This guide was designed to share predictions for 2022 and has been broken into 3 sections: Digital Marketing, Customer Experience, and Marketing Research
2022 Digital Marketing Predictions
In this section I will detail our predictions and marketing forecasts for 2022. This material is essential for you to start 2022 with a total focus on your company’s digital marketing.
The Pandemic has Made Historical Data Obsolete
Most companies use retroactive data and predictive analytics to project what customers will want in the future. While this approach has proven useful in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic was enough of a disruptor to render historical data useless in 2022. Companies should instead focus on the ways in which they create experiences as customer expectations and needs continue to change rapidly.
CMOs Who Prioritize Authenticity and Value Will Win in a Cookie-less World
With companies such as Apple and Google moving to end cookies, CMOs will need to reassess how to capture leads and deliver personalized customers experiences in a cookie-less world.
Gone are the days where marketers can freely keep tabs on customers and prospects using manipulative online tracking tactics to capture information without providing true value in exchange. And while Google has, at times, been villainized for this new policy, it’s more likely this shift is coming from the market demanding a course correction.
The market has greatly matured since the early days of digital advertising, and the consumer’s desire to not be followed around and treated like a number will require that marketers take more elegant approaches. CMOs who drive value through creative mindsets and authentically appealing to individuals will see success next year.
Marketers are truly in the driver’s seat in 2022 and can either decide to be catalysts for change or chase a train that’s already left the station. When people are provided with authentic and quality messaging, goods, services, products, and value, they’ll have ample reason to convert and be loyal.
CMOs Will Be Become True Guardians of Consumer Data
With rising concerns over data privacy and information security, the consequences of consumer data leaks for a brand’s reputation are no longer theoretical and will prove catastrophic for organizations who collect sensitive consumer information and treat it carelessly.
Marketing teams will be positioned at the forefront of the communication of these values, and the CMOs and brands that demonstrate strong respect for and commitment to the protection of personal data will be successful in building trust with customers in 2022 and beyond.
2022 Consumer Insights and Marketing Research Predictions
These are the consumer insights and Marketing Research Predictions that your company won’t be able to ignore in 2022.
In 2022, Customer Research Will Finally be Revolutionized
In 2022, the market will undergo a shift in how brands solicit customer insights, conduct research and frame customer surveys.
Simply put, customer surveys as we know them will die. They run the risk of being biased and cumbersome, in addition to their limitations in providing timely and actionable insights. Brands can also no longer place their own agendas at the center of customer research.
In 2022, organizations will continue the shift to a combination of qualitative and quantitative research that will yield customer–centric insights at scale. The move to understand the nuances, drivers and expectations that have the power to explain customers’ decisions will require AI tools. Without AI, brands will continue to face issues with scalability and be unable to uncover the actionable insights needed to support the customer’s experiences.
Self-adaptive AI on the Front End of Voice of Customer Surveys
ESOMAR’s 2020 Global Market Research Report states that “if we want people to talk to us in their own words, then how we ask the questions is going to require automation. Imagine a machine being able to adapt questions based on the answers consumers give, because it understands what they’re saying – recreating the natural flow of conversation, at scale.”
The current structure of VoC is in fast decline. Customers are fed-up with endless, static questionnaires, and companies are tired of spending millions on surveys to end up with useless data. You’re only as good as the data that you have, and the use of inside-out questionnaires that overlook what customers truly value leads to the collection of poor data with little to no use for companies. Even if you have powerful platforms that use machine learning AI to process responses, if you’re asking the wrong questions to begin with, you’ll end up with low-quality data.
But using AI that adapts to customer answers on the front end of surveys allows customers to give feedback on the experiences that matter most to them, revealing what truly motivates their decisions to stay or churn. In 2022, you can expect to see more and more companies shift away from static, traditional survey methodologies into AI-fueled, conversation-based platforms.
Qual + Quant is the Future of Insights for Marketing in 2022
Qualitative and Quantitative research each have a unique set of pros and cons. While qualitative research provides the extremely valuable “outside-in perspective” from customers, the small representation of qual research plus the high cost attributed to it make it nearly impossible to scale.
On the other hand, quantitative research is highly scalable and relatively cheap, allowing companies to reach a much larger sample of the market. The caveat is that quantitative research is an inside-out approach, based on beginning your research with a pre-determined hypothesis. Researchers or data scientists then looks to prove the hypothesis with the results of the study. In other words, a lot of guesswork can go into deciding which questions to put in the survey questionnaire, which as mentioned in the previous prediction, can jeopardize the quality of your data.
The solution? Qualitative + quantitative research. Cutting-edge technology platforms make it possible for companies to have one-on-one conversations with customers in the same way that we would conduct a qualitative study, such as a focus group or an in-depth interview. But through these advanced new tech features, we can now scale these conversations limitlessly, just like we would with quantitative research. This removes the guesswork from Voice of Customer surveys, as well as eliminating potential company bias in the questionnaires. Essentially, the right tech can turn your entire customer base into one big focus group.
2022 Customer Experience Predictions
One thing the pandemic changed for good was our tolerance for going places we don’t necessarily enjoy. While I don’t believe brick-and-mortar is going anywhere just yet, we have now entered the age of Hybrid Experiences, where you can choose in-store, online, or a combination of both.
Buying a Tesla, for instance, is the perfect example. Your experience begins online, where you book a test-drive and select your vehicle preference. Then, you go in-store for the test drive and place the vehicle order. Once you’ve ordered your car (the whole in-store process takes no more than 20 minutes), you head back to your own web browser to create a profile, apply for financing, and shop add-ons and available merchandise. Lastly, the app notifies you once your vehicle is available, and you pick it up in-store. This seamless transition between in-store and online is a perfect example of the hybrid shopping experiences of the future.
Not only will curbside and in-store pickup continue, but we may also see the rise of cashier-less stores that focus on the experiential aspect of shopping, with all transactions happening online.
Metric-focused CX has Lost its Luster…and Credibility!
Contrary to popular belief, “happy” and “sad” are not good indicators of customer behaviors, such as churn and loyalty. Consider the fall of previous market leaders like Blackberry and Toys ‘R’ Us. At the time of their demise, both companies were boasting extremely high CX metrics — in fact, some of their highest ever. Although they were capable of identifying the emotions surrounding an experience, there was in fact little to no correlation between the most frequently used CX metrics and the company’s bottom line.
For companies who have built corporate frameworks and bonus payouts around these metrics, the clear lack of ROI has made quantifying the success of CX projects a near–impossible task. The consequence of this is a rise in executive leadership’s skepticism towards CX investments. And executives are right to be skeptical. Numerous studies, papers and news reports have been cracking down on the validity of CX metrics lately, going so far as to label them “dubious management fads”. This has resulted in Bain & Co. acknowledging that “self-reported scores and misinterpretations of the framework have sown confusion and diminished its credibility”, thus an update to their recommendation metric was needed. And while this update looks to improve the accuracy of the metric, few companies are likely to add yet another hurdle to the already complicated process of Voice of Customer feedback collection. When the very creators of a metric question its credibility, it may be time to reevaluate its use within your organization.
Gen Z and Gen Alpha Will Align Themselves to Brands with Shared Values
Gen Z and Gen Alpha view the world with a great level of compassion. These cohorts look for their values to be shared and reflected when they consider supporting a brand. As a result, companies have a growing incentive to be vocal about their values, ethics, and convictions to win the hearts and minds of these future generations. Without a clearly communicated position on their values, brands risk losing loyalty and business opportunities with Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
Cognitive Diversity and Representation Is No Longer Optional
Building greater cognitive diversity is no longer optional with the growing recognition and acknowledgment of bias. To appeal to a global market, championing diversity of thought and having representation on the team will be crucial to building relationships with many different communities. Since biases are the fruit of our education and experiences, one of the ways to overcome them is to champion representation and welcome different perspectives. A diverse team offers valuable new perspectives and will naturally develop mechanisms that spot and override damaging biases for the sake of both customers and fellow team members.