Experts in every industry love to make predictions for the year to come. For marketing professionals, weighing in on impending trends is also an opportunity to create omnichannel content. After all, agencies should follow their own advice, and we all say that “content is king” (even when we wrongly attribute the phrase’s origin to a 1996 speech by Bill Gates).
Advice flows easily, but no one ever checks the accuracy of these predictions. Now that Rare Bird is celebrating its 25th year of being the most trusted marketing company in the Midwest, we’re not ashamed to point out that our predictions haven’t always been spot-on. Wisdom is only forged in the cauldron of experience, after all. Looking through our posts from over the years, however, it’s clear we’ve been right far more often than not.
We were right to argue years ago that social media would not replace traditional marketing entirely, for instance, though perhaps its role is larger than we anticipated. We knew you’d someday be able to leave your wallet at home, and that emails would need to be optimized and designed to be read on mobile devices a little sooner than others.
This year, we want to offer a few highlights from the several dozen articles and blog posts about marketing trends for 2023 that we have encountered over the last few weeks. Here, then, are six digital marketing actions you may want to take this year.
Recommit to Social Media
Some marketing budgets are still recovering from the pandemic, but even the most skeptical of executives should now be convinced of the value of social media marketing and its return on investment. It’s best to take an informed approach and focus on the platforms your audiences actually use. With growing investment comes a higher degree of scrutiny, however, so hunker down and get strategic about your social media outreach. Most people spend nearly 2.5 hours a day browsing and messaging on social media, so if your business has been less than consistent with its social media marketing, now is the time to get back on track.
Create Community/Provide Value
You’ve probably heard that Gen Z is tired of everything they encounter being used to sell them something. Really, though, can’t the same be said of older generations? Isn’t everyone tired of that? An effective antidote is to use social media to build more effective, enduring relationships with your audience.
Making a connection—through creating a community and providing some kind of sustained, interactive value—does lead to a longer sales cycle. But a customer base that knows and trusts your business and appreciates the value of what its voice and personality add to ongoing conversations will be a customer base you can rely on for years to come. As with most things in life, the key is balance. Find the sweet spot between providing content with value and content intended to drive sales. Both should be part of your overall marketing strategy.
If your business sells products and services to other businesses, you may be slow to recognize the value of video content, but video plays an important role in the B2B sales and marketing cycle. Businesses of all kinds are more successful when they use video whenever—and wherever—it’s appropriate. That might mean incorporating explainer videos into your website, or posting short videos on social media. The most meaningful platforms for videos are YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Additionally, LinkedIn’s algorithms reward quality video content, which is an important way to connect with and influence customers. According to one industry survey, 73% of respondents prefer to learn about a product or service from a short video.
Witness the Rise of the Machines
If you have anything to do with digital marketing—even if you’ve just casually read a few articles about it in the past few months—you’ve surely encountered what I am calling the “rise of the machines” in homage to the third film in the Terminator franchise. A lot of the discussion centers around using artificial intelligence to generate both writing and images, which has led to no small degree of stress among professional content creators.
However, the influence and reach of artificial intelligence goes far beyond the mere duplication of human effort. Some businesses use it to reach out into new markets, with translation programs creating multilingual content marketing efforts and chatbots solving problems while gathering data (legally). However this element unfolds, it’s safe to say the role of AI in marketing will only become more complicated and enmeshed in the coming years.
Outsource Marketing Work
Most companies recognize that we live in a world with an insatiable hunger for content, but only half of businesses have a defined content strategy. Instead, they are often at the mercy of what several experts call “the tyranny of tactics”—simply trying one new idea after another, often on a whim or based on some small sample of anecdotal evidence, as when a CEO joins the marketing meeting to say, “My son came home from college and says everybody uses TikTok these days. Maybe we should try that?”
You know those people who start to repeat a joke they’ve heard, but get everything out of order and bumble the delivery? That’s what content marketing without a strategy is like for your audience. Only 40% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.
Good small businesses know the value of reaching out to digital marketing agencies for help with digging into the analytics, refreshing a website’s look, crafting more effective marketing emails, or creating social media content. Hiring an agency like us helps smaller operations level the playing field against bigger competitors. Larger companies with their own marketing teams will need to supplement their efforts this year, too, by bringing in the specialists, especially for more nuanced elements of content marketing, including video work.
Stay the Course
In leaner economic times, it’s important to stay the course and not make a shortsighted decision. Whatever you do, do not cut your marketing budget. In fact, our fearless leader, Jim Cota, wrote about this in November, urging our clients to resist the temptation to tighten their belts this year:
“Throughout every recessionary period in the last 80 years, studies have shown that companies that cut their marketing budgets during economic downturns lost market share. Those that maintained or increased investments in marketing gained share during those difficult times and in the years that followed.”JIM COTA, Rare Bird
If your company needs help taking any of these actions—creating a strategy, producing video content, managing social media, and more—reach out to us today. Helping your business is our business, as it’s been for 25 years.