Effective Digital Marketing

The 7 Elements of an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy in 2023

Digital marketing is at once remarkably static and ever-changing. The core strategies you use stay more or less the same year after year, but the details and the implementations can change significantly enough that it feels like a whole new world every January.

Now that 2023 is in full swing, what are the most effective parts of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy you can invest in for the year? We’ve put together a list of the seven most effective elements to dig into. If you want to learn more (or have us handle them for you), drop us a line! We’d love to chat.

1. Defined Objectives and Tangible Goals

The first, and perhaps the most important, element of an effective digital marketing strategy is your objectives and goals. What do you want to accomplish throughout the year? Don’t say “growth” or “more profits” or something like that.

Stumped?

The key here is the acronym SMART. You’ve probably heard it before, and maybe you dismissed it as tedious, but it’s really worthwhile when you spend a bit of time digging into it. What does it mean?

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Actionable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-Bound

Every goal you set must have these five attributes; otherwise, it’s not a valid goal. To see this in action, compare these two goal statements:

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  • “We want to grow our business throughout 2023 to bring our best products to market.”
  • “We want to increase our revenue by 20% by Q2 2023.”

One of these is thin and lacking in substance. The other is SMART.

Setting Smart Goals

A goal needs to be specific. Saying something broad like “business growth” or “increased revenue” is too vague to be useful. How do you define business growth? How do you measure revenue? The devil is in the details. Successful businesses don’t just operate on the vibes.

A goal needs to be measurable. Again, something like “business growth” is too generic and vague to be measured effectively. You need tangible metrics you can track, like sales per week, profits per sale, website visitors, conversions and conversion rate, and so on. Choose something (or several things, for several goals) and make sure you have tracking in place to monitor them.

A goal needs to be actionable. Setting a goal of “going viral” would fail this bullet point because it’s not something you can simply work towards achieving. Capitalizing on trends requires trends to bend in your favor, going viral requires the whims of the audience, and these aren’t really things you can influence (at least, not without immense amounts of money.)

A goal needs to be relevant. This one is pretty obvious but easy to get wrong. Your goal needs to be relevant to the team, budget, or efforts used to push for it. You don’t tell your sales team to improve the quality of your marketing, and you don’t tell your blogging team to make your sales calls more successful; those goals are outside the scope of the teams involved. Real goals need to be aligned to the people working on achieving them.

A goal needs to be time-bound. And, sure, “by the end of 2023” is time-bound, but you can do better than that. Pick quarterly or even monthly goals (and make them reasonable for the timeframe), work towards achieving them in specific, tangible ways, and measure your efforts and their successes or failures.

2. Evolving Social Media Usage

Social media has been a core part of most marketing strategies for basically as long as it has existed. A virtual town square is always going to be a good place to put your marketing to work. The trouble is, the very concept of what “social media” is, is changing.

Facebook is struggling. It’s still enormous, but its reach is lower than ever, young people are leaving in droves, misinformation plagues the platform, and sketchy investments in VR are missing the mark for the majority of its users.

Twitter is in its death throes. It may not die completely, but Elon Musk’s takeover has been devastating, with many influencers leaving, whether for older havens like Tumblr or newer alternatives like Mastodon, Cohost, or niche social networks.

Social Media Marketing

Meanwhile, TikTok is taking off more than ever before. Gen Z are heavy users, but older and more established content creators are investing in it as well. On top of that, other platforms are pushing their own short video formats, like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Stories. Simultaneously, some of the most engaging content on YouTube is multiple-hour-long video essays. It’s becoming a land of extremes.

If you’re just auto-posting to Facebook, using Twitter for customer service, syndicating blog posts to LinkedIn, and posting the occasional image-based link on Instagram or Pinterest, you’re falling behind the times. 2023 is going to be a year of shake-ups in social media, and agile brands that can invest in new forms of media and new platforms are going to dominate.

3. Data-Driven Decision-Making

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Social media may be changing, the way people use the internet may be changing, and the devices used to access business websites may change, but all of it has one thing in common: data and analytics.

If there’s one thing your brand should invest in for the coming year, it’s detailed analytics. This is especially true in the wake of various changes (like Google’s push for Google Analytics 4, Facebook’s reduction in accessible information, and similar restrictions pushed by privacy legislation in Europe) that make it harder to gather data on your audience, especially without disclosure.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Every piece of data you can track, track. Monitor the user journey from start to finish. Gather as much generalized and anonymized demographic info as possible. Make use of hyper-local and hyper-specific targeting. Remember, it’s always better to push two pieces of content with small audiences but high conversion rates than it is to push one generic piece of content with a larger audience and dramatically less engagement.

Again, running a business based on the vibes isn’t going to work. You need to have data backing up the decisions you make.

This doesn’t mean you need to hesitate until you gather more data, or fail to make big changes or take risks because there isn’t data to back them up. Rather, it means you need to have data justifying why a risk might be viable. Don’t shoot in the dark; use data to shine a light first.

4. Personalized and Humanized Efforts

The last few years especially have shone a light on the actions of major corporations and how they really don’t care about anything but their own bottom lines. You can see it reflected in both general discontent, consistent pushes for unionization, and numerous news articles with titles like “Brand X Published Record Profits While Employees Don’t See Raises In Five Years.”

When there are major corporations seeing pushback because of poor treatment of workers and their tone-deaf marketing at odds with the reality of their actions, it’s easy for a brand to be labeled disingenuous and lose the trust of its audience.

Personalized And Humanized Efforts

Marketing in 2023 is going to center around brand humanization and storytelling. It’s not just about your products and what they can do. It’s about who you are, the people behind the brand. It’s about the good you do for your workers, first and foremost. It’s about the good you do for your local communities and the world around you (adjusted for the scope and scale of your brand.)

It’s not enough to convert your blog posts from impersonal to personal. You need to demonstrate accountability, investment in your staff, your audience, and your community, and a strong sense of ethics. These need to be implicit but also explicit; being subtle about it isn’t going to work when people don’t put any care into reading beyond the headlines. You need those headlines to talk about the good you do in ways that can’t be misinterpreted.

5. Paid Advertising (The Right Way)

Paid advertising is also changing. Traditional ad networks like Google Ads and Facebook Ads are dropping off. Display ads are considered more and more intrusive, and they’re plagued with issues. It costs more to get less than ever before.

Paid advertising is still worthwhile, though; it just needs to be done properly. And, much like your other marketing decisions, it will need to be backed by data.

Using Paid Advertising

Where is your audience? What kinds of advertising do they respond to? How can you get a slice of that pie?

  • Ad campaigns are going to be smaller and more targeted than ever before because a personalized focus is nearly required to even get the time of day from modern users.
  • Sponsored content is harder to bypass and ignore, and a call to action built into a creator’s content is much better than ads placed around it.
  • Similarly, influencer marketing (when done properly) can be hugely beneficial when there’s a strong alignment between the influencer and the brand.
  • Video and audio advertising are rising, while traditional display ads are falling.

Advertising is due for a shake-up, and 2023 may be the year it hits. Or maybe not! It’s impossible to truly predict these things. It’s just better to stay agile and make sure you aren’t putting all of your eggs in one advertising basket.

6. Effective Content Marketing

Just about everything listed above can be expressed in the form of content. Indeed, people are more focused than ever on the actual content they want to consume, and distractions surrounding it (like advertising) are getting ignored or blocked.

The humble blog post is still going to be highly valuable, of course. It’s impossible to get away from text as a medium so long as our species doesn’t evolve telepathy. But, many brands are going to see a shift in audience interest away from pure text and more towards “enhanced” media; text that includes audio or video components or audio and video content that has supplementary text.

Unfortunately, economic uncertainty means that many marketing budgets will be slashed, and a lot of companies are going to hesitate to invest where they should. If you fall into this category, you may want to reconsider; as everyone else dials back, it becomes a perfect opportunity to scale up and take over a market.

Effective Content Marketing

Of special note here is AI-generation and AI-assisted content. Many AI tools, from image generation to text content (ChatGPT, Midjourney, Jasper, Stable Diffusion, and so on), are the next big battleground. On the one hand, you have all of the creators and artists whose work has been stolen without attribution, credit, or license, and used to train these algorithms. On the other, you have legions of businesses and entrepreneurs hoping to replace human talent with AI for much cheaper rates. There are also fresh lawsuits aimed at many of these AI platforms, and some serious copyright repercussions might develop throughout the year.

AI is currently not in a place where it can replace human effort. AI art is often soulless and, while it can look fine at a glance, falls apart under scrutiny. Similarly, AI content is often extremely surface-level and lacking in substance. AI can be used carefully, but be cautious with investing in it; the backlash could be immense.

7. Strong SEO Foundations

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Due to the very nature of human thought and communication, SEO is always going to be valuable. Don’t neglect the foundations of keyword research, link building, onsite optimizations, site speed and web vitals, and other improvements. You can expect SEO to evolve, as it always does. You can expect probably at least one significant Google update, as there always is. But these are all the same things you deal with every year.

Investing In Seo

Invest in your SEO. Invest in good, high-quality companies to build your website, improve it, and manage it. Invest in optimized content (with real human effort, not an AI doing keyword spinning) and multimedia. If you’re ever interested in learning more, you’re always free to contact us. We’d be happy to get a conversation going.

Tim Woda

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Scott Morton

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