It is the time of year when we slow the process of living to evaluate the past and prepare for the new year ahead. The premise is that during the past year there are things that we could do better, or be better at, going forward. Say what you want about New Year’s resolutions and the success or failure rate of the process, but it is inherently demanding of most of us to get up on the first day of the new year and at least set a goal to improve ourselves or our performance in the coming year. A supposition is that the tradition is based on a need to control, as much as possible, the outcome of our fate in the future. But to be realistic and applicable, the effort demands an understanding of the past and the ability to accurately envision how the future may be different from the present. Prediction or prognostication has rarely been an absolute science but fully evaluating the present dynamics of our environment can provide valuable insights about what to expect as the door opens to a new era. So, what should marketers expect moving into the new year?
Contrary to some efforts to deny or redefine the term recession, 2023 will deliver the effects of a shrinking economy. The recession, rising inflation, workforce reductions, and geopolitical events will produce a decline in consumer spending across all business sectors. Despite the negative prospects, surviving or even prospering during such impactful challenges can be achieved, but the difference between success and just enduring requires a more creative and adaptive approach to marketing strategy. Simply calling a promotional timeout will most likely assure that a player is not around when the game continues under more favorable rules. Differentiation will become a central aspect of a marketing strategy to not only survive and endure but to succeed. Messages with more finely targeted audiences will diminish the role of influencers and elevate direct personalized, authentic two-way conversations with consumers.
“Social media has never played a more central role to businesses. As businesses continue to look for ways to future-proof operations and connect with today’s tech-savvy customers, social media and digital marketing will inevitably play a part in nearly every business strategy,” said Maggie Lower, Chief Marketing Officer, Hootsuite. “In 2023, businesses that take a social-first approach to their brand and customer care strategy will be the ones to reap the benefits. Stronger brand reputation, greater customer interaction, trust and loyalty – now and in the future – depends on it.” Social media and digital communications have changed the way marketers connect with an audience for a decade but this year, the presentation of the message will need to change even more. The power of the message will be measured more by the telling of a brand’s story rather than a repetitive retelling of a product’s bulleted features and benefits.
The emphasis will be on producing authentic, personalized content delivered in shorter, more precise formats. Short videos will be preferred over longer videos, particularly for those looking to attract the attention of the first generation to grow up with new digital technology. This generation will welcome and participate more actively with VR and AR experiences than former generations of consumers. The success of any digital marketing effort is not reliant on any one element, but rather on a combination of elements designed to engage two-way conversations with a targeted audience in order to promote brand value and consumer awareness.
Social media users are mobile, not only in the devices they are using but the channels they are frequenting. Every day, more than 4.2 billion people are active across multiple social media platforms, each spending an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes looking for solutions. Mobile optimization will continue to be critical in reaching any audience.
Allocating limited marketing spend in 2023 will require a better understanding of where your targeted customer is listening and command a narrower approach to content distribution. Experiential marketing tactics may experience a resurgence in the coming year when consumers are likely to hear an increase in branded audio content. Inbound marketing will remain a best practice for growing brands.
Social responsibility and sustainability will continue to be a focus of many businesses as we enter 2023. Consumers continue to show approval for brands that appreciate environmental and sustainability issues and will continue to value brands that reflect their views. But due to some notable mismanagement of these initiatives in the past year, some brands may be cautious and reflective when elevating social responsibility and sustainability marketing over a that of a brand’s core competency in 2023.
A significant challenge for marketers and data collectors in the coming year will be complying with the regulations concerning the collection and use of consumers’ personal information. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), first enacted in Europe in 2018, became the leading legislative act to regulate the collection and handling of consumer data worldwide. The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) was passed and will go into effect on January 1, 2023. The GDPR requires companies to allow users the right to access data, the right to take that data and use it elsewhere, as well as the right for consumers to request that a company erase personal data completely from company records. The effort to avoid harsh penalties for non-compliance and retain trust with consumers should be a focus of all brands in the coming year. Surveys on how consumers view errant privacy experiences reveal that 43 percent of them would be motivated to switch to another brand. Online experiences in 2023 need to provide accessible and understandable tools that customers can use to manage privacy.