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3 Essential Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2022


Ecommerce is booming, but with increased opportunity comes increased competition. As a result, it’s never been more important for merchants to find ways to differentiate themselves. Recent global events have unquestionably taught us to expect the unexpected but one area that’s definitely set to shine in terms of importance and impact this year is content marketing. 

As we learn to live with the legacy of the pandemic, the role that content marketing plays in the communication of a brand’s ethos, values, community, and expertise is proving itself to be invaluable. A solid content marketing strategy helps brands reach across the digital divide to engage with customers and strengthen their image.

In this article, we’ll explore three key ecommerce trends identified by Shopify. We discuss what they might mean for merchants (and the agencies who support them) and learn how content marketing can provide a helping hand in navigating them throughout the year ahead.

Research shows that outbound advertising ROI is plummeting, as competition increases and pricing skyrockets. With digital spend sucking the life out of marketing budgets, brands are increasingly looking for other methods of promotion—and turning their attention to retention, over acquisition.

Over-dependence on paid spend to drive sales will catch up with brands in 2022, as margins are squeezed. In reaction to this growing trend, we’re seeing businesses turning to a more significant investment in brand building. Brand values are being placed front and center, and storytelling is starting to play an important role in attracting organic, well-aligned audiences.

This strategy is not without its potential pitfalls. It’s all too easy to jump on social justice and environmental trends that your brand doesn’t support in the long term. It's essential that businesses remember to stay authentic in how they communicate their brand values. Accusations of greenwashing or hypocrisy stick, so brands need to build their strategy around an honest portrayal of what their business genuinely stands for.

Embracing a mindful approach to business and marketing will not only help you to stand out and align with conscious consumers, your messaging will also set the tone for others to follow suit. Spread the mindful message and inspire others to up their game, multiply your impact and your revenue as a result.

What does this mean for merchants?

In 2022, merchants need to be thinking holistically about the way that they’re building up their brand’s reputation, positioning, and supporting story. Content marketing can (and should) offer a fantastic way to convey expertise, experience, and alignment with future customers, as well as inspiring loyalty in those who are already familiar with the business.

Slowly breaking the dependency on paid traffic won’t happen overnight, but a conscious effort should still be made to move towards more affordable, sustainable organic brand building. Investment into properly researched content strategies can support this, with targeted content that will appeal to carefully constructed customer personas. 

How can agencies help merchants navigate this trend?

When it comes to telling the story of your brand through content, the method of delivery is almost as important as the message itself. Agencies can help their merchants win by urging them to think creatively about the different ways that content can be shared and enabling this at every touchpoint of the customer journey.

Increasingly, brands are telling their stories via a wider range of media—content marketing can now be embedded in a much broader context. Innovation and novelty in content can help brands really stand out—be it smart mirrors in brick and mortar stores displaying outfit suggestions or relevant “non-product” content being delivered on internal search results pages of online stores. There’s so much scope to take your content further.

You might also like: 10 Ecommerce Trends That Will Define Online Shopping in 2022.

Our love affair with social media shows no signs of slowing down—and as an ever-increasing number of platforms become viable sales channels, ecommerce brands are shifting their attention and resources towards these vibrant, fast-moving, and highly creative spaces.

Social commerce is set to skyrocket in 2022. Shoppable content offers a lucrative new aspect to the customer experience, but the key to success for the brands that are able to harness the full power of social in the year to come will be a deep knowledge of their customer, and the way they show up across various platforms.

Clever content marketing can add value and increase customer “stickiness” here. Social media is a fantastic discovery tool that can drive new and highly qualified traffic, without the need for significant spending. But by weaving signposts to more long-form or practical content through their social media output, brands have the potential to entice customers towards their online stores, mailing lists, and, by extension, a longer-lasting relationship.

“Nearly half of TikTok users are members of Gen Z, and the other half is paying attention to what Gen Z cares about,” Steven Clift, CEO of GoodCarts, a tech-for-good app helping sustainable brands “recycle” post-purchase traffic into new purchases, explains. “TikTok offers a world of opportunity for young entrepreneurs launching brands—particularly those who are purpose-driven. Gen Z entrepreneurs as producers, not just as consumers being ‘greenwashed’, are finding that their peers are willing to put their money where their values are and support brands that make a real difference.”

What does this mean for merchants?

Social media will continue to do double duty for savvy merchants in 2022. In addition to offering an increasingly viable and profitable revenue stream, it will also represent a great opportunity for the kind of authentic brand building we’ve already discussed. 

It will be essential for merchants to correctly focus their efforts—learning more about their customers and various social platforms’ suitability for the kind of audience they’re seeking. Creating a dependable content marketing strategy will help brands to establish this kind of deep knowledge, identifying clear personas for easier ongoing targeting.

How can agencies help merchants navigate this trend?

The key to success for brands looking to make the most out of social commerce in 2022 will be the intelligent interpretation of their data—and this is where agencies can have a hugely positive impact. By helping brands to learn from the results they’re getting on social (from best-selling products to the campaigns and messaging driving the most traffic) agencies have the ability to steer them to optimized results, directly from Shopify.

The cookie has officially crumbled. As Chrome ends the use of third-party cookies, effectively sounding their death knell, businesses everywhere are starting to realize the need for new sources of data, and different ways of dealing with personalized customer experience.

When thinking about the best paths to success, it's important to remember that the end of third-party cookies ultimately comes as a direct result of an increased desire for consumer privacy. While our customers want us to respect their privacy, they still want a personalized experience—what’s required is respect and transparency. 

Enter zero-party data. Much like its close cousin, first-party data, zero-party data is collected by brands directly from their customers. Unlike first-party, however, zero-party data comes as the result of a direct request for information from the customer, who in turn, understands that their interaction will go on to help create a better experience. An example might be a style quiz that helps a customer build a capsule wardrobe. 

Zero-party data is typically rich in demographic information and personal attributes. When applied to your wider marketing strategy, and specifically, to your content marketing strategy you can start to deliver some truly personalized and deeply engaging customer experiences, providing hyper-relevant content to specific segments of your audience.

As focus is turning more towards retention for a lot of brands, a pivot to zero-party data could be just what’s needed to replace some of the access lost with third-party cookies.

“With the changing privacy landscape and an increase in consumer awareness around their data, it’s more important than ever to collect zero-party data from your customers,” Melissa Megginson Axtell, director of community marketing at Okendo, points out. “This type of data is willingly given by the customer through mechanisms like quizzes, product wishlists, and reviews. In exchange for providing that data, the customer receives a hyper-personalized experience and relevant product recommendations. When leveraged well, zero party data can help to build intelligent customer profiles and turn buyers into loyal customers.”

What does this mean for merchants?

Ultimately, a new way of working with their customers. The conversation about data needs to be above board and fully transparent now. The best results will come as the result of honest and open interactions that actively add value and interest to the way that customers interact with the brands they know and love.

We can safely assume that restrictions around privacy and consumer data will only get tighter this year. As this happens, the brands that thrive will be the ones who have built respectful relationships with their customers, and who have invested in the ongoing experience of their super fans—with customized content, as well as more direct and relevant messaging through a wide range of community-centric channels.

How can agencies help merchants navigate this trend?

It’s time to get merchants thinking creatively about their collection of zero-party data, and the way that this can inform their wider marketing efforts and personalization. With so many apps integrating with each other within the Shopify ecosystem, there’s a fantastic opportunity to leverage this data via smarter segmentation. Agencies can play an important role in highlighting this opportunity to the merchants they support. By harnessing the power of Shopify’s interconnecting network of third-party solutions, brands can create hard-working stacks that futureproof themselves for increasing restrictions and limitations.

The new year will inevitably throw us a few curveballs—the ecommerce landscape has accelerated so rapidly in recent times that it’s becoming harder and harder to accurately predict what progression will look like for the merchants we serve.

However, we can say with some confidence that a select few pillars of ecommerce success will never go out of style—the need to build genuine, lasting relationships with customers, the authentic and consistent portrayal of our brands across all channels, and the ability to provide relevant, interesting content that keeps our customers coming back for more and, most importantly, feeling connected to the brands that they love.

Content marketing has the ability to support merchants’ success in so many key areas of emerging opportunity, and the Shopify ecosystem sets the perfect stage for these stories to play out.

Learn more: Check out the Future of Commerce report for ecommerce trends, insights, and advice you need to succeed in 2022.

This article originally appeared on the Shopify Web Design and Development blog and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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