Take a deep breath, digital marketing leader. 2020 and 2021 introduced an onslaught of uncertainty to the ecommerce landscape, likely bringing comprehensive changes to your brand’s digital marketing strategy.

But it’s 2022 now. Are you ready to walk confidently into the world of ecommerce, knowing that you’re taking the right steps for your brand?

To help you be able to answer yes to that question, we conducted our annual State of Digital Marketing Survey, where we asked 170+ digital marketing professionals like you about their top initiatives and concerns for 2022.

You’re getting a sneak preview of the results in this article. In our 2022 State of Digital Marketing Report, we reveal our analysis of the data and trends with graphs, charts, and expert insights to give you a thorough understanding of the current ecommerce landscape. Gain access to the report here.

We hope this inside look at the year’s biggest digital marketing trends helps you make 2022 the best year yet for your brand.

1. Attribution

49% of marketing professionals say attribution is a top-of-mind trend for them this year, making it the biggest digital marketing trend for 2022. It’s the most important trend to managers (61%) and decision-makers (49%), but less important to doers at 44%.

Decision-makers always want assurance that their company’s marketing budget is going to good use, and managers want to ensure that they’re able to prove that.

Attribution also ranks in first or second place for each industry we analyzed, including home goods, electronics, and food & beverage. But we noticed some interesting differences in the importance of attribution to companies with higher revenue.

On average, 56% of brands making $0-$100 million in annual revenue named attribution as a top trend for 2022 – but that drops to 46% for brands at $100 million-$1 billion, and even more significantly to 32% for $1B+ brands.

A major part of attribution is the ability to track your ad spend back to tangible wins. Compared to small companies with less money to spare, attribution may not be as concerning to larger companies that make more revenue, have a bigger budget, and feel less worried about ensuring every dollar goes to good use.

2. Personalization

Personalization is a key trend this year among all marketing professionals. We noticed more discrepancy in the importance of personalization when we looked at annual revenue. Just 41% of brands with up to $10 million in annual revenue named personalization as a top trend for 2022 – compared to 82% of brands making $1B+.

82% of brands with over $1 billion in annual revenue say personalization is top-of-mind for them this year.

Why the difference? Ecommerce personalization helps customers feel like they’re important to your business instead of just one drop in a bucket of millions of customers – which comes naturally to smaller brands with fewer customers.

But for larger brands generating billions in annual revenue, personalization must be more intentional. Plus, bigger brands have a large customer database that can be segmented in many ways, making the opportunity to personalize even greater.

3. Emerging Social Media Platforms

Emerging social media platforms rank third overall in the top digital marketing trends for 2022 and are a top trend for 42% of marketing decision-makers.

50% of marketing professionals name social media as a big initiative for their brand this year, and 56% say that they themselves stay up-to-date on industry information through social media.

TikTok was the most downloaded app last year by a long shot, coming in at 94 million downloads, followed by Instagram at 64 million and Snapchat at 56 million. TikTok is now the third largest social network in the US, second only to Facebook and Instagram.

As Facebook faces serious declines not only related to the iOS update but also general user wariness – its total user base declined for the first time ever in Q4 2021 and Meta’s stocks dropped by 25% in the first week of February 2022 – brands will increasingly look toward emerging social media platforms to build their brand presence and reach new customers. Other possible emerging social media platforms for advertising include Discord, Reddit, and Twitch.

4. Video

Video will be huge in 2022, with 41% of digital marketing professionals naming it as a top trend.

53% of home goods brands say video is a top-of-mind trend for them this year.

Video will be a key component of brands’ programmatic strategies this year. 2022 will mark the first time ever that video makes up over half of all programmatic ad spend. 12% of our respondents name programmatic as a big initiative for their brand this year.

Music streaming platforms are usually thought of as audio-only, but Spotify disrupted that with the introduction of video podcasts in October 2021, which play automated ads through programmatic video advertising with Anchor.

With 13% of marketing professionals naming audio and streaming services as a top trend for 2022 compared to 41% for video, brands focusing on audio this year may want to also ensure they start thinking about a video strategy if they haven’t already.

Another key component of video is YouTube, which boasts 2.6 billion monthly active users compared to Instagram at 1.5 million, TikTok at 1 billion, and Snapchat at 557 million as of January 2022. 16% of our respondents say that they use video to stay up-to-date with current industry news and trends.

5. Direct to Consumer

Direct to consumer (D2C) became a bigger focus for many brands during the pandemic as customers reduced their in-store shopping. After hitting just $76.7 billion in 2019, US D2C ecommerce sales are projected to reach $151.2 billion this year before approaching $175 billion in 2023.

49% of our respondents say D2C is a top trend on their mind going into 2022.

Instead of selling through a third party like a marketplace or brick-and-mortar location, D2C brands promote and sell their products directly to shoppers – and thus cater more toward priorities that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic like convenience, product quality, low cost, and a seamless shopping experience.

By investing in customer service and personalization, D2C brands can differentiate themselves from the competition and grow profitably despite the trials and tribulations of the past two years.

6. Shipping & Fulfillment

Shipping, inventory, and fulfillment are the basic underpinnings of a business that, at the end of the day, must work flawlessly for any sort of marketing efforts to be minisculely worth it – and they’re all in flux right now.

The supply chain is the 6th biggest trend for marketing professionals this year, with shipping and fulfillment issues that started at the onset of the pandemic and spiked in Q4 2021 still prevailing around the globe.

34% of decision-makers say shipping and fulfillment are top-of-mind for them this year.

Supply chain issues have impacted pretty much every industry around the globe – but some have been hit harder than others. It’s top-of-mind for just 21% of brands in the apparel & accessories industry, but for the home goods industry, it’s the second most important trend this year. Many furniture retailers, including IKEA, have had to raise their prices by up to 50% to stay profitable.

7. Social Commerce

Social commerce allows consumers to purchase items directly through social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. With the deprecation of cookies on the horizon (more on that with trend #8), many brands are turning to social commerce as a way to alleviate attribution confusion by engaging with and converting consumers on a single channel and device.

  • Instagram Shopping: Enables brands to seamlessly highlight products in a highly visual way and compels customers to make a purchase upon discovery with Product Tags, Collections, Product Detail Pages, and the Shop tab
  • Snapchat: Incorporates augmented reality and filters to engage and inspire users with immersive ads that allow in-app purchases
  • TikTok Shopping: Enables users and brands to add a Shop tab to their profile that syncs with their store’s website and displays a product catalog

Social commerce has been steadily rising in popularity since 2017 and saw its highest YoY growth in 2020 when it grew 25.2% in light of the pandemic. US social commerce buyers are expected to grow 6.1% this year to reach 96.1 million shoppers. That number will climb to 101.1 million in 2023.

8. Cookieless Data

The ability to use cookies to track and target customers is going away next year. When Google phases out third-party cookies on Chrome in late 2023, brands and retailers will no longer be able to use cookies for tracking and targeting.

50% of brands with annual revenue of $1B+ say cookieless data is top-of-mind for them in 2022.

The update means that many businesses will have to shift to using third-party data for tracking, targeting, and attribution.

Consumer privacy is a key trend for 18% of marketers, but it’s more important to doers than managers or decision-makers. 48% of doers listed consumer privacy as a top trend for 2022, making it the third most important trend for them this year. That’s compared to 16% for managers and 14% for decision-makers.

This could be a cause for concern if businesses aren’t careful. New privacy rules can pose potential revenue roadblocks for business executives, but adopting them is no longer just an option for companies to address privacy concerns – it’s required.

9. Smart Technology

34% of digital marketing professionals say smart technology (including automation, AI, and machine learning) is a key trend going into 2022.

Smart technology has different implications for different industries, with the benefits greater for some than others. Out of the industries we analyzed, home goods indicated the greatest interest in smart technology at 41%. This category exploded in popularity with the pandemic and consumers’ desire to make their homes more comfortable, making 2022 a key time for brands in this industry to test new strategies and technologies.

ROI Revolution’s proven digital experts helped a luxury home goods brand increase their paid advertising revenue by over 100% through Google Shopping and Dynamic Search Ads, which use automation to pull the most relevant headlines for specific audiences. Read the case study here to learn more.

AI and machine learning have a large number of potential benefits for brands from a digital marketing perspective. 57% of global businesses say they use AI and machine learning to improve customer experience, making it the top use case for these technologies.

10. Emerging Marketplaces

Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy aren’t just major merchants and retailers. They also offer brands the ability to advertise to their most ideal customers with granular audience data and competitive paid ad placements.

These emerging marketplaces are a top-of-mind trend for 33% of marketing professionals, including 47% of home goods brands.

Nearly one in every five digital marketing decision-makers say non-Amazon marketplaces are a top initiative for their brand in 2022.

Aside from paid advertising, there are also programmatic advertising solutions for marketplaces. Programmatic allows brands to purchase ads in real-time using highly targeted audience data by automating the buying and selling of inventory.

Walmart got its own DSP in August 2021, giving brands access to Walmart’s in-store and online shopping data to deliver personalized omnichannel experiences to shoppers.

As the marketplace world becomes more competitive, Amazon still takes the cake with the largest retail ecommerce market share at 41% – but that doesn’t mean other marketplaces should be ignored. There’s now a greater opportunity here for brands to discover new profitability.

Have you ever considered Walmart Advertising for your brand? With 160 million customers visiting Walmart stores or Walmart.com each week, Walmart is the largest retailer in the US. Watch our Walmart Advertising 101 webinar replay to uncover strategies to reach the 90% of Americans who shop at Walmart and inspire them to purchase from your brand.

Tying It All Together

The 2022 ecommerce landscape is sprawling with different digital marketing trends, both up-and-coming and tried-and-true. Depending on your industry, your role, and your company’s revenue, you have your own unique goals and priorities to fit into this tumultuous landscape.

At ROI, we always want to alleviate your concerns and lead your brand to profitable success. Our proven digital marketing experts help companies like PUMA, Lenovo, and Peter Millar exceed their growth goals, and we’re ready to help you optimize your digital presence and revenue potential, too. Connect with us today to see what we can do for you.