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This story originally appeared on Under30CEO.com
The world doesn’t seem to sit still for too long these days, and that’s especially true when it comes to tech-related fields. If you’re up to date at all with the tech world, then you’ll know how challenging it can be to keep up with all that’s going on, and we don’t just mean the latest shenanigans at Twitter (or is it ‘X’?).
Take digital marketing, for instance, which companies of all sizes rely upon to attract and retain customers. To casual observers, this sector changes gears every other day. While things do progress a little more slowly — and a little more linear — than that, there’s no denying that it’s an aspect of digital life that can be hard to stay on top of. What was relevant and innovative one year can be outdated and obsolete the following year.
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Companies that depend on digital marketing for their success (which is to say, the vast majority of businesses that have an online presence) need to be aware of the developing trends in order to prevent them from falling behind. Let’s take an expert look at the trends to expect this year and beyond.
1. AI tools
The big news in the past year has been the development of ChatGPT and related artificial intelligence tools, which have effectively changed the game when it comes to digital marketing (and just about everything else). The technology arrived (in usable form at least) late in 2022, so even at this stage of 2023, people are still finding their feet when it comes to how to incorporate the technology into their digital marketing campaigns.
So, what have been the early findings from marketers that have used ChatGPT and other AI tools? The takeaway, so far, has been that it should be used as a tool, rather than considered as a marketing replacement. AI-generated content is performing poorly on Google, and there have also been some accuracy issues. Still, when it comes to the hard work of handling those repetitive marketing tasks, artificial intelligence can be a terrific timesaver.
It’s too early to tell what the future of AI will bring, but we can all be pretty confident that it won’t be going away anytime soon.
2. Content rules
Marketers tend to follow Google’s lead. After all, while there are other search engines available, the vast majority of searches take place on Google, so that’s really the only place that marketers care about reaching. Google has long had a focus on quality content, and that remains true today; in fact, it’s even more true today, since Google has updated its E-A-T algorithm to include another E, which stands for ‘experience.’ This has all made content even more crucial for marketing success. As digital marketing experts FatJoe say, ‘having an SEO content plan is essential for businesses hoping for organic traffic in 2023.’ The days of keyword stuffing a webpage to trick Google into making it appear on the front page are long over. Today, only the best content gets pushed to the front.
Related: 4 Reasons Why Content Is (and Always Will Be) King
3. Privacy improvements
Marketers have long relied on lax data rules to tailor their digital marketing campaigns. Now, due to changing legislation that puts more power in the hands of the consumer, things are changing. Both Google and Apple have made changes (or are forced to make changes) that change what data can be collected and how, and the impact is having ripple effects across the industry.
There’s more than one way to gather data from consumers, but, unfortunately for marketers, the old, now-banned method was the easiest and most effective. Moving forward, marketers will need to think carefully about how they’re collecting their data, because penalties can be severe. Expect platforms that specialize in first-party data to become increasingly important.
4. Purpose-driven marketing
It’s easy to think that the main difference between traditional marketing and modern marketing is the tools and methods used to communicate messages. But you can argue that the biggest shift has been the legitimacy of those messages. It wasn’t all that long ago that marketers could effectively say anything and expect that consumers would take the message at face value. But the internet and the younger generation changed that.
Today, transparency and purpose are both key. Consumers of all generations, but especially Generation Z, want to support brands that take a stand on social issues. Not doing so is seen as being complicit in the existing systems. And just as important as the message being sent is the authenticity of those messages. For example, brands can’t claim to be supportive of the fight against climate change while simultaneously having working practices that do the opposite. The takeaway? Companies must take a stand — and back it up with their actions.
5. Influencers will continue to influence
It’s fair to say that influencers haven’t always had a great reputation. When they first appeared on social media, many commentators were quick to dismiss influencers as little more than a fad that would disappear just as soon as it arrived. But to many people’s surprise, the opposite has happened — influencers have shown to be a remarkably effective marketing investment. Influencers help to increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive conversions, and build trust and loyalty. Of course, a right and wrong way exists to utilize influencer marketing. But, for brands that get it right, the results can be hugely positive.
6. Live streaming & video marketing
Many brands were reluctant to make video a central part of their marketing plans, but not anymore. The simple reason is that web users love video; according to one report, consumers spent a staggering 500 billion hours streaming video in 2021 alone, and that figure is only expected to rise in the coming years. It takes more work to produce an informative video than it does to write a blog post. But, the return on investment makes the process worth it. They perform especially well on social media websites such as TikTok and Instagram. This allows marketers to reach their target audience in new and exciting ways.
7. The rise of voice searches
It’s been possible to make voice searches for a long time, but there was one problem. No one was making them because the technology that powered those searches just wasn’t up to scratch. But that’s different today. Voice searches are on the rise, and, as such, marketers should tailor some of their content towards these searches. The good news is that what’s beneficial for voice search SEO is also generally good for typed SEO. This marketing method is better suited to some types of businesses than others. For example, since most voice searches are made while driving, it tends to work best for local businesses that may rely on foot traffic.
8. Chatbots provide instant customer service
Modern consumers want answers to their questions as quickly as possible. By incorporating chatbots into their website, brands can provide personalized responses instantly. This can be all the difference between a consumer making a purchase and looking elsewhere.
9. Showcasing authority across the web
As we’ve already seen, Google loves quality content. And that especially includes content that comes from places of authority. This type of content is harder to produce, and generally more expensive, but it’s a worthy pursuit. Marketing experts consider adding authority content to your marketing campaigns to be akin to playing the “long game.” Over time, your content will become trusted, which will provide a solid foundation for your success.
10. User-generated content
User-generated content, otherwise known as UGC, is closely related to influencer marketing. The difference is that you don’t pay for UGC. However, unless a brand is lucky, people won’t automatically create content for your brand. There needs to be an incentive or prompt. By including UGC in your marketing strategies, you can reach a whole new ocean of potential customers, who are in general highly receptive to this type of content.
11. Retention marketing
We’ve had the initial digital economy boom. In the early days, brands would try to reach new customers. But now that things have settled down, and there aren’t as many new consumers to grab, the shift has moved — in part, at least — towards marketing to existing customers. Consumers have shown to be more loyal than expected in the digital sphere. But, it’s important that brands actively nurture those relationships. Having an effective CRM (customer relationship management) system in place is key.
The bottom line on digital marketing in 2023
So what’s the takeaway of digital marketing in 2023? Technology, social media, video, and, perhaps above all, content, will continue to be highly influential and the key to marketing success. While trends come and go, those key marketing tools have been a mainstay over the past few years and have seen their influence increase considerably. In the coming years, we’ll likely see those elements cement their dominance, though marketers should be aware of developments in the AI field, which may change things even further.