Eight digital marketing trends that will impact local brands 

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By: Niamh NicLiam, Director: Growth & Partnerships at Incubeta 

Scottish poet, Robert Burns, once said “There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing” and this feels particularly true as we enter 2023. After a very bumpy two years we thought we were facing firmer ground this time last year – until the war in Ukraine turned our geopolitics, supply chains and global economy upside down. But while many have a fairly gloomy outlook for the year ahead, there are ways to not only mitigate the downturn, but find opportunity in our possible adversity. 

Here are 8 strategic, skills and tech trends to help marketing professionals prepare for the year ahead. 

  1. Privacy issues are becoming more of a headache 

Taking proactive steps to address privacy issues is crucial, but 2022 saw some companies come up short with their website strategies when they took a non-decision on the consent mode as an automatic rejection of cookies. In fact, some brands saw a 50% drop-off in traffic when they did this, with sales taking a big hit. We see the deprecation of cookies and other privacy issues consuming a good deal of CMOs’ time this year, including understanding and implementing new tracking methodologies. Our advice is to find an expert to guide you through and ensure you comfortably achieve compliance without your sales strategy taking a knock. 

  • Content comes to the fore 

In a downturn economy making every cent count is key and this will mean trying new things. Last year many brands already began putting an increased focus on content as a means to reach new audiences on their digital platforms and this will continue into 2023. Using dynamic, template-driven creative will reduce workloads and help deliver larger portfolios of creative assets at better costs. 

  • Managing stock will require a renewed focus on feeds 

It’s no use spending millions on driving traffic to your website if you don’t have stock available. Ensuring you have stock data plugged into your media campaigning and you make use of good feed technology will be critical this year, especially as inflationary pressures and shaky supply chains continue to confound consumer and B2B brands alike. 

  • Digital maturity will hit its stride in 2023

Move over digital transformation, digital maturity is the new Holy Grail. Research done by Boston Consulting Group shows that organisations that are more digitally mature are better equipped to respond to changing market dynamics, and were twice as likely to grow their market share over the course of a year. They also outperform their less advanced competitors by an average of 29 percentage points when it comes to cost savings and 18 percentage points when it comes to revenue.

  • Data-driven marketing will grow in importance

Many organisations remain uncertain about data-driven marketing and how they should be making use of it. However, local brands are waking up to the fact that they are sitting on gold mines of internal data that they have never bothered tapping into. Finding the right partners and internal skills (such as data implementation specialists, analysts, scientists, engineers), to help make sense of this data will be the biggest challenge for organisations hoping to mine this untapped opportunity. 

  • Skills will remain a challenge 

South African marketing specialists have always been a sought after global commodity and remote work has seen a spike of international companies snapping up local skills. The promise of better salaries and the opportunity to work internationally will make it hard to attract and retain workers, especially high-end data specialists. Graduate and intern programmes can offset the longer-term damage, but action must be taken quickly. 

  • Agency / client partnerships key to performance in 2023 

This year will see a growing focus on performance which is going to test new and existing agency / client relationships to the limit. The winners this year will be the partnerships that are built on transparency and trust. With this as a foundation, brands will be in a great position to adopt a test–and–learn approach that will facilitate the adoption of new technologies and approaches and will boost performance, while limiting costs.  

  • Amazon is coming – get busy 

Despite the cloud of secrecy, we know Amazon is coming soon. Customers are lining up to take advantage of next-day delivery, as well as all the other benefits of Amazon Prime, and the launch of the tech giant will shake up the local e-commerce market. It would be foolish for South African brands to ignore the many possibilities offered by the new channel. In fact, Amazon could be an excellent way for consumer brands to properly diversify, limiting their exposure to a single local market. 

We believe it will be this kind of expansive thinking, along with solid planning and trusted agency partnerships, that will set winning brands apart in 2023.