Marketing strategy is shifty: an ever-changing, always-evolving, slippery little subject. It’s hard to keep up.
That’s why it can be helpful to zoom out from your quarterly objectives and annual goals to look at the macro trends…
How are marketers across the globe responding to new channels, platform updates, privacy concerns, and increasing competition?
Every year, HubSpot releases a ‘State of Inbound Marketing Trends Report’ with all sorts of cool stats, benchmarks, and insights surrounding marketing strategy.
They collected data from 1,600+ B2B and B2C marketers across the world to gather and share effective channels, successful strategies, emerging trends, and also warn us all about what has become obsolete.
You can read the whole 50-page report (it’s worth your time), but for those that want to cut to the chase, here are our top takeaways:
Table of Contents
1. Social Media Marketing Leads the Pack
Social media continues to reign (and it keeps rising higher) as the top marketing channel, with influencer and short-form video content gaining more and more traction on these platforms.
Call it our jaded skepticism; call it a propensity for fads; but many of us marketers thought the mainstream social media channels would have their 15 minutes of fame and then slowly exit stage left as a new era of platform giants – like Clubhouse and Nextdoor – took their place.
We were wrong. The big names still dominate the headlines, with Tik Tok as the lone newcomer:
2. Influencer Marketing Is as Old as Time and as Big as Ever
Roll back the clock to the days before online ads that target potential customers based on psychographics and behavioral patterns. Before social media and MySpace. Before Joomla and dial-up internet and CD roms. We’re talking Mad Men days, ya’ll…
The names weren’t Kardashian or Beyoncé, but ads still featured celebrities.
Endorsements have always been a part of marketing. People have always looked to a trusted name to say that it’s OK to take the leap.
But this goes back even further, to Aristotle’s persuasion framework (bear with us here): ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is persuasion through character, “as to make a speaker worthy of credence.”
…Which is obviously a box Aristotle checked, otherwise we wouldn’t be referencing his framework in 2022.
The same principles that were true back then are true today. We know influencers can influence (hence their name), and marketing efforts are amplified exponentially when they come from the right person.
If we can tap into bigger networks, with a beloved and trusted voice at the center, we can expand our reach – exponentially.
What’s maybe more surprising is that influencer marketing in 2022 is not just for consumer products and fashion brands (B2C). It’s emerging as a key tactic for B2B organizations as well:
Finding ways to partner with B2B industry thought leaders can offer a wider audience reach – whether it’s a podcast, a guest blog post, or a full-on collaborative campaign.
3. Humor Is Effective
As we know, laughter is the best medicine, and apparently makes for the best marketing content, too. Not all brands lend themselves to humor, but if there’s space to play in your brand, the data shows that a little bit of silly goes a long way.
4. So Is Interactive Content
Interactive content like polls, calculators, games, and A/R experiences – while costly and time-intensive to create – are on the rise and drive the second-highest level of engagement (behind funny content).
5. Video Is the Exciting New Kid in Class
Like the cool, elusive student who just moved here from out of town, video is the new kid on the block that everyone is talking about and trying to befriend. In fact, 35% of marketers plan to use video marketing for the first time this year.
Short-form video content has the best ROI compared to other media formats, therefore platforms that host these videos are rising in search engines (and even starting to perform as major search engines of their own).
But many marketers are also investing in long-form video content – like webinars and fireside chats – to inspire and entertain their consumers.
6. Email Is (Still) King
Long-reigning, forever-loyal, ever-present email is still listed as one of the most reliable and effective marketing tactics, with 95% of marketers in agreement.
HubSpot’s report highlights Litmus research which shows that email delivers a $36 return for every $1 spent.
It also highlights Litmus’ 2021 State of Email Report, where 79% of marketers ranked email in their top three channels for effectiveness.
Simply put, email faithfully gives big results with very little cost: improving customer retention, driving sales, generating leads, and increasing customer engagement.
7. But Don’t Rely On Open Rates
With Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), open rates just aren’t the benchmark they used to be.
This new feature – designed to offer users more control and privacy – makes it difficult to determine whether an email was opened and how many times.
With Apple Mail dominating the email client world (at 58%), open rate metrics are a less reliable benchmark for email campaign effectiveness.
8. What the Future of Marketing Looks Like
HubSpot’s report concludes with several future marketing predictions. Here are a few of our faves:
- Rising B2C investment in SEO, content marketing, and podcasting: Consumer brands will lean harder into inbound content marketing. While it’s no surprise that HubSpot would toss out an insight like this, the fight for rankings and algorithm preferences does lend itself to a greater volume of high-quality, branded content. Just as B2B brands have competed in these areas, so too will online stores and consumer-focused marketing teams.
- AI and machine learning in marketing: The increased presence and impact of AI and machine learning will help unlock higher performance and achieve lofty marketing goals. Read more about our thoughts on this nifty phenomenon >>
- The short form video boom will continue, and lead to more short-form video ads: More videos + more platforms = more short-form ads. We know how quickly brands need to make an impression with an ad – this trend aligns with platforms like YouTube and streamers like Hulu, who offer plans that put ads in front of viewers.
- Influencer marketing will grow and evolve, with continued growth in the creator economy: This lines up with a growing trend that we’re seeing – a hunger for content from individuals, rather than branded institutions (particularly when it comes to videos). Brands can leverage the power of influential thought leaders in their space or partner with each other to help support and augment their messaging, ultimately tapping into brand new audiences.
We love these insights because they all point back to something we care about deeply: connecting with people.
Part of our job as marketers is to roll with the punches, adapt, learn, and evolve along with our customers. A little bit of old, mixed with a little bit of new to create an emerging marketing strategy that fits our ever-changing times and diverse world.
Want to talk marketing strategies? Connect with a digital expert today.