Cillian Bracken Conway
12th Apr, 2022

Digital marketing trends to expect in 2022

Every year always begins with hype around new marketing technologies and trends that will supposedly define the year ahead.

However, like the “You’ll never see me in that!” fashions that walk down a Parisian catwalk each season, some of the year’s digital marketing trends may take more than twelve months to become practical and relevant to most mainstream marketing strategies – particularly in more conservative industries like healthcare and finance.

Yes, we could talk about AI, the Internet of Things or interactive content, which are all definitely things right now. We could even follow the hype to feign excitement about the Metaverse or non-fungible tokens/NFTs.

But the trends most likely to be important to you are those that will genuinely impact digital marketing in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in 2022.

Forget the marketing and technology hype. What should you really be focusing on this year?

The cookie crumbles

While the end of the third-party cookie as a marketing tool has been mooted for a while now, the impact will begin to be felt in 2022.

Cookies have been a popular tool of digital marketers for decades, allowing them to track website visitors, capture data, target ads, measure campaign outcomes and personalise online experiences.

However, the technology isn’t without privacy concerns, which is why Google announced that its Chrome browser would no longer support third-party cookies by the end of 2021.

Things didn’t move quite so fast, and the final curtain is yet to fall. Still, the end is definitely near. And while Google Chrome isn’t the only browser out there, it remains the most popular browser in the market today, which is why marketers in every industry are scrambling to adjust their digital marketing plans.

In January 2022, Chrome claimed 63.06%  of the browser market worldwide. When you add in Safari (19.84%) and Firefox (4.18%) – both of which already block third-party cookies by default – more than 87% of internet users may soon be invisible to most conversion tracking, ad optimisation and retargeting tools – including the Facebook Pixel.

And this comes on top of the enhanced privacy features of Apple’s iOS 14, with all apps now required to ask users for permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies.

In a nutshell, it’s about to become harder to track and target potential customers beyond your own website. So, what then?

Instead of using third-party cookies to follow people around the web, you can use other digital marketing techniques to encourage the right people to actively choose to follow your brand instead.

And it seems this is exactly what many brands plan to do in 2022.

SEO gets technical

Search engine optimisation makes it easier for people to find your most relevant webpages and content when they’re actively looking for healthcare or pharmaceutical information.

In short, they come to you. And that means they’re also a more active and motivated visitor.

In a 2020 interview, then Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD, revealed the search engine handles more than 70,000 health-related search queries every minute. This equates to a whopping 1 billion searches every day – seven percent of the overall daily search volume!

So, it’s not surprising that healthcare and pharmaceutical companies see the bulk of their website traffic coming from organic search – 73% in 2017 and, following a pandemic, no doubt even higher today.

However, last year, Google began rolling out changes to how it ranks pages, to include page experience signals. These include what Google calls Core Web Vitals – page loading performance, interactivity and visual stability – as well as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS-security and intrusive interstitials (i.e. pop-ups.)

Therefore, good keyword-rich content, important though it is, may not be enough to maintain your search engine rankings in 2022. You’re also going to need to improve your technical SEO, ensuring your website is fast, responsive and secure across all devices.

Find out how S-26 Infant Formula doubled its organic search traffic 200% with technical and content SEO. [Link]

Email marketing is back (but did it ever really go away?)

With in-store shopping unlikely to return to pre-2020 levels, at least for a while yet, email marketing may still be one of the most reliable ways to stay in contact with past and potential customers.

As recently as February 2022, a GetApp survey found that 84% of marketers believe email marketing is critical to business success.

Meanwhile, the results of another GetApp survey shared with Hubspot last year suggests email marketing may even be on the rise in 2022 – with 23% of marketing experts planning to invest in email marketing software in response to Google’s dunking of cookies.

The good news is that the APAC region has perhaps the highest email marketing engagement in the world, according to recent research by Campaign Monitor, with a click through rate of 3.0% and a click-to-open rate of 13.4%.

Conversely, APAC also has the highest unsubscribe rate as well (0.3%), suggesting that marketers should never assume loyalty from subscribers but continually demonstrate why they deserve it.

Interestingly, as an industry, the benchmark figures for Healthcare Services are an almost perfect match for APAC’s above average stats.

Open Rates Click-Through Rates Click to Open Rates Unsubscribe Rates
Healthcare Services: 23.7% 3.0% 13.4% 0.3%
Global Average: 21.5% 2.3% 10.5% 0.1%

Of course, more marketers doing more email marketing means more competition in the inbox – which is why you need an email marketing strategy more likely to stand out and drive clicks.

And a website with a content program your target audience will happily subscribe to.

Content marketing – the fuel for your digital strategy

A big reason people choose to subscribe to email lists is for good content. Meanwhile, the SEO footprint of your content also serves as a honeypot to attract new readers, who may then become subscribers.

And with the changes to third party cookies, brands will need to find new ways to attract people to their website or other owned properties.

Content marketing is no longer a nice to have, but a must have.

No wonder 61% of B2C marketers and 66% of B2B marketers expect their content marketing budgets to increase in 2022.

One of the most successful healthcare content marketing programs out there has to be Cleveland Clinic’s multi-award winning Health Essentials website.

Websites publishing articles targeting common health concerns are nothing new, which is why the success of Health Essentials is so impressive – attracting millions of visitors every month.

The quality of the writing is high, with all advice provided by inhouse experts – thereby showcasing the expertise of Cleveland Clinic’s medical staff rather than an anonymous writer’s unproven expertise or unsourced online research. This also creates trust and familiarity with the brand.

The regular flow of content also allows Cleveland Clinic to publish topical content – such as detailed information on COVID-19 – that not only captures clicks when people are most interested but also positions the brand as a source to be referenced in mainstream news articles.

Health Essentials has become so successful that Cleveland Clinic now considers its content as a product in its own right. The content team which was once embedded within marketing now drives revenue as its own independent part of the business.

Stay ahead of the digital trends

While digital marketing allows any business – large or small – to reach online consumers, rapidly changing tech trends mean that competitiveness depends on adapting quickly and decisively.

However, the core function of healthcare brands isn’t to continually research and experiment with new digital marketing techniques. Instead, it makes sense to partner with a business that does have digital marketing as its core function.

If you’re looking for expert advice and tested tactics to bring your marketing strategy to life, talk to Vine Digital about your 2022 goals.