target consumer is engaged with your brand and allows you to gather intent data to create even more personalized messaging, products and experiences in the future.
3. Harness the Future With Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Augmented and virtual reality are still in the initial stages of adoption, but they’re expected to continually grow in the coming years. With Facebook’s name change to Meta and the introduction of the Metaverse, more consumers and brands have shown interest in trying out immersive virtual experiences. eMarketer predicts that 64 million people will use VR and 101.6 million people will use AR at least once a month in 2022.
Despite some uncertainty with how the Metaverse will work and what it means for consumers as well as brands, we’re already seeing businesses test out virtual reality. For example, Gymshark Founder and CEO Ben Francis recently shared a video of his experience conducting a meeting with Chief Brand Officer Noel Mack in the Metaverse on Instagram, and it’s increased excitement about the possibilities this digital world can provide. From visiting stores and making purchases to virtually touring homes, how virtual reality combines real-life activities with the virtual environment is novel and intriguing.
As our lives become increasingly more digital, more conversations addressing consumer data privacy concerns are likely. AI and the Metaverse are largely untapped, and as their use cases grow, new restrictions are expected to emerge.
The uncertainty of the last couple of years has created new opportunities for brands to grow, transform and create more personalized experiences for their target consumers. Want to stay ahead of the digital trends and get tips on how to best engage your audiences? Talk to us or explore our wealth of free knowledge resources for the ideas and expertise you need to create successful B2C campaigns this year.