January 27, 2023

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I’ve been in the digital marketing game since the AOL days – even before Google and certainly long before Snapchat and TikTok were ever a thing. As I’ve seen the landscape change over the years, I’ve developed some pretty good foresight into where the industry is headed in the future. For the past two decades, my job has been to predict where digital marketing is going and get there before my competitors do.

As a digital marketing entrepreneur, you always have to look ahead. Through 2026, the compound annual growth rate of the online marketing industry is 9%. That’s why you need to think long-term if you want to succeed in a market that gets busier every year.

With 2023 on the horizon, let’s discuss the key industry trends that I think you need to be on top of if you want to stand out in the digital marketing space of tomorrow:

Related: 5 digital marketing trends to know for the decade

GPT-4 and the rise of “smart” chatbots

When Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) was released in 2020 by Silicon Valley-based OpenAI, its ability to create human-like natural language shocked the world. As the most advanced AI language model in the world, GPT-3 is capable of writing compelling poetry, prose, and dialogue with just a simple user prompt.

In 2023, we could see the long-awaited GPT-4 appear. While AI-based language processing has come a long way in recent years, there are still some hiccups. Chatbots powered by GPT-3 still fail the Turing test, and many consumers resent having their support questions handled by a bot.

With GPT-4 on the horizon, chatbots are about to take a major leap forward in their development. Once chatbots can produce language indistinguishable from humans – with all our emotional nuances and subtle interpretations – chatbots will take over. We may even see GPT-4 chatbots replace human support agents altogether. Savvy entrepreneurs will keep an eye out for new chatbot developments based on GPT-4 and embrace them when the time comes.

Hyper-personalization

In Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic, How to make friends and influence people, he wrote that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to him or her in any language. He wasn’t wrong. We naturally love to be addressed by name as it is dignified and shows respect.

Our marketing campaigns should reflect this trend. Emails and texts that don’t include your lead’s name are a big no-go. As third-party cookies will be combated in 2022 and will likely continue into the future, it’s important to ask for your lead’s name and other identifiable information when they sign up. Cookies are slowly becoming a thing of the past, so you will increasingly have to collect personalized user data yourself.

Related: 4 marketing personalization tips for digital businesses

More mobile-first visuals

Who doesn’t love stunning visual content such as infographics, reels and informative videos? For many of us, this is the way we prefer to learn, rather than through long walls of text (no, the irony has not escaped me here). I suggest ramping up your visual content production if you want to compete in the information space of 2023, and more generally in a world with an increasingly short attention span – currently just 8.25 seconds.

Optimizing your visual content for mobile devices should always be at the forefront. Desktop visual production should be an afterthought. Today, the clear majority (nearly 54%) of web traffic comes from mobile devices, and this percentage will increase in 2023. That’s why I suggest keeping vertical, mobile-friendly images at the top of your content schedule.

Clips, reels and videos

Speaking of visuals, we can’t ignore the massive influence that TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels have had on the industry over the past few years. With TikTok nearly doubling its monthly users to nearly two billion by 2022, chances are its influence will only continue to grow in the coming year.

Ideally, create short, vertical video content in the range of 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Long video content has its place on YouTube, but to unlock the true viral potential of your videos, it’s best to shorten them and optimize them for mobile devices. The more short vertical videos you create, the more likely they will go viral and your content will be widely shared.

Increase interactivity

Social media marketing should remain at the center of your marketing strategy in 2023. However, our feeds are already flooded with promoted content. Instead of a simple 4×3 image post, create more interactive content that draws your audience in with a question. For example, I recommend using the following Instagram features in your Story content:

  • polls

  • “Ask a question” widgets

  • quizzes

  • Rating sliders

There is something about interacting with a brand that is much more powerful than simply passively viewing the content. Including interactive Story content in your social media campaigns is a very effective way to get engagement and keep your audience attached to your brand.

Related: 7 tools that make interactive content creation easy

Keep the momentum going in 2023

As we enter the new year, let’s not squander all the progress we made in 2022. Instead, let’s keep moving forward by capitalizing on tomorrow’s digital market trends. Specifically, I recommend keeping a close eye on AI developments such as GPT-4, collecting more accurate personalized user data, creating mobile-first content (especially short video content) and incorporating interactive media into your content strategy.

If you can keep up with these trends over the next year, you’ll be better positioned than many of your competitors. As the industry continues to grow year on year, keeping abreast of these trends will become less of an option and more of a necessity if you want to stay afloat – so, what better time to start than now?

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