12 Key Marketing Trends (2023-2026)
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Businesses of all sizes are adapting their marketing strategies as consumer behavior continues to evolve.
Social media is a hot spot for marketers, but which platforms will be the most useful in the coming years?
And where will consumers look for information about new brands?
Keep reading to learn more about 12 marketing trends set to shake up the next few years.
1. Businesses take advantage of TikTok
Searches for “TikTok” have increased by 9,500% in 5 years.
Social media continues to play a large role in business marketing plans.
More than 90% of US companies spend money to promote their brands on social media.
And industry studies predicted that total social media marketing spend would be more than $56 billion in 2022.
Despite being a household name, TikTok is one of the most underutilized social platforms right now.
Statistics show that only 4% of social media marketers are currently using the platform.
Many discount it as a GenZ-only platform or are unsure of how to promote their brand with the seemingly useless content that makes up a TikTok video.
In the coming months, look for experts to suggest that businesses put more emphasis on TikTok simply based on “the sheer number of active users on the platform”.
TikTok is still seeing significant user growth.
TikTok also boasts incredibly high user engagement levels.
Between Q4 of 2019 and the end of Q1 in 2020, the average time spent per month on the platform increased by 415 minutes.
Recent developments show that TikTok is putting focus on businesses and their marketing needs.
They didn’t even start testing paid ads until early 2019, but in July 2020, they launched a self-serve ad platform for businesses.
Searches for “TikTok ads” have increased by 9,800% in 5 years.
In late April 2021, they came out with Business Creative Hub, which showcases trending content related to the business user’s brand.
Look for large, nationwide brands to make the most of TikTok ads.
The platform's “promoted hashtag challenge” advertising costs $150k — way out of budget for most small - or mid-sized businesses.
Even so, experts say any business has a chance of going viral if they can create the right content or take advantage of user-generated content.
Grammarly, the online grammar checker, was relatively inactive on the platform until January 2021.
A college student created a dance video using the audio from one of the company’s YouTube ads, and the company saw their TikTok followers increase 481%.
Texas Beeworks is a one-woman show, but her business has gone viral too.
Texas Beeworks is an example of a small business that has used TikTok successfully.
Founder Erika Thompson started making more TikTok videos when her business slowed down as a result of the pandemic.
Now, she has more than 11 million followers.
2. AI powers personalized marketing
There is more data involved in today’s marketing strategies than ever before.
Many companies are using that data to drive deeper personalized interactions between their brand and their audience.
In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase if there’s personalization involved in the customer experience.
More than 36% of consumers say they want a more personalized shopping experience, but “data debt” is a problem.
And it seems that consumers are not suffering from a lack of trust.
One report showed 90% of shoppers are willing to share data about themselves if it means they’ll get a cheaper or easier shopping experience.
One example of personalization: Crate and Barrel offers a “view in my room” feature on their website.
View my room uses basic AR technology to simulate how furniture would look in a customer's room.
Thanks to augmented reality, consumers can scan a QR code to see a piece of furniture come to life in their very own home.
Netflix is constantly pushing the limits of personalization.
The company’s “recommended” algorithm is so accurate that 80% of viewing choices come from their recommendations with only the remaining 20% of viewings coming from a subscriber’s search.
Netflix is one of many companies combining artificial intelligence and big data to provide highly-personalized recommendations.
While there are multiple ways to personalize digital marketing efforts, only 10% of businesses use any personalization strategies beyond that.
McKinsey, a global consulting firm, predicts that “offline person-to-person experiences will be the next horizon for personalization”.
They suggest that advanced analytics and AI-enabled tools will drive the change.
Even though the full impact of AI-driven personalization is yet to be seen, companies that are using the marketing strategy are seeing a huge impact.
The Rise of Personalized Commerce study showed that 70% of businesses that used AI personalization reported seeing a 200% ROI from it.
3. E-commerce drives news features on Instagram
Searches for “Instagram shopping” have increased by 186% in 10 years.
The inventor of the hashtag, Chris Messina, was recently quoted: “Instagram is set on colonizing the bleeding edge of where commerce is going”.
The platform has released several new e-commerce features, and the app continues to attract a massive audience - a win-win for marketing professionals in 2021 and beyond.
Between July and September 2020, Instagram added more users than any other social platform.
As of May 2022, there were more than 1.28 billion active users.
Experts suggest the platforms’ audience will continue to grow at a pace that surpasses pre-pandemic growth rates.
eMarketer’s forecast for worldwide Instagram users shows steady growth for the platform.
Those millions of users are on Instagram for more than just sharing photos with their friends.
One large study showed that 36% of users follow brands and companies on the app.
Instagram themselves reports that more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily.
Instagram's internal data shows that users regularly interact with businesses on the platform.
In many ways, Instagram has become a one-stop shop for digital marketing.
Businesses can gain followers, build their brands, and sell their products right on the app.
As one marketing agency puts it, “[Instagram keeps] making it easier for brands to attract new audiences and move existing consumers down the sales funnel, all within one platform”.
This path to purchasing comes into play in several different ways, making it easier than ever for marketers to convert followers into sales.
Users can shop on Instagram’s reels, live broadcasts, posts, stories, and through a store link in a business’ bio.
Of course, most marketers take advantage of Instagram ads, too.
Google searches for "Instagram ads" have increased by 75% in 5 years.
One survey showed that 29% of businesses spend the majority of their social ads budget on Instagram.
More than 20% of the respondents also said they see the best ROAS on Instagram.
Projections show that US businesses were expected to spend a total of $33.25 billion on Instagram ads by the end of 2022.
That’s a huge jump from $17.4 billion in 2020.
4. An influencer for every business
Despite a recent drop-off in searches for “influencer marketing”, the search term has still grown over the past decade.
From mega-influencers with a million followers down to nano-influencers with only a thousand followers, in 2023 and beyond, influencer marketing is likely to remain a viable marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes.
(Especially in B2C)
Data from Mediakix estimated that the influencer marketing industry would hit $15 billion in 2022.
For reference, that’s close to double what the industry was worth in 2019.
For many businesses, the strong ROI makes influencer marketing a smart choice.
In one survey, 48% of marketers said that influencer marketing has a better or much better ROI than other marketing channels.
Another survey reported that, on average, influencer marketing provides $5.20 of value for every dollar spent.
Big businesses have seen recent success with mega-influencers.
For example, Dunkin’ Donuts’ partnership with TikTok influencer Charli D'Amelio reportedly resulted in a 20% increase in cold brew sales and a 57% increase in downloads of the Dunkin' Donuts app.
Dukin’ recently partnered with several micro-influencers, showing that companies using this marketing strategy are using different influencers for different purposes.
Dunkin’ Donuts' campaign reached more than 1 million people on Instagram and boasted a 5.2% engagement rate.
Searches for “micro influencers” have gone up 2,800% during the last 10 years.
With all of the social and political upheaval over the last few years, marketing experts are expecting to see a renewed emphasis on authentic influencers in the coming years.
5. Marketers prioritize user-generated content
Search engine interest for "user generated content" is up 335% over 10 years.
One important trend that accompanies the drive for authenticity on social media is the rise of user-generated content (UGC).
The American Association of Advertising Agencies reports that 96% of consumers don’t trust ads.
But, a recent study found that 93% of marketers agree that consumers do trust content created by real people.
Searches for “Wayfair” surged during the initial months of the pandemic and are up 120% over the last 10 years.
Brands can also use UGC to promote social causes and increase engagement among their social followers.
Clothing company Aerie started the #aeriereal hashtag, encouraging their customers to post unfiltered images of themselves on Instagram.
For every share, the company donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association.
6. Marketers go all-in with video
Search growth for the term "video marketing" over the last decade.
HubSpot has named video marketing as “one of, if not the, most important marketing trend today and likely for the next 5-10 years”.
To see the dominance of video, you don’t need to look any further than YouTube.
The platform reports that more than 500 hours of content are uploaded every minute.
The percentage of companies utilizing video marketing has held relatively steady since 2019.
Visual representation of State of Video Marketing Survey (2021)
Wyzowl reports that 91% of marketers say video is more important for businesses in light of the pandemic.
And nearly 70% of consumers say that the pandemic impacted the amount of videos they watch.
The stats regarding video content on social media are incredibly convincing.
According to a SEMrush report, posts that do not contain video content get 92% less traffic and 24% fewer shares than a post with at least one video.
In one study of 500 marketers, 93% reported landing a new customer because of a video post on social media.
There is a sweet spot in video marketing, though.
Data shows that short videos are most popular, and that definition of “short” gets shorter and shorter every year.
In 2017, the average length was 6.07 minutes. In 2018, it was 4.07 minutes.
Today’s industry rule is that marketing videos should be no longer than 2 minutes.
Businesses that want to take their video marketing to the next level are getting help from companies like Vidyard.
Searches for "Vidyard" are up 124% in 5 years.
With this platform, companies can personalize their content so the individual names of their customers show up in videos.
From their homepage to their ads, to their educational content, to their social pages, marketers should aim to create on-brand and engaging video content for their audience.
7. Consumer demand fuels visual search
Search interest in “Google lens” has been on a steady climb, increasing 1,329% in the past 5 years.
Since the late 2010s, consumers have been able to use real-world images taken from their smartphone’s camera to start an online search.
Thanks to AI, their search matches them to similar images or provides them with useful information.
Right now, incorporating visual search into marketing strategies is an emerging marketing trend.
It’s something that advertisers have focused on, but an article from London-based publisher Raconteur stated that only 8 percent of specialty retail brands have integrated a photo search capability into their apps.
The image recognition market is expected to grow to $53 billion by 2025.
And a study reported that 35% of marketers were planning to optimize visual search in the near future.
There is plenty of demand for visual search among consumers.
One report showed that 74% of consumers say text-based searches are “inefficient” for their needs.
Millennials, especially, want visual search capabilities - 62% want to use it more than any other new technology.
Google Lens is one of the most popular visual search apps available.
Google Lens is steadily growing.
Pinterest Lens might be even more impressive.
It can recognize more than 2.5 billion objects.
Their platform can take consumers directly from visual search to purchasing.
Two other examples of the trend: Amazon has StyleSnap, which uses visual search and several other parameters to recommend items to consumers.
And, Snapchat’s visual search goes as far as to recognize food packaging and wine labels.
Snapchat's visual search feature.
Visual search marketing is especially prevalent in the fashion and furniture industries.
ASOS’s app allows users to take a photo and the platform will automatically find the product or recommend a different product that matches the style of the item in the image.
Visual search doesn’t stop there - it’s also being used by NAPA Auto Parts stores.
Their “Drop & Find” kiosk captures an image of a part, matches it to one in its AI system, and provides instant information on where a customer can find that exact part in the store. The system recognizes 5,000 parts and finds the customer an exact match 90% of the time.
8. Marketers Turn to YouTube Ads for Increased Reach and Improved ROI
As consumers shy away from watching traditional television, companies are spending their ad budgets elsewhere.
YouTube is quickly becoming an advertising giant.
Search volume for “youtube ads” has grown 105% over the past 5 years.
The platform’s global revenue was up to nearly $29 billion in 2021, a 46% jump from 2020.
In the first quarter of 2021 alone, ad revenue was up 49%, reaching $6 billion.
Ad revenue on the platform peaked at $8.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Ad revenue on YouTube grew steadily through 2021, but fell off in the first quarter of 2022.
The Social Media Examiner reports that 52% of marketers are currently using YouTube and more than half of marketers want to learn more about YouTube ads.
Digital marketers who use YouTube ads have the potential to reach 1.7 billion unique visitors every month.
These ads are also relatively cheap, too — $.03 to $.30 per impression.
The result was a 9% higher ROI compared to awareness advertising alone and a 13% increase in conversions with the same ad budget.
Grammarly saw an improved conversion rate when running YouTube ads in 2021.
Digital marketers at Kayak, a popular travel booking site, launched a series of humorous ads on YouTube in 2022. The goal was to inspire people to get back to traveling after the pandemic. The ads aired on YouTube’s connected TV.
Kayak’s ad campaign took advantage of YouTube’s broad reach in order to target potential travelers in the United States.
The campaign was able to reach 1 in 4 US adults in just one month and conversion rates increased by 7.5%.
9. Data Privacy Concerns Prompt Marketers to Change Strategies
In order for digital marketers to personalize content and target ads at consumers, they need data. But, very soon, that data may be hard to come by.
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about privacy.
Search volume for “data privacy” is climbing, up 88% in 5 years.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about their online privacy and 42% of individuals are not comfortable receiving personalized ads.
The Pew Research Center reports that more than 80% of Americans feel that the risks of companies collecting data on them outweigh the benefits.
A recent Google survey showed that 73% of people use online tools in order to protect their privacy.
Amidst this consumer concern, Apple and Google are phasing out third-party cookies, one of the main ways companies collect data on consumers.
Now, digital marketers are revamping their data collection strategies and aiming to gain back consumer trust.
Advertisers who can deliver the transparency consumers demand can expect to see an increase in data willingly exchanged by the customer.
This could negatively impact the bottom line if marketers aren’t able to pivot efficiently.
McKinsey suggests companies that can’t land on an effective data strategy could end up paying as much as 20% more on marketing and sales to generate the same results.
A research report from McKinsey draws the conclusion that “a strong, trust-based relationship with customers may be the key to a sustainable, effective data strategy.”
One alternative for marketers who used to rely on third-party cookies is first-party data. That’s data a company collects directly from its customers.
Search Engine Journal reports that 36% of marketers say data on customer purchase history will be the most valuable first-party data going forward. Other valuable sources of data include social media profiles, website registrations, survey responses, and mobile app usage.
There are clear benefits to first-party data.
It’s cheap to collect. It’s owned by the company. It’s accurate, and it can be used to strengthen relationships with customers.
Collecting and capitalizing on first-party data can help marketers drive business value.
Properly integrated first-party data has been shown to generate double the revenue from a single ad placement or communication. Plus, it can potentially result in a 1.5x improvement in cost efficiency.
10. Big-Name Brands Begin Experimenting in the Metaverse
In simple terms, the metaverse has been described as a “3D version of the Internet”.
It’s a place where people can live a digital life through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Although it’s still in early development, tech experts say it will be a place where people play, party, and socialize in the coming years.
The use of AR and VR is already growing quickly, especially among younger generations.
In 2023, it’s expected that 110 million people will use AR at least once per month. That’s up from 72.8 million in 2019.
The number of people using AR and VR continues to grow.
Gen Z consumers are already spending a considerable amount of time in the metaverse.
Statistics show that individuals in this generation spend 2x more time socially interacting in the metaverse than they do in real life.
These consumers want brands to create a presence in the metaverse.
One-third of this generation wants brands to develop virtual stores and another 30% were open to brands selling skins and apparel for avatars.
In fact, many marketers are already incorporating AR and VR into their strategies.
Hubspot reports that 35% of marketers were already using AR and VR in 2021, and 42% planned to increase their investment in 2022.
More than two dozen big-name companies are already using marketing strategies in the metaverse.
Users can find many of their favorite brands in the metaverse.
Most metaverse marketers are focusing their efforts on setting up immersive experiences, product placement, and selling NFTs. However, tech industry experts say there is tremendous potential for direct-to-avatar sales.
One of the most successful retailers in the metaverse is Gucci.
In 2021, the fashion retailer launched a limited-time-only Gucci Gardens in Roblox, a metaverse version of the brand’s real-life Gucci Garden Archetypes in Italy.
In Gucci Gardens, people could mingle with other avatars, explore the space, and purchase digital products.
More than 19 million people visited the space.
Once there, they could purchase Gucci accessories that ranged in price from $1.20 to $9. More than 4.5 million items were sold.
One prediction says ads in the metaverse, promoting real-life items or metaverse-oriented products, could potentially become a $586 billion market.
Bidstack, a video game ad tech company, is one company that’s taking traditional billboard advertising to the world of AR and VR.
Bidstack brings ads to cityscapes, billboards, branded vehicles, buildings, and other surfaces within virtual worlds.
11. Marketing Leaders Respond to Calls for Increased Diversity
Digital marketers are listening as consumers call for more diversity, equality, and inclusion.
Recent search volume for “diversity” shows growing interest.
A survey from Abode found that 61% of US consumers say diversity in advertising is important.
In fact, Adobe reported that more than one-third of LGBTQ+, African Americans, and Millennial consumers said that a brand’s efforts to show diversity has a major impact on their likelihood to purchase products or services from that brand.
Another study found that brands with the highest diversity scores have an 83% higher consumer preference.
In one study of Gen Z consumers, 70% of individuals reported being more trusting of brands that represent diversity in their marketing.
Inclusive advertising and marketing is especially important to Gen Z.
But, only 29% of non-white individuals believe their race is accurately reprseneted in advertising.
Most consumers especially see digital marketing efforts as lacking diversity.
When asked about which media portrays the most diversity in advertising, 43% of consumers said network TV. Only 20% said social media and only 9% said digital ads.
Leading digital marketers are taking steps to ensure their brands meet diversity and inclusion goals.
The vast majority believe that inclusivity in marketing is important: 93% agreed with this statement in a recent survey.
Nearly 90% of marketers agree that there’s room for growth when it comes to using diverse images in marketing campaigns.
Thoroughly researching the target audience, using inclusive language, and featuring diverse imagery are a few ways digital marketers are adjusting their strategies. Many brands are also partnering with minority-owned businesses in order to make their marketing more inclusive.
Digital marketers are looking at a pathway like this one as they work toward inclusive representation.
Procter & Gamble provides one example of a successful initiative aimed at diversity in marketing.
The corporation’s “Widen the Screen” video series aims to expand and elevate Black voices. The initiative has created partnerships with Black creators in film, television, and advertising with the goal of confronting prejudice.
Oreo is another brand that’s been committed to LGBTQ+ inclusion for the past several years.
Oreo’s marketing campaign told the story of the relationship between parents and their LGBTQ+ children.
They utilized filters on Instagram, Twitter ads, and a dedicated website in their marketing.
The campaign was a huge success, especially on social media. It produced 315 million impressions and 2 million engagements.
12. Chatbot App Integrations Grow
One digital marketing strategy that combines a few of the trends already on this list is the use of chatbots.
Search volume for “chatbot” is growing, up 240% in the past 5 years.
AI-powered chatbots combine the personalization consumers crave with the technology of the future.
A 2019 survey of US adults found that 40% of US consumers are interested in using chatbots. It also reported that 80% of consumers that have interacted with a chatbot had a positive experience.
Digital marketers are using chatbots in a variety of ways: driving people through the sales pipeline, answering questions, and pointing consumers to specific products.
In one survey of B2B marketers, 82% say AI chatbots are a very valuable asset in their current sales and marketing strategy.
Chatbots can be a helpful tool for building trust with consumers, too.
Facebook reports that 69% of Americans who have messaged a business say that messaging capability makes them feel more confident about the brand.
Insider Intelligence expects this technology to be incredibly valuable in the future.
By 2024, they say customer retail spending via chatbots will hit $142 billion. That’s compared to just $2.8 billion in 2019.
WhatsApp, a platform that boasts 2 million global users, is one of the most popular ways in which businesses deploy chatbots to achieve their marketing goals.
With WhatsApp, businesses can meet customers where they are and build long-lasting customer relationships.
Marketers can use the app platform to share reminders with customers, take advantage of cross-selling opportunities, and deliver hyper-relevant promotions.
Tata Cliq, a luxury ecommerce brand based in India, launched a chatbot marketing and sales campaign through WhatsApp in October 2021.
They achieved a 57% clickthrough rate in their WhatsApp communications and attributed $500k in sales to the app during one month. Their ROI was 10x higher than with conventional marketing channels.
Facebook Messenger remains one of the top platforms for chatbots.
There are more than 300k active chatbots on Messenger and more than 8 billion messages go between businesses and consumers each month.
Sharkey’s Cuts For Kids, a franchised kids’ hair salon in Odessa, TX, used a Facebook Messenger chatbot to drive excitement for its grand opening.
Using chatbots on Facebook Messenger can drive leads and conversions for local businesses.
Facebook users messaged Sharkey’s in order to enter a giveaway and provided their information to the chatbot. In return, they received a voucher for the grand opening. The chatbot was also able to prompt users to make an appointment and sign up for reminders.
Sharkey’s generated more than 100 appointments for opening day and reduced their cost-per-acquisition by 58% when compared to other franchise grand openings.
That wraps up the top trends driving marketing in 2023 and beyond.
Social media platforms continue to roll out features for businesses, but consumers are demanding more authenticity and personalization from businesses.
Brands that can find the right balance between paid marketing and digital word-of-mouth directly from their customers are poised to be the most successful in the coming years.