The world of marketing is constantly changing and developing, not only in response to advances in technology, but also in response to changing consumer habits. What we expect as consumers from our interaction with brands has changed, as has the way we look for products and services.
With this state of constant flux, added to the potential of shrinking profit margins due to rising costs and wider economic pressures, it can be difficult to know what marketing strategy to adopt and how much budget to allocate. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses which perhaps don’t have in-house marketing expertise or resource.
Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, it’s well worth adopting a strategic approach to marketing to make sure you’re investing in the right activities that serve to directly help your business achieve its goals.
If all this has left you wondering where to focus your marketing efforts in 2023, this article is here to help.
Because we all want more bang for our buck, don’t we?
Review your marketing strategy
The first step is to review (or create) your marketing strategy. We can’t stress enough how valuable it is to have a considered, structured plan of action. This is where real return on investment is generated. Posting on Facebook, firing out ad-hoc emails, advertising in this or that publication are all well and good, but unless you know why you are adopting a particular approach and interrogating the results, it could be money down the drain. For example, there’s no point running a campaign on Facebook if your target customer is actually likely to be on Linkedin.
A good marketing strategy should exist specifically to help you achieve your business goals and every activity you carry out should take you a step closer to success. It should be based on in-depth research of your target market, including competitors and customers, whether B2B or B2C. And we can’t just assume how customers want to engage, we need to ask them, as well as looking at the data which maps their journey with you.
Once you’re armed with some intelligence, you can start thinking about the best marketing activities to focus on.
There’s lots happening in digital marketing in 2023, so we’ve highlighted what we think are some of the most significant trends which could make a real difference to your business.
Selling through social media
While consumers of a certain age will largely continue to rely on search engines to find their products and services, the younger generations are expected to drive further increases in selling via social media this year.
Research suggests younger people are increasingly using platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to do their product research.
According to a HubSpot report, 71% of Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2005) prefer to find new products on social media, together with 51% of Millennials (born 1983-1996).
And the platforms are making it easier to buy through social media too, with tools such as Facebook Shops, Instagram Shopping and a new e-commerce facility in the making from TikTok. While retailers and other B2C businesses may be making the switch already, it’s increasingly relevant for B2B firms too.
Depending on the outcome of your market and consumer research, you might therefore want to consider investing in these platforms, whether through organic social or paid social, if you’re not already doing so.
Social media for customer service
It seems consumers aren’t just using social for searching, they’re also turning to it for customer service too.
Also known as ‘conversational marketing’, this is where consumers engage with a brand directly through two-way conversation. This could be via a website chat box function, or increasingly, through direct messaging on social media platforms.
That’s because people want to easily get information and answers – and they want it instantly. This relatively new trend is only likely to grow further as platforms expand their e-commerce capabilities.
While the prospect of having people chained to their laptops 24 hours a day ready to respond to messages in real-time can seem highly unrealistic if you run a small business, don’t worry. This is where automation comes in. You can deploy sophisticated chat bot software and AI to simulate those conversations and bring your customers further along the buying process.
Video for digital marketing
When it comes to types of content, video is going to be a key focus for 2023, particularly in social media marketing, such as TikToks and reels on Facebook and Instagram, along with YouTube shorts.
According to Statista, online videos achieved an audience reach of almost 93% in the second half of 2022, and it was also predicted to make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic in 2022.
Using video can help expose a business to new audiences and demographics too – Millennials watch between 10 and 20 hours’ worth of video content every week, while 82% of UK teens and young adults used YouTube to watch videos in 2020.
Video adverts also drive more engagement on Facebook with higher click-through rates.
At the same time, 48% of marketers said they feel their organisation isn’t using video to its full potential – which means it’s a huge area for potential growth. So depending on the strategy you’ve been adopting so far, it might be worth getting more creative in your approach. Particularly in B2B marketing, which may have been focused on static posts on Linkedin, there’s a whole new world of opportunity waiting to be explored.
Videos can be produced in many forms, including simple product explainers, tutorials and ‘how-to’ videos, behind-the-scenes videos, live streams, case studies and testimonials, promotional films and animated infographics.
Content generated by users – ie your customers, employees or brand ambassadors – also continues to be a growing trend into 2022. With so much online content vying for our attention and growing scepticism around ‘fake news’, businesses have to work harder than ever to win trust and user-generated content (UGC) can be an incredibly successful way to do that.
UGC can take many forms, whether it’s images of people wearing an item from a particular brand, using a product in their home, a video review, reels of a recipe they’ve made, a make-up tutorial, an ‘unboxing’ video, sharing life hacks, the opportunities are endless.
Businesses can help facilitate and promote this. You could even set up an online group or community that’s affiliated to your product or brand. For example, a fitness clothing company might create a group where people can share exercise tips and progress photos.
The trick is to be creative, because even traditional written reviews are treated more cautiously these days.
While you still need to be strategic in the approach to generating this form of content (working with consumers, inviting contributions, gaining permissions etc), it can really pay off. In the B2B space, why not collaborate with other firms in your industry, or partners in your supply chain?
Figures suggest the majority of consumers most want to see user-generated content and that they are 2.4 times more likely to trust it compared to brand-generated content.
It can be used pretty much in any format, on any platform, at any stage of the customer journey – as long as it’s well-planned and serves to meet business objectives.
The most effective marketing strategies use a variety of methods and channels to attract customers. But with potential leads and messages coming in from all over the place, it can be easy to lose track and a lost lead is a waste of everyone’s time and money.
Consumers also expect a highly personalised and seamless experience, regardless of which channel they may have used to engage with a brand.
That’s why marketing campaigns and approaches should be consistent across all channels, with an effective lead capture and nurture system in place to maximise every contact and manage those relationships.
This is where customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation can be worth their weight in gold. If you haven’t already got one in place, this is the disruptive innovation that can catapult your business to the next level.
Automation enables businesses to offer a personal level of service to every single potential and existing customer at every step of their journey – and it’s all done automatically, with minimal human input.
It also gives companies access to a wealth of valuable information and data about how people are engaging and interacting with them.
In addition to the above, other marketing activities which are definitely here to stay include content – think blogs, case studies, public relations, SEO, website development and more traditional activities such as exhibitions, printing and signage.
Investing in digital marketing can open up a whole new world of opportunities for businesses, which in times of economic downturn can be the difference between make or break.
Depending on where you are in your marketing journey, it can be daunting to know where to start. EBY Marketing can help at every stage of the process, from developing your B2B or B2C marketing strategy so you know exactly who to target and how, to practical implementation of the activities, leaving you free to focus on other areas of the business.
To find out more about any of our services, give one of our team a call today.