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4 Key Takeaways on the State of Marketing 2022

Written By Amber Breeden

November 16, 2022

As we move into the home stretch of 2022, several organizations are releasing their latest “state of marketing” findings for the year. While the optimist in us says, “Don’t look back!” we know these trends often predict marketing strategies for the coming year.

We looked at data from four different sources to see what insights we could glean as we prepare our 2023 marketing plans.

Collectively, these sources heard from over 7,700 marketers across the globe. But it’s worth noting that these findings aren’t apples to apples. Some of these organizations focus exclusively on digital marketing while others look at direct mail, content, or data; some focus on B2C while others include B2B. Still, we noticed four themes that showed up again and again across the research. Here are our top four takeaways on the current state of marketing.

Privacy is changing the game—be prepared.

Between increasing data security regulations, Apple’s new privacy policy, and Google ending third-party cookies, changes in data privacy have shaken up the future of marketing. Companies need to adapt to these new expectations, and in some cases, completely change their data collection practices and outbound marketing strategies.

Creating an online presence that covers the entire customer journey is the best strategy to collect first-party data, which is becoming essential for any future-proof marketing strategy.

It looks like marketers are getting the message. According to Salesforce, 68% of marketers have defined a strategy to shift to first-party data and away from relying on third-party cookies. That’s good news, because the report also found that building and retaining trust with customers is both a priority and a challenge. Respecting customers’ data privacy is definitely a step in the right direction.

While regulations have largely focused on online activity, data privacy isn’t just a digital marketing issue. SeQuel Response found that 78% of marketers are worried about how data security regulations will affect their future direct mail campaigns. This likely comes down to how companies are capturing the data they are then using for their mailing list. First-party data collection is going to become as much of an issue for direct mail as it is for digital marketing if companies are currently relying on data streams that are about to be shut off. 

Hubspot notes, “Creating an online presence that covers the entire customer journey … is the best strategy to collect first-party data, which is becoming essential for any future-proof marketing strategy.” Developing entertaining and educational content is a great way to provide something valuable to your customers in exchange for their data. But it’s not just about how we collect that data; it’s what we do with it once we have it. As Adobe put it, “Going forward, brands need to get creative with how they gather customer data and create targeted marketing campaigns.” The latter takes us to our next big theme.

Data-driven personalization has become table stakes.

Personalized, data-driven marketing is nothing new. We know personalization creates relevance and relevance improves engagement. In fact, Adobe found that 72% of consumers say they will only engage with personalized messaging. But with growing privacy concerns and regulations, how do you make something personal without crossing the line into creepy? Finding that sweet spot isn’t easy, especially since it can be different for every customer. Salesforce found that balancing personalization with customers’ comfort levels is both a top priority and a top challenge for marketers. 

Figuring out how to achieve personalization at scale is another challenge facing marketers today. With our current economic headwinds, marketing departments need to find ways to do more with existing resources. Many are turning to AI and automation for everything from content generation to improving operational efficiency. Other companies are focusing more on account-based marketing (ABM) to create a manageable personalized experience. Salesforce found that 35% of marketers are investing in new workflow and process automation. They also note that B2B companies are allocating around 15% of their budgets to ABM, “emphasizing the value of personalized messaging and engagement that has spread from B2C to B2B strategies.”

Diversifying with both online and offline marketing gets results.

It’s the perennial question: which is better for your business, offline or online marketing? The answer, based on the research, is both.

Hubspot found that in 2022, social media was the most popular marketing channel, with Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook coming in as the top three platforms marketers are using. Across all platforms, short-form videos (think Instagram Reels and TikToks) are the most effective type of content according to 85% of marketers. Given the low cost and ease of entry, it makes sense that so many marketers use social media to reach customers and build brand awareness.

43% of customers prefer non-digital channels, and 87% of marketers are using automation and AI to bridge online and offline experiences.

On the other hand, Salesforce found that 43% of customers prefer non-digital channels. When you consider that the average American sees 10,000 ads and receives 121 marketing emails per day, it’s no wonder they are looking to engage in a different way. Direct mail offers an off-screen alternative to cut through the noise and get a customer’s attention—and it appears marketers are taking the hint. SeQuel Response found that 86% of marketers are investing in direct mail and 80% of those who use it find it successful. 

Effective marketing strategies employ a blend of online and offline communications. Running an integrated campaign across multiple channels, however, can be difficult to manage and measure. That’s why Salesforce found that 87% of marketers are using automation and AI to bridge online and offline experiences. We’re seeing similar use cases from our clients who use Banjo to incorporate direct mail touchpoints into an existing digital marketing strategy. 

Social responsibility and values matter, especially to younger generations.

Gone are the days of hiding behind our products and services. Customers today are looking to support companies who promote their values (not just their businesses) and prioritize social and environmental responsibility. “More than half of Gen Z claims to buy purposefully from brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible,” according to Adobe. In fact, Salesforce found that 88% of customers expect brands to demonstrate their values, and 66% have stopped buying from a company whose values didn’t align with theirs. 

This shift presents an opportunity for companies to articulate their beliefs and lead their marketing with values-based messaging. This approach humanizes a brand and helps organizations connect with their customers. It can also improve employee satisfaction. Salesforce found that, after launching their values-based campaign #TeamEarth, they saw an 80% increase in employee pride in working at Salesforce. This metric is especially important if your business is B2B because your employees are your #1 brand ambassadors. 

Putting insights into practice.

Your personal take on the state of marketing largely depends on your industry, the channels you use, if you’re B2B or B2C, and your resources (both human and financial). But the four takeaways above span these differences to apply to most (dare we say all?) companies. Be sure to keep them in mind as you’re planning your 2023 marketing strategy.

  1. Don’t ignore privacy regulations, and make sure you have a plan for collecting first-party data. This is not an issue you can afford to be behind the eight ball on.
  2. Data-driven personalization has become table stakes in marketing. Not only do you need good data, you need a plan to implement personalization in a way that’s realistic and scalable for your organization.
  3. Diversify your marketing channel mix to include both online and offline communications so you can reach more customers and increase your ROI. You can take advantage of technology to help you manage your campaigns and measure attribution. 
  4. Get clear on your company’s values and find ways to incorporate those beliefs into your marketing. Values-based messaging is especially effective on social media—create authentic, “behind the scenes” content to show the human side of your company.

Want to learn more about integrating personalized, automated direct mail into your marketing campaigns? Check out the free, downloadable resource below which guides you through the process of creating an automated direct mail program.

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