January 3, 2023
Industry Insight
Curated Team

The Top 8 2023 Digital Marketing Trends

More and more brands will be using TikTok-style shorts to grab and keep their audience's attention. Savvy marketers will look for new ways to link ‘digital’ and ‘in-real-life’ to get the best of both worlds. And on the B2B front, we are likely to see greater use of employee advocacy to humanise messaging and widen brand reach.

These are just a few of the 2023 digital marketing trends we expect to see more of in the following year. As businesses respond to shifting buyer attitudes and up-and-coming media platforms, here’s our take on the trends to watch out for, along with tips on how to take advantage…

1. More breakthroughs for TikTok

Up until now, many businesses have been happy to sit back and see whether TikTok really does have legs, or whether we were dealing with the next Vine. Well, the verdict is in - and it’s clear that this platform is almost impossible to ignore as a potential marketing channel in 2023.

TikTok is expected to have 2 billion users by this time next year. And what should really make marketers sit up and listen is just how much those users love spending time on the app: an average of 95 minutes per-day exploring entertainment, humour, new ideas, taking part in communities and getting answers to questions. 

Yes, but our customer base isn’t 15-year-olds…” A good point; but did you know that almost a third of TikTok’s users are 20-29, while around 17% are 30-39? Usage of this platform is growing among millennials; i.e. precisely the people who are stepping into decision-making roles. This helps explain why, alongside consumer brands, companies such as Sage Accounting, Shopify and Adobe all have a thriving TikTok presence. 

Would a presence on TikTok benefit your brand? For further consideration, check out our guide

2. For video, think short-form

TikTok shows just how much audiences love short-form video, and its rise has led to the introduction of ‘TikTokification’ elements on other platforms, too (Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts).  Short-form video has proven a really effective way of grabbing their attention, so it comes as no surprise that 90% of marketers already using video shorts plan to increase or maintain their investment in 2023, while 1 in 5 will start using it for the first time.

How can I use short videos in my digital marketing?
+ Consider user-generated Tik Toks, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts for building credibility (80% of people are more likely to buy on the basis of content from real customers).

+Avoid the overt sales pitch, and aim for entertainment, humour and relatable points of view.

+This to-the-point format is also great for life hacks and conveying snippets of precise information. Look carefully at the type of questions your customers typically ask, and consider whether a video short is the best way of providing answers.

3. Influencer marketing goes live stream

Host a live online event on Instagram or Facebook. Get an influencer on board to unveil and try out your new product. Provide the opportunity for viewers to ask questions in real-time, as well as the chance to purchase directly. 

This is live stream shopping. It’s already huge in China, (a single event hosted by Austin Li Jiaqi - aka The Lipstick King - resulted in $1.7bn in sales in a 12-hour live stream). UK retailers (e.g. Ted Baker and M&S) are starting to experiment with it, too. For instance, a furniture retailer, Snug Sofa ran a live stream quiz show hosted by Katherine Ryan, which reeled in 30,000 sign-ups and a 450% growth in sales.

This format, blending interaction with personalities, and direct engagement with brands, along with the pull of a ‘one-time-only’ live occasion illustrates the potential of digital for creating memorable shopping experiences. It will be really interesting to see how far it gains traction in 2023. 

4. Google to reward people-focused content

Q3 2022 saw Google roll out its “Helpful Content Update”; part of a wider effort to reward original, valuable content “created by people, for people” in its search rankings. In light of this, 2023 should be a year to optimise SEO strategies to focus on the user experience.

How can I improve my SEO content plan?

+ Stick to your niche to reinforce your authority and expertise. Straying outside of this may make Google think you are more focused on search rankings than human readers.

+Give your website a clear focus. Google has the capacity to crawl the site to determine its prime focus. Trying to cover absolutely everything may lead the algorithm to conclude you are more intent on capturing search traffic than providing useful information.

+Optimise the wider user experience. This involves analysing typical user pain points and providing answers to their questions, providing clear navigation, and avoiding ‘ad clutter’ and slow load times.  

5. Social responsibility and sustainability will take centre stage

2022 Salesforce research suggested that three-quarters of customer buying decisions are now influenced by environmental practices. Two-thirds of consumers have moved away from brands whose values did not align with their own. In less than a decade, social responsibility has gone from being a fringe issue to a significant factor in customers’ buying behaviour. In 2023, we expect more brands to weave their social and environmental values into their value proposition and messaging. 

How should I incorporate social responsibility into marketing?

+ Forrester predicts that the number of “active green” consumers (i.e. those with strong ‘environment-friendly’ preferences will increase by 50% in 2023. Update your buyer research to determine what particular environmental and social responsibility issues resonate most with your customers.

+ Be authentic. Consider ways to showcase your ethical credentials through your messaging, but avoid greenwashing; i.e. claims that are misleading or unverifiable.

+Avoid “newsjacking”. This is where businesses piggyback on trending topics and issues. If the issue is not linked to your brand, messaging can come across as jarring or insensitive.  

6. Blending digital with in-the-flesh

The pandemic saw the temporary ditching of old-school B2B sales and marketing conferences. And yes; logging into a product launch webinar or virtual town hall is super easy. So why go back to the old way of doing things? 

It’s because there’s an inevitable lack of enthusiasm about doing absolutely everything online. We still sometimes want a sense of occasion, the opportunity to mingle face-to-face; along with the chance of meeting our next big prospect totally by accident.  

In 2023, we predict real-life events to come back in a pretty big way. However, we also expect businesses to be much more innovative in how they are conducted; blending the ‘best bits’ of digital and in-person marketing. Hybrid events - hosted in person and available online - are the obvious example. Other hybrid tactics to consider include using social channels or loyalty schemes to distribute tokens to be cashed in for VIP rewards at the event, or use of short videos to publish snippet highlights as part of your follow-up campaign. 

7. Employee advocacy makes more sense than ever

When budgets are tight, it’s a case of making the most of existing and often overlooked resources. This is why we think 2023 could be a huge year for employee advocacy in both b2b and b2c sectors; i.e. getting employees involved directly in the promotion of your brand.

The reach of your employees’ combined networks is almost certainly way wider than your company’s own presence. Getting employees to share content (and better still, produce some of it themselves) is essentially free advertising. It humanises the brand and adds a layer of credibility that’s pretty much impossible to achieve through corporate messaging alone. 

How can you get employees to advocate for your brand?

+ Outline your goals. Defining what type of content you want employees to generate and share so that it aligns with your wider content strategy and avoids mixed messaging.
Encourage buy-in.

+Approach those of your staff who are “social enthusiasts” in the first instance.

+ Stress the benefits of employee advocacy on a personal level (e.g. the opportunity for individuals to expand their authority and network reach).

+ Invite suggestions and get employees actively involved in the content creation process. They may have useful insight into what will engage their audience.

8. Marketers seek to justify their digital spend

With the cost of living crisis likely to linger well into 2023, many brands see the strategic advantage of maintaining - and maybe even increasing - their digital marketing spends to strengthen brand awareness and keep customers on board. However, with budgets under pressure, marketers can expect plenty of scrutiny from the board level: i.e. attention on what you are spending, where you are spending it, and whether it represents best value. 

How can you demonstrate and optimise digital marketing ROI?
+ Particularly for paid campaigns, ensure you are able to track return on ad spend (ROAS). Measuring individual campaigns enables you to spend more wisely; scaling up your most profitable activities and cutting back on underperforming ones.  

+ Customer priorities have changed. Consumers and business buyers are likely to be more risk averse, with factors such as good value, quality and fitness-for-purpose becoming more important than ever. Ensure your customer research - including keyword research - is up-to-date. Consider optimising content to reflect these shifting buyer priorities.

+ Apply the same analytical approach to your influencer marketing projects. Metrics to track here include reach and impressions, audience engagement and audience growth rate. Simple technical hacks (custom URLs, for instance) make it easier to monitor direct traffic coming from specific sources. This enables you to identify and focus resources on the influencer partnerships that are generating the most revenue.  

Want to use these digital marketing trends for your business in 2023?

For targeted help and advice on leveraging the latest trends, speak to one of our consultants and we’ll get to work developing your big-picture solution — always backed by data. From channel optimisation to market research to national campaigns, we make digital perform for you.

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