The world of marketing moves at a rapid pace. In a 2022 article published by Kellogg Insight, it was mentioned that it’s only been “55 years since Philip Kotler, widely considered the father of modern marketing, first published his groundbreaking textbook Marketing Management,” and yet, the book has been revised more than a dozen times since.
It shows just how much can change in the timespan of one person's career, and explains why the number of new roles emerging within the last decade—from social media management to influencer marketing—continues to climb.
Of course, those in the field therefore understand the importance of staying abreast of such changes, and how keeping track of trends can mean make or break for their company—and their competitors. Enter our report on the most important marketing trends to watch. Here, I interviewed 18 different marketing executives to get their take on the top marketing trends in 2023, then combed through the responses to showcase the most common themes.
1. Adoption of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic in 2023, particularly since the release of ChatGPT in November of 2022. And while it doesn’t pertain exclusively to marketing, it’s certainly still relevant—enough so that we produced an entire, separate article on how CMOs are leveraging AI in marketing. Here, our featured executives note some of the fascinating roles that AI can play in creating content, removing bias from decision-making, and tailoring marketing messages to specific audience segments. They’ve even addressed the big, looming question: Will artificial intelligence replace marketers? Read on.
No, I do not believe robots will replace marketers. But I do believe we can leverage AI and machine learning to evolve our messaging and visuals more quickly, particularly within digital media placements. By leveraging these tools, marketers can personalize, optimize, and tailor marketing messages to specific audience segments, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates—as well as deeper brand affinity because you can reach only the most relevant people for your business with the most relevant messages and imagery.Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish
2. Evolution of Social Media
Social media is not new in the marketing world, but the evolution of it has continued to keep even the most decorated marketing executives on their toes. Whether it’s the introduction of new platforms (hello, Threads), new content formats, new consumer behaviors on various channels, or perhaps even the decline of some (dare we say ‘X’?), one simply cannot afford to look away for very long. Here are some of the ways that our featured marketing executives have noticed social evolving throughout 2023, plus their thoughts on what social media marketing trends we can expect to see from here.
Social media itself is not new, but there are new social media platforms emerging every month, if not every week or day. Keep in mind that not every social media platform is going to focus on your audience and you want to talk where people are listening and engaging.Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS
3. Changes in Data Regulation
With the rise of privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA and the decline of third-party cookies, navigating the world of digital marketing is nothing short of complex. Continued regulation will prompt marketers both in the United States and globally to look at alternatives such as data clean rooms, first-party data and even direct conversations with customers (yes, it may be old school, but it works). As more and more customers expect personalized experiences (more on that in a moment), dropping the ball on data is simply not an option. So, here’s what our executives had to say about it.
As Google’s third-party deprecation goes into effect, first-party data will become the new standard advertisers use to fuel a range of targeting methods. We can expect movement beginning to happen in the first half of this year. Why? Advertisers are focusing on more efficient buying, stronger accountability and better return on investment, while gaining a greater understanding that a large part of the web is already incompatible with third-party cookies even at this moment.Jordan Bitterman, CMO at TripleLift
4. Customer Segmentation and Personalization
Your clean customer data comes into play as tactics like segmentation and personalization continue to rise. Dividing your customers up based on common characteristics such as demographics or behaviors is the key to successful personalization, and according to our executives, this should be top of mind. Whether it’s through email, social media advertising or recommended content, your audience wants to feel that you understand who they are, their values, and what is most relevant and likely to solve a pain point in their life. Anything less and you may as well be using the wrong name to address them in your email communications—it comes off drastically out of touch.
Whether it be in emails, on a website or any other form of digital marketing, people want to feel like you are speaking directly to them—who they are, what they are concerned about, where they work, and more. They're no longer satisfied to be part of a larger group.Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS
5. Shifts in Overall Strategy
This one is hard to sum up as it isn’t as specific as some of our other marketing trends, however it’s still incredibly important as it can drive your other decisions. The point that our marketing executives are trying to make is that with the continuous shift of trends, tools, and audience behaviors, marketers will need to consistently stay light on their feet. It isn’t enough to simply read an article about current trends and then incorporate those trends into your strategy. It requires thoughtful execution, constant measurement of metrics, and the ability to turn on a dime if and when necessary.
There are going to be fewer cool, jazzy, new, hyped-up ideas. This year, we as business owners will have to focus on stealing market share from our competition and snuffing them out. To do that, we need to have excellent data-driven decision-making. We need to have excellent content, multimedia content, and recyclability.Daniel Klein, CEO and Founder of Joseph Studios
6. Testing New Channels
Part of shifting your marketing strategy is allocating the time and resources to testing new channels and tactics. This could mean experimenting with audio content and podcasts, budgeting for a creative 3D billboard, or pushing your content beyond your email newsletter and sharing them to LinkedIn’s publishing service and messenger services. While you’re looking at some of the new ways our featured marketers have found success with reaching their audiences, consider taking an omnichannel approach to really maximize the number of times a potential customer sees your message.
Engage in a multi-pronged approach to marketing. Gone are the days when you could do one or two things to move the needle in terms of sales, customer growth, and wallet share. Today, it’s essential to take a multi-pronged approach. That means doubling down on your SEO, Google Business Profile (GBP), social media presence, and email marketing to stay top of mind, share consistent brand messaging, and be shown in organic SERPs.Nikki Corbett, Owner of Precise Creative
7. ROI and Budget Accountability
Every CMO knows that numbers matter, and the numbers with dollar signs in front of them particularly matter to your CFO and CEO. Another trend that surfaced was the rise of marketing investment and budget accountability, proving the return on investment of your spend, and impacting the bottom line. Many marketers can relate to some campaigns being harder to track than others, particularly when there’s a lack of data from more traditional channels. Read on for our how network of marketing executives are addressing this:
ROI Is Undergoing a Cyclical Revaluation. Advertising leaders always need to drive performance in their campaigns—no time more so than during challenging economic times. Spending cuts are a reality and budgets need to work harder. In 2023, marketers are prioritizing ad experiences like in-feed Native to deliver high brand recall, ensure their video ads are being viewed, and driving traffic back to their sites.Jordan Bitterman, CMO at TripleLift
8. Organizational Purpose and Corporate Responsibility
At the end of the day, it isn’t just dollars that marketers are responsible for, but public image. The last trend on our list is around the topic of organizational purpose and corporate responsibility, which our marketers identified as being more and more important in 2023. While it could be argued that this is less of a trend and more of a critical step, it's fair to say that the actions you take towards it should be constantly analyzed and scrutinized—as a true North Star—through the many years to come.
I predict an increased focus on relationship marketing during 2023 to help grow organic, sustainable, and profitable results. A commitment to doing what’s right for the customer, and not just what’s easy, will be a great differentiator for many organizations.Kevin Ruane, CMO at Precisely
If we learned anything from the more than half-dozen revisions of marketing textbooks over the last 55 years, it's that marketing trends and best practices are constantly changing. What is true now may be different just six months from now, so stay up-to-date on the latest with us at The CMO.
Enjoyed this article? Check out some of our other interview round-ups, like how CMOs are leveraging AI in marketing and the top 8 marketing tactics to drive results. While you’re here, be sure to also subscribe to The CMO newsletter to get all things marketing and leadership straight to your inbox.