Marketing has faced countless changes over the past two years, and customers today expect brands to provide them with a personalized, exceptional experience across all channels. With an impending recession and continued inflation on the horizon, consumer spending habits continue to evolve and change, and marketing professionals must grow and adjust along with them.
Here are the top marketing trends brands should watch in 2023.
Social Media Influencers Will Continue to Influence
According to HubSpot's 2023 Marketing Strategy & Trends Report, influencer marketing will continue to grow its high ROI. The report indicated that over 1 in 4 marketers currently leverage influencer marketing, which provides the second highest ROI of any trend. The report predicted that influencer marketing will see significant growth in 2023 with 17% of marketers planning to invest in it for the first time. Additionally, 89% of marketers using influencer marketing will increase or maintain their investment next year.
Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO and co-founder of Traackr, an influencer marketing platform, told CMSWire that although overall marketing budgets may decrease in 2023 with a looming recession, much like the HubSpot report, he believes that brands will actually increase spending in influencer marketing. "What we already experienced during the pandemic — when resources were scarce but the ROI on influencer marketing was stronger than traditional digital media — will be further cemented by a recession.” Assayag said that brands have the proof points they need to move budget to influencer marketing as a more effective and accessible means of communication with consumers.
That’s not to say that everyone agrees.
Megan Conahan, executive vice president at Direct Agents, a digital marketing agency, told CMSWire that as streaming companies come to terms with the new reality of slower growth and churn, consumers will start turning elsewhere for content — and that place is social media. Conahan believes that with extra eyeballs going toward social platforms, creators will shine, their content will get more views and their following will grow.
“Notice I said creators and not influencers," she said. "Influencers are going to be left back in 2022. We have seen an erosion of trust in influencers who will partner with any brand that pays. With an increased focus on authenticity, influencers have no place here.”
Conahan said that creators will be a big part of brands’ future. “Identify your target market and find creators that align with your target — ensure your 2023 is spent testing into each of these creators and creating lasting partnerships.”
Related Article: Amid Controversy, Will Marketers Change Their Influencer Game?
Local Marketing Continues to Dominate
Searches from mobile devices for businesses “near me” have increased exponentially over the past few years. From 2016 to 2018, Google statistics showed that searches for “shopping near me” had grown over 200%. According to a 2022 report from SafariDigital, 97% of users searched online to find a local business. The importance of local marketing has never been greater, and in 2023, the focus on local will continue.
Linda Pophal, founder and owner at Strategic Communications, a marketing strategy solutions provider, told CMSWire that in 2023 there will be a continued focus on local marketing. “Even the big brands are trying to gain traction in local markets and compete against local businesses that, perhaps surprisingly, have an edge because their content can be more specific and relevant to local geographies and, therefore, rewarded by Google,” said Pophal. “Brands with multiple locations need to localize their content and ensure that it it unique and relevant to ‘win’ from a search standpoint.”
Disruption Through ChatGPT AI Technologies
ChatGPT has been blowing up the news lately, with some heralding the AI technology as the most promising use of AI thus far, and others expressing concern that it will inevitably be used by students to bypass the need to write essays themselves. For marketers, ChatGTP can have positive implications, and for content producers, it could negatively impact their ability to make a living.
There is likely to be “disruption from ChatGPT and other AI-driven content creation tools that may emerge. ChatGPT is a new iteration of AI-created content and, based on a little experimentation, it's much better than previous iterations,” said Pophal. “This has the potential to both help and, potentially, challenge freelancers and agencies whose livelihoods revolve around creating content.
Janssen Manno, director of SEO at CadenceSEO, a search engine optimization consultancy, told CMSWire that the rise of AI has made it easier than ever to produce content, from written material and images to videos with a click of a button. "However, this has also led to an oversaturation of content, making it difficult for high-quality pieces to stand out. As consumers and major marketing channels adapt to the phenomenon, there will be an increased demand for truly unique and interesting creative content, as well as for 'AI content marketers' who know how to leverage AI to create quality content at scale and in the appropriate context,” said Manno, who reiterated that if you ignore AI or are lazy, you won't make it.
Related Article: ChatGPT Shares Its Thoughts on Enterprise VoC Programs
Social Media Marketing Becomes More Important
According to a report from Statista, in 2021 over 4.26 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number that is projected to increase to almost 6 billion by 2027. Additionally, Statista points out that internet users spend 144 minutes per day on social media and messaging apps. This makes social media a promising opportunity for marketers and advertisers. In fact, in 2020, advertisers spent approximately $132 billion on social media advertising.
Additionally, many people, especially those in Generation Z, are using social apps such as TikTok to look up product reviews and endorsements, find local businesses and restaurants, and even look for jobs. More interestingly, many Gen Z users (63%) are regularly using TikTok to learn something. Social media platforms are where brands can reach customers in the medium of their choice by contributing relevant, informative posts and advertising.
Brian Bennett, president and founder at STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging, told CMSWire that social media has evolved into much more than a series of websites we use to communicate with friends. "Brands of all shapes and sizes are turning to social as a primary means to ecommerce, giving their customers a direct avenue to make purchases — without navigating away from the app. In other words, the platforms themselves include built-in browsers that act as virtual storefronts."
“With the recent surge of in-app shopping, social commerce is expected to be another vital sales driver in 2023. When coupled with hypertargeted ads, this creates a conversion-centric ecosystem right within people’s favorite social networks,” said Bennett, who added that according to Shopify, social commerce retail earnings are predicted to reach $80 billion in the United States alone by 2025.
Customer Retention Becomes More Important Than Acquisition
It’s been said that it is easier and less costly to keep the customers one has than to attract or convert new customers, and that’s never been more true than it is today. Research has shown that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products, and spend 31% more when compared to new customers. Retention rates vary across industries, with the highest rates in the media and professional services industries (84%) and the lowest rates in the hospitality, travel and restaurant industries (55%). With a potential recession coming in 2023, retaining customers has taken on a new sense of urgency.
Sarah Cascone, vice president of marketing at Bluecore, a retail marketing technology provider, told CMSWire that customer retention will become a critical focus for retailers in 2023 as they continue to navigate inflation and fluctuating spending. “Loyalty programs will make a comeback — but they won’t necessarily drive customer loyalty. Loyalty programs have always been a part of most retailers’ marketing programs, but they’re becoming an even bigger priority as of late. Cascone said that in 2023 brands will look to further invest in these programs — but today’s shoppers want more than loyalty points and free birthday gifts.
Much like Cascone, May Habib, co-founder and CEO of Writer.com, an AI writing platform, told CMSWire that customer retention and brand loyalty are becoming top objectives for marketing teams historically tasked with new business growth. "To achieve these objectives, marketers are shifting their focus to existing customers and investing in technology that allows them to create personalized, engaging experiences that drive adoption and renewals."
Related Article: How to Optimize Customer Acquisition and Retention
Brands Will Invest More in Marketing
It may seem that with an impending recession on the horizon, brands would make budget cuts across the board to remain operational; however, this would not be the wisest course of action. Although there are certainly areas where budget cuts make sense, the marketing department is not one of them. In fact, in 2023, brands would be wise to increase spend on marketing with a focus shifting toward measurable results and ROI.
Kimen Warner, vice president of product management at Drift, a conversation cloud service provider, told CMSWire that in spite of tighter budgets due to the impending recession, 2023 will be the best time to up your marketing spend. “As counterintuitive as it seems, bear markets represent an incredible opportunity to increase market share. That means the companies that maintain and accelerate their marketing efforts in 2023 will be the ones to come out on top when the market inevitably improves (because what goes up, must come down, and vice versa).”
Conclusion: 2023 Is a Year of Adjustments in Marketing
As financial concerns grow and consumers’ wallets get tightened, marketers will have to adjust their methodology and focus in 2023. Social media, influencers and content creators will continue to play a large role in how consumers shop and what they buy.
Local marketing will become even more important, and customer retention, rather than conversion, will take the lead. Emerging AI technologies such as ChatGPT will become more useful to marketers, and although it may seem counterintuitive, instead of pulling back, brands will make greater investments in marketing with a focus on measurable results and ROI.