By Sanjeev Wadhwa
With 2022 turning out to be the first year of normalcy since the unprecedented pandemic broke out, brands and businesses have left no stone unturned in scripting a turnaround story for themselves. Indeed, regardless of the industry and sector they operate in, most of them including travel and hospitality increased their marketing and advertising budgets on a y-o-y basis as compared to the extended pandemic days. At the same time, even as an increased use of a wide array of digital marketing tools and platforms became more commonplace, the traditional mediums particularly the still omnipresent television too remained a critical weapon in their marketing toolkit this year.
However, with the year ending now and a brand New Year being on the horizon, how is 2023 likely to turn out for marketers and advertisers?
Digital marketing to see a larger footprint
First, there are clear indications that brands would employ digital marketing tools and their variants on a much larger scale with a much bigger footprint – as compared to traditional marketing tools – than ever in the coming year. With users spending around seven hours daily on their smartphones and the resultant high engagement rate, brands would make utmost use of this opportunity. Now as digital advertising spreads out to newer social media platforms including Twitter, Linkedin, WhatsApp business and snap, among others, brands would tap into the interests and preferences of a large number of potential and existing young customers, who are likely to be perpetually present on these platforms. The rising popularity of OTT platforms, Connected TV and gaming would further prompt brands to push for digital marketing in the coming year.
Video marketing to remain top content format
Second, due to continuously falling cost and entry barriers as well as the sheer effectiveness of being a medium of direct conversation with customers, the popularity of videos as a supremely efficient and engaging digital marketing tool will endure in the coming year too. From preparing and disseminating product and quality information, to how-to educational videos in simple, straightforward language, to distributing customer testimonials, videos would continue to be a powerful tool in the hands of marketers in 2023. In particular, short video content would be the preferred choice for brands.
Social media to take a more committed commercial turn
Third, although most social media platforms have already become commercial in their outlook increasingly providing enabling features for businesses, the coming year would see greater consolidation in this space. Brands would not remain confined to posting content and picking up threads and conversations around their products and services but would seek to directly engage with customers through live streaming events, quizzes and contests in an effort to increase their mindshare. In fact, the coming year would increasingly see brands using social media as a customer interface or touchpoint wherein they would directly address customers’ needs, queries and complaints etc.
Influencer marketing to pick up steam
Fourth, in light of a creator economy coming into its own wherein the role of user-generated content (UGC) and individual creators has become intrinsic to the brand promotion, influencer marketing would go mainstream in the coming year. While celebrity influencers and industry thought leaders would remain relevant to big brands, the high costs involved would make smaller companies with stretched budgets turn towards what are called micro-influencers. Although the micro-influencers may have smaller following than celebrity influencers, apart from the fact that they have higher engagement rates than celebrity influencers, they would be valued for their expertise and track record on a given product or service category. As a consequence, they would further reinforce trust in a given product and brand.
SEO to witness more traction
Fifth, there is no doubt that in the digital universe of brands and companies, SEO will remain a crucial tool in the hands of marketers in the coming year too. As such, brands would continue to employ appropriate keyword-based content strategy based on popularly used and standard keywords. In fact, as Google algorithms evolve and become more intricate and sophisticated, SEO for brands would not be limited to text but also become relevant for multimedia including videos and images optimization for brands.
Mobile marketing to gain momentum
Sixth, with more than half of annual online website traffic coming from mobile devices, brands are also likely to focus on mobile marketing strategies in the coming year. In addition to optimizing mobile web designs for product promotion, given the increased usage of apps by customers, marketers would also focus on in-app marketing and advertising on mobile phones. For brands, while mobile allows personalization like no other device, phone-based ads have a higher Click Through rate (CTR) with the cost per clicks (CPCs) typically being less than desktop clicks.
Social responsibility to be an integral part of brand campaign
Seventh, given the recent experience with the pandemic coupled with the younger generations increasingly evaluating brands in terms of the latter’s social responsibility, diversity and inclusion track record, brands would make social responsibility an integral part of their campaigns in the coming year. In addition, environmentally-sensitive campaigns would also become a more regular and ingrained part of a brand’s promotional and messaging efforts.
Marketing for traditional television would also account for OTT platforms
Eighth, capturing on the popularity of sports and entertainment events and fixtures which often come simultaneously on traditional broadcast TV and OTT and video-streaming platforms, brands would not shy away from targeting the traditional television while obviously keeping track of new-age OTT platforms. As a result, promotional content would be increasingly prepared keeping both platforms in mind in the coming year.
Other traditional mediums to retain visibility
Ninth, even in the face of ever-increasing acceptance and traction for digital marketing channels, apart from the enduring preeminence of televisions as a promotional medium, FMCG companies would also make strategic and niche investments in other traditional channels such as print including newspapers and magazines, radio and outdoor advertising. In fact, capitalizing on the continuing popularity of several radio FM channels which command immense local reach in the country, radio would continue to be a vital pillar of promotion for FMCG companies in 2023 also. Not only during festive seasons and other local and national-level sports and other mass entertainment events, in-car or in-travel radio listening has often shaped customer choices and even influenced their last-minute purchase decision-making. Similar trends would also continue to drive ATL activities though print and outdoor mediums.
A mix of ATL and BTL strategies would prevail
And tenth, although the lines between ATL and BTL are now blurring with the incoming digital disruptions, FMCG companies would also employ BTL tactics and methods with a more customized messaging content for a highly-targeted customer audience. These would range from direct selling and telemarketing, to in-store promotions and trade and road shows, to mail and social media marketing, among others. However, the nature of the campaign, whether ATL or BTL, would depend on the specific product being promoted, apart from factors such as target audience, stage of customer acquisition, broader and eventual objective whether awareness or conversion, and budget. In all likelihood, a combination of ATL and BTL strategies increasingly called Through the Line, or TTL, would be undertaken.
In sum, while brands would sharpen their focus on digital platforms, they would also keep promotional and branding strategies ready for television and other traditional channels as part of their marketing armoury in the coming year. With digitally immersive platforms and experiential marketing also becoming more visible, an omnichannel strategy accounting for both online and offline marketing would guide their actions.
The author is head of sales at Bikano, Bikanervala Foods Pvt Ltd.