Marketing trends to adopt (and drop) in 2022

The dawn of another year brings reflections both big and small. Everyone seems to make their own resolutions as they look toward a clean slate: Eat better, give more to charity, dust off the Peloton that’s currently doubling as a coat rack. But resolutions don’t just have to be about bettering ourselves in our personal lives—they can (and should) pour over into our professional ones as well. 

As marketers, we’re constantly being challenged to innovate and get the biggest bang for our buck. When crafting our resolutions this year, we should look critically at what we want to adopt next year and drop from 2021. 

But where to start? I asked four marketing experts (and offered some advice of my own) to discuss what they’d like to see evolve in 2022 and what they’re hoping to leave behind. From shifting focus to more luxury clientele to continuing cultural growth amid remote work, take these marketing resolutions with you as you ring in 2022. 

Trends to adopt

For 2022, here are some trends to work into your marketing strategy.

Building company culture: We’ve never had attrition rates as high as we’ve had this year, and we’ve never had as many remote employees either. In 2021, we focused on retention and put a hyper-focus on recognition. Without in-person interactivity, you have to be so deliberate about your culture, especially during remote work. We put a lot of focus on how we create a culture of recognition.

It’s a ton of work, but it’s something we want to continue post-pandemic: More one-to-one meetings with me, showing recognition and putting a spotlight on good work. Zoom has really flattened our organization. We’re all on one screen together during these meetings, and people have the same access to me to ask a question or send a chat. In a lot of ways, it’s really good, and we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. —Will Stacy, chief marketing and digital officer, GM Financial

Entering the “commerceverse”: This year, we saw continued acceleration of social and ecommerce and the genesis of a new “community commerce” culture that brings together community, creators, shopping and entertainment like never before. In 2022, we’ll see social commerce give way to the “commerceverse” as people move from entertainment to purchase. And as consumers look to build out their environment with virtual goods and experiences, brands will have the opportunity to connect with consumers in a surround-sound way. —Amy Lanzi, commerce practice lead, North America, Publicis Groupe

Strong first-party data: One trend that is accelerating in all verticals is marketers focusing on acquiring first-party data, how to optimize the value exchange with customers and how to activate at scale. This activation through ID solutions like Epsilon’s CORE ID is usefully being applied to the fastest growing sectors of the market, like CTV and digital retail media, both of which will benefit from the improvements in audience selection and measurement that scaled identity solutions will offer. —Elliott Clayton, managing director, International Sales, Epsilon

Personalization on a local level: We’re setting up a new way of working between HQ and the marketing teams in our overseas offices. This will allow the continent teams to manage and deploy some of their own emails, with HQ providing the technology infrastructure, data, compliance policies and frequency guardrails. Not sure how applicable this is to other companies, but for a U.S.-based global company like us, a “federated” model is critical so that certain communications can be managed locally—and most importantly, feel local to the recipient. —Marc Sheinkin, senior director, member and guest communications, Marriott

Artificial Intelligence: AI, underpinned by the right data and modularized content, enables marketers to create highly personalized and relevant consumer experiences, which in turn optimize sales. These tools/platforms free up marketing teams from repetitive and tactical activities and allow them to focus on strategy and optimization. —Lisa Henderson, managing director, client services, Epsilon  

Trends to drop

Now that you’ve picked up some trends to focus on in 2022, let’s look at the trends to leave behind in 2021.

Separation of product and brand marketing: I think in marketing, in our day and age, the product itself is now becoming the brand. A good product with good features is marketing at this point. Part of my goal is to have the best tools for customers to interact with and that’s the best way I can market the brand. We have to get away from this idea that marketing is just logos, slogans and ads versus the reality that marketing now involves a lot of product marketing. We have to think as product marketers just as much as we think of ourselves as marketers selling a brand. —Will Stacy

Lose the funnel: We need to stop referencing marketing along the purchase funnel. While that model has proven useful over the past decades, it has collapsed and changed over time and discovery and purchase can happen anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button. This expedited purchase funnel means we have to make every part of the consumer journey shoppable and ensure our organizations are set up to deliver and that commerce is a core part of every strategy. —Amy Lanzi

Contextual marketing: The trend that I’d like to see less of is the sudden rediscovery of contextual marketing now that third-party cookie deprecation is getting closer. I’ve been in digital since contextual marketing was the only targeting solution. It didn’t work very well, which is why we moved away from it. It is a solution and has a place in the armory, but it’s not the solution to audience targeting. The best way forward is for us to continue to produce market-leading technology solutions that establish a value exchange between brands and consumers—who, let’s face it, want personalized experiences. —Elliott Clayton

Bombarding the right clients with the wrong message: We’re creating ways for our luxury brands to stand out, and customizing the email marketing experience for guests we think are likely to prefer luxury. This starts with data that helps us identify luxury preferers, which is more challenging when travel (particularly international travel) is limited.

And it means not only sending luxury guests more personalized, bespoke communications, but also not sending them certain kinds of emails that could clutter and devalue the experience. This is tricky to manage internally—of course every line of business wants to target these highly profitable guests—but sometimes less is more. —Marc Sheinkin

Overstuffed keywords: Keyword-stuffed content and paid advertisements have taken over search. Increasingly, consumers are having to sift through content and brands that are not what they are searching for. —Lisa Henderson

New year, new you

As we move into a New Year, let’s take with us all the possibilities and hit the ground running. Great marketing can have a huge impact on your brand, your message and your overall business. If you think your marketing isn’t reaching its full potential, start your new year off on the right foot with Epsilon as your partner.