Marketing Predictions for 2023

2023 is upon us. Every year around this time, we like to do the number 1 thing you shouldn’t do, which is to predict the future. So herein lie our predictions for some of the trends that will shape marketing in 2023.

But first: Were our predictions right last year? Sort of. Okay, now let’s move on and talk a little bit about what 2023 could hold.

Prediction #1: AI-Generated Photography and Art Will Become a Thing

Recently, the New York Times published an article citing the fact that “we’re in a golden age of progress in artificial intelligence.” While it feels like we’ve been talking about A.I. for a while now – primarily so that marketers can feel smarter than they really are – A.I.-generated art has brought to light the visually stunning capabilities of the field. People are producing unbelievably detailed and creative images with a few simple prompts using tools like DALL-E2 and MidJourney.

There are two reasons this matters for marketers: One is the stock photography business, and the other is “the feed.”

On the stock photography front: Aren’t we all bored seeing the same token, often-corny images used across any given industry? The stock business is one that is just asking to be disrupted. With A.I.-generated art, no two images need to be the same. Suddenly, a brand can have a unique photographic look and feel within a matter of moments.

On “the feed”: We live in a marketing landscape that is now dominated – and often defined – by social engagement. And what’s the number one thing that drives social engagement? Imagery. The ability to quickly spin up eye-popping images that catch the eye and stop users mid-scroll should be something that every marketer is exploring right now if they want to drive better social engagement in an instant.

Prediction #2: The Death of the Click (Sort of)

For decades, marketers have had their entire careers defined by how many clicks they can get. But for a while now, some of the “shine” of the click stat has started to get a bit less shiny. At the same time – especially since Covid – the emphasis on optimal customer experience has become more and more prominent. 

Enter the rise of “zero-click content.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s pretty simple – instead of driving to a whitepaper or blog post, just tell people what they want to know right in your social post, or right in your email. Spend some time leafing through HubSpot’s social feed, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. You won’t see many (or any) long-form articles or in-depth whitepapers – you’ll see social carousels that give you the info right in the feed. You’ll also see quick videos of a case study. It’s all right there for the taking. And it’s brief, scannable and easy-to-read in today’s low attention span world.

Zero-click content will be transformative in any number of ways. It may change marketing KPIs as we know them. Furthermore, it can be a key component of driving an optimal user experience.

(Editor’s note: We fully recognize the irony of the fact that you had to click to read this piece. It’s not 2023 yet, so avoid any recriminations, please.)

Prediction #3: Brand > Demand

For years now, the emphasis on brand has fallen by the wayside. In a conversation a couple of years ago with a CMO on a job hunt, he told us that he had to remove any mention of brand from his resume if he wanted to get a job interview. Everything had to be about lead generation. It was a scary, sad, yet all-too-true anecdote.

Fast forward to today – Airbnb recently announced that it has de-emphasized performance marketing and leaned harder into brand marketing, all to its financial benefit. This is a trend that has started to be “felt” even in our own business at Substance, as we see more and more clients putting an emphasis on sharpening their brand and their messaging for the good of all channels – even the direct marketing ones.

In reality, marketers are realizing a simple fact: Brand is demand. If people know you, like you, and trust you, they will buy from you. Without a strong brand, lead generation efforts have little likelihood of real success, especially in high consideration categories.

We’ll check back in a year or so to see what we got right and completely gloss over what we got wrong. For now, we wish you a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.

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