It’s important to know the digital marketing trends of 2023 (here are ours). But the thing is, from a small business standpoint, some of them are directional trends that indicate where “mainstream” marketing is headed, but not where mainstream is currently at.
I’m looking at you, NFTs.
Now, a portion of your strategy should include preparation for the future and even some early adoption, but you also need to know what is going to bring you results now.
Like, this year.
Maybe even this week
Which is why I’ve written this guide on the 19 best marketing strategies for 2023—based on the realities of today— that will bring results now, for any business.
Here’s your table of contents:
To jump to a topic:
To jump to a strategy:
|Lead ads||MUMified content||Social for local||No more open rates||Meaningful media|
|Page targeting||Video schema||Live shopping||Preference centers||Accessibility|
|ETA prep||Passage ranking||No, not TikTok||Plain text||Canva|
|Enhanced conversions||Technical SEO||Conversational copy|
It should be no surprise here that each of these paid media strategies is focused on privacy. But don’t forget about the tried-and-true best practices here, like having a strong account structure and using a cross-channel strategy (not just multi-channel).
Third-party cookies, which are in their final days, allow ad platforms to string lots of different data together into insights—both on your audience or to provide custom audiences to target—with respect to their hobbies, occupation, income, marital status, inner thoughts and more. Just kidding on that last one (but am I?).
And if you’re thinking hey, that sounds a lot like Facebook ad targeting options, you’re right.
This is information people give out in their public profiles and activity. And as such, Facebook lead ads—where the form can auto-populate based on the user’s profile, and where a user might feel more inclined to give out that information—are suddenly more appealing now.
When given directly by the user, it’s called zero-party data—the purest and most pristine data in all the land.
You won’t know how much you don’t know about your audience until third-party cookies are gone, and by then it will be too late.
So start collecting first [and zero]-party data now. To use Facebook lead ads in this manner in 2022:
Here’s another underdog strategy.
When creating a custom audience in Facebook Ads, you can target users based on their interaction with your sources (like your website, customer list, app activity, offline activity) after clicking an ad, or with Facebook sources (your videos, lead forms, Facebook Page, and more).
Historically, “Your Sources” has been the popular pick, but with the Facebook pixel losing power and website data losing accuracy, “Facebook Sources” are coming in for the privacy-friendly Facebook ad targeting win.
Remember, iOS users can prevent Facebook from tracking them outside of the app, so the data you see in Ads Manager is incomplete. And incomplete data can actually be worse than no data at all if it leads you in the wrong direction.
Incomplete data can be worse than no data at all if it leads you in the wrong direction.
Your best bet with Facebook advertising this year is to switch over to Facebook’s sources.
You can even retarget users who have filled out your lead form. But the Facebook Page activity option in particular is key. Here, you can treat Page visitors just as you would treat your website visitors, serving them particular ads based on whether they:
To get started, jump straight to strategy #3 in this post on lesser-used Facebook ad strategies that will give you a competitive edge and then start driving traffic to your Facebook Page.
The ETD for ETAs is June 30, 2022 ✈️
After this day, you will not be able to edit or create new expanded text ads (ETAS), and responsive search ads (RSAs) will be the only standard search ad you can create. We cover the story here.
What this does not mean is that you should stop creating ETAs now and wait until June to run responsive search ads (RSAs).
What this does mean is that you should do these things now:
To create ETAs, start a new responsive search ad and click where it says “Use expanded text ads instead.”
Now is not the time to sit back and watch! Prepare for the sunsetting of ETAs so you can do that when they take off for good. We cover all the ways to prepare for the sunsetting of ETAs here.
Performance Max campaigns jumped out of beta and into the hands of all advertisers at the end of 2021. These campaign types offer the automation benefits of Smart campaigns, the dynamic nature of responsive ads, and the multi-placement targeting of social ads—all in one.
The reason why they will be important to familiarize with in 2023 is that Smart Shopping and Local campaigns will be folded into Performance Max this year (not to mention the direction we’re inevitably headed with automation in Google Ads).
With Performance Max, you provide one set of assets (images, videos, logos, headlines, etc.) and Google will mix and match those assets to show ads across all of its channels, including Search (which includes Shopping and Local), Display, Discover, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube.
Google is working on FLoC, but in the meantime, Google Ads has provided us with enhanced conversions. This feature provides the third-party cookie benefit of cross-device conversion tracking, without the third-party cookies. How so? Your first-party data about your website visitors (such as their email addresses and phone number) will get sent to Google (in hashed form). Google will then look for Google accounts that match that information and gather its first-party [which is cross-device] data on those users and transmit it back to you in hashed, aggregated, and anonymous form. Now you have insights on your ad clickers’ behavior (their logged in Google account behavior, at least) before and after your Google ads.
You can set up enhanced conversions manually with Tag Manager or sitewide tagging, or via API. Google provides instructions here.
In May of 2021, Google introduced us to MUM—Multitask Unified Model. The goal of this search technology is to reduce the number of queries a person has to perform. So instead of performing multiple searches, like:
…a person can ask Google a question in the same way they’d ask a human.
“I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?”
Google will then build a result that answers all of that, which could be comprised of different sources and media formats. On top of that, MUM knows 75 different languages, so if the best answer to that question is in Russian, Google can now connect that information to the searcher.
Pretty crazy, right?
And totally not something that will happen in 2023.
So why is it in this post? Because for MUM means following the same SEO best practices we’ve harped on for years. So basically, this is just a cool new way to tell you to:
Speakin’ o’ schema…Google dropped two new video schema markup types in 2021: Click markup and Seek markup—the former of which allows you to create and communicate your own timestamps in your videos to Google Search results.
You’ve probably seen Clip markup in action if you’ve Googled a “how to” query and got a crazy specific video result like below:
We know that YouTube is one of the most popular social media platforms. We know that video is the way to go. And we know that schema is MUM-friendly. So video schema should be in your 2023 SEO strategy. No ifs, ands, or buts. (You may also want to check out these YouTube SEO tips.)
This comes from Brian Deans’ Guide to SEO in 2023 and fair warning: It’s yet another cool new 2023 way of telling you to do something we’ve been telling you to do for years.
With the passage ranking update, Google can now consider not just the relevancy of a page—but also a section of content within a page—to a given query. So all of the regular Google ranking factors still apply, but your pages now have even more opportunities to show up on the good old [and by old I mean at the leading edge of search technology] first page of Google.
The best way to optimize for passage ranking? Use your H2s and H3s to organize your post into crystal clear sections. Each of your H2s should cover a specific subtopic (which should happen naturally if your H2s are different long-tail variations on the target keyword).
Illustration inspired by Brian’s.
For example, in my post on How to Get on the First Page of Google, I have several separate sections, indicated by H2s (not all shown in the illustration above).
So instead of just having just one H2 with 10 H3s, I have five H2s with 10 H3s. Not only does this give me several opportunities to put the keyword in an H2, but it also 1) makes the content more digestible and 2) creates those discreet sections Brian recommends.
MUM and passage ranking just give us cool new ways of telling you to do things we’ve been harping on for years.
The content side of SEO is supreme, but with the page experience update and mobile-first indexing of 2021 and the tools we have available today, there’s plenty you can do on your own in terms of technical SEO. If you’re unfamiliar, a new set of ranking factors called Core Web Vitals came out last year with the page experience update.
Core Web Vitals in plain English:
Here are some technical SEO optimizations for 2023 that you can do on your own:
You can also use the free LOCALiQ website grader to identify more opportunities to improve your website’s technical and content SEO.
I have one v. specific social media strategy (if you’re ecommerce), sandwiched by two v. broad social media strategies to prioritize on your list this year. You can find the complete list of 2023 social media marketing trends here.
The thing about the vast audiences on social media is that they’re not just audiences. They’re also posting their own content, forever increasing the size of the whirlpool your content can get lost in. Organic reach just keeps getting further and further, well, out of reach.
Apart from social media advertising, a local approach is one of the best ways to stand out on social to who those who matter most to your business—whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and more.
We actually have a whole course dedicated to local social media marketing but here are some starter tips:
Facebook is right up there with Google as one of the biggest local business directories.
Now this is one of the 2023 digital marketing trends that might feel too far off to you, but it’s not. Not only is live streamed content growing, but it generates 27% more minutes of watch time per viewing than on-demand video. On top of that, Instagram—which already revolutionized the online shopping experience with shoppable posts, Stories, and Reels—launched shoppable Lives in September, making this marketing strategy easier than ever.
To create an Instagram Live Shopping session, here’s what to do:
You can also watch Instagram’s video tutorial here.
So here’s the thing about TikTok. As a social media platform, it’s big. Very big. As a social media marketing platform, it’s not all that great.
But the Tok is not going to conform to social media marketing. Social media marketing will conform to the Tok. I mean, Instagram told us over the summer that It is now looking to shift focus to “full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video” content. In other words, TikTokitize itself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start marketing or advertising on TikTok (although if your audience includes entertainment-seeking teens with a good sense of rhythm, then yes, you do). What it does mean is you need to have a TikTok-inspired content strategy. And what does that mean?
I’ll give you one hint:
Short, entertaining content. This means:
You don’t need to market on TikTok (unless your audience fits the bill), but you do need to have a TikTok-inspired content strategy.
While SEO and PPC hit some turbulent patches last year, email marketing was just cruising along, living its best life. That is, until Q4 when Apple dropped the MPP bomb on us…
For the uninitiated, MPP stands for Mail Privacy Protection, which rolled out with the Apple iOS 15 update. With this feature iOS users can block your ability to gather accurate open data (i.e., if, when, where, or how many times they opened your marketing emails). In short, Apple will open a user’s email, regardless—in a proxy server—so that any tracking pixels in the email download there, and not the user’s device. Then, if a user decides to open the email, they will be opening the cached version.
Email tracking software can’t distinguish between proxied and non-proxied opens. The result? Inflated open rates and missing or incorrect open data (like location, time of open, number of times opened, and more). We share iOS 15-friendly email marketing strategies here, but the key takeaways are as follows:
Proxied opens due to Mail Privacy Protection will tell you that your user opened your email even if they didn’t. Not good.
Now we know that open data isn’t everything, but it still can tell us a lot about our audience—where they’re located, what types of content and topics they like, when they’re most likely to read your email, how frequently they want to receive emails from you, and more.
But there is a workaround. Instead of gleaning these insights, you can ask your audience themselves. When they sign up for your emails, create a preference center so you can get it directly from the [audience member]’s mouth.
You can even use them as a part of your unsubscribe flow.
So plain text isn’t a retro trend (like the early aughts in our 2023 landing page trends). You should still send out branded, HTML emails but you should also send out a plain text version along with it. Why?
Most email automation platforms will give you the option to generate a plain text version of your email, but you’ll still need to optimize it. Here are some tips and an image example, courtesy of Litmus:
The TLDR for this section? Pretend you’re a hipster content restaurant. Make lots of content. Content that is delicious-looking (attractive), easy to digest (skimmable), free of fillers (fluff and words you can’t pronounce) satisfies your readers (quality and interesting information), and suitable for different preferences and requirements (accessible). Here are three ways to make that happen.
We know that it’s important to break up the text in your blog posts with images, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
Your images should be such that if they’re the only thing the reader looks at in the post, they can still get value from it.
An image depicting the surrounding text on this page, of an image depicting the surrounding text of a page. 🤯
The other reason to use metadata? Accessibility. Title tags, H1s, H2s, and image alt text are all used by screen readers so that those with visual impairments won’t just hear what’s on a page, but understand it.
Some accessibility tips:
And accessibility is just one way of making your content more inclusive. You’ll also want to represent all races and abilities in not just your visuals, but in the examples and hypotheticals in your blog posts too.
Not only will multi-media content help you to store up MUM-friendly content, but it will also keep you competitive. It’s getting easier and easier to create great content these days, and the more your audience sees it elsewhere, the more they will expect it from you. Which brings me to the next strategy.
For starters, neither WordStream nor I am affiliated with Canva in any way. And I have yet to find a free tool as great as Canva (but if you know of one, let me know in the comments). Hence the super-specific strategy.
Canva is perfect for:
You can make everything with Canva, from email signatures and branded graphics to Facebook ads and Stories templates. And most importantly, you can mark up images with arrows, labels, and boxes so you can create those meaningful visuals I talked about above.
RELATED: How to Use Canva in 7 Simple Steps
Good visual content is an expectation now. So it’s no longer great visuals that will make you stand out, but mediocre ones, and not in the way you want.
Here’s your final marketing strategy summed up in one image:
And here it is, typed out for SEO purposes and accessibility.
One thing to avoid in 2023 is writing too formally. This means using proper grammar always. It also means not varying sentence length. It also means being repetitive, using complex or boring words, or being too serious. However, it is not hard to learn how to write conversationally. This entails going against traditional grammar, but it will help you to attract customers. Here are some ways to write conversational copy.
What’s the best way to turn off your readers in 2023?
By using corporate blady bla or writing like a robot. Clinging tightly to proper grammar (you’re gonna have to unlearn some things), using words that are either too fancy or too boring, and taking yourself too seriously. But it’s easy to get the hang of. Here are some handy tips that’ll get your readers smiling and subscribing:
We’ve got more tips on how to write like a human being here.
This isn’t a list of emerging trends to keep an eye on. It’s the realities of today and exactly how to use them to your advantage. So I don’t recommend “considering” these strategies. I recommend jumping into them like your business could slip behind your competitors if you don’t. Because it will. Let’s recap with the list.
The best marketing strategies for 2023 are:
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in SEO and copywriting and finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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