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Time is now to examine these 8 online business marketing trends for 2022

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

It may not feel like it, but 2022 is here — and with this new year, there are new trends that digital marketers need to stay on top of.

The beginning of the year is especially important for Wine Country businesses. For many, it’s the slow season. Winter weather means fewer tourists dining out and fewer appointments in the tasting rooms.

For North Bay marketers and small-business owners, this also means that it’s the perfect time to take a step back and think about how new digital marketing tools.

I talked with a few small business owners and marketers in the Bay Area about what digital marketing trends they think will grow in the new year.

Digital trend No. 1: Video, video, video

It’s going on year six of video’s being one of the most talked-about trends in digital marketing.

As people get tired of Facebook’s and Instagram’s oversaturation of users and brands, many are gravitating to TikTok.

And I’m not just talking about kids! Every niche can be found on the video-sharing app, including Northern California travel. (Follow @whimsysoul to see how she explores both Sonoma and Napa counties.)

This means more short-form, vertical videos and showing your face in front of the camera. Even if you don’t plan on jumping on TikTok for your marketing, marketers and small-business owners who are used to being behind the camera should look into how they can talk directly to their audiences through video. (Here’s some of my earlier advice on making business videos for social media.)

Right now is a great time to start practicing being on-camera and telling your story.

Or find someone in your business who would be a good spokesperson for the brand.

Digital trend No. 2: Lifestyle imagery

In addition to video, the ongoing need for imagery for social media posts means that brands need to continuously look at revamping their lifestyle imagery. Photos involving people enjoying wine and food in a public setting often get more engagement than the perfectly posed bottle shots.

In fact, operators of Outshinery, a digital company that provides bottle and lifestyle photography for the alcohol industry, says that their clients are requesting “lifestyle images” more than any other asset.

“Lifestyle images help tell the story of products in real life versus the old-school ‘buy a bottle’ or ‘free shipping’ sales mentality, because seeing people — bonus points if those people are diverse in terms of age, skin color, gender, etc. — makes consumers see themselves in the brand, which builds trust,” Laurie Millotte, founder of Outshinery, says.

Digital trend No. 3: Increased personal connections

Speaking of trust…consumers will expect even more personal connections with brands and retailers in the future.

All of the Bay Area marketers and small business owners with whom I talked agreed that this is one of the best ways for any brand to strengthen themselves as we move forward in this digital world.

It’s important for brick and mortar businesses to hire customer service teams for in-person experiences, but as we migrate to selling more online, digital customer experience teams are also a necessity.

Allison Ball, founder of Allison Ball Consulting (alliball.com), talked about what personalized connections could look like in a virtual space, “This might be customer support through voice or video messages back and forth via direct messages (DMs) as consumers voice questions about products or usage, or providing opportunities for consumers to connect live with retailers.”

2020 and 2021 were the years of livestreaming on social media, and 2022 will see that taken further.

Allison suggested a “live Valentine's Day dinner hotline to answer questions about cooking romantic meals, or personalized wine recommendations to pair with a home-cooked meal, which could make sense from either a food or wine brand.”

Livestreaming isn’t going anywhere. In fact, 63% of millennials watch livestreamed content regularly. And there's reason to believe that this will continue to climb.

Social media engagement tools such as Agorapulse, Sprout Social, Buffer Engagement, and the Facebook Business Manager make sure brands respond to every social media comment or DM without having to scroll through the app and search natively.

Digital trend No. 4: Shopping on social media

Over the past few years, e-commerce has grown and consumers have become more comfortable with purchasing products from individual retailers (versus buying everything through Amazon).

It’s easier than ever to create your own online store on your website. Continuing to grow likely will be e-commerce features like being able to pay in increments; integration with payment platforms such as Amazon Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay; and subscription-based models (similar to a custom wine club).

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

Read Shana’s past columns.

For food producers or even restaurants, building a commerce-based website using Squarespace, WordPress, or Shopify is a fruitful and straightforward process. For wine brands, there are many options for direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce platforms.

And with more options for selling through websites, brands that aren’t alcohol- or cannabis-related can market those products on Instagram/Facebook and link to products in Instagram or TikTok bios. (I don’t recommend using a social media bio integrator.)

Digital trend No. 5: Marketing automation

With the rise of e-commerce and appointment-based winery visits, marketing automation can help brands with ongoing contact with customers. It takes a bit of time to implement automations like email workflows, retargeting, analytics, and social media scheduling, but once you’ve got them up and running you can focus on other parts of your business and continue to grow.

“Wineries were able to drive growth throughout 2020 by throwing resources at digital marketing and e-commerce. Now that wineries have reopened, there are a lot of other priorities to manage, so those that can automate those activities will be well-positioned for the future,” says Andrea Smalling, chief marketing officer, WineDirect.

When it comes to automation in person, QR codes are here to stay. Some trendsetters have been using QR codes for 10-plus years, but they didn’t really become a big part of mainstream marketing efforts until phones were able to use them natively within the camera app.

Now, because of social distancing during the pandemic, QR codes can be found at many venues. Some restaurants even take marketing automation further by automating the entire process of purchase, where customers can purchase food or wine through an app and have it delivered directly to their table.

Digital trend No. 6: Consumer data analysis

When I talked to Andrea, we discussed that data is the key to making personalized digital communications happen.

“We all get so many communications these days, via email, text, all the socials, everywhere! People tune out (and unsubscribe!) if communication feels irrelevant or cold. But receiving any type of communication that seems tailor-made for you (referencing past purchases, for example) can be so much more motivating and make you feel good about buying.”

Digital data through a singular dashboard like Whatagraph that inputs data from every social media platform, along with digital ad platforms can help brands look holistically at what is working and what businesses need to fix.

WineDirect also has a singular platform that provides their ecommerce and Wine Club clients the ability to easily see key trends and growth opportunities to make those personalized connections, specific to the wine industry.

Digital trend No. 7: Continued focus on email marketing

In the past, wineries or restaurants would have a physical sign-up sheet for their email lists. Now, the options are endless for capturing addresses. (Read more about creating a landing page that makes sense for your business.)

“With updated privacy settings and limited ability to track and gather consumer behavior, it will be even more important to ‘own’ your online contacts and communicate with them directly. We'll see brands and retailers embrace their email list as they realize how much value there is in contacting their audience directly, without hoping an algorithm is in their favor,” says Alison Ball.

Digital trend No. 8: Caring about the people and ingredients in products

Customers want transparency in the brands they choose to give their money to, and brands who utilize social media platforms to share their message have an easier time finding an audience that cares about the same issues.

It isn’t just about sharing a story or message, however. Laurie from Outshinery noted, “The wine industry is primed for more interactive visuals. Wineries will be integrating QR codes and other elements on labels that put information into the customer’s hands.”

“Customers want to see more visibility of the back labels, including values and certifications that may appear there. Think sustainability efforts, B Corp status, women-owned, etc.,” she said. By incorporating these values into all aspects of your digital (and in-person) marketing, customers can make informed decisions on the brands they want to support.

As the economy opens back up, marketers face a landscape disrupted by a pandemic, new business models, and hybrid events (in-person and live streaming), to name a few. Utilizing data and marketing automation tools provided by digital platforms, brands can focus on telling their story to customers in a personalized way using lifestyle imagery, video, email marketing, and more.

By taking these eight trends into account, businesses will be able to stay ahead of the curve.

Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.

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