As advances in technology have created new opportunities to reach customers, concerns about consumer privacy have skyrocketed. Federal and state governments are responding by considering more—and more complex—legislation. At the same time, tech leaders like Google and Apple are trying to get ahead of those regulations by evolving their own policies around privacy and data. As a result, marketers are left trying to catch up, stay informed, and stay connected to their audiences, while maintaining compliance. So as best practices and privacy laws continue to evolve at a breakneck pace, here are four key marketing predictions for 2022.
Dealing With the Fallout of Apple’s MPP
What’s happening: In September 2021, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) security feature became available for any iPhone or iPad users who update to iOS 15. When users opt in to MPP, they choose to hide their IP addresses and privately load all remote content of the emails they receive through the Apple Mail app. Most studies estimate 35-47% of users prefer Apple Mail as their main email provider.
Why it matters: For email marketers, MPP essentially destroys the ability to capture open-rate data through pixels contained within the content of the message. With that content loading privately, every email that goes to an Apple inbox will appear as an open, even if the recipient ignores or deletes it entirely.
What the experts say: Don’t panic. While this update will make it difficult to collect accurate open-rate data, it may be a blessing in disguise.
“Email marketers should use this time to move beyond reliance on open metrics as a crutch for subscriber and customer engagement,” Karen Talavera, founder of Synchronicity Marketing, told the Email Experience Council. “I’ve witnessed over a decade of obsession with subject line testing to the detriment of downstream optimization efforts, where the real focus should be. Tests of content, creative, offers, and landing pages need increased focus now because all ultimately affect the bottom line more than whether and how often subscribers open email.”
How to respond in 2022: While you can still isolate Apple Mail subscribers in your reporting and analyze open rates for your remaining audience, there’s a good chance other providers will follow in Apple’s footsteps sooner or later. So now is a good time to shift your focus to other key metrics that demonstrate reader engagement, including clicks, website behavior, form fills, conversions, and unsubscribes. Often, these will provide much more useful insight into how your audience is actually responding to your email than open rate alone.
It’s also important to make sure you’re following deliverability best practices like double opt-ins and periodic reconfirmation campaigns, regardless of the channel you choose. The key will be to focus on engagement from day one, setting up clear expectations with your new subscribers about what kinds of content you’ll be sending them, and how often.
Our final tip: if you don’t already have a welcome email series, create one. Brands that send welcome emails see a 33% higher engagement than those that don’t.
Mourning and Moving on from Third-Party Cookies
What’s happening: If all goes according to Google’s plan, its browser Chrome will no longer support third-party cookies by the end of 2023. This is a big deal for marketers who use programmatic ad targeting, and third-party data, because third-party cookies are used by Google Ads and other digital ad providers to monitor users’ website behaviors and, as a layperson would say, “stalk them around the Internet” with ads.
Keep in mind, though, that this won’t impact first-party cookies—the ones associated with your own domain. These cookies allow the browser to remember user information like items added to shopping carts, and enable you to capture data about how users are coming to or interacting with your website.
Why it matters: Without third-party cookies on Chrome (or Safari or Mozilla, which already phased them out), ad buyers won’t be able to target a specific individual across multiple websites. And there are a lot of brands that rely on this tactic—McKinsey reports that in 2020, programmatic advertising accounted for over 78% of U.S. spending on display and video ads.
What the experts say: Similar to MPP, marketing leaders see silver linings in Google’s shift. Brands should see this as an opportunity to stop relying on cookies as a crutch and instead focus on improving data quality and investing in creativity.
“I’m not particularly sad about the demise of third-party cookies,” Stephen Pretorius, chief technology officer at WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, told Quartz. “Because they were never really that accurate, never really that useful, and in fact, I think this whole thing has helped us all to rethink what data matters.”
How to respond in 2022: Some digital marketers can choose to just wait and see what alternatives come to market. Because while Google is doing away with third-party cookies, it’s simultaneously developing a reportedly more privacy-friendly platform called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). FLoC collects user behavior data and assigns users to a cohort of thousands of people with similar interests. Down the line, that cohort data will be used to show tailored ads to relevant audiences. While that data is only saved locally and can’t be resold, it still means Chrome will be tracking its users’ every move and using that data to sell products. Big-name publishers like the New York Times and Vox are developing their own ad targeting systems based on first-party data they collect about their audiences. This allows brands to target relevant consumer groups without actually sharing the data.
That said, we agree with Pretorius that the time is right for marketers to move away from relying on unverified data that they don’t own or control. Focus on your first-party data collection, becoming obsessive about what visitors do once they arrive at your website. Tailor the experience you deliver based on your captured first-party data, showing relevant content based on behaviors—show top-of-funnel content to first-time blog subscribers, and share product-specific information with prospects who visit your pricing page or request a demo.
Marketers should also look for returning interest in legacy strategies like contextual advertising, which doesn’t rely on cookies at all. Rather, you can work with media to place ads for your outdoor gear on an article about hiking trails, or promote your recruiting platform in HR industry publications. With advancements in AI and machine learning to help with placement—and zero concerns about privacy and user data—contextual advertising may see a significant surge in 2022.
Building Consumer Trust by Providing Personalized Experiences
What’s happening: Apple and Google aren’t putting consumer privacy first solely out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. For one thing, they’re trying to stay ahead of (and stay friendly with) government regulators. For another, they’re mindful of consumer perception. These tech giants understand that brand trust impacts their bottom line.
Of course, tech platforms aren’t alone. With the Covid-19 pandemic, a tumultuous political climate, and a sweeping social justice movement all impacting customer behavior and perception over the last two years, building trust has become a top priority for companies of all sizes. With privacy concerns continuing to make headlines, that’s not likely to change in 2022.
Why it matters: Customers are increasingly aware of how companies are collecting, using, and sharing their data. In fact, 86% of Americans say data privacy is a growing concern for them. According to research by PWC, consumers say that protecting data and cybersecurity is the most important element that drives trust in a business. In 2021, 49% of consumers reported they started purchasing or purchased more from a company because of trust.
At the same time, consumers are increasingly expecting brands to deliver relevant content and marketing. 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides personalized experiences, while 72% say they only engage with personalized messaging. McKinsey even refers to the concepts of ‘hyperpersonalization’ and ‘care of one’ as the future of customer experience.
Balancing this increasing demand for privacy with the expectation of personalization will be a key challenge for marketers in 2022.
What the experts say: First-party data is the future. Collecting and relying on the data your own customers consent to share when they visit your website or buy from your brand is the safest way to build trust while providing personalized experiences.
“Because of this willful relationship and implied or active consent, first-party data is more accurate, provides better insights, has higher conversion rates, and is a priority for maintaining customer relationships,” Gary Walter, CEO of Infutor Data Solutions, wrote in Forbes.
How to respond in 2022: First-party data can help power personalized experiences, but customer journey mapping is necessary to understand what customers need to hear at every touchpoint. According to Gartner, companies that use customer journeys are twice as likely to outperform competitors than those that don’t.
And in 2022, advanced personalization will go beyond inserting a first name into an email subject line or showing recommendations based on past purchase history. Customers are increasingly expecting a seamless experience across channels and devices, especially on mobile. By harnessing predictive automation and using marketing automation to deliver personalized experiences across devices, brands can forge meaningful connections throughout the customer journey, without relying on third-party data or sacrificing consumer trust.
Utilizing More Sophisticated Marketing Automation
What’s happening: As marketers de-prioritize third-party data and focus on advanced personalization, automation tools will need to fill the gap.
Automation software has been part of most leading brands’ marketing tech stack for years. According to our State of Marketing Automation report, B2B marketers use these tools to streamline marketing and sales efforts (38%), improve customer experience (34%), and improve customer engagement (28%).
But only 20% of marketers say they’re using their automation tools to their fullest potential, while 21% report they aren’t sure, and nearly 60% know they’re leaving value on the table. That leaves a lot of room for improvement. Maximizing the investment in marketing automation will be a key focus for marketers in 2022.
Why it matters: Simply put, marketers can’t afford not to use their automation tools to their maximum capabilities. Many companies are still recovering from pandemic-era budget cuts in 2020 and struggling to onboard new talent in a highly competitive hiring landscape. Using tools efficiently to do more with less is vital for smaller teams working with uncertain budgets.
And as organizations zero in on richer email engagement metrics and build out personalization efforts driven by first-party data, having a robust automation engine will be a must for marketers in 2022. This is essential for both nurturing prospects through the funnel and achieving post-purchase automation that delivers a positive experience.
What the experts say: Marketing automation is the key to providing personalized experiences based on first-party data.
“Personalization is no longer an option, but a necessity,” David Greenberg, Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer, told MarTech Series. “With marketing automation, a lead’s behavior can be tracked to understand where and how they interact with a company online throughout their entire journey. The advanced software provides deep insights into what prompts users to engage, and paints a clear picture of activity, preferences, and interests.”
How to respond in 2022: The State of Marketing Automation report shows that lack of training and knowledge is a top barrier to proper utilization of advanced software. Make sure your provider offers engaging, interactive courses and learning opportunities, and give your team the time they need to learn and master their tools.
Additionally, get your sales and marketing teams aligned on the fundamentals of automation, including funnel stages, definitions, and lead sorting criteria. Develop KPIs to measure success for each goal, and map content to your personas and funnel stages to help deliver relevant messaging at the right time for every customer.
Finally, if you struggle to reach the full potential of your automation tools due to poor integration, you aren’t alone. Only 10% of marketers surveyed report their marketing automation software is fully integrated with the rest of their martech stack. So advocate for any technical resources you may need to complete the seamless integration that will empower your team to get the full value out of your automation software.
2022 is Ripe with Opportunities
The bottom line is 2022 is ripe with opportunities for marketers to zero in on metrics that matter, invest in collecting and acting on their own data, and create meaningful interactions that deliver personalized messages. All of these changes will only make the relationships between customers and brands stronger and more authentic.
Ultimately, having powerful and fully integrated marketing automation technology will be vital in the coming year. As you start to evaluate your current tech stack, download our State of Marketing Automation report to see how your company’s automation adoption stacks up to other B2B marketers.
This content was originally published here.