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How to get ahead of 2023 marketing trends (for small to medium sized businesses)

Published: December 08 2022

See terms you don’t understand in this article? Chances are you’ll find definitions in our ultimate social media glossary!

2023 is just around the corner, and that means many businesses (ourselves included) are starting to make plans and objectives for the new year. 

The big question is: what types of marketing are worth investing in in 2023? There are always new trends, platforms and consumer preferences to take into account each year, and you will benefit from staying on top of them. You may not choose to implement every shiny new thing into your own strategy, but trends in the business world are trends for a reason—because they’re working!

Here are the top seven marketing trends we think will be gaining traction in 2023, and actionable steps you can take to get ahead of them if they are a fit for your business.

Email marketing to increase sales and leads

Email marketing continues to be a high-achiever in driving leads and sales for both B2B and B2C businesses.

From sending a regular newsletter to offering special promotions to subscribers to an automated drip campaign, email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to get your message to those who have already shown an interest in your product or service.

How to get started

If you’ve yet to experiment with email marketing, here are a few ideas to play around with in the new year:

  • Set up an account on Mailchimp for free and explore its features. You can use Mailchimp completely free up to a certain number of contacts.
  • Start building your database. Put an eNews sign up form on your website using Mailchimp, start asking customers if they’d like to subscribe as they check out at the till, and share your signup form on social media.
  • Experiment with exclusive promotions offered in your eNews to drive higher open rates and increase sales/leads.

Continued rise of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing, or paying someone with a large following to promote your product/service, has continued to grow in popularity across just about every industry. As social media platforms become increasingly competitive places to advertise, partnering with influencers is proving to be an effective way to break through the noise.

How to get started

If you’re interested in trying out influencer marketing, start small. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to pay an influencer with millions of followers to get results!

  • Manually search for influencers by browsing feeds on the social media channels relevant to your target audience. Search for topics/keywords in your vertical and chances are you will come across a few accounts that may be interested in partnering with you!
  • Ask around your local community. Your customers, clients or other business owners in your industry may know of some popular local accounts.
  • Use software like Tagger Media, BuzzSumo, or Upfluence to discover and reach out to relevant influencers.

Importance of artificial intelligence (AI)

Every year, AI becomes more and more integral to your marketing efforts. From algorithms on social media platforms allowing you to get more and more specific with your target audience to the rise of AI art generators and writers, there’s no running away from artificial intelligence—it’s here to stay in one form or another.

How to get started

Since the importance of AI in marketing is likely to continue increasing, it’s important to start embracing it as a part of your strategy.

  • Educate yourself on the algorithms of the major social media platforms so you can set your paid and organic content up for success.
  • Learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO)—whether or not your site shows up when people search for related keywords is determined almost entirely by AI.
  • Experiment with AI copy generators like Copy AI. They are great tools for getting inspiration and writing basic copy. We’ve seen clients have particular success with AI tools when it comes to small pieces of copy such as product descriptions for e-commerce stores!
  • Free AI art generators may not be particularly useful for small business marketing yet, but they sure are fun to play around with! Fotor, Hotpot, and NightCafe are all free and easy to use.

Collecting and leveraging consumer data

The importance of data has been ever-growing for decades, and 2023 will be no exception.

In today’s competitive landscape, collecting and/or leveraging data about your target market is essential to the success of businesses in almost every industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean knowing everything there is to know about a consumer, but gathering basic data such as location, interests and, in some cases, contact information can be a game changer in getting your message to the right people.

How to get started

The days of relying on surveys and anecdotal evidence are all but gone—today, it’s all about taking advantage of algorithms, automated optimization and lead gen tools.

Here are a few ideas to get you started collecting and leveraging consumer data:

  • Use what you know about your customers to properly configure targeting settings on digital ads. Powerful algorithms used by Google/YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, TikTok, and other advertising platforms will use this basic data to serve ads to the people who are most likely to convert to a sale or lead.
  • Create a lead gen tool—that is, a free resource, workbook or template to give to potential customers for free. Add it to your website or run a lead generation ad set on social media and have users fill in a form with basic information about themselves so you can contact them with other info or offers that might be of interest.
  • Build an email drip campaign that collects data to give you insight into the interests of particular readers. You can set up automatic segments based on who clicks which link, downloads a resource, etc.

Employee engagement and advocacy more important than ever

With unprecedented labour shortages impacting every industry, small and medium sized businesses are strengthening their recruitment and retention efforts across the board. Positive employee engagement is, of course, a big part of these initiatives.

However, employee engagement is also becoming an important part of marketing initiatives. This is because employee engagement leads to employee advocacy—the act of employees overtly or covertly promoting the business they work for.

Similar to the idea of influencer marketing, having the people who know your business the best—your employees—speak highly of your brand goes a long way towards improving your authenticity and building trust among consumers.

How to get started

If you feel you could use some improvement in this area, here are some tips on starting to engage and activate your employees:

  • Encourage your team members to post about business on social media—are their products they’re particularly excited about? Is there a project they were a part of that they were proud of? Did something fun happen today? Don’t prescribe content for them or micromanage what they are allowed to post. You can set up guidelines around professional online conduct but should allow them to be authentic on their own accounts.
  • Engage with your employees when they post work-related content on social media (where appropriate). Congratulate them on projects, thank them for great work, and celebrate achievements with them. This will encourage further advocacy in the future!
  • Create content for your business’ social media that features your employees showing off products, talking about services or sharing what they love about their jobs.

Short form content keeps getting shorter

TikTok, Snapchat, Reels, YouTube shorts—the demand for short-form video content keeps getting stronger.

On top of social media platforms continuing to prioritize short form organic content, keeping video ads short and sweet is also becoming more and more important. This year, YouTube experimented with placing 5-10 unskippable ads in front of and throughout videos, hinting that the future of successful video ads is short, front loaded messages that grab attention in five seconds or less.

Plus, the addition of BeReal to the suite of popular social media channels shows the draw of simple, unedited and effortless content. And while marketers have yet to completely infiltrate this new platform, big brands like Chipotle have started to experiment with BeReal marketing.

How to get started

If you find yourself putting off making short form content, here are a few small steps you can take to get started:

  • Browse Reels and/or TikTok videos on a business or personal account. Even if you don’t think these platforms are relevant to your business, it will benefit you to see how people are creating and engaging with short form content.
  • When making video content, work with your production company/freelancer to keep the message short and concise.
  • If you already have a full length (60-90 second) video you’re using to promote your business, consider how you can cut it into smaller snippets to maximize its performance on various digital advertising platforms.

Uncertain future for social media giants

What’s going on with Twitter? Is Facebook really losing money on the Metaverse? Are users actually fleeing those platforms at record speeds?

While it’s impossible to predict what the state of these two social media giants will be this time next year, it’s possible we’ll see a change in the way businesses, organizations and individuals use these platforms to share and consume information. Twitter, in particular, has implemented a number of changes that sparked a necessary shift in the way accounts interact with each other. Whether these changes will be continued, escalated or reversed in the future is to be seen.

Need help keeping up with marketing trends?

If you’re tired of being late to the game on new trends, platforms, algorithms and platforms, we can add a little insight to your feed, inbox and watch list, all tailored to small to medium sized businesses and organizations.

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Last but not least, subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out The M Bomb, a video series where we discuss topics of interest for businesses and marketers (and have fun while doing it!).