Nov 25, 2022
It's here! Our roundup of 11 experts across digital marketing with their insights on what to look out for in 2023.
Here's just some of the things they see coming up that marketers of all levels need to think about: the need to address the cost of living crisis, a shift within infuencer marketing, social media going back to its roots and seeing some decentralization, further personalization and a push back to one-to-one interaction, the need for skills in data analysis, the rise of super-apps, where is automation going, new responses to the shift in data, GA4, the serious use of AI, consumers' expectations of brands, and lots more!
We were delighted to have our host Will Francis chat with:
Ken Fitzpatrick of the DMI, Neal Schaffer, Caitlin Seele of Drift, Kate Toon, Clark Boyd Julie Atherton, Alison Battisby, Cathal Melinn, Katrina Noelle, Stephen Walsh, and Chris Coomer of Neil Patel Accel
From now until the end of the year, we will feature on our library further investigation of what 2023 may bring, including our December 13 free webinar. You can also learn about some of these key issues in the links below.
The Ahead of the Game podcast is brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute and is available here on our website, as well as all podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.
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Will: Welcome to "Ahead of the Game," a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute. I'm your host, Will Francis, and in this episode, we're looking at the digital marketing trends shaping 2023. I've spoken to previous guests, industry leaders, and DMI's own experts to get a handle on what's coming down the line over the next year, and how we should adapt as marketers.
So, first up, as has become our annual tradition at this point, it's none other than the CEO of the DMI, Ken Fitzpatrick, on what he sees ahead.
1. KEN FITZPATRICK – Digital Strategy
Ken: The main one that we have seen is, as we have all been impacted by, is the increase in cost of living. So, inflation is driving differences in consumer behavior from this time last year. And in particular, Google searches around value buying, and value purchasing, and value for money have increased dramatically. So, I think marketers are gonna have to think very carefully about how they promote their products and their services to consumers in that type of environment, because it's different from what it's been for the last couple years.
Some of it is as simple as, if people are running discounts, that they're promoting it more, that they're making people more aware of the discounts that might be available. So, it is as simple and as tactical as that. But it also, as you say, is it does apply to the more nuance, the messaging that you might have in your product, the benefits your product brings, which is an obvious thing that people do day-to-day. But if you can really emphasize the return on investment for the customer, more and more, and how they're gonna benefit for the cash out that they're going to give you, that's, I just think as a messaging tool, gonna become more important, and is likely to achieve more cut-through with the customers who see that.
There's famously the lipstick index, when things are going tougher for people, that it's an affordable luxury. So, sales of lipstick often go up when things are tougher. But it is a challenge for people who are providing quite high-end luxury products. How do you position those? But for sort of the majority of products, I think it's more a messaging challenge, and more a question around how you plan your price promotions and your discounting for 2023.
Then, the other item that has been around for the last couple years, particularly since COVID, is getting your integration between your offline and your online CX right. Very, very difficult to do, but customers, particularly in a tougher environment, are gonna increasingly look for convenience and simplicity, as well as value. So, the better you can integrate those two things, I think the better you're gonna do.
Will: So, how could our listeners actually practically implement that kind of integrated customer experience?
Ken: Simple one would be chat responses being open after hours. You know, so, if you have a phone number that people use during normal business hours, maybe chat is the way that customers get in touch with you outside of business hours, and maybe setting yourself up to be able to respond to those. And you can use chatbots to do that as well, if you simply don't have the resources.
So, that's just an example that, you know, people can get in touch with you at the time that they want to get in touch with you. And also because an awful lot of companies would be operating in more than one time zone. So, customers who are in another time zone would expect to get a response when they're sending a response. So, something like that, just as a simple thing would be a way to go.
Will: Anything else?
Ken: I think an area that's going to become very important, it's not new, but an area that's gonna increase in importance is how we're gonna develop with the use of data in marketing. So, obviously, I think as a huge general trend over the last number of years has been a big debate about moving to data-driven, from maybe the brand world of the past. But data is definitely here to stay, particularly in digital. And the trends I think we're gonna see there over the coming year are, A, the increasing use of tools for automation and personalization at scale. And customers who want personalization in how you approach them. Doing that at scale is difficult unless you really understand the data you have, put that data into a tool, and use that to automate your coms to your consumers, to automate things like next best action, identifying on the basis of what our customers have done in the past what they might do next, and also personalizing the message that you give them.
And the other is a skill set question, which is obviously something that we in the DMI would always be looking at. And that is the ability for marketers not only just to present data, but to be able to draw commercial insights from the data that they're looking at on a daily basis. So, going to the sales team and not just saying, "Here's 10 leads," actually saying, "Well, here's 10 leads that we think are really good because the consumers have exhibited the following behaviors to generate these leads." So, that internal ability to persuade people on the basis of commercial insights based on the data that you're gathering is, I think, going to become a very, very important skill set for marketers going into the future.
Will: And is there a need for marketers to become more like data scientists in their work?
Ken: Yeah, I think there is. Yes. I think there's a need for marketers to understand data, but I think the secret sauce is if you can understand the data, you don't have to be a data scientist expert. I think what you've gotta do is present the data in such a way that it makes sense commercially, internally, in the organization.
And I think it's the interpretation of data that is actually the real skill that's gonna make the biggest difference, and actually get marketers listened to at the highest levels in any company. So, if you can say to somebody, "Here's how I can show you that by spending X, we can produce Y in this business," everyone's gonna listen to you. Rather than the very traditional marketing approach was, "Let's spend it and hope we see a change in sentiment, a change in..." Nor is it, "Here's the answer that we spent X and we got Y," without the reasons that happened, and the insights as to why that might happen again.
So, I think it's a place in the middle is the short answer, Will, which is I think you've gotta have the smarts and the knowledge and the skills to be able to look and understand the data, but I think it's the interpretation piece, where you use the other side of the brain to actually present that internally.
Will: So, the impact of the cost of living will be seen in marketing, in some way. Also, more integrated CX across all channels, which can start with just simple improvements to the experience. And as Ken says, it's so crucial to keep your skill set growing. Every day is a school day in digital marketing.
Next up, Neal Schaffer, one of the world's leading speakers and authors on social media marketing. I caught up with Neal, and I asked him what he sees coming in the social media space.
2. NEAL SCHAFFER - Influencer Marketing
Neal: As we head into 2023, I believe that companies will continue to question and reimagine what their social media presence should look like. I've talked about this as the leading trend for the last two years, and my primary focus was on influencer marketing, in that, with the way that social media becomes more pay-to-play, brands should be looking more to influencers and to user-generated content to help them really appear, and be seen through the noise, not from their own voice, but from the voices of others.
I think over the last two years since I've been talking about that, since COVID, we've obviously seen the rapid emergence of TikTok, and really, a brand new social media culture, that focuses not on number of followers, but on the actual content itself, in this era of what they're calling recommended media. For that reason, brands are even more challenged to create the type of content that social media users today crave. And I believe this pushes brands even more to working with influencers and content creators. Looking at it holistically, these could also include internal influencers, such as your employees, or non-influencer influencers, i.e., customers, or other subject matter experts from a B2B perspective.
So, I believe that that will continue, but the emergence of TikTok with Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, this is really where the action is. And I think this speaks to another trend that is related to how social media's changing everything, which is, social media is really going back to its original roots as being a place for brand awareness, not for traffic generation.
On my own website, I have seen traffic generated from social media comprise less and less of my total traffic, as I am sure many, many brands have as well. This is coming from someone with a few hundred thousand followers on social media, and I am very actively promoting my content on several different channels, yet, in 2022, compared to 2021, the share of traffic from social media that comprises my entire website traffic has fallen from a 2% to a 1%.
And in that, I believe companies will continue to look at social media not just as a way to generate traffic, but truly as a way to connect with other people. It could be influencers, it could be customers, it could be alumni, it could be employees. This really shows that social media really should be the centerpiece for a lot of this activity. Activity that, there are many silos. Some call it influencer marketing, some call it brand advocacy, some call it employer advocacy, employer branding, this whole swath of people-related marketing, some related to HR, some related to sales, but all revolving people and their social media accounts. This is really where the shift I see brands need to make to better make use of social, what it was meant for, and what it continues to be meant for, as more and more of recommended media, and content that just doesn't have a link associated to it, becomes an overwhelming majority of the content that we consume in social media.
Will: So, social media hopefully becoming more social there. Something I personally agree, all brands need to pivot to, urgently.
Well, next I spoke to Caitlin Seele. She's head of digital marketing at Drift. And a few episodes ago, she shared her thoughts on the future of conversational marketing.
3. CAITLIN SEELE – Marketing Automation
Caitlin: Yeah, email, conversational marketing, digital marketing, all of them, my answer would be the same, and that's one-to-one personalization. I think buyers now crave it. They really are demanding it from brands. You know, they wanna feel those words, seen, and heard, and understood, from all the brands they wanna do business with.
And the good news for marketers is it's there in terms of the engagement rates you get on increasingly personalized campaigns. Pipeline and revenue for your business, right? How those deals move through your funnel. They're gonna move through faster if you're able to really educate buyers on how you can help them solve their pain points earlier on, right, because you're getting more personalized. Personalization is there, and with that is just integrating that personalization across every channel.
You know, I see it every day at Drift, in terms of, you know, when people are on your website, they wanna be greeted in a personalized way, and have a real human conversation with someone much earlier on, because they're doing more research online than they ever have before, right? And the precedent is kind of set from these business-to-consumer brands in terms of what personalization can look like and feel like to a buyer.
So I think that's only going to be more and more of a rising trend over the next one to three years. In a future state world, where your entire digital marketing experience might be really unique and personal to you across a website and email and ad, I feel like that's where a lot of marketers are moving towards these days.
Will: And how far do you think personalization could potentially go?
Caitlin: I think increasingly far. I bet there will be some sort of a break-even point in terms of personalization that, you know, really works, and personalization that might be too much. We do see that in some brands, right? But I think overall, your entire buying experience could be really one-to-one in many ways. And us, as marketers, you know, whether you're doing an email nurture today or whatever the case may be, to kind of think through some incremental steps we could take towards that future state.
Will: So, more personalization through technology and first-party data-gathering there. And that's a running theme in conversations I've had this year.
Well, next I spoke to Kate Toon. She's founder of Stay Tooned. And she also felt that one-to-one communication will be key, as well as a more human touch.
4. KATE TOON - Content
Kate: Well, there's a couple of things, and I think they're both tied in with a human's increased need for a bit of human interaction, a bit of connection, in this dark, cold world.
So, I'm a big advocate of one-to-many marketing. I have courses and resources, but I'm noticing that they're getting less and less uptake, and that people more and more are willing to pay a premium for my direct time, for a bit of old-school one-to-one. I'm also finding that while social media and email marketing still have their place, that really, for me, it's the communities that are driving the majority of my sales. I have two large groups on Facebook, and the interaction there is obviously way higher than on my pages or anywhere else.
And I think that's because people are seeking community. They want to reach out and get support from other humans. They wanna feel connected. And really important, the leader of those communities needs to be on the same page as them. People wanna feel like the people they are buying from have similar values, that their values align with their own.
So, that's my prediction. I think a return to more one-to-one services, a need for connection, and the importance of using communities, and providing safe spaces for your customers to discuss your product, to get help with your product, rather than the kind of, you know, push interaction that you get from social media. Much more of a two-way interaction in a community, that is much more human and natural, and has less kind of marketing spin on it.
Will: Hmm. Well, let's zoom back out for a minute, and consider the big picture, with our go-to digital transformation expert, Clark Boyd, a regular contributor here at the DMI. I asked Clark what he saw on the horizon.
5. CLARK BOYD – Digital Future
Clark: For me, there are two big trends that I find the most interesting here. The first is the real explosion we've seen in generative artificial intelligence of late, which has come on leaps and bounds. We were at a stage where, just three months ago, we were putting in prompts and getting back images that, on the whole, looked somewhat usable. But now we've got to the stage where they can do realistic faces, which is a huge amount of progress in just a couple of months.
And GPT-4 is due to launch in early 2023. Now, that is said to be multimodal. So, that means you could put a text prompt in, and you could receive audio along with a video in response. So, multimodal obviously being you get multiple modes combined into one thing. So, at the minute, we have great tools for creating marketing copy that you might need to edit a little bit, or even the start of a blog post that you can build on. And come next year, we're going to go much further than that. It's going to be much more effective. It's going to be able to do a lot more tasks for us.
Now, I start at that broad level because then you can zone in. And what we have after a massive development like that is people figuring out what to do with it. So, we're going to start seeing specific business applications. And there's a lot of funding going into startups at the minute that are trying to build, say, social media content generation tools. So, you could just put in a little bit of information about your brand, and these tools would come up with 50 ideas for your next week of social media content, and you just drag and drop the ones that you're most interested in. It also means that we can have genuinely useful chatbot-style interactions with content.
So, all of those websites that are quite static become much more interactive, because you can just ask for specifically what you're looking for and it can even create a version of what you're suggesting, and try and find the best match from within the inventory. So, things like product discovery will be completely different, too.
The second one is that we are moving into a completely new data landscape on the internet. There is so much change that has been happening this year. Again, we've been laying the groundwork for the real changes coming. Google has said they're pushing back the deprecation of third-party cookies and so on, but next year is the year that people will really start trying new solutions, because eventually, it is going to happen. It has already happened with some of the browsers out there. We've seen app tracking transparency from Apple having a huge impact on Meta's revenues.
So, what I think is we'll see different reactions to that upcoming reality. We've already seen how Apple wants to do that. It wants to really take over the whole messaging around it, and turn themselves into the privacy-friendly company. They'll launch Apple Search Ads. That's in the works and no real surprise, but that, not a big prediction. But Apple Search Ads will have some pretty useful targeting, because they can see what you're doing on your device, and it will always have access to that sort of data.
We'll also see, though, new advertising options that start from scratch. And they have a big opportunity here. They always talk about a recession being this great time to start a business, because there isn't a lot of silly money floating around. People wanna see real applications, that have a return on the investment in the short term. And what we will see is companies that are better able to take advantage of the new data reality.
So, if you're Google or Meta, and you're trying to maintain your current share price, obviously, they haven't necessarily done that so well, but you're trying to keep some sort of shareholder value, whilst also moving into this new world that is going to be much less data to work with, much less tracking of customers, more reliant on direct relationships with people, it's very difficult. These are huge companies. They're laying off lots of people at the moment, trying to get a little bit leaner, but if you were to start from scratch, and you had the right people, maybe some of them who have been laid off by those companies, you'd be in a pretty good position to start something now.
So, you might see advertising platforms that are more engaging, more fun, that create more data, by encouraging users to interact with them. I know of a couple that are set for a launch, but I'll let them do their own launching come next year. But some really exciting things that are happening out there, and focusing on trying to make advertising a little bit more fun and a little more customer-centric than it is at the moment.
But another response to this new data landscape, we could call it, where we can't just track people all the time, we have to be more thoughtful about how we gather data, how we use it for personalization, is that we will see the bigger players go for a bit of a land grab. We know, obviously, Apple and Google have been trying to do this for years with their operating systems, but we shouldn't overlook the impact that something like Twitter can have on this, because they kind of are getting into a position where they'll have nothing to lose. The advertising revenue was never that big. It is decreasing, as we know. And the vision behind it...it's a vision. It may not actually come to fruition, but the vision is to try and create a super app. And they're not the only people that want to do this, but I think that if they move first, they will really force people like Meta to go a bit further than they were maybe planning to.
So, what I mean by super app is, well, if you think of something like WeChat in China, we've never really had that in the West. We've had lots of different applications that do very specific things, whereas WeChat is known as the "everything app" over in China. Now, people have been talking for almost a decade about how we could do this in the West. There are lots of reasons why it hasn't happened yet, but, and this is where I think we should look big when we think about trends, when we look at this new data landscape, that brings a sense of urgency to creating a super app.
Because what do you have if you have an app that covers lots of different point solutions? You have access to the customer, at all points. You have access to their data, the whole way through their journey. If you can just track them wherever you go, you do not need to build all of that infrastructure yourself. In fact, it's really a waste of money. If you can't track them when they leave your app, you have a real impetus to try and create an all-encompassing solution, that will keep them within your orbit, and will make sure that you can sell off the data, you can do whatever you need to do alongside it.
Now, Twitter would like to do that. Whether it's well-placed to do it, whether it has the right person in charge to do it, I'll leave to the listeners to decide. Maybe you can detect from my tone what I think. But they will still have a knock-on effect on other people. So, you will see TikTok taking on a lot more parts of the customer journey. You'll see Google trying to do more as well. And not all of them can win. So, you will see a little bit more of a head-to-head battle between them.
With that will come, I really think, more sophisticated measurement. So, TikTok is under a little bit of pressure on that front. There's been a lot of budget moving in there, and people just trying it, noticing good engagement numbers, but now people are getting a little more skeptical of the true ROI of those campaigns. So, we'll see all of those super app contenders focus on campaign measurement, as well as just reach.
Will: Some interesting changes around the technology happening, I think. And we're no doubt in some kind of pivotal time with social media and digital technology. So, it'll be interesting to see how the big tech platforms play their hands over the coming year or so.
Well, I recently spoke to Julie Atherton, social transformation expert, and author of a new book, "B2B Social Selling Strategy," and she shared her thoughts on where she thinks social selling is going.
6. JULIE ATHERTON - Social Selling
Julie: I think there will be a clear, and I think it's already emerging, this clear demarcation between the businesses that empower and support their teams to use social media effectively in this kind of relationship-building and the kind of organizations who see social as another channel to push sales messaging through. And I think that demarcation is starting to emerge, and I think it will continue. And I think some organizations are very fearful of giving control, or allowing individuals to do exactly as Sean's [SP] been talking about, is get their personality in there, to grow their own personal profile alongside the businesses. They're much rather, much happier saying, "Send out these targeted messages through your InMail," you know, using InMail.
So, I think that separation is gonna get more extreme, and I think the danger is that if we have too much of this kind of spamming going on, it becomes more and more difficult for people who are relationship-builders, natural networkers, you know, interested in this value conversation, you know, it becomes more difficult for them to separate themselves from those two things. So, I'll be interested to see how that plays out over the next year, really, because I think that's already started to happen.
Will: And staying on the social media front, what's happening in the consumer space? Well, I asked Alison Battisby, founder of Avocado Social, who's been on the podcast before, what she's keeping an eye on.
7. ALISON BATTISBY – Social Media
Alison: So, there's been a lot of talk about Twitter, and I think generally, we are moving towards a need for the decentralization of social networks. Some of the new and exciting platforms that we're seeing develop at the moment include Mastodon, which is seeing a huge amount of downloads over the last couple of weeks. And Mastodon is an interesting tool because it is built by the masses. Essentially, everybody owns it, and self-moderates the platform. So, it isn't owned by one billionaire.
On Mastodon, you can join different instances, they're called, which are essentially forums based on your interests or geographical location. And the idea as well is that you move your social media profile between these instances, rather than having access to one central newsfeed, like we see on Twitter, where you get to see what everybody in the world is saying. So, it is a slightly different user experience, and something that, I will be honest, takes a while to get your head around. When I first logged into Mastodon, I didn't really like the layout, so I wonder whether we'll see more iterations of this tool as it attracts more and more users.
The other one to mention is ex-Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, who has now left Twitter and is no longer on the board, is reportedly building a new decentralized offering, which is less a social network but more a protocol that he's building, that can be used to build other platforms upon. It's called Bluesky. It's essentially going to offer users more choices in terms of what kind of algorithms they would like to use, and the usability. So, that's, at the moment, available for people to sign up to the wait list for. And I can imagine that's getting a lot of signups right now.
So, we shall see in terms of innovation next year, but with everything that's been happening over Twitter, I do think we're going to see some exciting new ways to communicate in social media.
Will: And do you think we're entering some sort of new chapter of social technology?
Alison: I do. And I think one of the biggest telltale signs is Meta's commitment to the metaverse, and how they are going full guns blazing towards building these virtual domains and virtual existences for people to engage within. Whether or not that, next year will be, you know, the year of the metaverse, I highly doubt that, because it is gonna take years to change people's behaviors and get used to this new offering. But that doesn't mean that we're not gonna see some interesting innovation in the space. Nike recently announced that they are going to allow people to design their own trainers, and sell those, and, you know, wear them in the metaverse. So I think next year we'll see a lot of big brands, you know, make a commitment towards the metaverse.
The issue at the moment with the metaverse is a lot of the talk around it is still so vague. We're not 100% sure of how things are going to look or even work from a tech basis. So, I think next year, there'll be more exploration into the metaverse, and brands will really start to think about what their strategy is for this new era of online communication.
Which is interesting, actually, because that leads me onto another big trend, and it feels like every year I talk about TikTok, but TikTok has continued to see massive growth, as we'd expect. You know, real challenger now to Instagram, well over 1.5 billion monthly active users, which is very impressive given that they have not been on the market, you know, for more than 10 years, which the others have.
One of the things that we're gonna see from them next year is the simplicity around the business tools. So, they've already been making major waves in terms of improving the usability for businesses around their ads dashboard. I've just been having a look at some of the new targeting options they've launched for their ads, which are brilliant. You know, you can target people based on whether they have watched videos around specific interests and hobbies. You could target everyone that was creating content about Halloween. You could target everybody who has used #thanksgiving on TikTok. You can target people based on all kinds of different videos that they've watched, whether that's beauty, whether that's fitness, whether that's food-related, whether it's fast food or, you know, high-end gourmet food. So, they're really challenging Meta in terms of the user data they have available for advertisers now.
Will: Okay. So, again, some big tech land-grabbing there. And it has to be said that if you're a marketer who still hasn't got their head round TikTok yet, it is time to put some serious time aside, get stuck into both the app itself and their extensive business hub, with its various tools and resources for marketers, which is very good. And yeah, it is time to take it seriously, both that and video, which TikTok has really pushed up the agenda big time, as if it wasn't far up the agenda enough, right?
Anyway, next up, it's Cathal Melinn, PPC and eCommerce specialist. He's a regular contributor to the DMI. Let's see what he's got to say about the coming trends that he sees.
8. CATHAL MELINN - PPC
Cathal: So, the main trend for 2023 is automation. It is the shift in mindset from technical-based marketing to more kind of anticipation marketing, where you're thinking, "What does my customer actually want?" and then feeding that to the machine. You know, that's kind of the way things are moving. So, before, we would've, like, picked a bunch of keywords for Google Ads, or selected, like, a bunch of audiences for social media ads and those different things like that. It's now moving towards kind of signal-based marketing. So, this is a little shift in mindset, where we're kind of thinking, what are the type of signals that I can collect from my audience to allow me to market to them? How can I find where they say, "I want to buy something," or, "I want to do something?" How can I, like, isolate these indicators that audiences give us, because they're online? They're engaging with our brand on social media, on websites, doing searches, things like that.
So, how are they telling us what they want? You know, I suppose it goes back to the kind of sunsetting of cookies and all of that stuff, that we in digital marketing had been collecting data, observing, like, behaviors, and now what we're looking for are signals. Now, they might sound like the same thing, but they're slightly different. So, behaviors reflect interests, whereas signals are where the audience is kind of telling you what they want. You know? And that's where marketing, you know, certainly within the world of Google Ads, is going. Probably Facebook and the other channels will follow too, but it's kind of yeah, like, audiences tell us stuff. You know, they tell us that they want to do something or buy something or read something or... You know, we can infer a lot of, kind of, their intent by what they kind of signal to us. So, it's that shift in marketing.
And this goes back to automation. So, automation is all about... Well, first of all, automation is not about taking marketers' jobs away from them. It's just about reangling what marketers do. So, before, we'd be kind of, as I said, selecting audiences and doing stuff like that. Now, what we're doing is we're inputting information into machines, into Google Ads, into Facebook, into all of that stuff. So, we're inputting, if they take these actions on my website, they're signals. If they search for these keywords, they're signals. If they visit these pages, they're signals. And what the machine does is it kind of crunches all this data, and targets ads to people in a better way.
Will: So, learn to trust the machines, because hey, they're gonna be doing a lot more of our work for us, especially in terms of ad campaigns, analytics, and that kind of thing. And that's a good thing. All that does is free up time for us to do more creative marketing. Right?
Well, I recently spoke to Katrina Noelle on the podcast, outside of that episode, and managed to grab her for a quick chat about trends in her area of expertise, which is customer insights at her agency, KNow Research.
9. KATRINA NOELLE – Customer Insights
Katrina: Customers' standards are higher for brands. They are watching, they're listening. There was a lot of attention paid to how brands handled things like the pandemic, the MeToo movement, the George Floyd incident here in the States. Like, people are watching, people are forming opinions, and people are making purchasing decisions based on what brands are doing. And I think that need for transparency, that need for openness, transparency, and of communication from brands to consumers, is a trend. And I don't think it's going away. I don't think it's a trend that is going to blip. I think that is now the norm.
And, I mean, we work in everything from shopper insights to financial services. And at anything in that range or in between, people wanna know who the company is, who's behind the company, what kinds of decisions have they made, and if that's a company I wanna be affiliated with. And especially these Gen Z friends of ours that are emerging into, you know, becoming this very important customer base, they care more than anybody.
Will: Indeed. The customer of today really does care more than ever about what kind of company you're running, its values, how it operates. Transparency matters more than ever.
Well, next I chatted to Stephen Walsh. Stephen is an expert in learning around sales and marketing. Here's what he sees coming.
10. STEPHEN WALSH – learning and content
Stephen: So, from where I sit, I work in marketing, but I also work in learning. And I think those two fields will continue to blend and overlap into 2023 and beyond. I think we've always had that sense in content marketing that really what we're trying to do is educate people. And I think that is going to increase. And I think there's a range of different tools and techniques that people can use to do that. Our particular interest is in curation, and I think that's gonna become important. I'm sensing a lot of budget pressure coming at marketing teams in 2023, like there is on everybody else.
One way of quickly helping people to understand a trend or a concept in an industry or a field is to quickly curate some good content from around the web and add your own thoughts and insights. It's very cost-effective. It can be very informative, and really valuable to prospects and clients. So, I think we'll continue to see curation and learning as key trends and tools in marketing as we look into 2023.
Will: And is that just B2B, or B2C as well?
Stephen: I think it works best and where most of my experience is in B2B, particularly if you're trying to...you know, I talked a lot about social selling last time we worked together on courses and presentations. And I think that that sense of education, you know, they always say about social selling and content marketing is, you know, provide value first. You know, nobody likes that, you know, "let's connect," and then five seconds later you're blasting a pitch at them. I think people have become well wise to the inefficiency of that.
So I think if you're reaching out with something that's informative, that's insightful, about an industry, or a recent change that might be of value or interest, I don't think it matters too much whether you've created that content. That can come from anywhere, as long as you've put your take on it and you've personalized it. I think that can be an efficient way to provide some learning and some insight, and to show that you're a trusted person who can add some value. I think that's harder to do in B2C, because the focus is just a bit more diffuse, but I think as a B2B strategy, it can be very powerful.
Will: That's interesting. So, content curation is a way to prove certain content types work, but at very low cost.
Stephen: Yeah. I think you have to do both. I think you have to create your own content, obviously, and have your own voice. But I think you can balance your content marketing budget with a lot more curated content than people realize. And I think there's some good in that beyond just the financial benefit of doing it. It kind of shows that you're tapped into the world. You're not trying to say "our ideas are the only ones," or "it always has to be something coming from us," that you're connected, and you're paying attention to trends around the market. And I think that sends a good signal back to buyers that you're part of a community, and it's not just always me, me, me, which is, you know, one of the off-putting things I think about a lot of brand-based marketing, if it always feels like it has to ultimately resolve in a pitch for your own product or service.
Of course, we all wanna get there at the right time, but social selling, I think, is about that long game and establishing trust. And a great way to do that is to say, you know, came across this article, thought it was really valuable for these reasons, thought I'd share it with you. I think that's a great way to start a conversation, or keep a conversation going with a trusted client or prospect as well.
Will: You mentioned social selling. What trends might we see there?
Stephen: I think, because most social selling in B2B takes place on LinkedIn, one of the big changes in the last few years is the use of video on LinkedIn. They used to be not a great platform for video, but it's become a place where people can quickly create some user-generated content and upload it. And, you know, people do it to varying degrees of slickness. Some of it's very much, kind of, iPhone and off the cuff, you know, sharing my insights from a conference or whatever it might be. Some of them are more produced. I think, kind of, your mileage will vary depending on what your style is and your budget. But I think it's added a lot of personality to that platform, and it's made content more shareable. And I think, what I'm seeing when I flick through my LinkedIn feed is, you know, it's gone from being, like, maybe 5% video to being more like 50% video.
Now, we may reach a tipping point where that just gets too much, and people start yearning for long-form content again, but I think we'll see more of that. And that kind of leans into the learning and education point I was making earlier. Video is a great way of getting that across, is, you know, "my quick take on what I've learned this week," "the best three things I've read or heard." It's a great way for you to be, kind of act like a maven, like a connector, to borrow those terms from Malcolm Gladwell, and to act in a way that you draw people into your content and into your feed, because you become someone who becomes kind of a trusted source of information, and doesn't just bang on about your own products and services all the time. And I think that's the watchword in social selling and in content marketing at all times is, what was it Joe Pulizzi said a few years ago? Think of it like this. Every time you mention your product or service, a kitten dies somewhere. So be very, very mindful about always directing it back to you, and think about how important it is to act as a connector within a community of professionals.
Will: So, content curation, leaning harder on video, again, and once again, that point about keeping it human. Not selling at people, just providing good old-fashioned value to them through content.
Well, we've come around to our final contributor. It's Chris Coomer from Neil Patel Accel, someone I welcomed onto a DMI webinar in 2022. I asked Chris what he sees coming in his space around data-driven marketing and strategy, and here's what he had to say.
11. CHRIS COOMER – Search and Data
Chris: The biggest ones on the analytics side are relatively straightforward in terms of technology, and that's kind of migrating from cookies to cookie-less. I think we all know that trend's coming, we all know it's coming down the pipeline. And then, a lot of data privacy and security. It's been a conversation. People have been moving in that direction for a couple of years now, but it really is locking up with the implementation of CCPA. GDPR has been around for a while, but also just security in general, like, we wanna be really cognizant of that. GA4, obviously, we've talked about a million times. We know it's coming down the pipeline. I think they just extended it, as I predicted they were going to do. So, we'll see what happens there.
And then, on the CRO side, really, I think people are moving away from CRO, or the idea of what they think CRO is, to more of, like, an experimentation piece. And it really is semantics. Like, it's kind of silly how it is, but I think a lot of people are more interested in the idea of experimenting than standard scrutiny on what we do now.
So, that's kind of interesting. I've seen a lot of people say, you know, "Hey, we just wanna experiment. We just wanna see what happens if we do this, this, and this." So, I think that trend is gonna move forward. Cleaning up apps and plugins, like popups, discounts, badger users, things like that, I think that's going to be cleaned up quite a bit. Server-side testing is another interesting one. I think enterprise organizations are gonna continue to move to server-side testing, and agencies are gonna probably struggle a bit to adapt to some of the complexity of those systems.
Will: So, with CRO, is it more about wider experimentation than just chasing instant results?
Chris: I think it's kind of been viewed in silo, right? It's always been that, how do we get from A to B? And I think everybody's starting to look more holistically. I think clients are getting more intelligent with what they wanna see. Agencies are getting far more advanced in terms of what we can do. And I think that's really the piece. Like, we'll do something, we'll get a better conversion rate, and then they'll say, well, how does that impact my bottom line? How does that impact the user experience? You know, the questions that are being asked I think are forcing us to migrate into that larger viewpoint. And I think that's, when we talk about the idea of experimentation, is seeing when we increase conversion rate, which we'll ultimately do, how does that impact everything else? And what positive can we bring from it?
And are there any potential negatives that come with it? Like, if we increase your conversion rate, do we decrease the user experience, and then there's less users online? So, I'm really excited to see the direction that that kind of goes in.
Will: So, do you think marketing's just becoming a far more technical discipline?
Chris: I mean, it's one of the biggest spenders now. It's so hard to keep up with the MarTech industry and the things that are going on. What we're continuing to see is, you know, we work with a platform, we learn something, we find that there's a gap, and then the next year, or maybe not even a year, six months down the road, there's a new, like, technology platform that fills whatever that gap is. We know that it's massive. I think I read in MarTech that I think it's supposed to be, from 2021 to, like, 2025 or something like that, we're supposed to see, like, some substantial growth to, like, $4.7 trillion in spend on marketing, which would make it, like, if not the most significant expenditure, the second-most, the largest expenditure in technology. So, it's hard to keep up, it's hard for us all to keep up. We're constantly learning. I think, from a trends perspective, I think we're seeing breakouts.
We used to see, you know, Salesforce had all of these things, or these large companies would fill the gaps. And I think that they're running into that Nielsen issue, where, you know, Nielsen was doing TV ratings and then they expanded out to try to do digital, and then they tried to buy their competitors, and it continuously got difficult for them to do. We're starting to see that happen with these huge companies. So we're seeing smaller companies jump in and fill gaps.
So, I think we're gonna continue to see kind of piecemeal, like, you know, we looked at that trend... Now I'm just rambling. But we started with that trend of, like, trying to get that end-to-end platform experience, and now we're all breaking up and we're all moving away from that. We're like, we're starting to build our own tech platforms. And it's because of those gaps that we see in the large industry that I think has pushed us all in that direction.
So, you know, like, here at NPA, we use Datorama, which is a Salesforce platform. And it's end-to-end. You know, from pulling data in, to ETL work, you know, visualizations, everything, cleaning up the data, all existed in a platform. And we, even, we're discussing moving away from that methodology.
So I think we're gonna see that trend-wise in the tech world. We're gonna start seeing the breakup of these large conglomerates into smaller...people are gonna focus more on, like, "Hey, from point A to point B, we're gonna use this. From B to C, we're gonna use this," and so on and so forth. I think we're gonna see a cost savings from that. I think we're gonna see improved experiences, both internally and externally for our clients and users. And I think we're going to see an increase in capabilities because of something like that.
Will: So, the looming move to Google Analytics 4, an interesting shift in conversion rate optimization, or CRO, strategies, and a move to more specialist tools, as marketers become more tech-savvy.
Well, that's it for this year. I hope you've enjoyed it and found that insightful and useful. There are some things for you to chew on and look out for. They're all things that you can go and experiment on yourself. There's a whole load of resources available in the DMI library on this stuff. Go to digitalmarketinginstitute.com. And look, if you've enjoyed the podcast this year, do help support us. The best way to support this podcast is share your favorite episode with friends, and go and leave us a review in somewhere like Apple Podcasts. That would be fantastic.
So, it only remains for me to say, from all the team here at the DMI, thank you very much for listening this year, and we look forward to bringing you even more great guests and great episodes next year. Thanks for listening. Goodbye.