It is no surprise that 2022 will be another year of automation and digital transformation in the retail industry. Accordingly, marketers strive to keep up with the sophisticated technologies and changing consumer behavior that impacts the shopping experience.
Some trends have been solidified following the events of the ongoing pandemic, while new practices also emerged as people continued to work around the current environment.
Only time will tell which digital marketing tactics will rise in the new year and which will be replaced by more recent trends. Here are some things retailers can expect in digital marketing in 2022.
Email Marketing is Still an Effective Means to Reach Customers
Many customers want a personalized experience when doing business with a brand. And email marketing is still among the best ways to deliver relevant and informational messages to them.
Much like how business owners often look at their emails throughout the day, consumers also turn to this platform to garner information about products, community news, and promotional events. According to recent statistics, nearly 100% of email users check their inbox daily, with some individuals checking theirs 20 times per day.
Email marketing produces a return on investment (ROI) of $42 per $1 spent, making it a worthy investment for retailers. In addition, an article from Forbes cites data that about 76% of customers have made purchases after receiving an email marketing message. Meanwhile, 59% agree that this digital marketing tactic influences their buying decision.
To maximize email marketing, retailers should consider optimizing their emails for mobile and determining the ideal days to send messages based on consumer behavior data.
More Innovations in Social Media
The COVID-19 pandemic catapulted social media to the front lines of retail operators. A recent study shows that the global social commerce industry is anticipated to expand thrice as fast as traditional commerce, from $492 billion in 2022 to $1.2 trillion in 2025.
In the same study, about two-thirds of social media users revealed making a social commerce purchase in the previous year. This population size equates to almost two billion social buyers worldwide. These people are also more likely to buy again from the same seller, emphasizing the role of social media in driving loyalty and repeat purchases.
Given these data, it only becomes evident that social media continues to hold a high value as a digital marketing tool. It prompts industry giants like Facebook and Instagram to continually improve their features to make online marketing activities easier for retailers and customers.
Merchants can quickly set up an Instagram Shop or leverage the Facebook Marketplace to reach more audiences. Being discoverable through product tags and social media ads also help in getting the company’s offers to prospects.
They can also harness live streaming – a concept that was already used way back in 2012 but only boomed in recent years, mainly amid the pandemic.
Another opportunity to look forward to is Tiktok’s social commerce functionality. This social media platform started pilot testing its new feature in 2021, opening doors for retailers to further their social media marketing efforts.
Artificial Intelligence to Supplement Visual Search
How often do consumers come across an item they want to buy but cannot find it using text search alone?
Visual search features have been making waves across digital platforms like Google and Pinterest, increasing in usage as more people flock to the internet for their shopping needs. People can quickly take a snapshot of the item or use a downloaded image to browse product offerings online.
This functionality grew in importance in the past couple of years, with in-person shopping becoming limited due to pandemic restrictions.
To maximize image search for digital marketing this year, retail businesses must ensure a strong presence on image-based sites, optimizing their visual content for such platforms. They should also keep their product catalog updated and visually friendly with well-photographed and high-quality images and videos.
With visual search growing in sophistication, merchants can eventually couple this feature with artificial intelligence (AI) to make the customer’s shopping experience more personalized. By analyzing consumers’ behavior and search preferences, retailers can curate a catalog of recommended items that matches what the shopper might need.
Voice Assistance and Chatbots for Shopping
Through smart home speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo, users do not even need to hold their device or look at the screen to complete a purchase. Recent data from Statista reveals that the smart speaker industry has expanded its revenue to $15.6 billion in 2020 and is predicted to rise to $35.5 billion in 2025.
Numerous retailers are also automating their customer service support by using chatbots and virtual assistants to guide users when shopping online. Chatbots expedite the process on the customers’ side, giving them more convenience than live agents or filling out forms on the website. On the merchant’s side, integrating chatbots into their operations can help them save up to 30% of costs in their customer service channel.
Automation and AI continue to dominate the retail sector with the growing use of voice assistance and chatbots to aid buyers when shopping. As a result, digital marketers will need to recalibrate their strategies to align them with these emerging trends.
The Importance of Creating First-Party Data
Last year, Google revealed that it will be phasing out third-party cookies (3P) from the Chrome browser by 2023. Cookies are small fragments of code placed on web browsers to collect data about the online user’s interaction with the website.
Digital marketers have long relied on these 3P cookies to grasp consumer behaviour better and streamline their marketing campaigns. The removal of support for these cookies will deliver a massive blow to current campaigns, mainly if businesses depend on remarketing and retargeting paid ads to promote merchandise.
To prepare for this significant shift, retailers will need to develop first-party data to optimize their campaigns and connect with consumers. Among the steps they should do is bolster their email subscribers, offering promos, exclusive content, and rewards to clients who opt-in to their online platform.
Merchants should also assess their website’s usage of first-party cookies, ensuring to ask for consumers’ consent in the process to remain compliant with data privacy regulations.
Affiliates, Influencers, and Ambassadors as Part of Retail Marketing Campaigns
The modern market has shown how valuable user-generated content can be in one’s digital marketing arsenal. Many consumers want to know about others’ experience with a product before trying it out themselves. This is a way to gauge whether the item is truly worth their money.
Consequently, many retail businesses implement influencer and affiliate marketing and get brand ambassadors to promote their products.
In 2021, the influencer marketing industry was estimated to be worth $13.8 billion — a tremendous growth from its $1.7 billion value in 2016. By now, retailers that do not take advantage of these strategies are likely missing out on the chance to increase their sales and attract new clients.
To foster their current campaigns, marketers should keep their list of influencers, affiliates, and ambassadors organized and updated. They should also ensure to settle payments accurately and on time, finding ways to improve the payment experience. If merchants do not have the means to perform all these tasks themselves, they can outsource reliable services.
The world will continue moving through a virtual environment in 2022, and retailers must stay on top of their digital marketing strategies to maintain their lead in the competition.
Key themes in the current calendar year include automation, artificial intelligence, first-party data, and the role of different online platforms to maximize one’s marketing efforts. Retailers will need to assess the suitable strategies for their business, considering new trends while making the most of their existing digital marketing techniques.
Jomer B. Gregorio is a well-rounded expert when it comes digital marketing. Jomer is also known as a semantic SEO evangelist and practitioner. Check out our Digital Marketing Services today and let us help you in achieving positive and profitable results for your business.