Top Performance Marketing Trends of 2023

  • Performance marketing trends in 2023 included youth-centric marketing, authenticity, influencer and micro-influencer marketing, social impact, targeted and personalized marketing, AI, and more.
  • Experts say marketing trends of 2023 to continue through 2024 include a focus on quality over quantity, a multichannel approach, a diversified partner composition strategy, and more.
  • Marketers hoping to finish strong in Q4 2023 should focus on early holiday sales messaging, social media marketing, and optimizing for last-minute shoppers.

Top Performance Marketing Trends of 2023

If there is one constant to digital marketing it’s that strategies and trends are continually evolving.

This year was no exception, and in this roundup, we’ll look at what trends emerged in 2023, what trends are at the forefront, what is driving these trends, and more. We’ll also hear from various marketing experts and others to get their take on where things seem to be headed for 2024 and beyond.

Lastly, we’ll synthesize all this information and use it as a guide for how to finish strong in Q4 2023.

Let’s get started…

1. Youth-centric marketing & shifting sensibilities

With Generation Z flexing its $143 billion worth of purchasing power, marketers have gravitated toward what can be termed “youth-centric” marketing, particularly on platforms such as TikTok.

It’s not just the fact that marketers are taking their campaigns to youth-dominated platforms, but it’s also that there has been a major shift in communication strategy due to the sensibilities of the audience.

Generation Z, being the first generation raised entirely in the digital realm, easily sees through traditional marketing tactics. As such, they have a distinct set of expectations for the advertising they will accept, with a demand for personalized messaging that appeals to their interests. They don’t want to be “sold,” they want to be helped and informed.

2. Authenticity

Another trend driven by Generation Z has been the demand that companies be honest, transparent, and authentic. Gen Z also tends to do business only with brands that share their sensibilities.

Brands have not only had to shift their tactics but also develop a persona that resonates in an authentic way with the younger generation. Being authentic also resonates and demonstrates leadership in a niche.

One method of doing this has been the creation of content that shows a human-like personality, as well as honesty, and vulnerability. In essence, something that mirrors natural interpersonal relationships. To this end, brands have created content featuring likable characters or mascots. Brands have also created partnerships with influencers and content creators that already have gained the trust of large audiences and built a following whereby people come to them for trusted advice and recommendations.

3. Influencer marketing

“More than 82% of brand marketers dedicated a budget to influencer marketing in 2023,” – Influencer Marketing Hub

Influencer marketing is becoming a staple, particularly among younger consumers. The influencer marketing industry is expected to have a worth of $21.1 billion in 2023, representing a year-over-year growth of 29 percent.

According to the survey above, “67% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing expenditures.”

Marketers have recognized how strongly influencers and content creators impact the product discovery and purchase decisions of their followers, and how much of the market share this marketing channel is taking away from television and other forms of traditional marketing. Businesses have tapped into this trend by collaborating with content creators and influencers

4. Micro-influencers

Audiences are gravitating away from slick Instagram feeds or long-form content such as YouTube, and even the high-profile (read highly-paid) influencers. TikTok is a driving force here in terms of social media marketing, as the platform is a venue where a huge reach and following are more easily attained.

A growing trend on TikTok is that users are turning to one another as legitimate and trustworthy sources, and have been dubbed micro-influencers. These TikTok micro-influencers are rising in the ranks. This has not escaped the notice of brands, who are learning that even users with small followings can have a big impact. These users hold sway over their followers who trust their recommendations and – most importantly – take action.

The benefit of working with micro-influencers is that they typically have solidified an approach that works, and have the trust of their audience – who trust them more than they trust brands. Another big advantage is these micro-influencers can kick out real-time content quickly.

Moving forward, it is predicted that brands will drop some celebrity endorsements in favor of TikTok micro-influencers. However, the main challenge for brands is to find and connect with the right influencer.

Influencer Preferences - Influencer Marketing Hub

Influencer Preferences – Influencer Marketing Hub

5. Social impact strategy

Another trend has been for companies to be transparent by bringing their values to the forefront and including them in their marketing. It’s more than responding to disasters, it’s about making strong statements about what they believe in, and stand for, and making their values apparent in an ever-present way.

For example, a company making it clear that they care about the environment by donating a percentage of sales toward battling climate change. Or brands shifting to environmentally-friendly containers and packaging.

Some companies are also embedding social causes into their overarching missions and marketing messages. However, this can sometimes backfire if they choose a cause that divides their customer base. Still, such incidents have been the exception, not the rule, but brands must tread carefully.

6. Targeted and personalized marketing

Although targeted and personalized marketing didn’t start because of Gen Z, their resistance to messaging that doesn’t align with their expectations has gone a long way toward refining this approach. Personalized messaging is here to stay, making it increasingly important that marketers know their audience if they hope to be successful.

As a result, tons of data must be collected and analyzed. Buyer personas must be accurate and valuable insights must be drawn to realize behavior patterns, preferences, and more. The good news is that younger users not only prefer personalized messaging, Gen Z is more likely to allow ad targeting.

Targeting and Micro-Targeting

Increasingly “laser-like” methods of precision targeting are also picking up steam. Intent-based marketing is a particularly effective approach that allows marketers to deliver the right message, to the right user, at the right time.

Intent-based marketing uses data for identifying and targeting users that have already made an active attempt to engage with a particular good or service, those audiences that have already shown clear purchase intent. This approach targets users in the “decision stage” of the sales funnel, reducing the number of interactions necessary to convert users toward making a purchase. This can greatly reduce your ad spend, taking less effort to achieve the same results.

Using the power of data, intent-based marketing can also unlock the secrets of your users to help you personalize your messaging even more.

Check out our Free White Paper on Intent-Based Advertising.

7. Artificial intelligence

95% of companies integrate AI-powered predictive analytics into their marketing strategy,” – VentureBeat

Led by ChatGPT, artificial intelligence came to the forefront in 2023, followed by a slew of apps and services to meet a variety of needs. Given that performance marketing has a heavy reliance on data and analytics, artificial intelligence is a natural fit due to the increasing need by performance marketers for data-driven predictions and decision-making. Artificial intelligence is expected to play a major role in helping marketers personalize their campaigns which is becoming a necessity.

Marketers are also leaning on AI to automate tasks as a way to free up their time to focus on strategic initiatives.

However, the technology still has a long way to go and challenges to meet to deliver what marketers need. AI will continue to grow, but in the short-term marketer’s demands might outpace the speed at which robust solutions can be developed.

Venture Beat Report - The Pecan Predictive Analytics in Marketing Survey

Venture Beat Report – The Pecan Predictive Analytics in Marketing Survey

Roundtable: Experts sound off on the performance marketing trends of 2023 and look toward 2024

Here is a diverse group of expert marketers who shared their opinions on what performance marketing strategies paid off in 2023 and what approaches they foresee as being effective in 2024.

“Quality over quantity”

“Winners of a strong performance strategy will choose quality over quantity,” Lyndsey Fish, Director of Partnerships, TUNE, told Fluent. “They will look at the full funnel of the consumer, segment performance groups, and optimize based on value.”

“The success of any performance strategy is rooted in the company you keep,” says Matt Conlin, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer, at Fluent.

“Invest in partnerships with the publishers, influencers, and communities your audience trusts.”

“Multichannel approach”

“More brands will begin to take a multi-channel approach when it comes to attribution,” says Lyndsey Fish.

“Data has shown us it’s rarely one channel driving a sale, and the more a purchase is considered, the more a consumer will interact with multiple marketing channels to ultimately decide to buy.”

“Hybridization will continue, and marketers will need to embrace a diversified approach to understanding campaign performance across channels,” says Mary Miller, VP of Marketing, Kochava. “Be open to exploring new channels and new media partners to diversify your reach potential beyond just mobile, social, and programmatic. Consider a strong, omnichannel media mix…”

“Diversified partner composition strategy”

“When it comes to building a strong performance strategy in 2023, winning marketers will leverage a diversified partner composition strategy,” says Charlie Calabrese, VP of Operations, at Partnerize. “Employing the right partners at just the right points in the funnel to capture audience attention at every point in the consumer conversion path.”

How to Finish Strong in Q4 2023

Q4 2023 is the biggest quarter of the year, and predictions are that, despite inflation, shoppers are poised to ramp up spending, as well as travel more to do so.

Other predictions are that more than three-quarters of holiday shoppers are expected to do at least half of their shopping online. And while Amazon is the top online shopping destination, reliable websites are still expected to play a huge role in last-minute shopping.

Now let’s take a look at some tips to improve your Q4 sales.

Start holiday sales messaging before Thanksgiving to reach early-bird shoppers

50% of consumers are planning to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving,” –Tinuiti survey.

Not only are half of shoppers planning on beginning their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, nearly a third of those plan to start as early as October, according to the survey.

2023 Holiday Shopping Trends, Timeline - Tinuiti

2023 Holiday Shopping Trends, Timeline – Tinuiti

Looking at the big shopping period that runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday:

  • 25% of shoppers say they will do most of their shopping during this time
  • 23% say they will do some
  • 16% said they will do about half

Among those shoppers planning to do around half of their shopping during this time, it includes 61% of Generation Z, 61% of Millennials, and 58% of Generation X.

The takeaway is there is an opportunity for big sales to be had before the increased competition throughout Black Friday/Cyber Monday for those companies that target early-bird shoppers.

Steps to take to boost your content

Create promo pages, gift guides, shipping and return content, comparisons, and FAQs. For your SEO, use long-tail keywords and question-based content. For example, “What are the top gift trends for men this holiday season?”

Check and optimize local SEO

For example, with Google Business, make sure your addresses are listed for all of your locations, ensure your phone numbers are listed, make sure your holiday hours are listed, and verify that your locations appear in maps and that your website is listed.

Social media dominates product discovery for holiday gifts

50% of respondents saw or heard about a new product on social media and purchased it as a holiday gift last year,” – Tinuiti survey

In the survey quoted above, half of all respondents discovered holiday gift ideas from social media as compared to only 33 percent on television. These statistics highlight the considerable shift away from television as a source of discovery, and toward social media.

2023 Holiday Shopping Trends, Social Media - Tinuiti

2023 Holiday Shopping Trends, Social Media – Tinuiti

When looking at the four main age demographics (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z):

  • Facebook was the dominant platform with 52% discovering their holiday gift inspiration there
  • YouTube was next at 46%
  • Instagram 45%
  • TikTok 38%
  • Pinterest 27%
  • Snapchat 17%
  • Twitter/X 14%
  • Other 5%
  • None at 17%.

Naturally, TikTok was the driving force for Generation Z, with 62% looking to the platform for inspiration during their holiday shopping, as were 45% of Millennials.

Overall, 65% of Gen Z purchased a holiday gift after seeing a social media influencer use or endorse it, with 59% of Millennials doing the same, and 48% of Generation X.

Reliable websites could beat Amazon for last-minute shopping

There is no denying that the behemoth of online shopping, particularly during the holidays, is Amazon. However, this is also a double-edged sword for the company as the high demand frequently depletes their stock. Also, as the holidays approach, Amazon becomes hard-pressed to meet the holiday deadline with deliveries. This presents opportunities for reliable websites.

Here are some facts from a Tinuiti survey on how shopping at the last minute changes.

  • I make more purchases in-store: 43%.
  • I narrow my online shopping to websites known for faster order fulfillment: 30%.
  • I order products online and pick up in-store more: 25%. (Gen Z: 27%)
  • I pay more to get faster shipping: 25%. (Gen Z: 31%)

Want to Target Users Who are Already Looking to Make a Purchase?

Check out our Free White Paper on The Unbeatable Nature of Intent-Based Advertising or reach out to one of our brand promotion specialists! We pride ourselves on being able to bring advertising partners the exact consumers they’ve been looking for.

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