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Marketing Operations: 3 digital trends for 2022

I was recently asked to put together my thoughts on a couple of areas to watch in 2022. That is not an easy task as the digital landscape is like quicksand in terms of stability. But I did manage to sum up my thinking in 3 areas, and I'll share them with you all now.


You only have to google 'digital trends 2022' to return a tsunami of results with a host of interesting thoughts on what is going to grab the focus of digital marketers as we head into the new year. I am not going to profess to have the ultimate answer, but I am going to give you 3 trends that I have seen emerging and will continue to surge in the next 12 months.


1. LEVEL UP PERSONALISATION & CLOSE THE EXPERIENCE GAP

Already a growing demand, your customers and prospects are going to expect you to swiftly close the experience gap. What does that even mean? Well, put simply, an experience gap is when a brand promises something, but then the experience doesn’t live up to it. And that can be a LOT of things and a big trap for us marketers to fall into. After all, it's our job to make things sound appealing, desirable or attractive to prospects before handing them off to the final sales process.

If advertising gives an impression that cannot be lived up to, that’s the experience gap.

Brands could make a promise about quick and reliable services, the best prices, the highest quality, or any number of other attributes. Problems arise when the expectations set by a brand are not fulfilled. And once failed, It doesn’t matter how much money is spent trying to convince a customer otherwise; they know that the reality is different.

What makes it even worse, is in today’s digital world, customers are quick to share their experiences. Any gaps between a promise and reality are quickly exposed. Customers are no longer willing to wait for the companies they buy from to catch up with their marketing and the digital process is expected to produce the goods to solve this issue.

In 2022, consumers will expect brands to close this ‘experience gap’ even further.

Data will be an essential piece of the puzzle. While most have been collecting data, the focus will now shift to accessibility and actionable insights to ensure meaningful and valuable personalised experiences. The approach of collecting data and identifying past behavior patterns is not good enough, companies must make the right data accessible to identify actionable insights from it and create content and experiences tailored to your prospect.

From an organizational perspective, this requires teams across regions and departments to share data in order to build a 360° view of their customers. Use what you know about your customers and prospects in every aspect of your interaction with them, not just marketing, the sales process, lead nurture, retention, or reactivation. It's now not the case that you will win more customers if you do, it’s the issue that your customers expect it from you!

2. AI IS EVERYWHERE

You'd have been under a rock for a long time if you haven't seen at least one of the Terminator films. Well, the good news is that time traveling robots are (probably) not something that we're going to see in 2022. But have you seen The Minority Report? There are a few things in there you won't see, like sibling psychics or vertical climbing automated cars. But there is a part in the film where facial or optical recognition triggers personalised advertising. That kind of capability is more than ready enough to be deployed, but the truth is, humans are just not ready for it yet.

But anyway, we're not talking about deep coded AI, we're talking about the very basic things that are surrounding us right now. How many smart devices are near you now? Your phone, Alexa, smart sockets, smart TV's? "Smart" really just used to mean connected to the internet but today, “smart” increasingly means powered by artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms that are capable of helping us in increasingly innovative ways.

Smart cars use facial recognition algorithms to detect whether we are paying attention to the road and alert us if we're getting tired, Smartphones use AI algorithms to do everything from maintaining call quality to help us take better pictures, and of course, they are packed with apps that use AI to help us do just about anything. Even smart toilets are on their way – capable of helping to diagnose gastrointestinal issues by using computer vision to analyze stool samples!

So how does that affect our world of work? AI has permeated the tools we use to carry out everyday work – from voice assistants to language translation and tools. It also powers much of the robotic process automation that has enabled workloads to be lightened in admin, logistics, accounting, and HR departments. Whatever your industry or job function, you’re likely to find there’s an AI-powered solution designed to make your life easier.

Two thirds of users say they can't tell if they are talking to a computer or not.

Chatbots have become a standard feature of most business websites, now so sophisticated that users cannot tell whether the web conversations are automated or not.

Creative AI is also making a surge. We've already seen content writing being used for some time for marketing teams, bloggers, and even The New York Times as journalists. There have also already been whole commercials made purely by AI, designed to appeal to human emotions. No matter what you use AI for in your marketing processes, it is impossible to ignore that is growing all around us.

3. DIGITISATION, DATAFICATION & VIRTUALIZATION

During 2020 and 2021, many of us experienced the virtualization of our offices and workplaces, as remote working arrangements were swiftly and critically put in place. But this was predominantly a crisis-driven surge, whereas now, we have turned it into more of an evolved trend.

A metaverse is a persistent digital world that exists in parallel with the physical world we live in.

In 2022, we will become increasingly familiar with the concept of a “metaverse”. Yes, Facebook has already coined the term, but inside these metaverses, we will carry out many of the functions we’re used to doing in the real world, including working, playing, and socialising.

As the rate of digitization increases, these metaverses will model and simulate the real world with growing accuracy, allowing us to have more immersive, convincing, and ultimately valuable experiences within the digital arena. While many of us have experienced somewhat immersive virtual realities through headsets, a range of new devices coming to the market will soon greatly improve the experience offering tactile feedback and even smells.

Ericsson provided VR headsets to employees working from home during the pandemic and is developing what it calls an “internet of senses" and has predicted that by 2030 virtual experiences will be available that will be indistinguishable from reality. That might be looking a little further ahead than we are interested in right now.

So, let's concentrate on something we can process. A single source of truth becomes key to the data‑driven business. Digitization continues to drive an increasing amount of data, causing data paralysis and preventing us from doing anything useful because we simply have too much. By 2025, its predicted data will grow by 61% to 175 zettabytes. (For those who don't know, a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes, and one exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. Each petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. A zettabyte is enough storage for 30 billion 4K movies, or 60 billion video games, or 7.5 trillion MP3 songs). Organizations will seek a single source of truth where consumers can get the right data in the right context at the right time.

Thanks to the trajectory it was already moving at coupled with our delightful friend COVID, we have seen one of the largest digital accelerations of all time and it shows no sign of slowing down, just getting more and more complex. You cannot afford to rest on your laurels or spend too much time delivering something that can change so very quickly. Keep learning and adapting, keep your finger on the pulse, use technology and understand your customer.

Most importantly, understand their expectations of you!

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