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Many businesses are already mapping out their digital marketing plans for 2023 and beyond

As technology rapidly advances, digital marketing trends are constantly changing. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to pay close attention to these trends so you can adapt your strategy accordingly. In this blog, we’ll be looking at what you can expect in the world of digital marketing in 2023.

Did you enjoy that intro? Did it sound like any other blog intro? What if I told you that a clever AI chatbot wrote that in a matter of seconds after being given a simple prompt? AI has properly arrived, and 2023 will be the year everything changes! So what can we expect?

1. AI Content Creation

Graphic designers and copywriters are keeping a close eye on whether new programs like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion will help them generate ideas and create content more quickly and efficiently or replace them entirely. While the latter is unlikely there’s no denying that these powerful tools will transform how we create content in the coming year.

What can you do now? Algorithms already determine the social media posts you engage with, the search results you see, and even the ads displayed to you and in 2023 it might even create the content you like. It will be imperative to understand how the algorithms are impacting your results and optimize your content strategy to take advantage of this.

2. The Metaverse

The metaverse is one of the most talked-about trends in digital marketing. The metaverse is a broad term that describes a variety of immersive virtual experiences taking place online, usually with others. Starbucks, Nike and countless big brands have announced metaverse experiences. While there is a lot of excitement for the metaverse, most businesses don’t have practical use cases (or return on investment) just yet.

What can you do now? Start experimenting with the metaverse and immerse yourself personally. Look for emerging opportunities for your business to participate in and keep a close eye on others in your industry. The metaverse is still experimental for most businesses, so don’t worry about going all in yet.

3. Customer Experience

Most algorithms and AI in digital marketing optimize for the same thing—creating a better user experience, as this is what matters most. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) updates this year focused on providing the most helpful content to users. Beat the algorithms and delight your customers by focusing more on their experiences.

What can you do now? Help future-proof your digital marketing by focusing on the customer and optimizing their experience. All algorithms are based on improving the user experience—so this helps protect you from future algorithm updates.

Are you using TikTok for business? You should!

4. Short Videos

TikTok and Instagram Reels are taking over social media feeds—and consumer attention. There is no question that this format will only continue to grow. For businesses to stay relevant they need to appear in the channels and formats where their customers are. The good news is that short video formats are making their way into social media management tools and schedulers, so it will become easier for businesses to plan and post next year.

What can you do now? If you haven’t been active in these formats personally, now is the time. Start watching Reels and TikToks to gain an understanding of the format, content and appeal. Next, start posting and experimenting with short video content for your business. Test and learn your way to success in these powerful platforms that are earning so much time and attention.

5. Simple, Clear Messages

With short-form video taking over and attention spans constantly dropping, businesses have a bigger challenge than ever. Businesses must be able to communicate in short, quick soundbites to earn attention on mobile devices.

What can you do now? Spend more time crafting shorter, simpler messages. Take your marketing and brand priorities and sound-bite them into short sentences or quick ideas. Challenge yourself to copy popular short video formats and shorten your messages.

“A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.” - Mark Zuckerberg

6. Influencers

Influencers are hot. As the advertising landscape becomes more and more cluttered, businesses need to find new ways to get in front of their target audiences. Increasingly, businesses can find opportunities to break through the noise with organic-seeming content via influencers. Influencer marketing has been on the rise for years, and this trend will only continue as influencers build up larger and larger audiences that are ripe for the picking for marketers.

What can you do now? Research opportunities to integrate influencers into your marketing plan for next year. Examine how your competitors or other industries are harnessing influencers to grow results.

7. Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy is about getting your team or employees talking and sharing on behalf of the business. More and more businesses are realizing the power of their employees. Employee personal profiles and assets are often more effective at reaching more people more authentically than business accounts and assets. Harnessing this power is an untapped opportunity—especially in business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

What can you do now? Evaluate the opportunity for employees to contribute to your marketing efforts and build a plan to engage them. An engagement plan usually includes training, tools and resources to motivate and excite employees to speak on behalf of the business.

8. LinkedIn As A B2B Powerhouse

LinkedIn has been around for many years but recently has posted record growth and engagement. It is expected to account for 25% of B2B advertising in two years. There is a growing opportunity for businesses to use the platform for growth. Yet very few businesses take advantage of this. My guess is that LinkedIn will only continue to grow and the opportunity will only get bigger. Jump in early to disproportionately win.

What can you do now? Build LinkedIn into your plans strategically. Optimize your content. Grow your audience and look for new features and opportunities to accelerate your success.

9. A Focus On Foundations

While it is easy to get distracted by the metaverse, Web 3.0, NFTs and AI, the reality of digital marketing is that the foundations of digital marketing still make up the bulk of results for most businesses. Foundations like your website, SEO, email, social media, digital ads, community management and reputation management will disproportionately contribute to your results.

What can you do now? Get a competitive edge by growing your results in these key areas. Have a plan to optimize and get better results faster from your existing efforts.

This article was written by Krista Neher for Forbes and adapted for the V5 Digital audience.

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  • Freda Smit

It’s often said, “don't stop until you’re proud”…Well, the V5 Digital Team could not be more proud of the projects we crafted and the success we created over the last year.

We love bringing new technology to our southern shores and this year was no different. We introduced the Linkin-Bio solution to Namibia Health Plan, allowing them to effortlessly promote their services, competitions, and urgent updates from one, always-relevant, Instagram link.

Building a sophisticated chatbot for Pupkewitz Megabuild enhanced their ability to engage with their customers in a prompt, smooth, and automated way. Now if someone’s favourite hammer needs restocking, all they have to do is scan a QR code and let an intuitive bot know.

The customer-friendly user experience we designed for the Value Added Service, Mobi 4 U, helped Namibians make digital payments easily and safely.

While our innovative email marketing campaigns empowered clients like NamPost and Nedbank to convert more with personalized, clickable emails that track opens, bounces, deliveries, and overall success all the way to bottom-line ROI.

We are privileged to work with true Digital Trailblazers

Being digital by name, and digital by nature means we like to make our clients stand out on the internet with enticing Search and Display Ads for beloved brands like Cymot and attention-grabbing GIFs for Nedbank.

It was a year of inspiration with the V5 Africa Webinar series hosting incredible talent who levelled up how we use WhatsApp, Email Automation, Social Media Marketing, Psychology, and Digital Transformation to give us an edge and accelerate business growth.

Are you even in Digital Marketing if you don’t enjoy making a splash on Social Media? This year we infused Shell and Vivo Energy content with a relatable local flavour. We also assisted PostFin, NHP, and many more to reach and tempt a bigger audience with exciting new posts.

While busy, we did not forget our Pledge 1% promise to support local nonprofits. We had a great time helping the Blumfelde Farmers Association uplift Namibian farmers and loved creating and sponsoring marketing material for CATS and the Auasblick neighbourhood watch.

V5 Digital might be proud, but with a true passion for all things digital and 2023 hinting at even more success, we have no desire to stop helping businesses reach their full potential!

If you’re not already on this incredible client list, add your name by contacting us: here.

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Chances are no matter who your target audience is, email marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy.

But, with more and more people getting information from and engaging with social media posts and some automatically deleting things in their “promotions” folder, is email marketing really worth it in the 21st century?

The short answer is yes! Read on to learn why email marketing should still be a part of your marketing plan.

What is Email Marketing?

In a nutshell, email marketing can be defined as any email communication sent to a prospective customer with the intent of converting them to a sale. But as a marketer, it’s better to think of email marketing as a personalized stream of communication that builds a trusting relationship between you, your brand, and your contact.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

There are two primary types of email marketing: inbound and outbound. Inbound is generally used by B2C brands, while outbound is usually for B2Bs.

We’ll primarily focus on inbound marketing, but the thing to know about outbound marketing is that it’s often used for email content marketing to engage with other companies for collaboration and backlinks.

When getting started with email marketing, you first need to gain email subscribers. Then, you create email marketing campaigns geared toward the type of people who have signed up for your emails.

After some a/b testing for your email marketing campaigns, you should start to get the hang of what works with your particular clientele and be able to craft messages that best meet your goals.

But is email marketing worth it in a world with so many other options? Let’s look at some benefits.

Email Marketing Benefits

Email marketing is just one of many channels that can be used in a digital marketing strategy, but it’s potentially the most effective. Some of the benefits of using email marketing include:

  • Email has an average ROI of $44 for each $1 spent.

  • Nearly all Americans check email at least once per day, and many Millennials and Gen Z-ers prefer email advertising over other types.

  • Email is accessible—customers don’t need to leave their house or be tech-savvy to engage with your marketing materials.

  • Nearly one-third of Americans recently visited a company’s store or site after receiving an email. This may sound small but remember: They probably wouldn’t have shown up without the email.

Email Marketing Best Practices and Strategies

If you want your email marketing campaign to succeed, you need to set yourself up for success by following email marketing tips regarding best practices and strategies.

Ask Before You Email

Have you ever gotten an email and, when you opted out, had to check “I never signed up for these messages?” It’s so annoying and feels invasive. Users may wonder, “How did they get your email address? What other information do they have? Why should I ever trust this company?”

So, if you want your email campaign to succeed, ask for permission before you send that first email.

Even if your current email list is small, never ever buy email lists. Additionally, if you ask them to “Enter your email address for 20% off your first purchase!” or similar, make it very clear doing so signs them up for other advertising or a subscription.

Personalize Your Messaging

Personalize emails to your subscribers. Forbes compiled a great list of stats regarding personalization expectations, both for email and other parts of your brand (like your website’s product recommendations). Some highlights include:

  • 70% of Millennials are tired of companies sending irrelevant emails

  • 71% of all consumers consider personalization before reading or even opening brand emails

  • Some marketers state personalized emails have resulted in up to a 760% increase in revenue

  • Brands report their conversions have improved by up to 202% when they use personalized CTAs in emails

With email marketing automation, you can track your contacts’ websites and email behaviours to create messaging relevant to them. This allows you to segment your lists so you can send only useful emails to certain groups of people.

Another way to ensure your messaging is personalized is with an email drip campaign, which sends out emails only when triggered by specific events.

Be Aware of How Often You Send Emails

All too often, marketers execute invasive, ineffective e-blast marketing. One of the 10 Email Marketing Commandments is “Thou Shalt Remember That ‘Timing Is Everything” for a good reason: Customers want to hear from you, but they don’t want to hear from you constantly.

While it may seem counterintuitive, fewer emails often mean higher engagement. So, less really is more!

Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time

Keep your messages short and to the point. The number of consumers using mobile devices is growing, and more than half of email opens now occur on a mobile device. Therefore, your best way of communicating is through concise messages that are conversational and relevant.

Watch Your Metrics

If you’re not tracking your email marketing KPIs, you won’t know how effective your email marketing strategy was. Luckily, many email marketing packages and platforms offer reporting capabilities, so you will know what works and cut what doesn’t.

Email Marketing History and Trends

These days it’s hard to imagine life without email, but email marketing has a storied history that continues to evolve.

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first email ever. So what did the message in this historic leap in communication say? Tomlinson says it was “something like QWERTYUIOP.”

Seven years later, Gary Thuerk, the marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent the first-ever mass email blast, which promoted DEC machines to 400 users via Arpanet. The promotion email worked, as it resulted in $13 million worth of sales.

By the early 2000s, spam was becoming a huge problem. So in 2003, President George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM into law as part of a nationwide effort to fight the flood of unsolicited emails.

Marketers knew they needed to adjust their email marketing strategies if they were going to reach their audience.

Then, along came 2020. A lot happened that year, but let’s just talk about the Email Marketing Renaissance. Permission-based marketing, also known as inbound marketing, shifted the way marketers and consumers relate to one another.

Email plays an important role in the inbound buyer’s journey. By keeping in touch with interested prospects via the right types of emails, you can help build relationships and pull leads closer to conversions.

Looking Ahead: Trends in Email Marketing Automation

In addition to the growth already experienced, there are also new trends to keep an eye on.

Loyalty Programs via Email

Loyalty programs will play a greater part in email marketing automation. These programs allow marketers to take a closer look at their customer data. That info will enable marketers to better understand their customer’s wants and needs and how they respond to certain campaigns.

Image-Rich Email

To capture the interest of the mobile user, image-rich emails will play a greater role in email marketing. Marketers can use imaging to create behind-the-scenes shots, sneak peeks of new product launches, and story-based images to capture your prospect’s attention. The images need to be striking enough to be shared, as social media is likely to continue to dominate many consumers’ lives.

Email and Artificial Intelligence

Expect AI to play a much larger part in email marketing. In addition to its benefits for email marketing automation, AI will allow greater personalization, optimization, reporting, segmentation, and content automation resulting in quicker, more effective marketing campaigns.

How to Choose an Email Marketing Agency

Questions you need to ask before investing in an email marketing automation platform:

  • Will it better my email list management?

  • Does it include time-saving templates and analytics?

  • Does it have opt-in/opt-out options?

  • Is it compliant with the latest/worldwide regulations?

  • Is it mobile-compatible?

  • Can it handle my email marketing challenges?

If you look at SharpSpring, the answer to all of these questions is “yes.”

Our revenue growth platform includes excellent email marketing software that will get your business’ email marketing campaigns in tip-top shape.

We may be able to help you address some other pain points, too.

Free Email Marketing Resources

If you’re ready to get started, check out a few of SharpSpring’s free resources to get you on your way.

This article was written for, SharpSpring and adapted for the V5 Digital audience.

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