How will artificial intelligence take over digital marketing?
How are leading brands approaching their ad spend in a year of uncertainty? And is it finally time to move from Instagram to TikTok?
These were just a few of the questions on our mind as we entered the new year. So we decided to ask our customers what they thought about the future of digital marketing.
We asked marketing leaders from Simba Dickie Group, waterdrop®, and Purelei how they’re preparing for 2023, and what other brands need to prepare for in 2023. These are the top digital marketing trends for 2023!
More content, please
In a time of economic uncertainty, ‘do less with more’ is still appropriate.
However, demand for content from both consumers and stakeholders sees no sign of slowing down.
“We’ve realized that if we want to grow our social media channels, we have to publish something every day,” says Lisa Kattner, Marketing Manager at Simba Dickie Group. “It also has to be engaging somehow - something funny or have a cool twist. No one wants to see just a stock picture of a product anymore.”
“We need a lot of content for our TikTok channels, because content fatigue kicks in a lot faster than on Instagram or Facebook,” says Cosima Ferrari, Team Lead Paid Social at waterdrop. “For example, we need to change our ad creative at least twice a week. And as we grow, our need for content grows too.”
So it’s not just more content - it’s more high-quality, excellent content.
Brands will continue to create content in-house, but also need to consider new ways of sourcing content, either from creators, fans, or other means.
“Things have changed compared to last year - video content is extremely important to us, especially in portrait format,” says Kattner. “We do our own shoots as well as use a content sourcing platform, but the issue with our own shoots is that we always have the same background. With content sourcing platforms, we can see a wide variety of backgrounds that really makes the content more engaging.”
Video will be essential for all brands, but not just any video.
“The best videos are personal, for example showing a child playing with the product,” says Kattner.
Speaking of video, TikTok has continued their dominant growth, and that is catching the attention of more and more brands. However, most are taking a measured approach to TikTok.
“The ephemerality of content is increasing, and therefore the demand,” says Philip Jahnke, Performance Manager at Purelei. “In advertising, the algorithm handles everything except the content - you need to provide that yourself. And as new social channels pop up, that often means new content.”
So how are brands managing this huge demand for content?
All brands mentioned a combination of avenues - studios, internal teams, user-generated content platforms, influencer campaigns, and communities of creators. It’s safe to say that internal teams are just too swamped to meet the immense demand of content from both consumers and stakeholders.
“We see social media and paid social continuing to move in the right directions - of course strongly supported by TikTok,” says Jahnke.
TikTok hasn’t stolen Instagram’s thunder - yet
TikTok has been the hottest social media platform for some time and often mentioned in the same breath as Instagram. Meta certainly has TikTok in their sights, but what about other brands?
“TikTok has definitely become more interesting, and more often we hear the need to run a campaign on TikTok. But you always have to think - how do we implement it effectively?” says Kattner. “It’s a platform we’re keeping close eye on, but at the same time, we need to be where our target audience is.”
“TikTok and especially the algorithm are incredibly interesting,” says Ferrari. “But Instagram and Facebook are still incredibly strong channels, so we’ll be keeping our priority there for the time being.”
Consumers can move channels at the drop of a hat, but brands need to take more strategic choices. And if your main audience is above the age of 25, TikTok starts to lose its appeal.
“Sure, we’re trying to grow on TikTok,” says Jahnke. “But until we see the numbers or results we want, we won’t spend more on it yet.”
However, Jahnke believes that TikTok will continue to remain relevant, and only grow in the future.
“The average user is younger on TikTok, which means a new target group is emerging. There’s a lot of potential for TikTok over the next several years.”
AI and digital marketing - a perfect match?
ChatGPT and DALL-E have dominated headlines and social media channels all over the world. Naturally, everyone is interested in applying AI for business, but how will it go?
“The biggest benefit AI brings to digital marketing is copy production and content or visual evaluation,” says Jahnke.
However, like TikTok, AI needs to have proven applications and results before brands are willing to prioritize it.
“AI isn’t in our processes yet, but in the future I imagine it will be part of ours and many other brands’ processes. It’s all around us - for example, ads displayed on Meta or TikTok. The difference is that now we can start to actively use it ourselves. I’m curious to see how we as brands and the everyday consumer will integrate AI into our daily lives!”
It’s safe to say that we’re all interested to see where AI goes, and that there are huge benefits for being one of the first to successfully integrate AI into your daily processes.
Advertising - back to basics
How will advertising look in 2023?
Well, these brands agreed that algorithms will play a larger role in advertising, for one simple fact - platforms like TikTok and Facebook already know what we want.
“We saw in 2022 and even in 2021 that the tasks you’d normally do in the ad manager were fading into the background. The algorithms are already so good that they can do the targeting themselves,” says Ferrari. “So we spent less time worrying about targeting and more time testing which content and messages resonated best with our potential customers.”
As algorithms handle serving your ads to the right people at the right time, brands need to make sure their ad creative is flawless to make the most of the opportunity. Ad fatigue can cause your ads to underperform, especially on TikTok. Keeping your ad creative fresh through generating new content or repurposing old content will keep your conversion rate high.
“We have to change our TikTok ad creative twice a week; content fatigue kicks in much faster than on Facebook or Instagram,” says Ferrari.
“We’ve tested some ads on TikTok, and we’ve found that ads have a much shorter duration in which they run well. When the ephemerality of content increases, the demand also increases. So this plays into the increased content demand,” says Jahnke.
But what about the contents of your ads? What sort of trends did brands expect?
“One of our biggest learnings in 2022 was that good offers and discounts work when buying power dwindles,” says Ferrari. “We’re focusing on salesy campaigns that go back to the roots of marketing: what do our potential customers want, and what problems do we solve with our products?”
And as always, it’s about establishing a strong connection with the customer as soon as possible.
“For about a year now, we’ve had videos from an influencer next to the products on our website to accompany the product images,” says Kittner. “Having that personal touch and showing real people using the product is vital, especially with products that have an emotional value.”
Strategic and deliberate use of social channels
“We are much more specific now about the distribution of budget to different channels, as well as the goals we have for each channel,” says Jahnke, echoing our discussions with brands.
When you need to maximize impact, you need to fully understand what each channel provides you and what you hope to achieve there. Only then can you really move the needle with your social media.
“We found that if we use our social channels effectively, we achieve more than with email marketing. That’s been huge for us,” says Jahnke. “But it’s because we have been very precise with what we use our channels for, and what each channel can do for us.”
Social commerce was mentioned multiple times as a feature of interest for brands, despite the fact that the phenomenon hasn’t been nearly as popular outside China. Despite this, brands are still excited for the potential that social commerce offers.
“We’re looking into the social commerce features coming to different channels,” says Ferrari. “We are currently testing Instagram Direct Check Out and TikTok Store.”
But even when you have multiple channels with different goals, it’s vital to keep your messaging unified and tell your brand story in a consistent way.
“Having a personal touch across all touchpoints is challenging, but it plays a huge role in building lasting relationships with our customers,” says Jahnke.
Stay strategic, stay agile
In a time of uncertainty, it’s no surprise that brands go back to basics - using data to find what works, and refining those processes.
And the successes for 2022 included using data more effectively and responding to issues quickly.
“Last year we learned how to structure and use our data much more effectively,” says Jahnke. “I was also proud of our agility - we could make changes with very short notice, especially towards content.”
“We had a strong schedule but still had room to implement something spontaneously,” says Kattner. “It’s important to have that balance of structure and flexibility.”
And when you use that structured approach to content, you can win big.
“Content is the decisive means through which you address your audience,” says Ferrari. “We focused heavily on content creation, messaging, different angles and hooks, and it paid off.”
Building community through storytelling
In tough times, brand loyalty is what keeps consumers from switching to competitor products.
But how can you build that loyalty online? These brands are going back to the essentials - what is their story, and who is it for?
“At Purelei, we want to bring Aloha to the world,” says Jahnke. “This is a theme we show as often as possible. We see that if we do this consistently on all channels on which we have contact with our customers, it positively affects our customers. They also give it back, which forms a community.”
Consistency on all channels with a clear story. That’s how the best communities are built. By telling a consistent story and acting in line with your own values, consumers will learn that you can be trusted.
“In our advertising, we’re focusing on campaigns that push the sale. We’re going back to the basics: what do our customers want, and what problems do we solve with our products?” says Ferrari.
Wherever possible, leading brands are finding moments wherever possible to boost sales and increase retention by forging those emotional connections. And much of that comes down to content created by real people - influencers and creators who actually use the products themselves.
“We keep videos next to our products online so consumers can see how other families react to the toys. It’s so important to make that connection with products that have emotional value,” says Kittner.
Strengthen your digital marketing in 2023
As the uncertainty from 2022 seems to be going nowhere anytime soon, brands will need to double down on their storytelling and community building to retain customers and growth. And at the heart of that storytelling will be a consistent, resonant message across all channels, powered by high-quality content.
And luckily, as AI and algorithms take over more of the manual tasks involved in content production and advertising, you’ll have more time to craft those storylines and ensure your message gets across to the right audience.
Diversifying your content production is not only recommended, it’s essential to keep up with the increasing demand of content from both stakeholders and consumers. But don’t adhere to rigid plans and schedules - allow your team to be agile and flexible when the situation demands.
With these trends in mind, you’re sure to succeed in 2023!