Digital content, employee retention and purposeful living part of 2022 businesses trends

The Blade
The Blade

After nearly two years of the pandemic, one thing that has not changed is the understanding that things are always changing.

Businesses have especially needed to pivot with the volatile market while ramping up digital content in unprecedented ways to connect with consumers as well as a remote workforce.

Local marketing experts agree that digital transformation will continue to take precedence in 2022. For most businesses, the digital experience has evolved to a level in which consumer expectations are higher than ever before, said Leslie Verral, vice president of marketing for Thread Marketing Group.

“Now a brand’s digital footprint goes beyond the website,” she said. “Any potential touchpoint or interaction that someone could have with your brand or company, or product online has become number one.”

Those increases have led to greater competition for search optimization. To keep up with demand for faster service, Don Miller, director of Touchstone Digital, a division of MadAve Group, has implemented new technologies such as Headless Wordpress, a program that makes marketing websites work faster especially on mobile devices. He recently launched a new website featuring the new technology and has three other sites slated to go this quarter.

“Before, you used to be able to build a website and that was your whole marketing effort and now we’ve got to make sure it’s fast, we’ve got to make sure it looks great, we’ve got to make sure that it works on a phone so there are all these technical aspects,” Mr. Miller said.

In addition to rolling out new website technology, Touchstone Digital, utilizes artificial intelligence for automation to enhance website security systems, which is especially important for clients in the financial industry.

“If you set up a website tonight, give it a week and China or Russia is going to be hitting that website, trying to penetrate it,” he said.

Steve Evert, director of Business Voice, which is also a division of MadAve Group, said that 2022 will bring about greater investments in marketing automation, which will allow brands to curate individualized customer experiences.

“As consumers perceive an increasing number of products and services as commodities, brands of all sizes are waking up to the idea that creating memorable, unique customer experiences can be a key differentiator and insulate them from lower-priced competitors,” Mr. Evert said.

While security, speed, and customer experience are important when it comes to digital space, being hyper-vigilant with content strategies is also necessary this year, said Michael Seay, director of MadAve Group.

“Like many other agencies, we used to talk to businesses about creating that one beautiful video, something that tells their entire story. But in 2022, attention span has decreased to an all-time low and to be able to stand out and to get people to engage with content is vital,” he said.

By determining the audience, messaging and channels of communication, a more effective and robust communication plan might include 15 to 25 videos or messages or graphics per month, which would allow continuous engagement to a targeted audience, he said.

With ongoing supply chain shortages and a fluctuating workplace model, staffing issues will also continue to challenge employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million people quit their jobs last November alone, which was a record high. In fact, so many Americans are either quitting or making a switch, it’s been dubbed "the great resignation" or the "big quit." While many companies have placed a substantial focus on recruiting and hiring practices, those who will be successful in 2022 will focus on retention.

“The cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees is extremely expensive. Beyond that, typically your long-term employees will understand your brand voice and culture better, which will translate to the all-important better service that customers are craving,” Mr. Seay said.

When it comes to employee retention, the “sky's the limit” as far as what employers can offer, he said.

“I’ve seen companies increase wages, give hefty merit bonuses, increased vacation time, the ability to work remotely, as well as smaller gestures such as gifts from the company, awards, and added benefits,” Mr. Seay said. “For those wavering on where to go with their employee retention, I simply ask how much the cost would be to find another employee, and if they are able to replace that person, onboard, and train them. That figure would be a great starting point.”

More people are searching for a lifestyle that fits with how they want to spend their time and how their work ultimately benefits the greater good, said Marc Paulenich, president of Hart Associates.

“The pandemic as a whole has prompted individuals to reexamine life, priorities and find more meaningful work that impacts society in a meaningful way,” he said.

It has also had an indelible impact on business. Prior to the pandemic, corporate social responsibility was moving to the forefront of buying decisions and businesses were realizing the importance of being economically, ethically, and environmentally responsible. The pandemic however heightened that realization while political, racial, and economic divides fanned the flames of trends that were already in play.

“It forced a lot of businesses to rethink what their purpose as a brand in business is, what their contribution to society can be or will be, and making changes to that,” Mr. Paulenich said.

He expects a return to a more balanced approach to business and marketing following the massive push to accommodate digitally-driven consumer behavior will bring a renewed focus to long-term growth in 2022.

“I think you will see a lot more experimentation this year as people try out new things to understand what was right at the height of the pandemic and what is right for the brand long-term,” Mr. Paulenich said. “We’ve weathered the worst of the storm and there is continued worry of what the next variant might be, so we are not out of the woods yet, but business as a whole has shown great resilience and an ability to innovate in some pretty trying times, which gives me great optimism as a whole.”

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