Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Ask any marketer and they’ll attest how in the last decade or so, marketing technology (MarTech) has erupted — six years ago we had roughly 2,000 MarTech solutions, and by 2020, the number was well over 8,000.
What’s more, recent NewsCred research revealed that most marketers use more than five marketing tools daily to get their jobs done.
You could almost say that “digital marketing” is now a redundant phrase considering how nearly every business — big or small — is increasingly shifting its marketing investments in online marketing channels (search, social, email, etc.) and tools, leaving behind the traditional ways of marketing such as flyers and billboard ads.
But as new MarTech solutions surface each day, marketing budgets are falling to their lowest levels in recent history, with nearly 60% of marketing technology leaders saying they expect moderate to severe cuts to their MarTech budgets.
Thus, CMOs and marketing leaders need to reprioritize their resources to remain competitive and efficient in this fast-evolving and volatile landscape.
But with all these up-and-coming technologies, where do you spend your limited budget? In this post, let’s take a look at six of the top emerging MarTech trends that are worth considering as we head into 2022.
Trend #1: The rise of no-code
One of the biggest buzz phrases of 2021, “low-code/no-code” (LCNC) refers to using visual drag-and-drop platforms that enable teams to build applications with little-to-no manual coding.
LCNC platforms help ease the pressure on developers and allow business users (such as marketers) to prototype and deploy useful apps quickly. The No-Code Census 2020 report estimates that application development is 4.6x faster, 4.6x affordable, and 4.8x easier using LCNC tools.
Furthermore, Gartner predicted the worldwide low-code development technologies market to total $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of 22.6% from 2020.
Many businesses in various niches have already started using LCNC tools for specific digital transformation use cases and for citizen developers, building enterprise-grade apps with minimal IT involvement is now very much possible.
Citizen developers are business users who create new apps for their teams by using LCNC platforms approved by IT. Irrespective of their role in the organization and their technical know-how, citizen developers have a common goal to create apps that boost internal efficiency, collaboration and drive the business forward.
Citizen developers often stem from the marketing department, and they create apps to enhance marketing workflows and campaigns.
Here are some of the many great benefits of no-code:
- Faster and more efficient development
- Lower cost of development and maintenance
- Faster innovation and prototyping
- Greater flexibility with APIs and integrations
- Frees up time for other complex business activities
So for instance, if your marketing team wants a highly customized and advanced content calendar hub, they can build one for themselves with LCNC tools like Airtable and Retool.
Other use cases for these nifty drag-and-drop tools include building an internal project tracking app, an expense tracking app, a chatbot, and so on.
Speaking of LCNC tools, as per research by Scott Brinker of Chiefmartec.com, below is an overview of the most commonly used tools for MarTech.
And a Deloitte survey of digital skills among marketers adopting MarTech solutions reveals that their coding skills are few and far between.
And so, these LCNC solutions can come in handy for marketers with minimal technical/coding capabilities, enabling them to build fully functional internal apps to enhance their marketing processes and campaigns, or create customer-facing websites, apps, and interactive content.
Trend #2: Content personalization with AI
The desire for personalized content and marketing messages isn’t new. And in 2022, that desire is set to turn into a necessity, considering how 31% of consumers want their online shopping experience to be more personalized than it currently is.
What’s more, 64% of customers expect tailored engagement based on past interactions, and 62% of customers expect companies to adapt based on their actions and behavior, according to research by Salesforce.
This is partly thanks to sites like Netflix that have set the standard for content personalization. People now expect the same from other websites, and want a tailored experience as they proceed from first landing on your website all the way through post-purchase emails.
And more numbers suggest personalization does drive results:
- 90% of marketers report a measurable lift in business results, attributable to personalization.
- 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
- Personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales 10% or more.
- Personalized emails generate 6X higher transaction rates.
With AI-powered content recommendation engines like Personyze and Optimizely, you can show different content on your website to different visitors, tailored to their personal preferences and behaviors. You can also send personalized email drips with product/content recommendations, targeted content, and promotions.
These tools use past session data, data from your CRM, and crowd data from other visitors, producing dynamic content recommendations pushed in real-time at multiple touchpoints, giving your audience relevant content experiences that drive action. So, consider investing in such a tool in 2022.
Trend #3: Growth of headless commerce
While offline retail may never die completely, eCommerce has hit record highs in recent times. The number of globally online buyers keeps climbing every year and in 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, while e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide.
eCommerce technology itself is growing at a rapid pace, with recent advancements in what’s known as “headless commerce” — an architecture that decouples the front-end presentation layer of a website from the back-end eCommerce functionality. So you can use a front-end technology of your choice to deliver high-quality on-site experiences and have an eCommerce solution on the backend that manages all commerce functionalities efficiently.
With headless eCommerce, things like PCI compliance, security, and fraud and inventory management can connect to other key infrastructure solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale (POS), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to form a robust backend that powers a content- and experience-led front-end.
Here are a few more benefits of headless commerce for brands:
- Flexibility and familiarity for developers
- Complete ownership over site architecture
- Near-endless opportunities for marketing innovation at the front-end without hurting back-end processes and site speed
- Faster time to market
- Better conversion rates and lower customer acquisition costs
As the customer-side of the website is detached from the technical side, a headless architecture can offer superior levels of flexibility, which is crucial in today’s ultra-competitive landscape.
You can deliver highly customized omnichannel customer experiences through a CMS of your choice such as WordPress, a digital experience platform DXP) like Drupal or Sitecore, while using APIs for data orchestration across the backend.
Thus, for experience-focused and DTC brands, and brands that rely heavily on interactive content, a headless architecture makes a lot of sense.
For example, Carluccio’s, an Italian restaurant chain, built a presentation layer (i.e. the site experience) on WordPress, then used the BigCommerce plugin to implement a headless commerce solution. This allows customers to stay on the same site (no subdomain) throughout the experience.
You can also use the Shopify Plus headless commerce solution to start leveraging the power of headless commerce.
So if your brand is all about quality content and customer experience, then take note of this trend!
Trend #4: New marketing tools to help marketers pick up the pace
While social media, influencer, and email marketing tools are available dime a dozen, new tools are and will continue to enter the already saturated market, trying to further facilitate marketing workflows.
Let’s start with influencer marketing platforms. It’s estimated that 72.5% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the coming year. Despite influencer marketing becoming mainstream, it still is a very labor-intensive process to get right.
Here are the high-level steps involved for a brand to use influencer marketing:
- Find influencers in their niche
- Filter out those with just the right number of followers (while looking out for fake followers)
- Reach out one by one over email or DM
- Discuss rates and terms
- Collaborate with them for content
- Track the results
So it’s no surprise a number of new influencer marketing platforms are entering the market, striving to simplify the whole process.
Notable examples include Sparktoro and Upfluence — the former being a tool designed to help brands quickly identify the most relevant YouTube channels, podcasts, and personal brands that their audience follows, while the latter being a database of 3M+ influencers brands can search and sort through.
New tools entering this space boast advanced features, such as the ability to automatically recycle old posts, support newer formats like Instagram Stories, etc.
Speaking of social media, video marketing has gained some serious popularity in recent years. 85% of people say that videos help them connect with brands more effectively, and 92% of marketers say that video is an important part of their marketing strategy and renders good ROI.
But as lucrative as video marketing can be, businesses still cite cost, complexity, and lack of time as their main challenges in creating video content.
A number of platforms have arrived on the scene to help tackle these obstacles. For instance, Artgrid is a royalty-free library of thousands of stock video clips that can be used for YouTube videos, Facebook ads, and other social video campaigns. Then there’s Viddyoze, a tool that helps complete beginners make scroll-stopping videos in a matter of clicks, with a focus on stock animations.
Oh, and let’s not forget the good ol’ email marketing. Sure, there are a number of time-tested, one-size-fits-all tools like Mailchimp dominating the market for over a decade, there are a growing number of niche email service providers entering the market.
A notable example is Substack, a platform making it simple for content marketers to start an email newsletter that makes money from paid subscriptions. Their pricing strategy is also unique — rather than charging a monthly fee, Substack takes a small cut of revenue from their users. In exchange, users can get started for free, while the platform handles sending, billing, and other tasks required to run a successful newsletter.
Another email newsletter tool rising to fame is Mailbrew, which essentially sends you the top news, tweets, events, etc. as a combined daily digest for $4.99/month.
You can also receive the latest YouTube videos from your favorite channels, the top threads from subreddits, and so on. Mailbrew has seen great growth since its launch just 1.5 years ago, with shoutouts from big names in the MarTech space.
All in all, email isn’t dead. And it won’t die.
If anything, email is going to continue its comeback with innovative MarTech tools helping creators and businesses reclaim their audience and cut through the noise on a property they own, instead of having their success subject to platform algorithms.
Trend #5: Increased focus on data privacy
To deliver personalized experiences across multiple touchpoints, brands are collecting increasingly more customer data. This increases the need for data protection and privacy policies as the risk of personal information leaks is also on the rise.
Marketers are becoming more data-driven and thus, are responsible for collecting data in a way that doesn’t intrude on users’ privacy. Meanwhile, customers prefer companies that respect their privacy and brands can face dire long-term consequences if the data is collected or used unethically.
No matter if it’s a simple survey creation tool to capture customer feedback or an enterprise-grade website data collector like Bright Data, the tools of the future will manage your data collection while ensuring data security and ethics are the top priorities.
Speaking of data privacy…
Trend #6: The end of cookies
Let’s end this trend post on a delicious note.
In January 2020, Google announced its plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in the Chrome browser (which has a 65.15% market share) by 2022. In place of cookies, Google hopes to establish a new set of technical solutions to track, personalize, and save information about a user’s browsing session — in the hopes of creating a more private web.
To realize this, Google has proposed some new technologies (as have other major browsers like Firefox and Safari) that may be less invasive than cookies. 2022 could be the year for marketers to prepare for that.
And that’s a wrap! From no-code and AI-driven personalization to new tools for content and email marketing, there’s a lot going on in the MarTech space.
Not to mention how the pandemic pushed digital transformation to a priority and forced marketing teams to level up their marketing strategy for a new era.
Take your time to evaluate which of these trends are worth investing in for your business, and prep yourself for the year ahead!
If you want to share these top MarTech trends with your colleagues, clients, or friends, feel free to share the infographic below: