Not Just Another Digital Marketing Trends 2022 Post

Andrew Warden

Dec 21, 20218 min read
Digital Marketing Trends 2022

It’s the end of 2021, and yes, it’s that time of the year — when you prepare for the winter holidays, drown yourself on Amazon in search of the perfect gift, and expect a deluge of “Digital Marketing Trends for 2022” posts. 

Well, if you think you’re opening up another “voice search is the next search” write-up, you’re in the wrong. This year, we thought our readers must be getting pretty tired of digital marketing trends posts that recite the same things year after year.

So we actually gave it a thought and analyzed what’s really going on across the digital landscape — to bring you our vision of what we think the digital future really holds for all of us.

5 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Shape Our Marketing Strategies for Years to Come

First let’s get something straight: if something only lasts a year — it’s not a trend, it’s a fad. While there are a lot of things going on across the digital space — just think about the rise and fall of Clubhouse — the majority come and go as quickly as your friends’ Insta Stories, and we won’t focus on those here.

Instead, we’ve picked the digital marketing trends that are here to stay and impact the way we go about marketing our products for the long term.

Are you ready to see what the future looks like? Here we go. 

Trend #1. Privacy-driven marketing 

Gone are the days when people thought that the web was free — just because, and wanted nothing in return.

An increasing number of consumers are now understanding that a lot of the perks we get for free often come at the cost of their privacy. And the long line of privacy scandals — from Facebook’s 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal to WhatsApp’s recent metadata sharing controversy — reinforces those beliefs.

Year-over-year (November 2019–October 2021) keyword volume stats from Semrush only prove this:

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In two years, data privacy searches surged by almost 50%. Data encryption demand also went up, with 22% more searches at the end of 2021.

Flurry Analytics looked at some user data since Apple changed its privacy policy, forcing apps to be more transparent about tracking. They report that around 80% of users opt-out of tracking from mobile apps they download from the App Store. Interestingly, the number of those who opt-in started growing (by low margins) once the change took place. 

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Around 80% of users opt-out of tracking from mobile apps they download from the App Store

Apple’s policy shift made a big splash on the markets — Snapchat lost 30% of its stock value (the change seems to have affected the app’s ad revenue streams), and Facebook used print ads to backlash against the change (and soon changed its name to Meta, which is so meta).

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Facebook used print ads to backlash against Apple's privacy changes

What did Google do about it? They took it one step further, introducing the FLoC initiative that’s supposed to replace the way people are now tracked on the web — cookies.

What does this mean for us as marketers?

  1. While it doesn’t seem like third-party data is going anywhere anytime soon, marketers should go back to first-party data collection — regular customer surveys through email, social media polls, and in-person interviews.
  1. It may be harder to go about targeting. Consider revising Customer Acquisition Costs for budgeting purposes slightly higher, and watch out for conversion rates. 
  1. Organic strategies will become more important than ever — they aren’t affected by third-party cookies or external forces (well, except for Google updates and competitors). So stick to ‘classical’ SEO strategies that ensure organic growth:

Trend #2. Changing social media landscape

The most groundbreaking changes across the social media landscape have to do with three T’s:

  • TikTok
  • The Goldfish myth
  • Twitch

TikTok: The new big player in town

For the first time in years, the Facebook-YouTube-Instagram dominance is shaken by a new worthy player, TikTok. 

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Most popular social networks

Statista’s forecasts project that by 2022, TikTok will surpass 1.5 billion users, which will turn it into the third most popular social media platform.

So get your business TikTok-ready if you want to target those 10- to 49-year-olds because some companies are already hiring CTTO’s, as in Chief TikTok officers. Don’t believe us? Nerf already did.

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Nerf was hiring Chief TikTok Officer

The Goldfish myth: Users’ attention span is not as short as you think

TikTok is known for its short-form videos (the most popular videos run for 15-16 seconds), bundle it with the widespread Goldfish rumor, and you’ll get that no one wants your long-reads and elaborate video content.

Well, that is not exactly true. 

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Short attention span myth debunked

BBC busted the notorious “ people have shorter attention span than a goldfish” myth. This means that there is nothing wrong with long-form content; all we found (you can check our extensive TikTok study) is that you simply have to catch people’s attention early on — and they will stick to the end of your story.

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Twitch: The rise of gaming (and live streaming)

With 500 million new competitors entering the gaming market in the past three years and $280 billion in its pocket, the gaming industry is absolutely booming

And Twitch is one of the largest beneficiaries of this trend. The live streaming platform now has over 1 billion monthly visitors (as per Semrush Traffic Analytics) — numbers comparable to the largest social media networks out there. 

What does this mean for us as marketers?

  1. Love it or hate it, TikTok and Reels are here with us to stay. So is Twitch. And they aren’t simply staying; they are growing, so your presence on these mediums is a must.
  1. TikTok and Twitch have a very active user base and their own celebs. This means that you can get through all the noise by investing in influencer marketing, sponsored content, and native advertising rather than trying to compete with these platforms’ native creators.
  2. It’s fine to keep creating long-form content — humans are better than goldfish, and that’s a relief. But read up on selective attention — this will help you catch users’ focus.
  1. Thanks to Twitch, live streaming will be getting bigger and bigger, so make sure to embrace this new video format if you haven’t yet started experimenting with it.

Trend #3. Be human, no, really

As much as we didn’t want to recite trends you’ve already heard about, this one is really strong to disregard. 

You can’t operate within the consumer-brand / B2B / B2C logic; it’s now all about Human2Human connection.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have to have a great product if you want to have any customers. But this is no longer enough.

Your brand is now — and increasingly so — defined by what it stands for: the company’s culture and values. The benefits of your products and services are secondary.

Whether you’re Microsoft or Airbnb, your communication has to have the human in mind. And this shift only strengthened during the pandemic — probably one of the most human experiences to date.

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Airbnb campaigns

What does this mean for us as marketers?

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Semrush SEO Writing Assistant’s tone of voice analysis

For brands, this implies a serious revision of their communication strategies:

  1. The tone of voice across the board is getting more and more laid back. That means more casual words, more leeway for humor, and simply human-friendly language.
  1. Instead of using aggressive and convincing language, brands are increasingly activating what we call the “suggest mode” — hinting at their superiority and relevance rather than putting it ‘in your face.’

Trend #4. Conscious marketing

What we label as conscious marketing actually embraces a few sub-trends:

  • Eco marketing: sustainable products that promote eco-awareness
  • Transparency: no marketing tricks that deceive customers
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: intra-company culture and its approach to customers, suppliers, and the rest.
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From H&M’s launch of an entire conscious fashion line to green computing, you should show that your brand is in line with the ever-expanding green agenda.

What does this mean for us as marketers?

While activating a new approach may seem a lengthy process for some, you can start with small tweaks that can already make a big difference across various aspects of conscious marketing:

  1. Be customer-conscious
  • Get rid of those frustrating pop-ups and dark design patterns that lower the user experience.
  • Stick to responsive design that matches all screen/device types.
  • Optimize your site for screen readers that enable blind or visually impaired users to easily read the text on your site (you can also add audio descriptions to images).
  • Employ ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) to facilitate the reading of the webpage via stricture scripts and widgets.
  1. Be environmentally-conscious
  • Turn to green computing (environmentally sustainable IT).
  • Adopt eco-friendly moves across your company — recycling stations, waste sorting, etc.
  • Promote consumption reduction.
  1. Be society-conscious
  • Participate in local/global social projects (from WWF donations to providing educational help to local communities).
  • Embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practices across your company.

Trend #5. Join the metaverse

Facebook wasn’t kidding when it said it was building a metaverse. 

In fact, the metaverse is already here.

PWC expects a $1.5 trillion rise in global GDP by 2030, thanks to VR and AR.

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Source: PWC projections

Elements of the metaverse also dominate Collins Dictionary’s 2021 words of the year — NFT (non-fungible token) has become the word of the year, beating crypto and metaverse itself.

According to Semrush data, Google searches for NFT skyrocketed by 5400% from January 2021 to October 2021.

As much as NFT is still a game for a very exclusive fraction of brands and people, the further we go, the more we will enter. 

Still, think you cannot and shouldn’t join the metaverse?

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GTA virtual vaccination campaign 

From Brazil’s vaccination campaign within the virtual GTA world (Pfizer Brazil reached the gaming community by giving blue arm bandages to GTA characters — this implied that the character received their jab becoming virtually vaccinated) to Shirleen’s Meta jacket, brands and even governments are entering the virtual world to accelerate their communications efforts — be it a product or a policy.

And so should you!

What does this mean for us as marketers?

  1. Brand placement in virtual worlds is an inevitable part of future marketing. And if you’re not familiar with the way to do that in the upcoming years, you may be starting from a difficult position.
  1. It won’t be long till we see 3D versions of websites. Imagine an ecommerce site that operates as a virtual store (looking like a virtual version of your good old brick-and-mortar) rather than a set of product listings.
  1. We might have to employ and create our own virtual games — to build up brand awareness and appeal to the changing audience. 
  1. You might want to invest in creating virtual collectibles and branded NFTs (the so-called digital ‘flex’). We are likely to see how digital logo mania will replace our usual Balenciaga’s and Gucci’s — signposting exclusivity, virtual hierarchy, and a new sense of belonging to a trendy community. Unlike those cheugys, of course. And brands should leverage this up-and-coming new mode of social signaling.
  1. Experiment with launching direct sales through AR/VR apps.

Are You Ready for the Digital Future?

We don’t know how you answered this question at the beginning of this post, but we assume that at the very end of it, your answer is no.

Just take a look at these digital marketing trends one more time and see how many checkmarks you can put:

  1. Privacy is a big deal moving forward. Is your marketing strategy ready for the up-and-coming privacy mode?
  1. Social media continues to evolve — so you might need to hire that CTTO (Chief TikTok Officer) and experiment with new platforms and mediums.
  1. Being human now matters more than ever. Is your brand human?
  1. People increasingly expect brands to showcase conscious marketing practices. Are you leading this transformation, broadcasting your brand’s efforts and engaging in conscious marketing?
  1. Metaverse is already here. Are you “at the ready-steady-go” for it? 

Don’t worry — no one quite is fully embracing all of these trends as yet. But they will surely stick, so you should find ways to embrace each one of them, little by little, while the competition is yet not stepping on your brand’s digital toes. 

Author Photo
Andrew WardenAndrew serves as Semrush’s Chief Marketing Officer and leads a team of over 150 global marketing and communications professionals. Andrew has a demonstrable track record in building and optimizing global marketing functions from the ground up. He has lived and worked in some 20+ countries, with a primary focus on digital marketing and digital transformation.