It’s that time again! A new year always brings a heightened curiosity and inevitable need to know what’s on the horizon in digital marketing. And as always, Assemble is here to deliver.
While the trends we’ve come to know typically develop in a fairly incremental and predictable pattern from year to year, the real importance is always in the details. This year, the unexpected catalyst that resulted from a rapid digital change during the pandemic has taken the consumer journey to a new level and fueled an ultra exciting 2022.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into the biggest trends for 2022 in this year’s digital outlook.
- Welcome to the Metaverse
We couldn’t write this blog without mentioning the major Facebook rebrand at the end of 2021; mainly because it speaks to the future of the digital world — or worlds, to be more accurate. To explain the Metaverse a bit, the term refers to the shared virtual global environments in which people access the internet. Think of it as not a specific type of technology, but instead, how we interact with technology.
When Apple decided to limit ad tracking, platforms like Facebook became especially vulnerable. So looking ahead this year to the next 10 years, they’re envisioning a total web revolution, where virtual reality and augmented reality bring together the aspects of the digital and physical worlds — big stuff, we know. The result could translate to a virtual economy, allowing users to take virtual items like cars, clothes, and more from one platform to another; kind of like how you can buy a pair of shoes from the mall and wear them to a restaurant in the real world.
As of right now, what the future of the Metaverse really looks like is uncertain, but the shifts are happening. And we’ll be staying on top of it, don’t worry.
- The Evolution of Data
Data has always been a crucial driver of strategy, but how that data is handled is the new trend here. With increasingly strict data policies online (the removal of 3rd party cookies for one), and consumer consent now at the forefront, understanding your audiences through data is more important — and complex — than ever.
As a result, more companies aren’t relying on free platform insights or outsourcing; instead, they’re hiring in-house data teams. “Companies are investing in more robust and skilled data teams to better understand their audiences in new ways,” Ricardo Chamberlain, Group Director of Tech Ops & Innovation at Assemble, explains. “Advertisers are being forced to rethink how their data is collected, stored, and used to comply with new policies. That involves a stronger, smarter interpretation into consumer behaviors and emotions in order to gain their trust and consent. Having an understanding of platforms like Tableau and Power BI from Microsoft, which requires specific knowledge of running queries and reading database diagrams, will play a big role in that; along with growing importance in MySQL and programming languages like R, Python, and more.”
Quick question: Do you know the difference between a data analyst and a data scientist? If you don’t, you will soon. Data analysts, as you probably know, collect and interpret data to identify patterns and trends. But data scientists understandably take a more scientific approach, creating algorithms and predictive models to test data and suggesting solutions to overcome business problems. To put it simply, data science involves a much deeper dive into data and requires special skill sets more companies are investing in this year. Together, these data roles make up two of the most in-demand, high-paying jobs from last year.
- Email isn’t Boring Anymore
Get ready because your inbox is going to start feeling a little more like a website. Kinetic emails incorporate design features like sliders, animations, shopping carts, and more for users to interact with. Consumers love having everything right at their fingertips, and they want the power to decide when they’re going to take the next step in their own time. These evolving email designs embrace a choose-your-own-adventure mindset, allowing them to interact with your brand without having to leave their inbox.
“With kinetic emails, you can now apply many of the same CSS rules as websites which enable you to have enhanced, interactive experiences,” Ricardo explains. “It’s also compatible with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and most standard devices. But right now, many of those hosts are limiting the ability for developers to build these emails from scratch in the way they need to be, and still require users to navigate to the website to have the final conversation. So it’ll be interesting to see how we overcome those issues moving forward.”
Expect to see a lot more dark mode in emails too. But more on that in #6.
- eCommerce Has Gotten Social
It’s no surprise the pandemic gave eCommerce an unprecedented boost in 2020, essentially turning this differentiator into a standard for all retail companies. And because of that popularity, Chatbots have become the go-to for businesses overwhelmed by customer engagement.
“Clients come to us for a solution to the increased amount of emails and questions they receive across a variety of channels,” Geudy Marin, Assemble’s Costa Rica Managing Director, shared. “They want to integrate them all in one place and address client questions without wasting too much time and personnel — and Chatbots have been that solution. Using artificial intelligence, these businesses can offer quick answers to the most commonly asked questions as a first step to the buying process. And then request an agent if they don’t get the answers they need.”
Despite the increasing help of robots in the sales process, eCommerce, overall, has gotten a lot more social. Online retail has integrated with social platforms to take full advantage of these engagement-driven platforms to promote a sense of comfort and familiarity with its audiences while offering a buying option right on the channel itself.
“It’s all about showing up where your customers are and simplifying the buying process to as few clicks as possible,” Geudy adds. “They see an ad for a product, and they can purchase it without having to leave the platform. Many marketers are still hesitant in regard to the level of security this connection offers, but a studio like Assemble will take all the safety steps during implementation to guarantee it for our clients.”
You can also expect to see more subscription-based eCommerce in the next year as more brands continue to navigate the digital realm. “No matter how much we try to understand it, consumer behavior is unpredictable,” says Geudy. “Subscriptions offer the guarantee of a fixed payment, rather than relying on individual purchases. Social media has helped facilitate this process with the use of lead-gen ads and the integration of payment methods like PayPal, Klarna, etc. — which is something we’re helping more and more customers with this year.”
- Accelerated Accessibility
Vision impairments affect over 2.2 billion people globally, while 5.3% of the world’s population have a disabling hearing loss, including ⅓ of people over 65 (WHO). But even Baby Boomers are still ruling the internet — considering their generation did essentially create it. As a result, the need for greater accessibility online is being fueled by enhanced development techniques.
“We encourage all of our clients to consider this demographic of users and offer solutions that help guide them through the consumer experience in the development process,” Jose Montealegre, Assemble’s QA Manager, explained. “This means focusing on color contrasts that can be easier on the eye to decipher, naming conventions and bread crumbs that help with memory, and screen readers that explain what’s happening during navigation for those who have trouble seeing the visuals.”
For example, imagine scrolling through a site, and the text that moves along with you changes from black on white to black on dark blue as it overlaps a new image. Now, imagine what that looks like to someone with a vision impairment. “These elements are vital to users on dynamic sites that have animations and mouse over actions which can easily get lost and discourage them from reading more. Marketers will continue to be a lot more conscious of these issues moving forward.”
- Going to the Dark Side
Despite being a big component of both the accessibility and email trends, it’s increasingly dominant presence online warranted us to give dark mode its very own section. The contrast achieved with dark mode is not only easier on the eyes for users, but a great sustainability perk for companies as well.
“Dark mode is probably the easiest and cheapest way for companies to ride the ‘Green Wave,’” Emma Ulloa, Production Lead at Assemble, shared. “This version saves battery time and electricity, allowing brands to not only enforce a sustainability message with reduced energy use but also save their customers some money too.”
So now design teams are being forced to not only think about the aesthetics of a site or email, but also the functionality of how images and text perform from the very first concept. “The challenge is making this version just as sharp and effective as the original. Today, we need to create designs that not only work across multiple devices but can also seamlessly switch from light to dark and back to accommodate multiple user needs. Despite more clients requesting it, more hosts like Google are limiting what you can actually do with it. As a result, QA testing will become an important step in the process to figure out how we can fix issues and make the development more seamless in terms of the assets we need, the color transition, and more.”
- Video Is More Strategic
If you’ve just joined the video bandwagon, you’ve got some catching up to do. Watching video is no longer just a passive activity; it’s putting viewers in the driver’s seat. How? For starters, live videos. These productions are purpose-driven. By blending informative and fun content with real-time communication, they give viewers the ability to influence the narrative while filming by asking questions, sharing opinions, and leaving comments. You’ll also see a lot more shoppable video, which utilizes strategic pop-ups on video ads and posts that enable users to jump right to a product page based on the items they see. With the growing importance of instant gratification, this type of video has become big for brands to reduce the steps of the buying process.
Reversely, dynamic video has gotten viewers more involved in the production process, making it easier for marketers to adjust to their wants and needs. “In the past, if a video ad wasn’t performing well, you would have to pause it, go and make edits, and re-upload before starting it again, wasting time and money over your campaign run time,” Geudy shares. “By choosing a dynamic platform (like Google’s TCM Double Click Manager) to create your campaigns, you can get insight into the exact second that people are abandoning your video and modify content quickly without editors based on this direct feedback.”
Those advanced insights will also prove to you how important it has become to capture a user’s attention in a video’s first 3 seconds. “Videos are getting shorter,” Geudy adds. “We now see more and more requests for videos less than 15 seconds long because all of the content out there is overwhelming. And those first couple of seconds will determine whether your audience is interested and willing to stick around for the rest. So don’t make the mistake of saving the good stuff until the end.”
- The Increased Importance of Transcreation/Globalization
Now more than ever, brands are expected to acknowledge the diversity within their audiences and provide a more personalized customer experience — all while maintaining the consistency of a strong brand identity. That means two things for larger brands: 1) Ensuring your message doesn’t get lost in translation. And 2) Making your message unique to the people it targets.
This is why we’re seeing more businesses moving toward a centralized global marketing strategy, offering more control, greater reach, and wider distribution of media. “Global brands need to know that their messages are being delivered to different countries and areas of the world with the consistency and accuracy that their audience expects,” Joshua Araya, Rich Media Expert for Assemble, explains. “As a result, more large-scale, global campaigns aren’t being handled by regional offices, but instead, all within one production agency. These agencies can handle the translation across languages and the transcreation of assets — enabling them to be completely modified to comply with various specifications and regulations across different platforms and locations.
“This also includes changing languages, voiceovers, visuals, and even the people used in these assets — also known as localization. So by embracing globalization AND localization, they’re able to ensure the campaign is effective and appropriate for the audience it’s targeting, while promising consistency in its messaging. It’s also a much more cost-effective and faster process.”
And what else is cool? Print is making a comeback too. “A lot of these requests from brands of all sizes are for ‘out-of-home’ media production like flyers, ads, and more,” Joshua adds. “When everyone was stuck at home, the shift to digital made it a very crowded space. As people are heading out more, it’s a way to stand out and show up where people are now.”
- VEEVA & IQVIA Are Taking Pharma to New Heights
VEEVA has taken the Pharma world by storm the past two years, offering an ecosystem of CRM solutions that allow reps and marketing teams to engage with HCPs (Healthcare Professionals) and track their interactions seamlessly. But now, the platform has some competition. IQVIA, the largest healthcare, and data science company, has introduced essentially the same capabilities that can be found in VEEVA, but at massive cost-savings.
“IQVIA offers a single source of truth for large Pharma companies, bridging the communication gap between departments and teams,” Fabian Miranda, Web Development Manager / VEEVA Tech Lead at Assemble, explains. “It allows marketing, sales, development, etc. to have easy and consistent access to customer information. And like VEEVA, it allows these companies to understand what data and products are most important to each of these customers through actionable reporting.
“One main difference we’re seeing with IQVIA is how cost-effective it is. While VEEVA certifications can range from $10-15,000 per year for teams, IQVIA comes in at a fraction of that cost. It also offers a different certification process, one that is agency versus individual-based. Instead of an online course and tests you take on your own time, IQVIA has live sessions taught by an instructor that concludes with a full presentation, making it a more robust and personalized learning process.”
To summarize, Pharma is looking at major opportunities in 2022 with unparalleled control over data sharing, seamless AR implementation, and elevated experiences for customers — thanks to both VEEVA and IQVIA. And Assemble is ready to help you reap the benefits in whichever you choose.
To learn more about any of the latest developments in digital or to take your strategy into 2022, contact our team at Assemble today. Together, we can make this year your best year yet.