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5 trends to include in your 2022 international digital marketing strategy

Things change, but things stay the same.

That is how I often think about the evolution of the digital marketing industry and how marketers need to approach developing new strategies. The end of a year always fuels discussions on which big trends to expect and where to focus efforts for the next 12 months.

When preparing for a recent webinar on this topic, I was again reminded of this. All of the trends or opportunities I included are not new or particularly exciting; they are things that many of us will already be actively working on or at least aware of, but that does not make them less important or valid.

Here are some of the areas any business – big or small, local or international, B2B or B2C – should be thinking about for 2022.

Are these things on your radar? We ran a few audience polls during the webinar, the responses to which I have shared below. Let us know in the comments which, if any, are part of your 2022 strategy.

1. Web performance

This is definitely not a new topic, but as there is a continued focus from Google on Core Web Vitals and its Page Experience update will hit desktop websites in February, it continues to be important. Add to that the ever-increasing expectation from internet users of a fast, easy experience on every website or app they visit, and it is even more vital to get this right.

There is a combination of technical SEO, web development and UX needed to review, implement and test changes to improve the technical performance and usability of a website. You will need to address issues from how quickly it loads to how clear the navigation is, and there are many changes that can be made which will have a positive impact both on the experience a user has and also on search rankings.

Google’s John Müller did offer a word of caution, though: when using the range of free tools Google has to identify issues and improvement areas, do not focus on perfection! During the International Search Summit Global Virtual Edition in September 2021, he said that getting fixated on achieving a 100 score in tools like PageSpeed Insights can be a waste of resources. His advice is to focus on the biggest problem areas and ensure things are performing to a good level – but striving for those extra few points is unlikely to make much difference.

Here is what our webinar attendees said:

2. Multichannel marketing

Yet another topic that is not new, nor ground-breaking. Hopefully, you are reading this and wondering why I am including something so obvious. Whilst there are not many businesses who do not have a multichannel approach – it is almost impossible not to – how joined up those channels and that strategy are can vary dramatically.

Users have increasingly more interactions with a brand before they make a final decision or purchase a product or service. In our experience managing digital projects for global brands, B2B users have on average 50 touchpoints with a brand before purchase – 50!

It is important to be visible. It is important to be consistent.

Your strategy needs to take into account the whole digital ecosystem, as well as offline channels, and not just focus on one area. You also need to make sure the experience of your brand is consistent – everything from fonts and style to information and messaging. This will help to build brand awareness and also brand trust, which is crucial to winning and retaining customers.

Whilst it is important to be visible, a big mistake brands can make is thinking they need to be everywhere, or just following what seems to be the biggest trends in terms of platforms/channels to invest in.

Just because TikTok is the latest craze, or YouTube gets billions of views daily, does not mean you should rush there. The key to successful multichannel marketing is understanding who your customers are, where they spend time and what drives them.

3. Search intent

The diversity of the SERPs, the high expectations of users and the sheer volume of competition in most industries and markets means that standing out is more difficult than ever. Providing clear, accurate and digestible answers to questions will help visibility, build brand awareness and loyalty, and ultimately drive conversions.

Semrush has recently added a search intent function to its tool, categorising terms into four different categories of intent: informational, navigational, commercial and transactional. This categorisation can also be done manually and will help determine what kind of content will best meet the intent of the search.

And just as you should never translate keywords (instead, you should have a native speaker research them for every market), you also cannot translate intent. This will vary by country, whether it is due to different behaviours, market maturity, cultural influences and many other factors. Making assumptions and just replicating an approach can be dangerous and lead to poor performance and even a damaged reputation.

Bill Hunt gave an excellent talk on search intent and entities at the International Search Summit Global Virtual Edition digging into this topic, which I would highly recommend.

Here is what our webinar attendees said:

4. The year of the video?

Yes, here we go again. There is nothing new about video, but it is still surprising how many businesses still do not include it in their strategy.

There are so many stats that point to the importance of video. Here are a couple which really highlight its value:

All stats point to video being popular, shareable, useful and a key driver in helping customers in any industry, age range and market to engage with brands, gain information and make purchase decisions.

This does not mean you should rush out and start creating videos for the sake of it, though. There must always be a clear purpose and it should be adding value.

The cost of video creation can still feel like a barrier, but it does not have to be expensive. Depending on the type of video and the goal, inexpensive videos shot on a phone can sometimes be as – or more – effective than a big budget production.

Think about the type of video that could work for your business, be that product demos, testimonials, behind-the-scenes footage, social teasers and how they would enhance the experience of your target audience or express your content in a clearer or more engaging way.

If you have an international audience, do not forget to consider how best to serve them – either through dubbing or subtitling, or with new or adapted content specifically for each market.

Here is what our webinar attendees said:

5. Sustainability and accessibility

Being honest, I had not thought a huge amount about the environmental impact of the internet, so this statistic did take me a little by surprise:

And, for context, that is the same as the airline industry!

It is easy to think that the digital world does not really affect climate change much, but it does. Actions like improving the load speed of your website can make a difference, as it reduces the energy required to power it, and switching to a green hosting provider can play a role too.

It is also more important than ever to be inclusive with your web presence and ensure your content is accessible for all. Again, small things like subtitling your videos, ensuring a clean, well-structured layout and adding alt tags to images can vastly improve the experience for users who are hearing- or vision-impaired.

Consumers now have higher expectations when it comes to brands being socially responsible and will actively choose brands who make clear efforts to be sustainable and accessible.

Here is what our webinar attendees said:

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and every business will have different priorities and need to develop an approach that works for them. What will yours be?

If you are interested in hearing more detail, then you can see the full webinar recording here on our Self-learning platform.

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Gemma Houghton

Director of Marketing at Webcertain
Gemma has worked in international search marketing for over 15 years and is Director of Marketing at Webcertain, overseeing all marketing activities for the Group. She also organises and programmes Webcertain’s International Search Summit and International Social Summit, Barcelona-based conferences focusing on international and multilingual digital marketing. Gemma holds a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a Diploma in Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute, and a BA joint honours degree in French and German.

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