As challenges of global issues, capacity management, and buy-in for further investment continue to loom over in-house marketers, a focus on ‘slow burn’ tactics might seem out of place.
However, in the face of ever-more fractured, saturated marketplaces, both in-house and agency marketing leaders alike are in agreement on the trends to shape Marketing Communications in 2023; a year where brand loyalty - and authenticity - will be king.
In this year’s ‘Pulse Check’ survey, we asked more than 150 in-house and agency marketing leaders to share their predictions on the trends, challenges, and opportunities they’re expecting to see in 2023.
Marketing Communications Trends in 2023: The Opportunities
From the below options, we asked our respondents to select the major opportunities for marketing leaders and communication strategies in 2023:
- Branded Communities and Audience Engagement
- Consumer/Market Research
- Customer Experience and Retention
- Organic Growth Channels - Social, SEO, etc.
- OOH, TV & Media Spend
- PR and Reputation Building
- PPC and Digital Advertising
- Tech-led Solutions - New Platforms, Software etc.
- Other (to be clarified)
With the exception of one discrepancy between our in-house and agency respondents on the opportunity to be found in Tech-led solutions, the results were almost identically aligned on the key opportunities for marketing communications leaders in the new year.
#1 - Investing in Customer Retention and Loyalty Strategies in 2023
Across both in-house and agency marketing leaders, more than 50% of respondents chose Customer Retention and Loyalty as holding the most opportunity for marketers in the new year - the most popular response selected across the board.
Ian Hyde, Head of Digital Performance at Visualsoft, stresses the importance of Customer-centric marketing in 2023.
‘Focussing on customer experience, and giving consumers a real reason to shop with you will be key in 2023. Rewarding loyalty and attracting customers through personalisation will allow you to gain a competitive advantage in tricky market conditions.’
As Ryan Ogilvie, Head of SEO at Evolved Search shares, 2023 is the year to ‘get to know your audiences! Invest time and money in speaking to your audiences and identifying their needs.
These needs can then be fed into every marketing channel to ensure that everything you're doing has your audience(s) in mind.’
#2 - Branded Communities and Audience Engagement
We flagged it last year, we’ll flag it again - Branded Communities and Audience Engagement came second on the list of key opportunities for in-house marketing leaders, with 47.2% of respondents choosing this option.
As consumers become more ‘switched on’ to blatant marketing efforts, it’s no surprise that direct audience engagement and relationship building are taking the lead as a major trend for Marketing Communications leaders in 2023.
Dan Maisey, Head of Commercial Performance at Fabric Social, stresses the importance of authentic channel activation for any 2023 marketing strategy.
‘Community development will be crucial; it's not about Gen Z or Millennials etc. anymore. It's about communities within them.
Brands tapping into those communities through top-quality organic content that resonates, that's where brands will gain resonance, salience, and ultimately brand loyalty.’
View our Whitepaper for guidance on creating an authentic brand and building a loyal community: Against the Grain: Marketing Done Differently
#3 - ‘Going Long’ with Investment in PR and Reputation Building in 2023
As far as marketing opportunities in 2023 go, the final frontrunner for marketing communications trends selected by our respondents was a focus on PR and Reputation Building.
Though ranked 5th as a priority for our agency respondents, almost 48% of in-house marketers chose an investment in PR and Reputation Building as a key opportunity in the new year.
The trend of ‘going long’ with marketing strategies has been gaining momentum in 2022 with the likes of Airbnb citing their investment in ‘brand marketing’ to be at the core of their success in a turbulent year.
Sarah-Louisa Stanton, Marketing Manager at Meridian Business Support, highlighted the strategic - and ethical - value of brand positioning for marketing teams in the new year.
‘Our customers are 100% the most important part of our 2023 strategy.
We're heading into a truly difficult time, so ensuring we position our brand as one who genuinely cares and wants to support all our customers will not only help with brand awareness - it’s also morally the right thing to do.’
Investing in longer-term strategies, however, doesn’t need to mean a total disregard for shorter term tactics.
Nick Boyle, Technical SEO Director at The Audit Lab shares the value of finding a balance with an integrated marketing strategy.
‘It’s all about diversity! Channel diversity (and as such, KPI diversity) and a solid short-to-medium-term strategy is going to be vital. Hit the quick wins while the long-term strategy gains momentum.’
#4 - Organic growth through social, SEO, customer communications, and brand authenticity
Across the response for this year’s survey, another core marketing communications trend for 2023 emerges in the form of investment in ‘organic’ channels.
From SEO to social media, organic channels are making a major comeback after the short-term digital acquisition boom in recent years. Partly attributed to the growing complexity of customer journeys, but also the growth in understanding of ‘being marketed to’ from consumers, organic channels allow audiences to discover brands of their own volition, and combat the potential skepticism around shorter-term paid acquisition.
The role of content in a successful organic strategy in the new year can’t be understated - but effectively executing this can be a challenge in itself.
Kieran Edward, Director at Dead Pixel Films, stresses the importance of creativity in organic content in 2023.
‘There needs to be a focus on creating content that consumers can’t create themselves. It’s hard to create aspiration and brand mental availability if your touch points are the same as their iPhone camera roll or Instagram stories. Bring back escapism!’
View our event round-up: Organic Social 2023 - Trends and Opportunities for your Growth Strategy
#5 - Segmentation, Personalisation, and Audience Understanding
Our final marketing communication trend prediction for 2023 - and it’s no surprise given the above - is a focus on properly understanding your audience.
Investment in consumer research, integrity of audience data, and smaller, more targeted campaigns are all on the roster for 2023 marketing communications leaders.
As Danijel Matijević, Marketing Operations Manager at education app Photomath shares, ‘A key consideration for us is the need to reach and engage with the right audience, with a clear focus on identifying and targeting the segments of the market that are most likely to benefit from the app - and developing targeted and effective marketing campaigns to reach these segments.’
What to expect in 2023: Further trends for Marketing leaders
External support - Marketing Agency Relationships in 2023
Despite predictions of a challenging year ahead, in-house teams are looking optimistic when it comes to budgets and external support for their marketing strategy.
With 70% of in-house respondents predicting no significant change to their budget in the new year, more than 60% also believe there will be no significant change to the scope or length of relationships with external resource and marketing agencies.
Andy Hill, Founder at Distribute Digital, shares that in-house teams looking to outsource particular areas of strategy to marketing agencies should focus on ‘deciding what presents the best value for your in-house team, and what it makes sense to partner on. Don't have an expensive internal team doing work that can be outsourced.’
View our upcoming events calendar - to get involved in the expert-led workshops around key marketing challenges and trends in 2023
2023 Marketing Communications Trends - Contributors and Publication
As a blend of anonymous and public contributions, more than 150 businesses have contributed to the findings within the report, to be released in the new year.
In-house contributions came from a range of industries and businesses, including; Anaergia, Aparito, Exclaimer, Glean, IRIS Software Group, Lovell, Meridian Business Support, Photomath, Respect Mortgages, We are Adam, Victorian Plumbing, and more.
Agency contributions were also collected across a range of specialisms, with credit to; A Story Called, Actuate Agency, Audience Collective, Better Agency, BH&P, Curated, Dead Pixel Films, december19, Different Narrative, Distribute Digital, Drummond Central, Emperor, Empower, Evoluted, Evolved, Fabric Social, GottaBe!, hub, Ice Blue Sky, MOOT, Peak District SEO, Quba, Quibble, Sciart Marketing, Secret Source, Selesti, Smartebusiness, Smoking Gun, SnowLilley Marketing, Start Communication, Summit, The Audit Lab, The SEO Works, TrunkBBI, Visualsoft, WebBox, Workhouse, and more.
With the full report set to be shared in early 2023, join the community to stay in the loop.