As we enter a New Year, it’s always a good idea to look at what might change. As I write this, the world is being pummelled by the Omicron wave of COVID-19, but I’m actually quite optimistic. I also think that there is a lot of exciting things to look forward to, including hopefully a return to a slightly more normal world.

So I’ve put together 22 things I think marketers should be thinking about in 2022. To make it a bit easier, I’ve broken the list up into sections.

Your Approach to Marketing in 2022

  1. Show a human face to your business. This isn’t new, but the one thing COVID has taught us is that we’re all people, and organisations don’t get a chance to opt out of the challenges faced by individuals. Whether you think about companies struggling to provide services because of staff shortages caused by the pandemic, or retain people who want to work for an organisation with more meaning, companies must become more human to succeed in 2022.
  2. You’re going to need to really care in 2022. The pandemic has been tough and so if you don’t care, you’re going to struggle to build positive perceptions about your brand. ESG (environmental, social and governance) is going to be important, but so will be truly caring about your customers and wanting to make life a little bit better for them.
  3. Have some fun. The last two years were not fun. We are all tired, stressed and depressed. B2B organisations that can bring a smile to the face of their audience are going to have a huge advantage, so look for ways to make your customers and prospects happy.
  4. Face-to-face will start to return in a big way. Oh how I hope this is true! The WHO is forecasting that the worst of the pandemic will be over this year, and so we will see more and more face-to-face interactions. Make the most of them, and you’ll be successful: it’s almost inevitable that the majority of your audience is looking for a more personal, human contact with your organisation and nothing beats face-to-face.
  5. Don’t tell your audience what to do. After the pain of isolation and lockdowns, your audience doesn’t want to be told what to do. Create your campaigns and content so that they can choose to engage with what matters to them, in the format they prefer, rather than forcing them to read just one long PDF.

Your Content in 2022

  1. Don’t create content with no value. As the world returns to normal, we suddenly have a lot more options of what we can do with our time. So don’t bother creating content that isn’t valuable: no one will waste time reading it.
  2. Think like a publisher. You need your audience to want to come back to your content time and time again. It’s not about selling them on the first landing page of the website, it’s about building a long-term, trust-based relationship. So you’ll need to think like a publisher, rather than a salesperson.
  3. Use the right tools. Content should be beautiful, clear and easy to consume. That means not everything needs to be a page of text on the web or a PDF. Look to new tools to create more engaging experiences, and different formats to grab attention. Surely, we don’t have to say that video is now a “thing” for B2B marketers?
  4. Be inspirational. Hey, we’re slowly beating the greatest pandemic for many, many years. As we emerge from this dark time, your customers are going to feel that they can achieve anything. Help them do it!

Data and Direct Marketing in 2022

  1. Data is king. Without a doubt, a lot of marketers found they struggled to reach their target audiences at the start of COVID because they focussed on tactics that just didn’t work in a work-from-home pandemic. Knowing how to reach your audience directly is invaluable, and so building data is going to be a key focus for many during 2022.
  2. Focus on the audience, not the tool. OMG! I see so many campaigns on marketing automation platforms that feel like they are a gymnastics display of how complex a workflow can be created. Think about the audience, rather than the tool’s capability, and you’ll probably find a much more elegant and effective solution.
  3. Love email as a channel. Although the “death of email” is predicted more often than any other channel, it’s still here. And email works. In 2022 the most successful marketers will use email to have almost individual conversations with customers and prospects, making a real attempt to focus on the engaged contacts, and removing unengaged contacts from the conversation (at Napier, we get over 50% open rates on our email newsletter by not spamming people who are not interested). The sooner we stop moaning about our email and make opening the inbox a joy for our audience, the better.
  4. The answer isn’t always a webinar (but webinars are here to stay). As people return to working from offices, webinars will no longer be the only go-to tactic for marketers that want to have a high-engagement activity and don’t have any creative ideas. But [good] webinars work, so pick the right topics and generate great content. Just don’t insist that you need to create a new webinar every week or month, irrespective of whether you have anything interesting to say.

Advertising and Paid Media in 2022

  1. Programmatic isn’t the universal solution. Let’s be honest, programmatic advertising is pretty good compared to trade media. It’s cheap. It can be highly targeted. BUT it’s not always the best solution, particularly when looking to find new contacts in a very niche audience. Whether its retargeting or search engine marketing, programmatic advertising is going to be a big part or 2022, but be ready for a resurgence in trade media advertising too.
  2. More native ads, particularly from “old school” publishers. This is something that must happen in 2022. In the past, it was common for printed publications to carry advertorials, which anyone under 25 would call a native ad. Yet as we moved online, the publications that were primarily print focussed didn’t switch this potentially valuable revenue stream to the digital world, even though digital start-ups were doing a lot of native advertising. This is going to change in 2022, and you’ll see many more native advertising options from B2B trade publishers.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in 2022

  1. ABM is no longer a “thing”. I see 2022 as the year when ABM no longer is something we have to talk about in hushed tones of reverence. ABM is here to stay, but will be seen as something every B2B marketing team should be doing. In fact ABM will become one of the primary ways you target any campaign, and even smaller prospects will expect technology to give them a level of personalisation that required a huge amount of manual effort just a few years ago.

Media and Influencer Relations in 2022

  1. The rise of the superstar B2B journalist. I think this could be something that really changes trade media in 2022. Yes, there have been superstar journalists before (no one better than Bob Pease, but I’ll also give one of my other favourites, David Manners a mention too), but frequently their stardom was primarily among the companies they covered than the readers. I think this will start changing in 2022 as readers look for content they can trust.
  2. The amazing growth of LinkedIn starts to slow. Yes, I’m really suggesting that the B2B social media platform isn’t going to do as well in 2022. There are several factors around this: the increased noise on the platform, the reduction in time for LinkedIn as home working decreases and the continued increase in monetisation on the platform (from both Microsoft and users). Don’t get me wrong, nothing is going to challenge LinkedIn in 2022 as the top B2B social media platform, but even rocket ships stop accelerating at some point!
  3. B2B influencers become… umm … influential. I’m a realist when it comes to B2B influencers: you’re not going to have engineers working on military systems documenting everything they design on TikTok. In fact confidentiality means that the role and impact of an influencer in B2B is always going to be limited. But in 2022, I see a huge growth in B2B influencers, particularly in sectors where there have been few influencers until now. The desire of the most talented people in every industry to indulge in a bit of personal branding is going to drive an exciting growth of inevitably very geeky influencers.
  4. B2B PR will be more creative. It’s not that B2B hasn’t been creative in the past – do you remember Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo trucks. That was in 2013, over six years ago! But in 2022 more B2B companies will realise that creative campaigns that break through the noise of all those bland competitor campaigns can generate fabulous RoI, and we’ll see more and more companies running campaigns around eye-catching, attention-grabbing stunts.

Analytics and Reporting in 2022

  1. Getting “real” numbers will be harder than ever. You no longer control the privacy granted to your audience: they have control now. Open rates were never a good guide to who read your email, and privacy changes (in Apple Mail in particular) make those numbers even less reliable. Malware bots create fake clicks on emails. Browser privacy settings limit tracking. Please can we stop imagining that the numbers we get from martech tools are right? They are estimates at best.
  2. The end of vanity metrics. OK, this is more a plea than a prediction. But please can we stop with the vanity metrics and focus on the impact we make to our organisations’ businesses? A click or impression is meaningless. A sales or enquiry is much more valuable. Let’s try to achieve these meaningful goals, even if they are much harder than getting a click.


That’s it! 22 things you need to think about in 2022.

But wait… haven’t I missed something?

Well I’ve not said anything about AI. It’s not because I don’t believe AI will have an impact; it’s because for most marketers we won’t really have to worry about it. Let’s face it, if you run Google Ads campaigns, you are confidently deploying AI. Do you worry about how it works? No. I think this will be true of most applications of AI: it will be in the background, making our campaigns deliver better results, but we just won’t have to get involved in the nuts and bolts of how it works. And let’s face it, that’s probably a good thing.

I’ve also not mentioned NFTs. That could be a mistake as they have the potential to impact a wide range of aspects of marketing, from ownership of content to selling access to future products. But my gut says that 2022 won’t be the year we see them having an impact in our relatively conservative B2B world. I’ll be interested to see if I’m right!