Another year has drawn to a close only to be followed by the new year’s planning season. No integrated marketing communications plan is complete without a deep consideration of how your digital strategy and tactics align with and contribute to your overall goals.
As you gather your team together to hash out the details of your 2023 plan, here are some things to consider as you evaluate digital marketing’s role.
6 Digital Marketing Considerations For 2023 Planning
1. Virtual or Hybrid Event(s)? Dual Planning for Event Marketing
Last year marked a return to mostly masklesness and a return, at least in part, to in-person gatherings. But confidence in face-to-face events is not universal and who knows what viral varients may disrupt in-person plans?
And despite having mostly emerged from the COVID pandemic, there is still plenty of expectation that events offer virtual options for attendance.
You know how to plan traditional events but this uncertainty calls for dual-track planning. If you haven’t yet hosted a virtual event, these are some things you’ll want to think through.
The virtual event tool you need will depend upon the type of event you plan to host.
If you are planning a smallish (100 or fewer attendees) event or a typical webinar, there are plenty of easy-to-use options, including Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom.
If you are planning a larger event such as a conference and therefore need additional features, you’ll want to look beyond basic video conferencing to review proper virtual event tools, such as AirMeet or Hopin.
These platforms provide features for hosting hybrid as well as fully virtual events. In addition to conference sessions, they allow you to create virtual sponsor booths, networking tables and even one-on-one networking opportunities. They handle registration, ticketing and offer event analytics.
When reviewing your options, you’ll want to ask about day-of event support offered, the technology required of participants, and most importantly, how the matching algorithm works for one-on-one networking.
Networking is typically the weakest link for these platforms, so you’ll want to give a lot of thought to ensure participants enjoy a positive networking experience. If you’re not convinced the one-on-one networking feature will provide good matches, you might want to forego that feature.
For virtual networking tables, you’ll want to ensure each table includes a skilled moderator and conversationalist.
Finally, you’ll need to thoroughly prep your speakers to ensure their technology works, they know how to use the platform, and that their lighting, sound and background are acceptable.
2. Leverage Public Relations
Get as much mileage out of your public relations efforts as possible.
If you are participating in events, look for additional opportunities to get exposure for your efforts. Consider creating mini-interviews of your event speakers to use as teaser videos to use online.
Promote your earned media hits on your social channels and be sure to tag the outlets and reporters involved in the coverage. Use social advertising to raise visibility for your coverage among select, strategic audiences.
Conduct keyword research and have an SEO expert optimize your press releases for the greatest reach. Ask the media you are working with for links to boost your search visibility.
3. Flexible Advertising Budgets
Digital advertising is in flux. The demise of third party cookies, Apple’s move to enforce stricter privacy measures on its devices, much greater reliance on machine learning, and societal and political pressure on the social channels have decreased the effectiveness of advertising tactics that worked in the past.
How, then, to prepare for all this turmoil?
Set budgets for your preferred channels but be prepared to use alternate channels and expect to be nimble enough to adjust allocations on the fly.
Amidst all this change, there is no time better than the present to set aside a percentage of your budget for testing.
4. Dip Your Toes In The Water
Speaking of testing, it’s not a bad idea to start experimenting with channels you have yet to use.
The turmoil currently roiling Twitter has created an opening to compete for disaffected users with the likes of Mastodon, CounterSocial, Post and Spoutible attracting those fleeing the Elon Musk version of Twitter.
Audiences appear to be fragmenting, so it would be wise to explore these new channels to see if they are a fit. If they are, it is typically far easier to build a community on a new channel than doing it from scratch on an existing channel.
Podcasting has been around since the early 2000s but it has yet to be widely adopted as a business marketing tool, despite its obvious advantages. Podcasting addresses many business needs, including:
- Expert positioning
- Business development,
- Content development, and
- Search engine optimization.
TikTok has not been around for nearly as long as podcasting but its growth has been explosive and it is an obvious tool for consumer-focused brands. It has even provided glimpses of utility for B2B brands.
Reddit has become much more brand-friendly of late and Quora could be a really smart niche play for specific purposes.
If your organization relies on messaging with your audiences via automated dialog systems such as those offered by Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp or even smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, there are vast opportunities that have been largely left untapped by the market.
Though it’s early, the Oculus headset promises to finally deliver a virtual reality experience that can have broad public appeal. If it fits your organization’s objectives, exploring VR development or at a lower level, simple 360 video could make a lot of sense to reach Oculus headset owners.
Speaking of gaming, Twitch is a massive platform that has largely gone under the radar as a marketing tool.
On the advertising front, streaming audio platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, and even now YouTube, are offering self-serve audio advertising options that are worth exploring.
Even over-the-top streaming video platforms are beginning to open up, with Hulu providing a self-serve advertising service that warrants attention.
5. Re-assess Your Tactics & Metrics
The turmoil that is effecting the digital media giants is also affecting many of the tactics and KPIs digital marketers have previously relied upon.
Facebook’s well-documented troubles have forced the social media giant to severely restrict its advertising targeting capabilities. Gone are the days when plowing budget into Facebook advertising was a sure-fire way of returning rich results at low-cost.
Apple, meanwhile, has been positioning itself as the defender of privacy while quietly building out its own advertising platform.
Two power plays illustrate Apple’s positioning:
- The company now requires third-party apps to ask their app users to opt into tracking and
- The implementation of Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection.”
The obvious result of asking people to opt into letting apps track their behavior is that they will say no. That very requirement essentially eliminates a rich dataset app developers have relied upon.
Facebook used that data to enable its hyper-targeting of advertising.
Apple’s “Mail Privacy Protection” essentially replaces the third party pixels that email marketing providers have used to measure open rates with its own pixels. Apple also runs email received via an Apple mail app through the company’s own servers, thus disguising IP addresses.
The end result is that any email sent to an Apple mail app user will be counted as an open, regardless of whether or not the recipient actually opened the email. 100% open rates renders that metric meaningless.
Given all these changes, 2023 is a good time to re-examine long-standing digital tactics and re-assess the metrics and key performance indicators you have tracked in the past.
For example, any email automation programs that rely on opens as triggers are likely breaking right now. What can you do to replace opens as a triggering signal?
6. Gather Your Data
To date, marketers have relied heavily on third party platforms and their data to achieve objectives.
It has always been important to use third party platforms such as social media and search to drive audience acquisition. If you’re playing only on TikTok or Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re leasing their audience and subjecting yourself to the whims of their algorithms.
Once you have your audience’s email address or phone number, you have a direct relationship that is no longer dependent upon a third party intermediator.
Given the loss of access to third party data, it is increasingly important to view these direct relationships in terms of the data they generate.
Start with the basics of website, email and call data you currently possess. From there, think through what additional insights you can gain, and what systems you have in place to take advantage of that data.
If the past several years have done anything, they have at least helped us to acclimate to change and uncertainty. Virtual conferences were an idea that seemed to have died in 2009 and who had even heard of Zoom in 2019?
As we say sayonara to 2022, we can hope for a calmer, more stable 2023. But even so, opportunities arise within the chaos of change…if you can recognize and are nimble enough to capitalize on those opportunities.
At Tunheim, we are happy to help you think through the change. Contact us today to get started.