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2023 marketing trends: Micro-influencers, SEO and self-love seekers

After improved data optimisation, the increased usage of AI and TikTok becoming the social media go-to were named as the top three marketing trends this year (see the reasons why), experts from marketing agencies, PR companies, academics and business leaders offered their alternative predictions.

From influencers influencing even more to VR/AR experiential marketing blooming, we round up the best of the rest.

Charlie Cottrell, Executive Editorial Director, We Are Social: ‘The number one marketing trend should be relatability’

“Smart brands will be the consumer-obsessed brands. That means listening to what your consumers are telling you and using that insight to inspire the way you market to them. We know that in a recession consumers review their spending. They’ll be looking for value; not just price but the best possible option for their budget. Understanding what ‘value’ means to your consumers is the key here. So how do you do that? See what they’re talking about on social. Read the comments, look for trends and patterns, then play this back in your marketing.”

Mark Gray, Founder, FitWith: ‘Expect more and more micro-influencers

“As the world of influencer marketing evolves, marketers are increasingly turning to micro-influencers to promote their products. By 2023, more and more micro-influencers will choose to monetise and directly connect with their audiences rather than through a brand. This shift in influencer marketing strategy is being driven by the changing demands of the digital landscape. Consumers are becoming more discerning in their choice of influencers, and are looking for a more personalised, authentic experience. Micro-influencers can provide this, as they are often more in tune with their audiences and can create a more intimate connection with them.”

Sofia Papadopoulou, Creative Director at UNIT9’s M.A.D (Metaverse Advisory Dept): ‘Storytelling will shift to Storyliving

“2023 will see our experience-driven era of communication intensify, with brands shifting their marketing strategies to readjust their focus from storytelling to ‘storyliving’. This more immersive approach is all about making audiences active participants, placing them as the heroes in their own stories and having them create emotional memories with brands. Technology is a key facilitator of this trend, with VR and AR at its core, helping to immerse audiences even further. Lacoste’s recent activation at London’s Westfield is a great example of this storyliving approach, drawing shoppers in with an interactive AR hunt for prizes that puts users in control, as well as spotlighting participants on screens in real-time. We’ll be seeing a lot more of these audience-centric experiences in 2023.”

Hannah Campbell, Co-Founder & Managing Director, One Twelve Agency: ‘Sound above vision

”In 2023, audio will continue to become an increasingly present element of our day-to-day lives. Driven by the explosion of sound-on apps such as TikTok, the increasing ubiquity of voice search assistants such as Siri and Alexa, and the ability to be constantly plugged into audio through true wireless earphones, the way marketers look at sonic branding needs to catch up. 

“Sound can evoke strong emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories when used correctly. In 2023, brands will start to innovate their approach to audio, thinking deeper about how to use sound to represent their values and brand identity while connecting with their audiences across different platforms. This will not only include music choices but also how brands use voice in their adverts and technology. Brands will need to be more scientific with their approach to sound and consider elements such as deliberate use of certain frequencies, tempo, silence and composition to evoke emotions and meaning in their campaigns.”

Polly Astill, Senior Marketing Manager, Impression: ‘SEO will be the biggest revenue driver

“We asked senior marketers to take part in a survey to determine what the marketing landscape will look like in 2023. Despite the cost of living crisis highlighted as the biggest challenge businesses will face in 2023, almost 700 respondents said their marketing budgets will increase with 400+ predicting SEO to be their biggest revenue driver. 

“As the competitive paid media landscape drives higher CPAs, it’s no surprise that organic tactics will be utilised to drive meaningful growth. The businesses that reap the rewards will be those that understand the importance of investing in a solid SEO strategy alongside short-term performance activity. This combined approach will maximise returns on marketing investment in 2023 and beyond.”

Dr Melisa Mete, Lecturer in Marketing, Henley Business School: ‘Consumers want to be happy and healthy

“For 2023, one of the main marketing trends will focus on self-love seeking – consumers who want brands and companies to celebrate their individuality and create a room for their self-expression. We already see this consumer trend in some groups (such as Gen Z) but it will become more mainstream. After Covid-19, consumers are showing more interest in having a better mental and physical wellbeing, showing their individuality, improving themselves and being happy, healthy, and better in all area of their lives. Brands need to recognise this need and provide products, services, and experiences accordingly.”

Sam Budd, CEO, Buddy Media Group: ‘Web3 is the one to watch

“An area where I see a lot of opportunity for businesses and brands in particular is on platforms that feed into Web3 and the future of the Internet. Discord, Reddit and Twitch are the main ones so far and the rise of Mastodon is one to watch. Web3 communities are all about developing sub-cultures and as the ecosystem grows, so does the chance to reach the very people who are advocates of your business and industry – whether B2B or consumer.”

Daniel Bailey, VP of EMEA, Amplitude: ‘Freeeedom!

“In 2023, the ‘try before you buy’ mentality will become the norm. Today’s consumers do not want to rely on reviews or other second-hand experiences, they want to test products through free trials or freemium offerings before ever clicking purchase. This means that there is nowhere for a bad product to hide. Even the best marketing campaigns will not cover up a poor customer experience. In order to move free users to paying customers, brands will invest more in product-led growth than ever before. Our own data supports that. More than one-third (37%) of business leaders cited product-led growth as a top priority, and I expect to see even more brands adopt this strategy in the New Year.”