18 Top Trends in Digital Marketing for SMEs in 2022

What do top trends in digital marketing have to do with your business? A lot. Yes, it’s annoying to hear that you actually have to pay attention to some of these trends but ignoring them could cost you money. This post will cover the top trends of 2022, explain their relevance to your business goals, and how you can apply them to grow your business to get your own piece of the pie (the make-money-on-the-internet pie, not apple pie).

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What is a trend in digital marketing?

Rolling your eyes already? Hang on, trends aren’t just for tweens and teenagers with a dramatic bent. Trends in digital marketing are patterns of behaviour, patterns of selling and buying that get results, and social topics and stories that go viral, i.e. get shared multiple times and redone from different angles.

Why should you pay attention to digital marketing trends?

These patterns and viral conversations that sprout like mushrooms are potential boosters for your own business marketing because when you know how to use them, they attract your customers’ attention. They are keys to conversations that connect customers to products and service providers. All you need to do is join the conversation with a little creativity (but not in a salesy way, be a human).

Strategic effort can suddenly get you more conversions than you expected without spending a fortune on an ad campaign. Or better still, with good timing and a bit of luck, your ad campaign can suddenly explode!

Top trends in digital marketing for 2022

This list only covers those trends that are relevant and applicable to SMEs, which means anyone can use them. We won’t discuss big companies like Nike and Coca-Cola who use large-scale, production-style marketing strategies. You can learn from them, but that’s a post for another day.

1.   Combining in-person events with online access

In-person events are back, but thanks to the pandemic, most organizers also maintain online access to reach a broader audience. If you can do that, why not?

2.      More interactive marketing

Interactive marketing is marketing that allows the customer to have a say, ask questions, offer answers and suggestions, instead of just plain being sold to. Technology also makes this interaction easier for both the marketer to set up and the customer to use.

3.   Conversational marketing

Along the same lines as interactive marketing, it’s about being human and relating to your customers. Conversations allow you to get to know your customers as humans with their own needs, thoughts, problems, and various motivations for being interested in and/or buying your product or service. How you make a customer feel before you discuss any business at all is becoming increasingly important in a social marketing world. Customers know when they are being pushed and manipulated and prefer real connection first.

4.   Increasing use of social media channels

This especially applies to video-based platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. More customers are scrolling on social platforms than ever before, so it makes sense to join the conversation and show up where they are with relevant content.

5.   Increasing use of messaging tools and platforms

Use the tools available that enable customers to get fast, easy access to information on your products and services. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and some of the other platforms are developing technologies that help businesses to create this instant connection. If you could talk to a business within a minute on WhatsApp instead of ringing a call-centre, you’d do it!

6.   More video marketing combined with innovative design

Video marketing has been booming for the past 10 years as technology has increasingly enabled anyone and everyone to become online content creators. Developments continue with 3D possibilities, virtual reality, and more. It’s a vast playing field and worth looking into for the next few years.

7.   Website personalization

You already know the basics of making your website clear, easy to navigate, and optimized for search engines. Personalization is about focusing on content that speaks as directly as possible to your ideal customer, so they know within seconds whether what you offer is a good fit for them or not. Think of your website as the first one-to-one conversation with your client and create the content accordingly.

8.   Social commerce

Social platforms make it easy to sell to customers while they’re scrolling through their curated feed and being able to complete a transaction right there without having to click away makes perfect sense — instant customer satisfaction. If you’re not selling on at least one social media platform yet, get on it!

9.   More micro-communities instead of huge groups

Massive groups on Facebook tend to dwindle in relevance and activity, especially once it turns into an advertising flood. Creating micro-communities around the specifics of a particular skill, field, industry, or product makes more sense and creates more interaction, knowledge-sharing, collaboration opportunities, etc. For your business growth, rethink your current online brand communities, their purpose, how they are used, and the outcome you’re aiming for. Narrow the focus.

10.   Improve email marketing with segmentation

Customer segmentation is about knowing the specifics of your three most common buyers, understanding their behaviours, and how their lifecycle applies to what you’re offering. It has an immediate impact on open rates, engagement, and conversions when you understand exactly what to say to your customer.

11.   Automation

It’s no secret that automation can help small, medium and large businesses to be more productive. One of the core functions of marketing automation is to deliver a seamless, omni-channel experience to customers, sending your content to them at the right time, and to the right people without continual human intervention. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can help you nurture better leads; personalise your customer experience; get better data to make more strategic decisions; align sales and marketing and finally, reduce marketing costs.

12.   Focus on local sales

This isn’t just a South African trend of “local is lekker.” It’s a community value that resonates with people and it makes them feel good to support their fellow man down the street. Helping your neighbour is a little easier and more accessible than tackling another country’s problems. Make sure your business can be found on local social groups, on Google My Business and Google Maps. Participate in community charity events as well.

13.   Get real

Authenticity is another major theme in digital marketing. During the pandemic, people have had a lot of time to reflect on life and on what makes interactions with other people meaningful. Be human, be real, share your brand’s platform with customers when they review your offers. Share the personal story behind your brand. Let people see the humans in your organization and have fun creating genuine connections.

14.   Continued collaborations with influencers (nano- and micro-influencers)

Advertising is now in the hands of the people. They make their own videos and have their own say in public about what they like and why. When influencers do this and their followers pay attention, it makes sense to collaborate because their word is trusted. This isn’t so much a celebrities-and-numbers game as it is about relevant influencers who are a perfect fit with what you offer in every way. Nano- and micro-influencers give you a much bigger ROI for exactly this reason.

15.   TikTok marketing

Teenagers alone no longer dominate this platform. The marketing possibilities and results on this platform are extremely compelling because it’s young, the reach for next-to-nothing in cost is unparalleled, and you have a much better shot at going viral.

16.   Live streaming

Yes, this is still a thing. Why? Connection. Viewers like watching livestreams more than short videos, though both have their place and are valuable marketing tools. You can use livestreams to offer workshops, do bidding events, giveaways, new stock promotions, etc.

17.   Prioritized email marketing

Because cookies. Third-party cookies will phase out in 2023 because people don’t want their online activities tracked, and the information used without their knowledge. First-party cookies require you to have direct access to your customer and email is perfect for this. A customer’s email address is a permission slip of sorts, a de facto cookie to market to them. While you can’t own your social media following, you can own your email list, given to you by interested customers. Grow your email list asap!


18.   Create answer-based content.

Take your FAQ page and flesh it out. Create more content on the answer to each question and make sure that your customers can find comprehensive answers to their problems, solutions, and needs, without having to click away to go somewhere else.

Which digital marketing trends to choose for your online marketing strategy

Look for overlaps between your target audience and marketing and trending patterns in the following areas:

  • Style of communication
  • What your customers are doing, saying, where, how, and why
  • Social platforms and the type of content and conversations posted on them
  • The demographics (types) of customers who participate and respond to these trends, as well as how they respond.
  • Do-ability — can you do something similar with the resources you have available in terms of staff, capacity, budget, skills, and connections?

Remember, the idea is not to duplicate what you’re seeing, but to join these trends in a way that is true to your brand presence and style.

How to use digital marketing trends to grow your business online

Now that you’ve got an idea of which trends you can experiment with for results, combine them with some of your brand’s “spice and flavour”. Some questions to reflect on and help you get started:

  • What does your business stand for/against? What conversation about these values can you participate in in a positive way?
  • If humour is a part of your brand culture and/or style, can you contribute something witty, or put your own spin on a recent hot topic for fun? Don’t underestimate a relatable, shareable joke!
  • If the trend is like a storyline where people keep adding the next piece of the plot, how can you add more suspense, drama, or a satisfying rescue?
  • How is your target audience participating in these trends? What are they saying? If you listen and observe carefully, you’ll pick up plenty of information to use in your ad and email campaigns. Your clients often have the exact ideas you’re looking for, or at least the spark of inspiration for it.

Bonus tip: Combine artificial intelligence with trends and Google Ads

Adbot can help gather information on the trends that you test to see which ones work well for your business. It’s a machine learning bot that does analysis for you, so no need to get all technical about Google Analytics and complex software. Check it out here.

Digital marketing trends are about listening to your target audience

Hopefully, digital marketing trends now seem a lot less intimidating than you thought. Are you excited by the possibilities they offer for your marketing strategy? The world of digital marketing is more exciting than ever because consumers can share their thoughts in any form they choose. Simply listen and make them feel heard. That alone will keep you in business for a lifetime.

Author byline

Heideli Loubser is a wellness and education copywriter and a content marketing strategist helping you grow your business. She is also a solo homeschool blogging mom of two kiddos. When she’s not wielding her powerful pen to help businesses and other parents, she enjoys gardening, painting, caffeine, and dark chocolate in large amounts.

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