2022 still managed to surprise us, huh? We’ve all learned a few things this year, and just like you, we’ve already got our eyes set on what 2023 will bring! After all, a little planning and strategy go a long way ahead of a shiny, new Q1.
Curious about what the Digital Marketing trends of the new year will look like? You can watch below or read on right here to learn what Be Found Online sees on the horizon!
What We’re Covering
In this article, we’ll peer into the future of Search Engine Optimization to get you ready for upcoming changes to data structures and SERPs. Then, prepare to maximize your ad performance with… Performance Max: Google’s new goal-based paid media campaigns. We’ll see our way through the waning sentiment surrounding social media, and show you how to start scaling the mountain that is Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
But first, we want to prepare you and your team for what some people are calling “a recession”. While it’s not official as of yet, the economy has for sure been ‘funny’ for a bit. That trend may carry over into the new year, so we’re going to give you a Digital Marketing lens into the future of financial fluctuations for 2023.
Recession Planning Opportunities
A pending recession isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing for the realm of digital marketing. There are new opportunities that can come from these sorts of shifts.
Yes, money might get tight. You and your team may have to compete with others in your department or organization, but this is a great time to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Think about where your brand can go. Do you have any pivot points? Our philosophy has been that if we just sell the same things, to the same people, the same way during a downturn, sales will stall. In times of change, keep an eye on the competition. Some will disappear, some will return, and the best will adapt or full pivot.
It’s important to remember that nobody knows for a fact what the market will do. Admittedly we’re not actually psychic — we’re just letting you know what we’re preparing for at BFO, what we’re going to do to help our customers, and how we’re going to challenge the market. We’ll also give you some of our insights into how we see the market evolving.
How to Plan for Opportunity in 2023
- Determine your media mix. Focus on ROI drivers and revenue instead of brand awareness.
- Budgets tightening? Keep your team and brand safe, don’t shoot for the stars
- Don’t kill your brand budget. Stay present and don’t waver. Otherwise competitors can conquest your brand terms! Paid media lets you control your branded message. Stay the course.
- Review data from all channels and sources monthly. Figure out what’s working and what’s not. Don’t forget to look at the conversion path from the initial interaction up to the sale. What’s helping? Is it your brand? RLSA? YouTube? Email?
SEO Predictions for 2023
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) continues to be a vital tool for Digital Marketing and branding, but what can you expect to change in 2023?
SERPs More Visual Than Ever
Search behavior is moving away from Google and towards visual content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. With a focus on clips and carousels, people may not be clicking onto an ad or listing at all. You’ll want to prioritize images and videos optimized for those platforms on your site. Google’s team recommends focusing on what it calls “snackable video content.” That means videos that are anywhere between 10-60 seconds long, with as little filler as possible.
Don’t rule out longform content. YouTube’s timestamp markers can be great for covering multiple topics in a single video. That way, folks can jump right into what they’re looking for without scrubbing through.
Local SEO Will Be More Important
Local sales had a huge moment during 2020. Tons of people made an effort to help keep their communities employed and their favorite small businesses afloat by shopping locally. Google My Business has grown significantly in that time, and is projected to stay in the mix.
As rough as Yelp can be, it’s not going anywhere either. Don’t ignore criticism in reviews, address issues and take ownership. It’s all going to be competing with Google’s new Performance Max campaigns, which have been taking some real stabs at local results. Yes, SEO and paid media can live together and complement each other, but don’t discount large companies conquesting local search terms.
Optimizing Content with Longer Tail Keywords
As digital marketing and search engine optimization moves towards visual content, users are often staying on Google instead of clicking over to sites. In 2023, you’ll need to optimize your content toward long tail keywords. Our SEO-seers have been predicting voice search would be more present, and it has come to pass.
With that in mind, focus on the intent behind your keywords, not just the keywords themselves. Think about the difference between “buy dinner” versus “pizzeria near me.” You’re going to want to lean into the way people are speaking to their devices.
Data Will Become More Structured
With more data comes a need for more structure and authority. According to Jon Pappas, our Director of SEO, “the internet already has a ton of content. You need authoritative content to stand out from the crowd.”
Concentrate on building pillar pieces. These definitive articles should feature a scroll-following table of contents that provides an outline and easy navigation to readers, so they can jump to the sections they need to read at any moment.
Paid Media Predictions for 2023
If you’re trying to grow your revenue or build brand awareness, there’s no substitute for paid media marketing. Considering changes to your budgets? New automations can help optimize your Q1 ad spend for efficiency over multiple channels.
Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign format that lets you reach users over all of Google’s ad inventory. Now you can access your paid media ads across YouTube, Google, Gmail, Display, Maps, and Discovery from a single campaign. Based on your performance goals, this new campaign format can optimize to drive conversions for CPA or ROAS.
Performance Max is Google’s take on Programmatic Advertising. Its brilliance lies in its cross-channel Smart Bidding and real-time optimization. This paid media automation combo puts your budget where it’s most effective at any given moment. Put simply, if YouTube isn’t benefiting your campaign, Performance Max won’t serve ads on YouTube.
When implementing Performance Max, we recommend a few best practices:
- Put your budget in, get your ads set up, then don’t touch anything for 30 days unless something goes haywire or goes against branding.
- Make sure you have your brand negative keywords in place to avoid Brand Bleed (artificially positive stats).
- Google is in the business of making money, so don’t feel pressured to spend their maximum proposed budget every time.
- Start working where your efficiency drivers are in place instead of going after anything aspirational. Big sellers will be able to beat your budget on any competitive terms.
Gone are the days of expanded text ads, now you can run up to three headlines at a time with two descriptions using Google’s Responsive Search Ads. Reporting is still not where it needs to be with Responsive Search, but Google is tossing signs that they’re working on it. If you’ve got strong brand guidelines, these are easy to set up and optimize without requiring A/B testing.
Keyword Match Types provide you the opportunity to automate and learn without segmenting your campaigns. Match types are becoming more intelligent, but make sure not to leave them alone for too long or you may have runaway spending.
Don’t discount Dynamic Search Ads or Data Driven Attribution, either. Updates to Google Analytics 4 will make reporting a whole lot easier, but we’ll dive more into that later.
The world is moving away from cookies, which means first-party data is going to be more important than ever. Any customer information your company has collected and compiled through software systems is going up in value.
It’s always been essential to focus on retention, and first-party data can improve messaging and encourage repeat business. With changes to retargeting in late 2023, though, first-party data will be even more key to understanding your audiences.
Lookalike and Similar Audiences
Google is sunsetting Lookalike/Similar Audiences in August 2023, so get ready now and capture as much info as you can. Build retargeting audiences and start driving traffic, but also create a “data warehouse” of who’s coming into your market.
Universal Analytics is sunsetting too, and GA4 is coming to life. You’ve got around a year and a half to build out your first-party datasets or lose out big time. B2B retargeting on LinkedIn is still going to work like a charm, but if you don’t use your audiences they will get auto-archived.
Awareness vs. Direct Response
Again, know what’s working and what’s not working. Drive awareness, then bring back your traffic with retargeting. It doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest company in the world or the coffee shop down the street, don’t put all your attention into direct response. There’s no reason to not retarget.
Social Media Predictions for 2023
What’s in store for 2023’s social media landscape? Here’s our forecast for public perception of social media and which channels will make the cut.
Sentiment Is Wavering
We don’t have to get specific to say that social media is already having a little bit of a meltdown moment. Sentiment is wavering, and the shine is starting to wear off. Forget about the platforms that are burning down and focus on those that have been consistently reliable for your marketing efforts.
The two words to keep in mind this year are privacy and controversy. It’s not Grandma’s Facebook or Junior’s Twitter anymore. Facebook is back to brand engagement after the iOS 14 update and the end of in-market and look-alike audiences. Right now, we see Twitter as an amazing opportunity for customer service and client interaction, but ads will probably still be dominated by Big Name Brands.
TikTok should be your brand engagement and “authentic self”. Expect a continued focus on influencers, aim to get your brand in their hands.
We still think LinkedIn is the best B2B targeting there is, and offers multiple ways to tackle audience targeting, reaching lookalike audiences, and retargeting.
Reddit is unique in that many of its users are only active on Reddit. You can target based on keywords or subreddit, and users can actually engage with your ads! Be careful, though, as brands with thin skin are likely to get torn apart in the comments or downvoted into oblivion.
BeReal is a relative newcomer that’s proving a challenge for brands. The app sends users a ping, and within two minutes of opening their phone they have to take a picture with both front and back cameras. At the moment, BeReal is aimed at influencers, and isn’t even running ads as of yet.
Analytics Predictions for 2023
Our 2023 marketing analytics predictions hinge on the shifts in privacy and attribution already being felt this year, as well as the advent of GA4.
We’ve already touched on privacy and how cookies are going to disappear by the second half of 2024, but be cognizant of the new GA4 data retention policy. It’s also worth noting that Google is offering certifications for privacy, and national and state level privacy certifications are on their way soon. Advertising across different regions might get more complicated in the months to come.
We all know attribution isn’t always a linear path. Thankfully, GA4 takes a more holistic approach to data, and its official replacement of UA on July 1, 2023 will build bigger walls in the gardens. Many teams are looking for someone to be a dedicated resource for privacy or analytics management who can understand the data, see the walls, and help execute a path through.
Micro-conversions matter. It’s not just going to the site — it’s watching the video, it’s signing up for the email. These steps all take awareness and bring your customers through the long sales cycle. Some clients take weeks, months, or years to close. We’ve been saying this for years, but it may throw some folks for a loop if they’re not prepared in August 2023 when UA sunsets. Micro-conversions can make macro-difference in first-party data.
Google Analytics 4
If you want to jump the competition in 2023, we adamantly recommend getting settled into Google Analytics 4 as early as possible. Google is a market leader, and they’re forcing the transition, so start mapping data side by side with Universal Analytics now before it’s gone.
Many companies are going to be lost because they fell behind on data capture. Take advantage of building awareness and running longer sales cycles. Identify user behaviors, then use that knowledge to influence search engine optimization and paid media. There’s still some time to get a grip on GA4 ahead of the crowd, so start testing and comparing your data architecture. GA4 is able to collect and analyze data in a way that is years ahead of UA, which is a good thing for you. Hopefully that builds some excitement to get your transition started ASAP, but if not…
Please consult our patent-pending (maybe) “Worry’O’Meter” to keep track of the transition timeline:
Wrapping Up Our 2023 Digital Marketing Predictions
While we can’t tell you what’s going to happen to Twitter in 2023 (or even tomorrow), we can tell you that 2023 is going to be another wild one for digital marketing. With the state of social media, the end of cookies, and the rise of GA4 on the horizon, change seems about the only thing that’s certain. The best strategy is to adapt and roll with the punches as fast as you can, while still keeping your belt tight.
Need help with your first steps into a brave new Q1? We’re happy to chat anytime!
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When Curtiss is not being a Brewmeister, brewing amazing craft beers at Big Cat Brewing Company, in Cedar, Michigan, he is BFO’s Paid Media Team Lead with a specialty in marketing automotive brands. Curtiss is known for his super-human energy and loves taking a project from start to completion. He understands the world of digital media through and through and manages to juggle multiple curveballs, be a terrific team player, and a super coach to his staff.
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