For marketers, 2023 will be about focusing on the "vital few" vs. the "worthwhile many" priorities.
Explore the 2023 Global State of Conversational Commerce for updated data & insights.
Efficiency will be the key theme of 2023. Whether you’re consolidating your data to deliver more personalized experiences or making optimizations, it’ll all come down to getting more bang for your buck.
Marketers’ focus on optimization and reaching the right audiences is good news for consumers. Shoppers are looking for value, whether that's saving time or money. The more personalized the experiences you're delivering, the more likely consumers will be to easily find what they're looking for.
Here are the top trends you should keep in mind as you’re creating your 2023 strategy—and how to use them to your advantage.
Marketers will prioritize a handful of vital priorities. AI will help them do just that.
With tighter budgets, marketers’ success in 2023 will really come down to optimization. It’s a much safer bet (and lower lift) to build on what’s already working for your brand. This mindset extends to how you approach your tech stack. The key here will be taking learnings and data from one channel and implementing them across your stack.
This can take a few different shapes. For example, you can make small tweaks to top-performing messaging or designs, and run A/B tests to identify areas to make sure you’re not leaving any revenue on the table. Or, test your highest-converting ad copy and creatives on your direct marketing channels like email and SMS. Finally, think about how you’re extending the life of your proven campaigns with drip and multi-channel campaigns. Ask yourself, “Can I fill a gap with a timely text message or email to make sure shoppers aren’t falling through the cracks?”
AI and automation will primarily drive this push for optimization. It’s completely understandable to write these off as marketing buzzwords, but recent innovations are having tangible impacts on the way we work. AI isn't just helping marketers write higher-performing copy or even telling them when to send messages—it’s helping us figure out what to send in the first place. You’ve got a lot on your plate—these tools will be key to freeing up your time and resources.
Automation will be key to reaching your shoppers with the right message at the right time. Conversational marketing helps you deliver more personalized experiences (and drive more conversions) without a ton of manual work. You build the framework and flow—for example, asking a shopper what categories or product features they’re interested in—and consumers can tailor their experience on the fly as they respond. And, because you can ask follow-up questions to go deeper, you’re able to automatically collect zero-party data to power future campaigns.
Consumers are thinking of purchases as investments
With inflation on the rise, marketers aren’t the only ones who want to get the most bang for their buck. For some consumers, that means looking for more affordable options for their everyday purchases, or for their “wish list” items. Others will be thinking of their purchases as investments.
Shoppers are going to be asking themselves, “Is this high quality? Is it going to last me a long time? Does this do everything I need it to, or will I need to buy more items?” To these shoppers, value isn’t just a short-term benefit of a dollar or percentage amount off. It’s about the long-term value they get by choosing a brand or product that supports them. That could be:
- Offering free repairs to extend the life of an item
- Educating shoppers about how to get the most out of their purchase with how-tos and demo videos
- Sharing inspirational content to make them feel more connected to your brand.
Whether they’re looking to save money up front or in the long term, shoppers are going to take their time evaluating their purchases. Guiding shoppers down the funnel and building loyalty is going to come down to education. You’ll need to meet your customers where they are in the funnel, investing in helpful content and experiences to help them confidently make a purchase.
Conversational commerce will play a significant role in this extended shopping journey. Consumers will seek out brands who can answer their questions, provide recommendations, and offer real-time support. NJ Falk, Managing Partner at APL, spoke to the power of these conversations at Thread, our inaugural conference for conversational commerce. “SMS is our most strategic way of curating the conversational commerce experience for our shoppers,” said Falk. “It’s the highest form of personalization and has created an ongoing dialogue with our customers. They become loyal brand advocates because they feel heard by APL.”
Educating shoppers about your brand’s purpose is another way to offer value. Many consumers want to support brands who share similar values or causes. Your brand’s mission could be a deal maker—if they feel like their purchase is making a difference, shoppers may be more inclined to opt for a more expensive item.
Premium socks brand Bombas led with this strategy to stand out during the holiday season. Knowing that discounts were table stakes during the peak shopping season, the brand created urgency by emphasizing their social impact.
Influencer marketing won’t be able to exist without personalization
The new generation of influencer marketing is here. The 2000s saw influencers build niche communities on blogs like Wordpress. Then, influencers used images to tell stories in the 2010s, moving to consolidated platforms like Instagram. But now, those two generations are coming together to define the 2020s. Video content is taking over, offering the storytelling power of the first generation with the snackability of the second.
There are a few sub-themes at play here that benefit both consumers and brands:
- Major influencers are burning out: Experienced creators are looking for more sustainable ways to engage their audiences, creating more balance in their lives.
- Consumers are looking for community: They’re far more interested in being a part of a niche community than being one of a larger influencer’s many followers.
- “Unfiltered” content is in: TikTok has made low-production-value video the norm, encouraging brands to lead with authenticity. In fact, polished videos can feel disingenuous or too promotional.
These sub-trends put brands in a strong position. Consumers want relevant content, and will engage in communities to get it. This lines up neatly with brands’ need to build loyalty and product stickiness. Plus, since low-production video and user-generated content is much more affordable for brands, it’s easier to experiment with small bets.
This shift in influencer marketing is part of a broader push to raise the personalization bar. And it’s not just about delivering tailored content on social media—you need to create continuity across your platforms to guide them down the funnel.
Brands will move towards building out their user-generated content and micro-influencer programs. Doing so will let them target local markets and niche communities, saving money and increasing loyalty. If you’re not already, consider partnering with influencers to promote your SMS and loyalty programs. Then, follow up with personalized content to bring these shoppers down the funnel and engage them post-purchase.
Marketers will adopt sophisticated data strategies
In 2022, Google, Meta, and Twitter saw stagnant or declining performance for the first time–and Apple’s iOS 16 updates and ongoing privacy legislation put the spotlight on privacy. The pressure is on to invest in channels that drive immediate revenue and set them up to weather future changes.
It’s no surprise that the “doing more with less” directive will play a huge role in what brands invest in. These channels need to check three boxes:
- They need to be privacy-friendly, letting you collect and use first- and zero-party data.
- They need to help you build loyalty by engaging shoppers with personalized touchpoints and 1:1 conversations.
- They need to integrate with your existing tech stack, breaking down data silos and removing custom work.
But just launching a channel isn’t a plan for long-term success. You’ve got to adopt more mature data strategies to guarantee your long-term health.
First, think about all the places you’re gathering your data. Are there channels where you’re not capturing enough data, or irrelevant data? Are there opportunities to diversify your owned channels to future proof your strategy?
Second, get crisp on the how’s and the what’s. More isn’t necessarily more—being intentional with the types of data you’re gathering, and how you’re asking subscribers for it, will be key to using it down the line. For example: Can you build a progressive quiz or form that lets you drill down into shoppers’ preferences, rather than relying on hyper-specific or broad data? Luxury sleepwear brand Lunya took this approach, asking their VIPs what color they’d prefer. Once the votes were in, Lunya dropped an exclusive product in the winning color.
You also need to think about how you organize your data. For example: Are you using a customer data platform to get a picture of your customers, or are you working out of individual platforms? Look for opportunities to break down these data silos—you’ll save yourself a lot of time, and ultimately deliver more personalized experiences.
Finally, consider how you’re using your data in your interactions with subscribers. Are you immediately acknowledging their preferences when they share them with you, delivering personalized recommendations, or asking follow-up questions? Is the data you’re collecting automatically flowing into segments you can use to personalize campaigns?
The circular economy will go mainstream
“Resale” was a buzzword in 2022 as consumers prioritized sustainability. They evaluated how and where they shopped, becoming more aware of the impact of individual habits.
Now, with tighter budgets, the resale industry is only going to become more important. Consumers are looking to save money on their favorite items, and find more affordable entry points into aspirational brands.
Resale will become a brand play in 2023. Brands will either invest in building out in-house solutions or partner with resale platforms to maintain their identity and deliver an on-par customer experience.
But it also offers brands an opportunity to build loyalty. Patagonia’s Head of Digital, Angela Clark, shared the outdoor lifestyle brand’s point of view at Thread. Clark emphasized that resale offers brands the opportunity to convert young consumers who can’t afford your full-priced items yet. Once you’ve converted them, you can nurture them until they’re ready to purchase a new item. They’ll experience the value of your product and brand, and establish a 1:1 relationship with your brand.
All of the trends we’re watching in 2023 really come down to saving time and resources. But optimization won’t come at the detriment of creativity. Instead, it'll ultimately free you up to make a few strategic swings.