Summer Camp: 2023 Digital Marketing Trends Round-Up
School may be back in session for some, but we’re finishing off summer with one last camp: Marketing Summer Camp! We discussed five top-of-mind topics related to digital marketing in this series and put it all together here. Read on to learn about the top 2023 digital marketing trends that will send you into fall prepared with optimized strategies.
Types of Content That Work in 2023
Let’s jump right in! We’re discussing the types of content that make a splash. But rather than talking about format, we’re approaching the content type by its intention.
Keep paddling, explorers, because we’re about to drop some seriously good info to add to your marketing camp gear.
To resonate with your target audience, try to focus on these four main pillars of intention:
» HOW-TO CONTENT
Like what you’re reading right now, content that tells your audience exactly what they need to know enhances their perception of your expertise and authenticity. The days of hiding content behind “link in bio” and gated downloads are coming to an end, and they didn’t lead to much even in their heyday. Give your audience everything they need to satisfy their interests and they will be less likely to click ‘unfollow.’
» AUTHORITY CONTENT
Authority content is intended to build your credentials in your industry or niche. Authority content gives you credibility, drives traffic, and increases engagement. On the web, authority content is prized by search engines making it essential for improving your placement on the first results page. Boost the authority of your content by linking to credible sources, adding a lot of detail on a subject and linking to subtopics throughout the piece, and providing information that is difficult to acquire elsewhere.
» HOT TAKES
When you have credibility in your industry, people will look to you to form their opinions around the subject matter of your expertise. Thought leadership is a content type that is growing in frequency and importance for brands and industry leaders across all industries. Taking an unusual or semi-controversial stance on a topic is sure to inspire conversation and engagement with your content – just make sure it isn’t too controversial or detrimental to your brand.
» TRENDING CONTENT
Not all trends and holidays are right for every brand to participate in. But when something comes up that aligns with the mission and aesthetic of your brand, that’s the time to jump into trending content. When done right, trending content can be the most engaging content type your brand distributes. When done wrong, it can be embarrassing or at worst, a PR nightmare.
Of course, it’s important to consider the format of your content and that some formats will resonate better with your target audience than others. It’s equally important (if not more!) to strategize the intent of the content within the format.
How to Reach Your Target Audience
Let’s hone your ability to target exactly who you want with audience development, in other words, practice a little bit of marketing archery.
The target audience is sneaky, elusive, and often tricky to pin down, but we have a few ways to guarantee a target audience bullseye.
Here are three tips to make it easier to reach your target audience:
» 1. Understand who the target audience is.
This seems basic, right? But if your “ideal customer profile” is vague or hypothetical, you don’t have a complete understanding of your target audience. ICPs need to be specific and backed up by user demographics taken from your existing channels.
» 2. Figure out where the target audience spends their time.
Now that we’ve locked down WHO they are, we must discover WHERE they are. This may take some digging into as well as trial and error with multiple channels. Do they spend time in the tree? Behind the tree? Beneath the tree? We have to know so we can target them effectively.
» 3. Adjust your strategy – often.
Are you the same person you were last summer? We bet you are not! Unless you are marketing dog treats straight to dogs, your target market is made up of constantly evolving humans with shifting interests, financial situations, and content preferences. Update your ICPs as often as possible using data insights from existing channels and external research to back up your findings.
Getting to know the nuances of your target audience requires research and strategy optimization, but it can be an invaluable lead-generation tool.
Here’s A Brand Doing Social Media Well
Alright, explorers, let’s now step outside of our campground and venture into a National Park while examining a brand that is exemplifying digital marketing strategy lately.
The National Park Service has completely stepped up its content distribution in recent years, and from what we can find, the strategy is working. By combining witty humor with educational content, NPS has found a way to appeal to a broad audience while maintaining its mission of sharing about national parks and the stories within them.
As you walk down a trail, use a stick to make first contact with potential webs, unless you prefer using your face. Do what feels right.
— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) August 21, 2023
Without having access to behind-the-scenes data, this is the ROI we’ve been able to determine from the National Park Service’s content strategy:
- Organic traffic to nps.org has increased dramatically in the last 10 years (up 143%!), with a dramatic increase beginning in early 2020. (For reference, NPS created an Instagram account in 2015 and began distributing engaging content sometime in 2019.)
- In the last year, National Park Service Instagram followers have increased steadily, a total gain of 25% year over year.
- Nearly 15 million MORE people visited a National Park in 2022 than the previous year, an increase of about 32%. (Source)
Meet the parks! ✨
Parks are everything. They can be majestic, historic, mountainous, cavernous, wild, scenic, and more. There’s even (Ken)ai Fjords. pic.twitter.com/yuqMhvyFMa
— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) July 26, 2023
Here are two reasons why it’s working:
- The National Park Service was founded in 1917, but its mission and services are just as important today as they were over 100 years ago. This means the content the organization distributes should be just as relevant for today’s park visitors as it may have been back then (obviously, when the foundation was founded, it wasn’t sending out snarky Tweets but you know what we mean).
- Many people are aware of specific National Parks but have less awareness of the organization behind their operations, maintenance, and conservation. By distributing engaging content, the National Park Service is appealing to individuals’ specific Park preferences while also educating their audiences about other areas that fall under the NPS jurisdiction.
In a recent interview with SFGate, Matt Turner, the person behind the humorous NPS content, said the following:
“We get a lot of positive comments from people who read all the way to the end of the posts and actually learned something. That’s gold for us. Those are the moments where we realize it’s working.”
Hello there! We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty… pic.twitter.com/quNM8XMZOA
— National Park Service (@NatlParkService) July 6, 2023
Of course, it’s difficult to directly attribute the increase in popularity of NPS to its social media strategy, but all content marketing pieces contribute to brand awareness and education, so we think it’s safe to say it’s had a role.
Why You Should Let Go of Vanity Metrics
A lot of times on AllTrails, hikes rated as ‘moderate’ are actually nearly impossible (for some of us). This is an example of how a metric might not reflect reality. Alternately, when the trail map tells us the hike is 2.5 miles long with an elevation gain of 300 feet, we have a better idea of how strenuous the hike will be.
We see this in marketing with the metrics used to evaluate campaign effectiveness, especially in relation to how they contribute to overall business success.
Here’s a simple example:
- You launch a new brand with compelling creative that quickly amasses 50k followers on Instagram.
- You’re elated and can’t wait to see how many of these followers have clicked to the website and filled out your interest form, knowing that your investors want to see form leads increasing by the end of the month.
- Disaster. No new leads.
In this example, Instagram followers did not bring new business to the company, so they are a poor example of a metric you should be focusing on. What would better measure lead generation for this hypothetical company are metrics like conversion rates, sales cycle lengths, and customer acquisition costs.
Other examples of meaningful metrics:
- Market share
- Revenue generated
- Return on investment
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer lifetime value
- Employee turnover rate
These metrics may not be as straightforward to track or measure as vanity metrics, but the effort is worth it as they can provide valuable insights that can be used to adjust operations and overall company performance. The specific meaningful metrics your company should use as key performance indicators will vary depending on your business goals.
Metrics that do not demonstrate action are not useful anymore and it’s up to us to educate C-level executives about this fact.
Debunking 4 Common Digital Marketing Myths
It’s the last day of Marketing Summer Camp, and we’re ending things with a chat around the campfire. But it isn’t scary stories we’re telling here, rather we’re debunking some common digital marketing myths we hear interacting with marketers and non-marketers alike.
Let’s break it down…
Myth #1: Blogs are no longer necessary content channels.
We hate to correct the overworked marketing intern who wanted to avoid 3 hours of unpaid writing time every week, but blogs are necessary. Not only can blog content serve as one of the 7-8 average awareness touchpoints buyers need before committing, but when optimized for SEO, blogs can get your brand in front of competitors on the Search Engine Results Page.
Side note–If you’re posting blogs that are fewer than 1000 words and have just one featured image at the top, it’s time to spend a little more time enhancing content to be worthwhile. Short, imageless blogs are not necessary, but long-form, educational content is.
Myth #2: We have to delete all negative comments on social media.
No, you don’t. In fact, you shouldn’t! Comments of any sentiment add to engagement and move your social posts up higher in the algorithm so they are served to more people.
It is important to respond to any negative comments either offering support or correcting inaccurate statements. Additionally, if a comment is clearly spam and doesn’t add to the conversation, it can be deleted.
Myth #3: We don’t need content writers, we’ll just use a generative text AI like ChatGPT.
You certainly could do that, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Now that the world has been using ChatGPT for a few months, the content it spits out is becoming glaringly obvious. Additionally, once search engines start identifying content that is AI-written without attributes, E-E-A-T scores might start dropping, which means customers won’t be able to find your website in the sea of other search results.
Instead, use AI for ideation and content outlines when it’s helpful, and do everything you can to make written content obviously written by a human. For example, add emphasis by writing words in all caps in social copy, disregard some of AI grammar check’s recommendations, and use slang that AI probably isn’t incorporating into its text generation.
Myth #4: Our competitors don’t do marketing so we don’t.
If your competition isn’t using paid search ads, posting on social media, updating their websites, or writing SEO content, that is a perfect opportunity for you to use it.
In this situation, the fastest way to stand out from your competition is to execute digital marketing strategies that increase the exposure, expertise, authority, and awareness of your brand. If your competition isn’t doing much, it does give you a pass to do the bare minimum. But if you really want to stand out, you should be optimizing your digital presence any way you can.
Myths busted! Time for s’mores.
Time to head home, explorers.
Thank you for joining us on our week of adventuring through the digital marketing wilderness. We hope you learned something.
Did Marketing Summer Camp bring up any questions for your brand? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top digital marketing trends for 2023?
In 2023, several marketing trends are shaping the landscape. Personalized experiences powered by AI have become crucial, tailoring content and recommendations to individual preferences. Voice search optimization is on the rise, as more people use voice assistants for online queries. A video-first content strategy has gained traction, reflecting the popularity of video formats across platforms. Social media and content marketing remain effective as channels that produce leads.
What are some false marketing myths?
Many people believe that they must delete all negative comments on social media, but comments of any sentiment actually boost engagement and provide brands with an opportunity to reveal information about their service or product. Some people think publishing blog content is no longer effective, but it remains an effective awareness generator as long as the blogs are a substantial length and include images to break up the copy. Some marketers are ready to replace content writers with AI, but that is not a sustainable idea.
What types of content marketing actually work?
Effective content marketing tactics align format with messaging. To resonate with a target audience, brands should focus on four main pillars: how-to content, authority content, hot takes, and trending content.