Editor’s note: We’ve updated our annual content marketing predictions for 2024.
How confident do you feel about your plans for 2023? After the last few years, creating a (best-laid) plan feels more like fodder for memes than a means to the desired end.
The global health crisis may have receded for now, but plenty of uncertainties loom (a global recession is just one).
Yet, as I wrote last year, “content marketing is about the future – preparing audiences and customers to solve their problems, meet their challenges, and reach their goals.”
That means you have to prepare to meet whatever comes. And you’ll have to be ready to adjust and react to changes in your audience’s needs and preferences – including how they find and engage with the content you create.
So, once again, we’ve asked industry thought leaders (including Content Marketing World speakers and Content Marketing Award winners) for their insights and advice on the trends most likely to affect your work in 2023.
A few common themes emerged from their varied takes.
Advances in artificial intelligence and Web3 technology may help your team fill some of your creative gaps, but that’ll take a willingness to experiment and learn.
You’ll also need to update how you access and apply audience data because of Google’s helpful content update and Google Analytics 4 deadline.
Meanwhile, many of the experts we asked see a promising drive to create more exciting, inclusive, and meaningful experiences that resonate with content consumers.
With all that in mind, I’ll kick things off with a few words about what I see coming:
Kids these days!” – It’s an exclamatory remark that typically has negative connotations. But my prediction – and hope – is that brands will double down on their efforts to engage with Gen Z in all the right ways. This generation is filled with smart, tech-savvy, hard-working, and influential consumers who you shouldn’t approach in the same way you’d market to other generations. I believe smart brands will take note of their content preferences (think visual!), their preferred social channels, and their desire to connect with like-minded communities. Do it right, and you can build long-lasting, loyal relationships. Do it wrong, and you likely won’t get a second chance.
Compare this – and all the predictions below – with your trend outlooks and planning for content marketing in 2023. And please share what you see on the horizon and your thoughts about those shared here in the comments.
Prepare for economic and employment uncertainty
With the uncertainties of the future economy, management will continue to scrutinize the marketing budget. It’s important not just to create content but also to demonstrate ROI. Content only has value in the context of marketing channels.
Understand how marketing channels use your content and make an effort to co-own key marketing metrics with other marketing functions. Show your value-add in front of management. – Pam Didner, Relentless Pursuit, LLC
Prepare for a real or imagined recession. That means automation, efficiency, and flexible resources are going to be key to ensuring that you don’t lose your marbles.
- Automation tools will allow organizations to self-serve (think calendar tools) and allow marketers to serve customers and prospects important and valuable information.
- Marketers’ day-to-day responsibilities will be full now that their teams are leaner. Efficiency will be all about investing in programs that you can frontload. Whether it’s copy for nurture streams or expanding your content repurposing programs, streamline those processes to do more with less.
- Flexible resources will be important to stave off burnout. Build in a little money upfront to start building relationships with external resources, so they will be up to speed on your brand, voice, and strategy when you need them.
– Maureen Jann, NeoLuxe Marketing
As recession concerns mount, marketing budgets will be slashed, forcing content marketers to do more with less. Executives will be more likely to approve projects with a greater ROI, so consider pitching content that can do double or triple duty – e.g., a long-form article whose data points can be turned into an infographic, which can be divided into several social media posts, which can all be packaged up in a demand-gen campaign. – Wendy Zamora, Foundry 360
Embrace advances in AI tools and tech
Content marketing in 2023 will be shaped by two trends: the growth of AI and the emergence of behavioral science. AI will crunch reams of data to quickly determine who to target and where/when to find them. Behavioral science will help create content in a brain-receptive way, increasing engagement and response. – Nancy Harhut, HBT Marketing
Get ready for Web3, the next iteration of the internet. Web3 will be defined by an immersive digital experience – think the wonders of the metaverse, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), but also practical digital assets like a bank branch in a virtual world or the ability to buy Nike shoes for your avatar. – Nick Lake, Pegasystems
Watch out for new AI technology, particularly for SEO and content development. These emerging tools will help marketers in three ways: focusing their content by using the topics and terms that prospects are actually searching for, developing content more quickly, and streamlining tone and style across large organizations. – Morgan Norris, TREW Marketing
AI will grow in 2023, but adoption of its creative uses will be slower than expected. Image-generative AI technology is moving incredibly fast, and ethical and legal questions are mounting steadily. Will creators want to use that “gray area” content? We shall see. – JK Kalinowski, Content Marketing Institute
The two big trends I see shaping the future of content marketing are AI and Web3. Whether or not you agree, it’s important for all content marketers to educate themselves on how these technologies can benefit our brands, communities, and customers. – Brian Piper, University of Rochester
2023 is the year that AI tools will begin to dominate content marketing workflows. These tools will cause a lot of anxiety among marketers, but ultimately AI will supercharge human creativity. – Dale Bertrand, Fire&Spark
Effective storytelling continues to be critical for content marketers. Additionally, the role of AI in content marketing is starting to get very interesting. Content marketers should be willing to experiment with AI tools to learn what’s possible and to develop their own vision for using AI in their content marketing plan. – Bernie Borges, iQor
The ability for AI to generate images, words, videos, music, and much more from simple text prompts is set to transform creativity and content. We are going to see an explosion of vendors and capabilities. Content marketers need to start experimenting today to understand what’s possible. – Paul Roetzer, Marketing AI Institute
Artificial intelligence-driven virtual assistants (IVAs) will transform businesses by improving customer service by answering questions more accurately – not only for customers but for employees, too. IVAs collect and retrieve information from multiple sources, place it in context, and learn from every interaction.
Next time you’re in an app, instead of asking a chatbot a question, an IVA will appear, looking like a real person and creating a highly personalized experience to guide you to the next step. – Marc Majers, Progressive
Before focusing on the future, I believe marketers need to prioritize the present. For example, 50.21% of companies in the EMEA region still rely on legacy content technology. If your tools don’t enable your content to reach any channel, that’s the first thing you need to fix. – Thomas Peham, Storyblok
Update your search smarts
Every year (every month!), there are more features appearing in Google search results. These are engaging, visual, and satisfying to visitors – and they reduce the percentage of searchers who click on the organic results.
To adapt, look closely at search results pages before selecting a target key phrase. If it’s filled with visual noise, consider another phrase. Also, building up a body of work on YouTube can help because those videos may rank well in search. Finally, make sure that your content strategy is focused on answering the big questions with long-form detailed answers. Because if the searcher is looking for a quick answer or simple fact, they’ll find it right there in the search results. No need to click on anything. – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
With Google’s MUM algorithm and the helpful content update, we’re all going to need to write informative content that answers all the questions people want to know about a particular subject. That means we need to think less about individual keywords and more about topics and topic clusters. We have to research the types of questions people are asking about a topic and write about that subject in detail.
As writers, we also need to add as much media to our pages as possible. That means adding audio, video, images, diagrams, infographics, photos (original, not stock), and other media formats to the pages we write where it makes sense. We need to make our content pages as robust as possible. For instance, Google understands photos on a deep level. That’s why adding original photos matters (vs. stock photos). Google can tell whether a photo shows a dentist or a dalmatian. Google knows! – Sherry Bonelli, Early Bird Digital Marketing
We will see a significant evolution with Google’s SERP features available in organic search. I think we will see Google create more zero-click search results. Content marketers should continue to focus on creating quality, people-first content that is unique and provides value. – Ryan Maloney, Conductor
With search results pages increasingly dominated by paid ads, customers are demanding a more relevant, “human” experience. Your customers are starting their search in new places – TikTok, Reddit, and even other retailer sites. Re-evaluate your SEO in 2023, testing types of content that best win attention in these new channels. – David Raine, Walmart Canada
Google’s helpful content update was one of the biggest announcements of 2022. A post on the Google Search Central Blog urges content creators to “focus on people-first content” and “avoid creating content for search engines first.” Google will help shepherd content marketers to create content that satisfies users (i.e., humans) – something we should have been doing all along. – Dennis Shiao, Attention Retention LLC
The development of TikTok as a search platform. We have already seen TikTok videos appearing in Google SERP, and it’s likely marketers will look to develop more evergreen content and optimize it with the right caption copy and hashtags to appear organically on search engines as well as in-platform searches. – Steven Francis Westgate, Green Park Content
Content marketers should be thinking about aligning their funnels with SEO efforts and consolidating content. Stop thinking so much about the top of your funnel, and think more about the middle of your funnel. And look at your content retention programs for existing or lapsed clients – what are you doing to delight them? – Ahava Leibtag, Aha Media Group
Watch the video below for additional search- and strategy-focused predictions, including advice on how to adapt to the increasing use of AI and impending economic challenges.
Sharpen your strategies and approaches
In 2023, we’ll see brands leaning into newer technologies like micro-fencing because of its laser-focused accuracy and unique ability to build first-party data from mobile user activity. Companies with mobile apps have a unique ability to leverage precision-based location data to gauge and feed consumer desire for just-in-time information. They just have to do it right.
Brands that can deliver relevant and utilitarian location-based content while maintaining consumer trust and privacy will gain two riches: The first is customer loyalty and the financial gains that come with it, and the second is the rich first-party data that feeds the loyalty all marketers crave. – Karen McFarlane, LetterShop
Content will lead – not supplement – campaigns in 2023. We’re seeing a seismic shift among clients and marketers who are now seeing the importance of a solid content strategy, from content marketing to optimized interior website pages. Content will claim its rightful place as the audience-serving campaign hub, and digital marketing strategies will be built to branch off from, not simply link to, those strategic content pieces. – Mariah Obiedzinski, Stamats
Savvy content marketers will find ways to blend human and digital opportunities within the purchase journey. This hybrid approach can include everything from Live TV shopping on TikTok or Pinterest to messaging conversations and digital help centers. It’s clear content is needed across the entire customer journey, but we need to find more ways to enable these choices and data to inform what content needs to be created along the path.
In 2023, we’ll need to create content that spurs more interactions and enhances our company’s personality. This will lead to stronger customer loyalty and first-party data. Smart content marketers will need to find ways to increase the sense of belonging. Expressing mutual concerns and pursuing opportunities to activate communities (like Sephora’s Beauty Insider or Salesforce’s Trailblazers does) – are ways to form deeper relationships with our customers and build trust. – Jacquie Chakirelis, Quest Digital/ Great Lakes Publishing
In 2023, I see content marketing evolving into a leading business model in many more organizations and content marketers shifting towards C-level. The results of content marketing need to be seen as much broader than just revenue and be associated with key business goals, such as marketing (business) efficiency, digital reputation (such as audience trust and digital visibility), and overall digital business value. – Michiel Schoonhoven, NXTLI
CMI research shows continued investment in video for 2023. Marketers can prepare by auditing their existing video content offerings and developing a video marketing strategy. The strategy should include goals, a content plan mapped to stages of the buyer’s journey, forecasted video production needs, a distribution plan, and success metrics. – Lisa Beets, Content Marketing Institute
Trust and transparency are the foundation of content marketing, but this will take on new meaning in 2023. Facing recession, businesses will count on content more than ever to build audience trust and increase transparency from the content marketing pros they rely on. Economic downturn tips: Collaborate consistently on strategy, be agile, and communicate digital tech’s possibilities to maximize time and bandwidth for success! – Beth Kapes, Moving Words Into Action, LLC
In 2023, content marketers will start thinking with more precision. That may be by adding more personalization in new ways or by taking a deep dive into data to make content usage decisions that follow more of a scalpel approach than a hammer. – Andi Robinson, Hijinx Marketing
If content marketers want to get more visibility for their content in 2023 (and who doesn’t?), they’ll want to leverage a public relations approach. Take owned media (content) and turn it into earned media (PR) to get more from your existing content. Work in tandem with your PR team. – Michelle Garrett, Garrett Public Relations
Here are the content marketing trends we at Collective Measures are predicting for 2023:
- Consumers’ unique perspectives and emotional responses will impact brand discovery, purchase, and loyalty. Marketers must demonstrate empathy in their content.
- Helpful content will win. To do this, think topically to answer specific questions.
- People still trust humans over brands. We must leverage the brand’s human side, specifically by elevating employee voices and leveraging credible partnerships.
– Heather Rist Murphy, Collective Measures
With a push toward privacy and the “cookiepocalypse,” content marketing will evolve from sporadic, campaign-based execution into an ongoing effort that must earn quality attention from customers and prospects. The organizations that deeply understand their audiences and can create indispensable content based on that understanding – it has to be, at the highest bar, something they’d miss if it went away – will be better positioned to win across every marketing effort. Now that every competitor is producing content, the game has changed. Companies now need to do three things:
- Be so customer and prospect obsessed that they internalize their pain points, needs, preferences, and habits.
- Have the permission to act creatively on that insight through content and experiences.
- Build attribution models that can connect those relationships to real business outcomes.
– Krystle Kopacz, Revmade
We use the words “content” and “marketing” almost as if it’s one single word to describe what we love: content marketing. But are we as serious about marketing as we are about content? Are we trained as much for marketing as we are for content? Do we have sufficient levels of competence in both content and marketing (even if we love one of them a little more than the other)?
In job posts for content marketers, the focus is on training and experience in content creation and rarely on solid marketing training and knowledge. That makes me worry. We need to understand both the strategic marketing challenges we aim to solve and how to market our content to deliver results. My 2023 trend? Less focus on content and more focus on marketing to take content marketing to the strategic level it deserves. – Bert van Loon, CMFF
Capitalize on creators and creative trends
Content marketers will find greater success by working with creative teams. There’s more than enough content on the web, but it’s often noise, not signal. That’ll get worse as the macroeconomic environment pushes marketers to cut ad spend, choose their campaigns more carefully, and invest more in owned content instead of ads. That will create increased competition for attention, reducing reach and response for all content marketers except the ones who use the crown jewel of marketing – great creative work.
We’ve viewed creative as a cost center for too long, even as we invest in tech, ad platforms, ABM, and in all other areas of marketing. That will change in the next year because creative work is the essence of differentiation and a key driver of revenue and profit. Content marketing leaders will get back in touch with their creative roots in 2023. – Russ Somers, Lytho
We like to say audiences trust people, not logos. In 2023, we’ll see that leads to brands staffing teams of creators as in-house, public-facing talent. Around them, they’ll develop named content brands, like newsletters, shows, books, and speeches. We’re about to exit the era of content marketing where “anyone” can create “pieces” of content in favor of known creators creating properties that drive subscriptions. Instead of creating content, the best brands will create creators. – Jay Acunzo, Unthinkable Podcast
I predict the utilization of smaller tier content creators/influencers to better connect with audiences directly:
- Crawl socials for industry content
- Learn the top voices in your space
- Connect with the top voices in your space
- Experiment via collaboration with these creators
- Use technology to generate and capture the demand created.
– Eddie Saunders, Jr., Flex Machine Tools
Get your content operations in order
Content operations are finally going to become a thing this year. Content marketing is professionalizing on multiple levels. There are companies where it is graduating from just a marketing program to the company’s functions. In those businesses, it will simply be too big to be left ignored.
Standards of operations must be defined. Processes and workflows must be implemented. People must be trained and led. Privacy regulations must be complied with. Technology must be managed and integrated. Thus, the content operations professional will need to ensure this content machine keeps working flawlessly and providing the expected results. – Igor Bielobradek, Deloitte
It’s going to get brutal! Already overwhelmed content marketers will still be asked to produce more content, even though we all know less is more and quality trumps quantity. With increasing financial constraints, they will outsource rather than hire additional employees. Will that outsourcing be to bots or trusted advisors, consultants, and contractors? Time will tell. – Gina Balarin, Verballistics
Good writers are increasingly difficult to find. All evidence points to a steep decline in writing competency in grades 9 – 12. Content marketers who build in-house programs to develop and improve writing skills will be rewarded with better quality and less-expensive written content (and that includes video and audio scripts.) – Sarah Mitchell, Typeset
Watch the video below for additional perspectives on the operational and resource challenges content marketing teams are likely to face in 2023 – including the ongoing drive to do more with less.
Explore new tactics
2023 is setting up to be quite the dynamic year. You may find yourself needing to make an impact with the same or fewer resources. So, what’s a marketer to do?
One thing you can do is to put your spokespeople in front of other people’s communities. You can author articles for trade publications, and your company spokesperson can speak at industry conferences, which are expected to bounce back to 2019 pre-pandemic attendance levels.
And don’t forget about podcasts. Placing your spokesperson as a guest on other people’s podcasts is a much lower effort than starting up your own. If you target technical buyers, our research shows that a whopping 73% of engineers listen to podcasts every week for work. Listen, it’s going to be a dynamic year. You need to be agile and ready to make adjustments. We got this, content marketers! – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing
2023 will be the year when innovative B2B brands increase their investment in content marketing, becoming more creative, braver, and human to unlock competitive advantage. This will include developing in-house “influencers” by nurturing the talent in their teams to help raise their brand voice and borrowing from B2C strategies to improve outcomes. – Karen Hesse, 256
Align with your content allies
Content marketers will need to regularly collaborate with sales to make sure content is not only valuable to prospects and customers but that it’s also easy for sales to find and easy to share. Low content engagement outside your organization will often first underperform inside your organization! – Noel Wurst, SmartBear
The function of content marketing is understaffed in many organizations – and it’s been that way for years. Content marketers need allies – and they may find them in the corporate communications and PR department.
According to the 483 professional communicators that took the 5th Annual JOTW Strategic Communications Survey (which I co-produce), 60% said their organization is placing more or much more emphasis on owned media like blogs, newsletters, and websites. In fact, owned media was the only area with a consensus majority among respondents. Shared media (44%) was next, followed by earned media (43%) – the traditional bailiwick of communications – and paid media (33%). I’ve long argued that PR is the best-kept secret in content marketing; in 2023, it may be a secret no longer. – Frank Strong, Sword and the Script Media, LLC
Marketers will continue to do more with less, and marketing teams must work harder to balance customer needs and experiences with business goals. Content marketers can prepare by working with their technology partners and customer success managers to find out if they’re using the right capabilities of the technology if the partner is the right fit, and if more intelligent solutions are available. – Cathy McPhillips, Marketing AI Institute
Go where the data takes you
Marketing’s role is expanding now to include ways of collecting (and leveraging) first-party data. That is, beyond building your own audiences, building data sets that can inform strategies and tactics moving forward. With this in mind, content marketers should consider broadening their strategic purview and contemplate how they, their approaches, and technologies can contribute to this objective. – King Hill, Marcus Thomas LLC
Google Analytics is changing in 2023. Make sure you understand the key aspects of Universal Analytics, such as goals, events, conversions, and more. This will help you successfully transition and migrate to the new GA4 platform. Create this new property now so you can get used to the platform. – Chris Cheetham-West, LR Training Solutions
Marketers will continue to face attribution and analytics challenges as Apple, Google, Samsung, and other networks tighten and restrict access to data we’ve enjoyed in the past. It is time to shift content efforts to retaining and growing revenue through existing customers, not just acquiring new audiences. Brands have the opportunity to build more direct and meaningful content experiences with known customers through the data they have today. – Tim Hayden, Brain+Trust
There will be a shift toward teams building more thoughtful measurement plans. Content marketers and teams are going to spend a lot of time rethinking their approaches to measurement. The shift from Universal Analytics to a more complex GA4 will catch a lot of people off guard – and spur a focus on what platforms and approaches teams need to take in the future. But it will also be a great opportunity for teams to coalesce around better, more effective measurement plans that support business outcomes and better learning agendas. – Will Sullivan, Message Lab
Privacy, please: As more people become aware of exactly how much data is collected on them, it’s going to take more work to convince them to hand over their information, so forget buzzwords and delve into the art of making content enjoyable, informational, and smart – which means leveraging a hybrid team of experts. – Jenn VandeZande, SAP
Watch the video below for more expert insights on adapting to shifting data trends and the ever-evolving tech landscape – including advice on thinking with greater precision and adding more personalization.
Refresh your audience focus and appeal
Your audience wants to connect with companies that align with their values. As such, companies need to know their values and speak out on issues that are related to their values. And when an employee, owner, or someone they’ve partnered with acts in a way that goes against those values, the response needs to be clear and swift. – Ruth Carter, Geek Law Firm
With a possible recession looming, many marketers might be facing tightening belts, which can often lead to teams cutting advertising spend or testing. Instead of tightening belts across the board, it’s more important than ever to revisit your understanding of your key audiences, make sure that you double down on content specifically for them, and create more actionable, short-form content for them. Whether it’s providing daily tips via SMS or creating TikTok videos that educate, content that’s short and sweet – and truly demonstrates relevance – will keep those most local customers engaged. – Zontee Hou, Convince & Convert
The No. 1 content marketing prediction of 2023 will be that marketing – and the world in general – will be so awash with machine-generated content that only those marketers who have built strong communities and brands will thrive. Otherwise, the noise will be so deafening your audiences will not hear you. – Christopher Penn, Trust Insights
If your audience is not an ambassador for your brand yet, get on it! You might want to connect to a younger, newer generation of customers that does not even have expendable income yet, like Generation Alpha. Create a relationship and make them brand ambassadors by reaching out on the right channels and catering to their needs. It will not lead to immediate sales, but it will bring you loads in the near future! – Tim Hanse, Crossphase
Content marketers are being hit with trends in all kinds of areas: formats (more interactive and short-form!), community-building (NFTs!), technology, and data (more AI!). It’s a lot to keep up with.
But as always, the foundation is what matters. Companies that try to jump on the latest trends without a strong audience-centric content strategy or efficient and aligned processes will just find themselves with more work and no results. And not every trend is a good fit for every audience! Audience first, always – the rest will follow! – Ali Orlando Wert, Qlik
Content marketers should prepare for 2023 by empowering community members through digital ownership. They should prepare for this by familiarizing themselves with digital tokens and NFTs and understanding the core of the blockchain and cryptocurrency. – Brian Fanzo, iSocialFanz
After dealing with the havoc of the last few years, people are being more intentional about spending time in ways that are fulfilling and meaningful. This is an opportunity for content marketers to express the greater purpose of the experience, good, or service and align that with the current audience mindset.
More than ever, we will need to tell stories that communicate the values of our organization in terms of the types of stories, the way we tell them, and the voices we spotlight. To prepare for this, content marketers must tap into audience research to find out what their audience feels strongly about, canvas their organization to deeply understand what it stands for, and create content that hits that sweet spot in the overlap between the two. It’s time to take bold stances. – Annie Granatstein, Marriott International
Next year, we’ll see more businesses learning the importance of building an addressable audience – one they can connect with without friction or intermediaries. The future of sales is in serving the community you sell to. You could argue the past has been, too. And you could argue that the brands that started years ago will have a head start. But the next best time to start is today. – Andrew Hanelly, Revmade
2023 will mark the resurgence of in-office work, meaning that our audiences will once again evolve in how and where they interact with content. Many of the behavioral changes we have experienced since 2020 may slowly disappear. Monitor your audiences to evolve your content development and distribution strategy with them. – Timur Aydin, Jabil
With a tightening economy, marketers need to be prepared to tell impactful stories with data. Show your customers how your product or service drives efficiency and holds down costs. For your leadership team, show how you’re building content marketing plans that drive ROI by attracting and retaining the right customers. – Penny Gralewski, DataRobot
Content marketers need to prepare for drastic changes in the content they’re creating and delivering to consumers. First, marketers will need to dive deeper into their data and the development of their community. Owning their own data and consumer base will become more important, especially when looking at what Google is doing with third-party cookies, which will require advertisers to readjust their processes and goals.
Additionally, with the creator economy expanding into 2023, user-generated content will become much more valuable, and marketers will have to adjust to delivering content through different mediums.
Finally, marketers will need to adjust to constrained resources, meaning they’ll have to get even more value out of every asset created before developing a new set of them. – Brian Kavanaugh, Bynder
The most significant trends for sites are future-proofing their organic traffic for Google’s latest helpful content update and making their content more inclusive. Steps to take:
- Write for users and not machines: The days of gaming SEO with tricks like long lists that don’t offer real-world, actionable advice are ending. Be authentic!
- Write with intention: Make sure you have an intended audience in mind, and always ask if the information you provide benefits the readers.
- Write original content: Don’t summarize what others are saying – always consider your brand’s unique POV by creating 10X Content.
- DEI: People want to be culturally represented, and we’ll see this in content too. Unless your buyer persona is a particular demographic, be all-inclusive in your content, messaging, branding, and overall marketing.
- Storytelling: Storytelling is not limited to creative writing anymore. It needs to reflect the action a user can take from any particular story. Content needs to resonate with the user’s pain points more than ever.
– Jeanna Barrett, First Page Strategy
Follow TikTok’s trend leadership
The TikTok “For You” approach is taking over the world. Content discovery is emerging on every platform – social and search. We need to create content that our audiences don’t know they need but will find interesting enough to click.
It’s a huge opportunity to reach new audiences, but it’s a creative challenge to develop things that will get recommended to users in this way. We need to push ourselves to serve up content that’s interesting and relevant to our target audiences more than ever before. I think this will force many brands to push the boundaries of brand voice and develop more personality in their content. – Amanda Todorovich, Cleveland Clinic
This pains me as a video producer (tear), but content marketers should be ready to create more DIY videos. From TikTok to Instagram to Facebook, we’re going to continue to see more and more short-form social media videos. Work on those video skills. – Tony Gnau, T60 Productions
In 2023, marketers will need to get the point across quickly. With so much content on offer, users are likely to become content-blind or simply scroll to the next thing. While this trend is already visible on TikTok and YouTube shorts, I see it spreading to other forms of content. – Sharona Meushar, CodeFuel, a Perion Company
Find a new standout approach
Memes are going to reign supreme. As more and more average (let’s be honest, below-average) content makes its way to TikTok and Reels, the novelty will wear off. Something that has remained consistent? A good meme. Jump on trends and develop your brand voice to create your own shareable content. – Karlee Ferris, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
There will be a growing realization that “more, more, more” isn’t the answer, and the focus should be on doing more with less. Marketers will invest more time and resources into creating fewer – but very high-quality, differentiated – content pieces, with video at the heart and a solid repurposing and distribution plan. – Amy Woods, Content 10x
The continued evolution of interactive content is the one trend that stands out for me in 2023. Interactive content offers two-way engagement and grabs attention. It can also often have a high reusability factor that static content just can’t provide. This results in repeat visitors getting genuine utility from your website. It also opens up options for brands to extract more value and engagement from existing content. Start by thinking about some of your best-performing content and how it might be reimagined in an interactive setting. – Brendan McGinley, 256
As marketers, we’re being asked to do more with less now. So, my top prediction for 2023 is that content marketing will get even more real. Less produced. Less polished. Less expensive. Less scripted. With more brands tapping into the power of content that already exists – leveraging that advocacy-rich content from employees and loyal fans and curating far more than creating expensive commercials. – Jennifer Harmon, Convince & Convert
Shrewd marketers will focus on creating compelling content that stands the test of time, concisely solves their customer’s problems, and makes the most of their marketing budgets. Long gone will be the days of ineffective, mass-volume, single-use content production. Instead, in 2023 they will focus on producing truly useful content that delivers ROI. – Paula Connor, 256
Audiences will have less time to engage with brands, meaning content “blanding” – where the content in almost every category looks the same – will be a major focus for 2023. Advanced content marketers will get ahead by focusing on content distinction (not differentiation). Instead of searching for new topics to cover, they’ll offer unique perspectives on table-stake conversations and, in doing so, carve out a competitive advantage for themselves. – Lieu Pham, Industry Dive
Dominate with savvy distribution
Marketers are running to TikTok. It makes sense – there is no better content discovery algorithm in the business. Sometimes it takes just one short video to go viral. The problem? TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance. In 2023, I see U.S./China relations continuing to intensify, leading to the probability that TikTok will be banned in the United States. China currently bans all U.S. social networks. The U.S. will follow suit in the name of national security. My advice: Be careful about putting too many resources into TikTok. – Joe Pulizzi, The Tilt
With the economic downturn, a continuous ballooning of digital noise, and fragmentation of media ecosystems, content marketers should prioritize owning their audience. This means strengthening their email marketing programs and working hard to build their email lists. Not only will this lower marketing costs, but it will help build ongoing trust and loyalty. – Inbar Yagur, Lusha
I see a steady increase in the use of personalization platforms to deliver targeted B2B content in real time. Marketers should study the tools available and what’s coming down the line, make plans for transforming their processes accordingly, and study how B2B e-commerce has already been down this path. B2B buyers increasingly expect highly personalized product mixes and pricing. The same is going to take hold in B2B content delivery. – Michael Semer, MSMC
Look for a fundamental shift in content algorithms. We are moving away from a social graph (think Facebook) to an interest graph (think TikTok). We are moving away from the people we know (and what they’re creating/following) to a world of content distribution driven by the individual’s interest, which will adjust based on time spent, liking, commenting, and engagement. – Mitch Joel, ThinkersOne
Keep your eyes on high-level trends
I spy, with my little eye, a pair of 2023 trends impacting our industry:
- Forget the funnel: Marketers need to start letting go of the traditional funnel model. (Blasphemy to some, I know!) User behavior doesn’t really work that way nowadays. The consumer journey is less stage-oriented and more random/sporadic (thanks to social).
- Measurement chaos: Too many data points, some of them rendered useless/too time-consuming to chew on. The internal organizational silo effect leads to competing priorities and, thus, some contradictory analytics. Make sure the insights we glean are actionable and meaningful for the business.
– Khalil Garriott, James Madison University
My 2023 content marketing predictions are:
- Gen Z is going to continue to flock to TikTok in 2023. If they’re your target audience, you need to be there.
- The rise of short-form video will continue into the new year (TikToks, Instagram Reels, and more), so you need to have a creative strategy.
- Community is everything. If you don’t have a community, you don’t have anything. You need to start building one today!
- Authentic storytelling is how you’re going to stand out in the crowd and stop the scroll.
- Web3, AR, VR, Metaverse, NFTs … start observing and strategizing.
– Jennifer Watson, global marketing and social media expert
The trend within content marketing is that there is no trend. It’s about stepping back. It’s about slow content marketing. Companies and organizations are finally starting to think about what they’ve been doing for the past few years – all that redeemable “nontent,” social nonsense, and crappy content.
In 2023, companies – forced by economic and social developments and the war for talent – will go on a self-examination. They will look at who they are, for whom they are on earth, and with what mission to translate those outcomes in a meaningful way to a clearly defined audience with relevant, useful, and helpful content. Because that’s what content marketing is all about: building a loyal audience that trusts you through your own platform, with socials as a handy traffic generator. – Cor Hospes, Merkjournalisten
Move forward by going back to the basics
Shake up that magic marketing 8-ball, and you’re sure to see trending topics like AI and Web3 and GA4, and TikTok. But for me, content marketing in 2023 will be about getting back to the basics of our craft – curiosity, creativity, camaraderie, and community. Doing cool work with cool people. That’s where the fun is. And (I hope) it’s where the future is. – Carmen Hill, Chill Content
2023 will be a year of getting back to the basics of content marketing. Paid ads and social media account for less than 10% of website traffic and leads or sales. What is the largest and most effective source of marketing ROI? Organic search and referral traffic generated by content marketing.
In times of economic uncertainty, brands are going to cut ineffective ad spend, stop tinkering with TikToks, and focus on being smarter with their marketing budgets. The basics of content marketing – such as SEO-driven planning, creative storytelling, consistency, and ROI measurement – will become hot topics again. – Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group
2023 will be the year of going back to the basics. Marketers will need to focus on what has the highest ROI for audience engagement. Audiences will no longer be looking for the big shiny objects that grab their attention quickly but may lose them in the long term.
Instead, marketers will see higher ROI on old “skool” efforts like newsletters, organic SEO, and educational classes that help their audiences continually learn new skills and stay on top of what’s new in their field. – Amy Higgins, data-obsessed, strategic content marketing leader
Realign your funnels and merge your functions
With layoffs and hiring freezes, the silos between content creators in marketing, customer support, and technical documentation teams will blur. Assignments for pre-sales and post-sales content will merge. Marketers will write help content and knowledge articles, and technical writers will write blog posts and website copy.
This topsy-turvy trend has been happening – as it should – with small companies. But large companies will accelerate this shift because of its economic efficacy. Subject matter expertise of technologies will become the currency for content creators, not the audiences. To prepare, marketers should:
- Explore the depths of the technologies they write about.
- Earn technical certifications to understand better the technologies they support.
- Partner with content teams beyond marketing to learn the tools and processes that serve channels that marketers will serve soon.
– Gavin Austin, Salesforce
I believe marketing and technology areas will merge, bringing to life the martech concept. In a practical way, we will see more developers, data scientists, database experts, and other IT pros being part of marketing teams. So, as marketers, we must be “fluent” in data and technology. – Cassio Politi, Tracto
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute