The beginning of a new calendar year is often a time when businesses take stock of their marketing strategy and make lots of plans for the months ahead. In light of this, the team of specialists at Umbrella have shared what we believe are important marketing trends and opportunities for 2023 and why it’s essential that businesses and organisations know about them. 

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Claire Davies – Director of Marketing

On aligning strategy with consumer behaviour in 2023…

“Customer behaviour is constantly changing. Whether it’s navigating post-pandemic shopping habits, the current cost of living crisis and the increase in information that consumers have access to in order to make informed choices, marketers need to also evolve their strategies as they go. Analytics will always help marketers make informed decisions; however, a key for 2023 is that data will only drive results if accompanied by the right insight and actions. 

In the past, marketers have perhaps relied on historical data and seasonal trends too much when guiding their future strategy, but the unprecedented events of the last few years have disrupted that. Past behaviour and results don’t necessarily mean the same things will deliver in the future, so marketers need to adapt and be more proactive in their approach.”

On brand authenticity in 2023…

“People aren’t daft. They value authenticity in the brands that they buy from and advocate for. Research shows that transparency matters and 70% of consumers want brands to connect with them on a personal level. 

“This leads nicely to ‘be more human‘. With so much uncertainty in the last few years, through Covid and now major economic challenges, demonstrating what you have to offer in a human way will go further for businesses. 

Personalise your marketing, while respecting data privacy and utilising the best route to demonstrate this for your specific audience, and you won’t go far wrong. Representation, inclusivity and sustainability really matter to people, with 71% of consumers saying this is important and what they have come to expect from brands and companies alike.

“While no one wants to dwell on the pandemic, it feels to me like many of the learnings from Covid times seem all but forgotten already! In the last three years, we have seen so much unrest. We learnt to be tolerant, respectful and mindful of one another; however, fast forward, and many have soon forgotten that people need to be treated and informed with respect, choice and value! – just be nice!”

On interactive content in 2023

“Everything I’ve seen recently points to a two-way experience to engage target audiences being key for 2023. Interactive games, cost calculators, assessments, interactive maps and quizzes will all contribute to the marketing tactic portfolio and help consumers feel like they are informing themselves, being empowered to make buying decisions with confidence.”

Olivia Mulhearn – Social Media & Marketing Communications 

On the rise in UGC and video content in 2023…

“Video user-generated content has been around for a while, but during and since pandemic lockdowns, it has exploded as an accessible and affordable route for ecommerce brands to get the word out about their products. UGC essentially involves ‘ordinary people’ creating relatable and trusted content on social media platforms for brands and businesses. UGC doesn’t have to involve high-profile influencers or celebrities, which means that brands with smaller budgets aren’t excluded from including it in their marketing strategies.”

On social media authenticity in 2023…

People want to see authentic and real content in 2023, as we can see from the rise of TikTok and BeReal recently. It doesn’t have to be polished, with high production values. In fact, many consumers find unpolished content to be more trustworthy. According to Ernst & Young’s research, “authenticity is the most important value for Gen Z — even beyond future plans and being rich.” This is great for small businesses and challenger brands in 2023, because it means that you don’t need to hire a full video crew and have a big budget to create great social media content. You can use the assets you already have – your employees and your customers – to create real and authentic content that will resonate with the audience and spread the word about what you sell or do.”

On social commerce in 2023…

“Shopping directly on social media platforms has continued to grow at pace over the last couple of years and I think this will grow even more in 2023. ‘TikTok made me buy it’ is a relatable trend for a reason – social commerce is a great selling platform, especially for younger audiences. The growth of TikTokShop since its launch in 2021 for UK users has been impressive, showing the power of users creating content about their purchases, and brands are able to get involved without needing a huge budget to start.”

Sion Thomas – Web Developer

On artificial Intelligence (AI) web design and development in 2023…

“There’s no escaping AI in pretty much every marketing and creative channel at the moment. Some AI applications have been in use for some time, but I expect to see this ramp up further in 2023. I expect to see entrepreneurs and developers to be looking at opportunities to create new products and services incorporating AI, which will definitely include digital design, web development and more. It’s too early to say whether the use of AI in these areas will result in huge and lasting change (as the potential is certainly there) or whether it’s something that is overhyped and ultimately falls short of expectations, such as cryptocurrency and the metaverse.”

On what’s new for websites in 2023…

I can foresee a bigger focus on more immersive website experiences and designs for 2023. They’ll combine visuals, content and interactivity more than most websites do now. This offers a more seamless user journey, but does bring challenges for designers and developers in making sites look great, work effortlessly and also be search engine friendly.

Websites that offer premium content also look to be on the rise, with more sites looking at gated content or introducing membership models in order for people to access the most valuable content. Monetising useful content, or at least gaining something from users in return for it, is viable as long as the ‘product’ being sold has value to the target audience and can’t be found for free elsewhere. The ‘freemium’ model for service and software sectors of offering limited tools and features for free but requiring a paid subscription to unlock more functionality or information is also likely to continue to grow.

On SEO in 2023…

“Google’s Helpful Content update was first rolled out in Q3 2022 but has since been updated again in December 2022. I believe that the impact of the updates will be felt more in 2023, as Google becomes more and more able to determine when content is created for search engines primarily and not for people. AI generated SEO-focused content will surely fall into this camp.

“In 2023, I also expect to see Google’s multisearch feature to be expanded so that it produces more useful results. It currently enables users to search with images and text at the same time (which is really useful if you don’t know what something is called) and has lots of potential applications when it comes to ecommerce. For example, searching using an image of a product you like, but asking if it also comes in a different colour, or for a slightly different use. This is an exciting one to keep an eye on.”

Susie Hood – Content, SEO & Marketing Consultant

On AI and automation in content in 2023…

“There are plenty of people worried that AI is coming to take all marketing jobs away from real people, but the reality is that even as amazing as things like Chat GPT are, they ultimately lack the creativity and real-world context that sets people apart from the robots. It’s not difficult to tell AI content and well-crafted professional human content apart, even though big strides have been made. While AI shouldn’t be generating website content for businesses, it very much still has it’s uses in content, SEO and marketing generally. 

“I regularly use tools such as Grammarly, which uses AI to essentially proofread content. It’s certainly not perfect, but it does a useful job that can help speed up delivery of great, human-created content.

“Every writer has probably experienced ‘blank page syndrome’, where you struggle to get started with a piece of content. AI can certainly help with this (as can many other things, but we’re looking at AI specifically here). Using an AI tool to come up with some ideas, find relevant stats or quotes (and sources) and even do some rudimentary keyword research can all be helpful for writers to get the cogs to start turning. It can also be used in image and even video creation, although those tools have much further still to go, in my opinion, before they are producing anything that is actually usable for marketers. It will be interesting to see how things utilising AI look by the end of 2023.”

2023 is likely to be a very challenging year for marketers and businesses alike. With some uncertainty on several fronts, it can be tempting to scale back strategies and activity and play it safe. However, we believe that there are lots of opportunities out there for brands and organisations that are willing to utilise the right blend of expertise, technology and creativity in 2023. 

If you would like some support with any aspect of your marketing this year, we’d love to hear from you. 

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