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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.

Kevin Ruane, CMO at Precisely

Kevin Ruane, CMO at Precisely

“The recent launch of ChatGPT has certainly raised some fascinating questions about the role AI can play in more quickly and cost-effectively creating content. There will be a rise in marketers adopting this as a tactic in 2023, but it will be interesting to see what the impact of it is on overall engagement—after all, can AI really replicate the human expertise traditionally used to create and deliver valuable content for customers?”

Daniel Klein, CEO and Founder of Joseph Studios

Daniel Klein, CEO and Founder of Joseph Studios

“The number one trend is going to be how to use artificial intelligence to make much more sound decisions. I want to preface that with, it feels a lot like 2017 and we’re using the word “blockchain,” and everyone wants to be a part of the blockchain. Blockchain gets thrown around way too much, and it becomes overhyped and then it becomes pared, and then it’s not a thing. The great thing about AI is it’s an excellent way to remove biases from your decision-making process. AI can pull us out of that and help us make much more sound decisions. Imagine a world where, from an e-commerce perspective, you were able to input your business objectives, and then a systematic programmatic approach to decision-making.”

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
Marina Zubic, CMO at Async Labs

Marina Zubic, CMO at Async Labs

“Unavoidably, AI tools are already becoming a part of our private and professional lives, and marketing is no exception. While many fear these technological advancement will replace our jobs, I don’t see it that way. I think this can help all of us perfect and optimize our work, and we should use its benefits. For example, my team has actively started using tools like ChatGPT and Jasper.ai not to replace their skill, but to help them work more efficiently.”

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

“Generative AI – Everybody’s talking about it. It’s definitely going to change the world. But let’s not forget that people don’t really want to talk to robots (more on that in a second). I know a number of writers who have half-joked about AI taking their jobs. The important word here is “half.” As people become more familiar with the possibilities and limitations of Generative AI, they will realize that AI can’t replace people—at least not yet. Writers and designers who embrace technologies like ChatGPT or DALL-E in the same way that they embraced Photoshop or spell-check—as another tool in their belt that can help them elevate their art.”

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.

David Ciccarelli, CEO and Founder of Voices

David Ciccarelli, CEO and Founder of Voices

“Social media will get even more crowded: We know that short and fast videos are gaining popularity day by day. But shorter content forces people to consume more, at a faster pace. This means that brands and creators will have to create more content to keep up with demand. With so much content being pumped out daily, I think creators will really try to hone in on their target audience and own their niche.”

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
Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

“According to Digital 2023, while users’ time on the internet went down year over year compared with 2022, their time spent on social media only continues to increase. This indicates that digital habits are changing yet again—and that social media users are relying on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more information and research than they did before. For example, there’s a growing trust in the use of in-app purchases—which has the potential to change not only how and where people shop, but how they make their purchasing decisions. This is particularly important for marketers who are considering increasing their social media spend. While now is the time to invest in social media advertising, it’s also important to do so strategically, as users are becoming savvier when it comes to what they like to see and where they like to see it.”

Jordan Bitterman, CMO at TripleLift

Jordan Bitterman, CMO at TripleLift

“Social platforms have peaked. Over the last decade, digital media has been dominated by social platforms. Both users and advertisers flocked to them. However, the industry has reached an inflection point where many of those companies have become compromised due to concerns about data privacy, content moderation or antitrust efforts. With all those unknowns, marketers need to find ways to rely on ease, stability, and performance in their media buys. In 2023, we’re going to see media spend shifting to venues where marketers can be certain those needs are met.”

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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.

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

Jason Tsai, CMO at Captify

“Regulation (or threat of regulation) will continue to push us towards a more optimized model that’s good for users and advertisers. We’re still in the early stages of this. I don’t think anyone would argue that the user experience of pop-up cookie banners on every website is helping the core issue. As the countdown to cookie deprecation keeps ticking, we’ll see some innovation in this space that doesn’t make things worse for both parties.”

Hugo Loriot, Managing Partner at 55

Hugo Loriot, Managing Partner at 55

“With the sunsetting of third-party cookies, we have seen data clean rooms grow in popularity this year. In 2023, we expect to see them take center stage. As we move into a world with tightening privacy regulations, we will see marketers increasingly demand solutions—like Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR)—that allow for the continual sharing of data in a safe and privacy-first way. Data clean rooms enable brands to cross-match anonymized, aggregated data without actually revealing any personally identifiable information or allowing access to the data outside of the clean room.”

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
Bill Evans, CMO at Netwrix

Bill Evans, CMO at Netwrix

“I think a lot about analytics and dashboards, but there’s a human element to them—namely, that the manifested information is only as good as the data it is based on, and often, that data is flawed. Therefore, it’s important to augment your dashboards based on anecdotal info gleaned from direct conversations with people on the front lines. This feedback should be part of your planning and decision making.”

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.

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative MMS and Deploymint

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative MMS and Deploymint

“Marketing these days needs to be personalized for your target audience. We always say ‘design for everyone or design for no one—it is the same thing.’ What that means is that you really want to design or market directly to the persona or audience you are trying to reach. So, make sure that you are leveraging your data to be able to organize things such as your CRM, be it HubSpot or Salesforce or something else. Use the data to segment and personalize the message to your audience, targeting them where they are and when.”

Jessica Vogel, co-founder and chief brand officer at Scenthound

Jessica Vogel, co-founder and chief brand officer at Scenthound

“How consumers experience a brand should be top-of-mind these days, especially in an industry dominated by Millennial spending. The younger generations are prioritizing experience and are all about personalization and, in our digitalized world, everyone can be a brand advocate or a critic. A positive or negative experience can be instantly shared, whether tweeted, snapped, or tok’d. Considering and investing in the way consumers perceive your brand is key.”

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
Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

“For me, [deep segmentation] is mission-critical and I cannot emphasize it enough. In a crowded marketplace, marketing leaders now more than ever need to invest in research to understand their core target audience—what makes them tick, what their hopes and dreams are, what they do in their free time and how they consume media. Understand what sets them apart from other potential customers and what’s most important to them. And then understand what percentage of potential revenue they represent so you have more clarity on the business opportunity. Only once you have an in-depth understanding of your key target audience, can you start to develop the right creative, buy the right media, and create meaningful campaigns that will resonate with them. A lot of companies get this step wrong.”

Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS

Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS

“According to a 2022 survey by Gartner, 63% of marketers struggle to offer personalized experiences. Web 3.0 helps with the collaboration between humans and machines. While the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 could take 2+ more years, it will eventually provide a more customized, interactive user experience while giving more control over personal data and privacy. This will ultimately allow marketers to better understand demand and targeting and allow for tailored product offerings.”

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.

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative MMS and Deploymint

Ben LeDonni, Founder of Creative MMS and Deploymint

“There has been a really big increase in the amount of emphasis business leaders are (and should be) putting towards strategy; specifically, how to reach their audience with proper marketing. There’s all sorts of new tools and we’re seeing that businesses, especially B2B companies, are defining and refining how they use those tools to reach, attract, and convert their audience.”

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
Marina Zubic, CMO at Async Labs

Marina Zubic, CMO at Async Labs

“Thanks to continuous technology advancements, people keep changing their habits and quickly shift from reading blog posts and e-books to watching videos to listening to podcasts. It’s hard to predict what will be next once the era of TikTok and podcasts cools down, but what we can be sure to conclude is that consumers are getting more and more impatient, and want their information as soon as possible. Three sentences into an article, 30 seconds into a video—if the answer they’re looking for isn’t immediately obvious, they will move on.”

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

“Unless you are a global mega-brand, it’s likely that your budget and resources are somewhat limited. Find the top three channels that work for your content and marketing strategy and execute on them really well (better than 90% of your competitors). This will give you more focus than trying to do everything at the same time.”

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.

David Ciccarelli, CEO and Founder of Voices

David Ciccarelli, CEO and Founder of Voices

“This year, our Annual Client Trends Report predicted that audio routines will be a staple in daily lives. We know that short form video content is extremely popular, and the preference for longer video content has decreased. I feel consumers are reaching their capacity for visual content, and are turning to the audio medium for a form of longer storytelling that can’t be jammed into a 15 second video. Podcasts have grown significantly in popularity over the last few years, and I think brands and creators will start to incorporate podcasts into their content strategy, if they haven’t already.”

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

“One could say that traditional billboards are dead in 2023. That is partly true but there is a new generation of billboards that will blow your mind. Resident Evil recently booked a 3D billboard on Times Square. The videos made of this hyper realistic 3D animated billboard reached a few million on TikTok alone.”

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
Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director at TNW

“Get more results for your newsletter by publishing it to multiple channels. The trend I see is LinkedIn’s publishing service and messenger services. For the latter, you will have to create a bite-size version of your email campaign. Your audience can then subscribe via Whatsapp (as an example) and hear from you once a week. Extra points if you use an interactive format like the German Marketing experts at OMR are doing here. The reported open and engagement rates are through the roof.”

Mary Gilbert, CMO at Folloze

Mary Gilbert, CMO at Folloze

“Reality TV meets B2B. If you’re not thinking about your brand as a media company, you’re going to lose your audience. Snackable, authentic, useful content will win over overthought, laborious traditional content.”

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:

Linda Goldstein, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and Marketing at CSAA Insurance Group

Linda Goldstein, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and Marketing at CSAA Insurance Group

“Business reality dictates that this marketing trend will always be in the Top Five: Marketing Investment Accountability. Every marketing expense must demonstrate value and outcomes that justify the initial investment and creative while delivering to the brand and the bottom line.”

Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS

Jennifer Greenjack, Director of Marketing at Creative MMS

“One of the biggest issues we have been hearing more and more lately is, ‘How do I prove the ROI of the marketing we are doing?’ Proving ROI is not new, but getting the right data can be a challenge. There are plenty of MarTech platforms to choose from, but you need to keep in mind that it is all based on the data being captured or entered in. We use HubSpot to prove leads, track closed deals, and more—I personally have been using the platform since 2012. Finding the right platform, keeping the data correct, and analyzing what is working and what is not working, will not only help to reduce costs but will also save your people and time resources as well!”

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
Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer of Prophet

Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer of Prophet

“CMOs need to defend their marketing budgets better. Economic uncertainty means many companies are basing budgets on fear, often spending more on demand marketing and less on brand initiatives. If they can, they should try and stick with the 60/40 rule.”

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

“Brand? Performance? It’s just marketing. Gone are the days—with few exceptions—of brands that can afford to have brand-building budgets evaluated solely by positive movement in brand health metrics. Now all marketing needs to demonstrate value to the bottom line.”

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.

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

Christina Kozloff, CMO at Plenty of Fish

“Owning your sh*t: As brands evolve, sometimes brand perception and reality do not align. Often a brand will want to take steps to meaningfully shift perception as a result. That in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. With the pervasiveness of social media, however, customers not only may have their own perceptions, but they also have a forum for promoting those beliefs to a wider audience. Audiences have begun to play a role in defining what a brand stands for and means—sometimes to the chagrin of marketers. When brands try to fight that tide, they often get into trouble. Often, it’s a better course of action to own some of the stereotypes rather than trying to turn the Titanic on a dime. You can still massage the message, soften the sharp edges, and work with micro-influencers to help drive it home and build trust, but you cannot abandon your DNA. So you might as well embrace it in some form.”

Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

Alexandra Saab Bjertnæs, Chief Strategy Officer at Meltwater

“Organizations will find their purpose. Consumers are making purchasing decisions based on more than just products. As our world becomes more socially and culturally conscious, consumers are actively looking for opportunities to support companies with a purposeful social mission. With this in mind, it’s going to become even more important in 2023 for organizations to align themselves with and clarify their commitment to a meaningful social cause that will resonate with customers and the brand’s core values. Not only does this humanize the brand but it also offers an opportunity for a deeper emotional connection with customers.”

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
Nikki Corbett, Owner of Precise Creative

Nikki Corbett, Owner of Precise Creative

“Take a stand. People do business with people—and they want a meaningful reason to do business with you. Today’s young and up-and-coming consumers want to align themselves with a brand that is doing good in the world and is serving a greater cause than just padding their own pockets. Even more established consumers are leaning in this direction. So, take some real time to think about your brand, what it stands for, and what causes you’d like to align with. Then take action by donating a portion of sales, donating time or money, or participating in other fundraising and support efforts. And don’t forget to highlight your efforts front and center on your website, social media, and any other sales collateral.”

Jessica Vogel, co-founder and chief brand officer at Scenthound

Jessica Vogel, co-founder and chief brand officer at Scenthound

“While value alignment between a brand and its consumers is different from emotional connection, it’s equally important. People typically choose brands with values that resonate with their own, such as community involvement or environmental consciousness. Being crystal clear on company values is a way to humanize a brand and deepen customer connection. To reach customers who align with your brand on a deeper level, it’s a good idea to weave your company values into consumer messaging.”

Looking Ahead

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.

Stephanie Hood
By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.