Leading Digital Transformation

2022 trends: From acquisition to artificial intelligence our experts look to the future

2021 came along with a new set of challenges. In the past year, companies have had to pivot in ways that have brought varying levels of success and sustainability. As we head into 2022, we asked our panel of experts to predict the trends that will dominate the industry and the strategies that will guide you to success in the new year.

Trend: The rise of combining direct mail and digital to optimize campaign effectiveness

Sal Pecoraro: Let’s talk about screen time. I think the old adage is proving true, too much of anything is not a good thing. Since 2020, people have spent so much time on screens, zoom calls, social media, etc. And through it all they are bombarded with digital ads and banners. While digital is still a very valuable engagement, I think some people are getting a little burnt out on this and gravitating to other channels. Direct mail & catalog will start having a bit of a renaissance. In fact, studies have found that 80-90% of direct mail gets opened.1 If you take this powerful channel and add an email tie in to help promote the mail piece or follow-up to it to promote response, you’re going to increase your engagement and conversion rates. Ultra-high-end direct mail with virtual and augmented reality may get noticed as well with the focus on the metaverse. Even augmented reality (AR) and QR code advertising on targeted TV may see an increase. The possibilities are endless and the combination of online and offline advertising is definitely the way to go in 2022.

Trend: The growth and evolution of cloud-based solutions

Michael Krueger: The growing adoption of cloud-native solutions has allowed companies, like Data Axle that are data science-first, to be less susceptible to the risks of the pandemic. The nature of the cloud has also provided companies the freedom to increase the search for quality data scientists beyond borders and promote a more globally-diverse team, which I expect will continue in 2022. We have had tremendous success growing our own team within our new Pune, India office this year.

Cloud services technologies (infrastructure, applications, data analytics) and cloud-native computing will be at the heart of the digital transformation of 2022 and will take center stage moving forward. Speed, storage, rapid computing time, and quick extraction of information are the name of the game.

Companies that embrace cloud technologies and native computing provide more cost-effective solutions and larger storage. In addition to the major cloud players, such as AWS, Microsoft, and Google, there will be a shift towards smaller specialized public cloud players who offer features such as competitive pricing, special functionalities, fusion cloud deployments, and usability. Investing in cloud technologies will continue to open new doors and present opportunities for tech-savvy companies in 2022.

Trend: Advertisers are using data to go the extra mile and stand out from the crowd

Sal Pecoraro: Getting noticed and being relevant is going to be tough in 2022. People tend to focus on the businesses that closed during the pandemic – but according to our data, more businesses opened than closed from March 2020 to August of 2021. [Download the playbook for the full breakdown]

I think this has always been an issue and it gets more difficult every year as every space gets more and more crowded. Having a great brand with a resounding message – not just good marketing for your products – but tied to what you stand for, groups you are trying to help, or employees, etc., is important. Black Rifle Coffee is an example – in the extremely crowded coffee market, this little start-up company founded and run by military vets a few years ago with 19 employees has created a great brand and tied it to a goal of hiring 100,000 vets. They just went public and were valued at $1.7Billion – and they make good coffee too.

If you’re thinking, “I can’t emulate that kind of success,” I’m here to tell you that you can. What you need to do is use data-driven insights to learn what’s important to your target audience. You can supplement the first-party data you have on your consumers to figure out what their values are, what their lifestyles look like, which channels they are active on and use that information to create campaigns that resonate with them on a deeper level. In 2022, be the type of company your target audience wants to support and engage with.

Trend: An increased investment in lead generation

Ken Stout: Lead generation is going to be center stage in 2022. Lead gen is the lifeblood of sales and as Sal mentioned, companies need to go the extra mile to wow their prospects. And it starts with using the tools at your disposal- namely, data, to identify your total addressable market and identify and reach international prospects. Using data modeling to identify your most likely and most profitable prospects is going to save you a lot of time in 2022.

Companies also need to start thinking “always-on” instead of traditional start and stop campaigns. This especially holds true for clients with longer sales cycles. “Always-on” campaigns are more audience-focused, meaning they take into account the needs of your audience as opposed to your need to tout a new product feature or service.

Trend: Advanced artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) adoption

Michael Krueger: The world we live in is full of inefficiencies and we continue to look to AI to solve those highly manual and highly repetitive (typically high data volume) jobs. Likewise, insights can be garnered from algorithms examining patterns of past behavior to generate models that are used as recommendation engines to persuade consumers to take action. This mix of automation and personalization will continue to evolve as models become more and more precise.

Common examples of AI include Amazon (product recommendations), Netflix (video selections) and Spotify (music selections). These same intelligent algorithms will be powering analytic functions, such as data exploration, segmentation, or modeling. Analytics influences measurable KPIs that lend to strategic decision making from a/b testing or trigger alerts. The humans doing this work, scouring through hundreds (if not thousands) of signals and endless worksheets of marketing metrics will reap the benefit of automated machine learning. Machines not just processing and analyzing data, but prescribing next steps that do not require human influence.

In doing so, we are able to invest time uncovering hidden insights by using AI more productively (no longer being satisfied with just high-volume efficiency) to drive insights that orchestrate new solutions and experiences. Rather than simply stopping at recommending what products to buy, you’ll arrive home from a hard day at the office with the household items delivered by Amazon sitting at your doorstep that you didn’t realize you actually needed.

At Data Axle, we’re infusing ML models across our service offerings. With more precise, real time predictions that enhance our core data, our clients will reap the benefit of accessing higher quality, meaningful attributes for their multichannel marketing strategies and customer intel. Our teleresearch teams remain in a critical role to provide feedback for reinforcement learning to allow our models, and consequently, our data to continue to improve. Our data science team also continues to be consumers of our own data regarding the design and development of custom deep learning models on behalf of our clients that need help identify quality prospective customers and leads to convert.

Trend: The rise of the one-stop-shop

Ken Stout: Companies are asking more from their solutions providers. They want a true partner who can provide a holistic approach to overcoming their roadblocks. Companies need their data partners to provide them clean, accurate data as well as, data hygiene, lead generation, intent, display for branding and retargeting, creative guidance, campaign deployment, etc. In 2022, Data Axle offers all of those services and more.

Don’t miss the rest of our 2022 predictions! You can catch the other articles here and here.

Want to know more about how Data Axle can help get your 2022 off to a strong start? Contact us.