Top challenges marketing leaders expect to face in 2023

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HubSpot asked over 500 marketing leaders and executives to predict the top challenges they expect to face in 2023 so you can be prepared to face them.

(This story was originally published on HubSpot.com and has been edited for content and style.)

Maybe you’re struggling to keep up with the latest trends. Or perhaps your team is finding it difficult to pivot your marketing strategy due to major global events. Today, marketing is so fast-paced that it can be difficult to identify which areas you’ll want to focus on to facilitate stronger growth in 2023 and beyond. Which is why we asked over 500 marketing executives to predict the top challenges they expect to face in 2023—so you can plan your strategies accordingly.

Below, let’s explore the global issues marketing leaders believe they’ll struggle with in 2023 and their solutions for each.

Adopting a data-driven marketing strategy

Why it’s a challenge

Fourteen percent of marketing leaders say adopting a data-driven marketing strategy will be a top challenge of theirs in 2023.

ZoomInfo’s chief marketing officer, Bryan Law, said he sympathizes. “We’re all feeling the pressures of a possible recession and almost every company will face challenges with revenue growth and marketing spend in 2023,” Law said. “With potentially fewer dollars to put towards campaigns, adopting a data-driven marketing strategy will ensure that every effort is as impactful as possible.”

What can you do?

Microsoft’s global head of programmatic evangelist, Daniel Godoy, said it’s critical marketers keep first-party data in mind if they’re aiming to expand their reach in 2023.

“Marketers feel the pressure to win the ads race in a wild WWW,” Godoy said. “During this race, it’s worth mentioning that consumer media behavior is changing and advertising strategies, too. With the cookies deprecation coming (although it has been delayed by Google), it should be on our radar that at least 40% of browsers today don’t get signals. Shaping your strategy by leveraging 1P or 3P trustable data becomes necessary to expand potential reach and start piloting your data strategy for the future.”

First-party data can ultimately help you ensure you’re reaching the right audiences with your ads and turning those audiences into high-quality leads.

To run a successful data-backed campaign, Law suggested first defining your audience. He said marketing leaders need to take the time to collect custom attributes, not just basic descriptive information. Then, he advised leaders to create dynamic prospect lists through audience segmentation.

Once you’ve defined your audiences and properly segmented them, you’ll need to develop unique messaging that resonates with your prospects.

As Law puts it: “You’ll need to figure out how to convey your ability to alleviate their challenges in a unique way to penetrate the significant market noise. Practice consistency in your overall theme, and include contextual personalization when applicable.”

Keeping up with the latest trends

Why it’s a challenge

Staying up to date on marketing trends wasn’t just a challenge in 2022. Fourteen percent of marketers say keeping up with the latest marketing trends will continue to be their biggest hurdle in 2023.

This makes sense. From branded audio content to augmented reality (AR) experiences, there’s plenty of trends we saw spike in 2022. As a marketer, it can be difficult to decipher which trends matter most to your business—and which ones you can avoid.

What can you do?

Reviewing up-to-date marketing reports like HubSpot’s 2022 State of Marketing Trends can help you stay informed on which marketing trends matter most to consumers. You can also subscribe to marketing podcasts or newsletters to learn more about what’s happening in the industry.

Alternatively, consider asking your consumers what trends matter to them. For instance, perhaps you create a social poll to ask consumers about their favorite TikTok reels—this information can help you better understand the topics that currently matter most to your audience.

Facing increased competition from other brands

Why it’s a challenge

Competition isn’t a new concept for businesses but it’s a major concern for many marketers when they look ahead. As social media and the SERPs become increasingly saturated with branded content, many marketers struggle to create content that stands out.

In the HubSpot Blog survey, 13% of marketing leaders report increased competition from other brands as their biggest concern for 2023.

What can you do?

To combat this challenge, marketing leaders will want to conduct a competitive market analysis, which can help you implement stronger business strategies and identify potential opportunities to out-perform your competition.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask your team to flag any interesting tactics other businesses are leveraging. Your social team, for instance, can assess competitors’ social channels to identify any gaps in their current strategy. Alternatively, your blog team might highlight their personal favorite blogs and share takeaways they can apply to their own content.

Hosting regular team brainstorms around new, innovative ideas can help you ensure your business is ahead-of-the-curve.

You don’t want to just follow along with your competitors’ strategies. It’s a good idea to test out new platforms to see what resonates with your intended audience, even if your competitors aren’t using those social channels.

Leveraging CRM to its fullest potential

Why it’s a challenge

Twelve percent of marketers say their biggest challenge in 2023 will be leveraging their CRM to its fullest potential.

A CRM can be an incredibly powerful and effective tool for marketing, sales and service—but it can be intimidating and time consuming if you don’t know how to use yours.

What can you do?

To make the most out of your CRM, you’ll want to consider purchasing a CRM that enables you to integrate all your other tools in one place.

Additionally, HubSpot’s product manager, Alexa Starks, said, “To leverage your CRM to its full potential, you’ll want to expand usage with a flagship use case. In other words, figure out a gap or pain point with your current process that is solved by an underutilized feature of the CRM. Then, evangelize how your CRM will address that problem and create more connectedness within the organization. Rinse and repeat to show how implementing additional CRM tools can make the teams lives easier. Over time, this will increase adoption and eventually lead to a compounding effect, as a more connected process increases the ROI of your CRM purchase.”

Having to pivot marketing strategy due to major events

Why it’s a challenge

The past couple years have required businesses to demonstrate new levels of flexibility and adaptability. The pandemic, for instance, greatly impacted users’ expectations and preferences when it comes to social media. Now, users’ spend more time watching videos online than they did pre-pandemic and they crave more fun and authentic content than they used to.

Similarly, political turmoil and recent changes in the economy have required businesses to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly to ensure they’re continuing to meet the needs of their customers.

While it can feel risky to invest in new strategies or pivot as a response to major events, it’s oftentimes worse to stick to the status quo. As the world changes, your consumers’ behaviors and needs change in response, so it’s vital you keep up with global trends to understand what your consumers’ needs are on any given day. Plus, your marketing could seem tone-deaf if you don’t pivot accordingly.

All of which is to say: It’s no surprise 11% of marketing leaders say pivoting their marketing strategies will continue to be a roadblock for them in 2023 and beyond.

What can you do?

Godoy is familiar with the challenge of pivoting your strategy appropriately. Fortunately, he has a solution. “The pandemic has brought changes in our lives and in our work schedules—and hybrid work opens possibilities to balance work and personal responsibilities at the same time. Before we were determined to do certain tasks at certain hours, but in the world of today, we all live in the missing middle. We’re paying too much attention to the upper and lower side of the funnel and ignoring what happens in the middle. The real journey reflects that human decisions do not happen in a linear way. Audiences exposed to brand and performance are 6X more likely to convert. By capturing signals of intent and mapping this data, you’ll get clarity on how the missing middle works for your brand.”

Understanding your prospects’ behavior and intent is a critical component of ensuring you can shift quickly if your marketing efforts aren’t working. This is also where agile marketing comes into play. Agile marketing helps you execute by working in short sprints, which helps marketers quickly shift their focus, adapt to customer needs and change priorities.

Agile marketing can help your team become more adaptable when global events upend your previous plans and force your team to shift focus. And it can help teams rebound more quickly from potential revenue losses.

Consider, for instance, how Doordash reported an operating loss of $616 million in 2019—and then grew to $2.89 billion in revenue in 2020. Their agile approach during the pandemic enabled them to respond to their consumers’ needs by delivering COVID-19 test kits and launching the #OpenforDelivery campaign to support restaurants. Essentially, Doordash pivoted quickly to support their customer needs and dropped their pre-planned marketing approach to adopt a new, more timely one.

Finally, it’s critical you keep an eye on both marketing trends and global events to ensure you’re pivoting your strategy when necessary. To ensure you’re up to date on the latest trends, you’ll want to monitor your social media channels to respond appropriately to customers. Additionally, consider leveraging social listening tools to keep up with trends happening in the industry.

Generating traffic and leads

Why it’s a challenge

Most marketers are goaled on two metrics: Traffic and leads, which is why it makes sense 11% of marketing leaders expect that generating traffic and leads will remain their top challenge in 2023.

Even if marketers are doing well with these metrics, they’ll always want to improve them.

Google search features like featured snippets and images have made it increasingly difficult to get traffic to your site at all. In fact, 65% of Google searches now end without a click.

Social media is also becoming saturated with 24/7, around-the-clock content. As the creator economy booms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to create content that stands out.

Ultimately, marketing leaders are struggling to produce demand for their content. Plus, they’re unsure which platforms will prove best for their business—and how to promote their content effectively.

What can you do?

To combat the challenge of creating high-quality content that resonates with your audience, you’ll want to use effective tools to properly track the types of content that performs best with your audiences.

Once you know you’re creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice.

More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don’t even need to use a search engine to find answers anymore. Instead, articles fill their news feeds or buzz in their pocket via mobile notifications. To keep up, consider exploring alternate distribution methods—like SMS or podcasting—to increase brand awareness.

Additionally, you might test out influencer marketing to generate more traffic and leads. Micro-influencers, for instance, have high rates of engagement and are often seen as experts on certain niche topics—so finding a micro-influencer that aligns well with your brand can help you generate high-quality traffic and leads effectively.

Hiring top talent

Why it’s a challenge

Eleven percent of marketing leaders report hiring top talent as their top anticipated struggle of 2023. Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer at Sprout Social, agreed. She said hiring and cultivating top talent is a key focus at Sprout Social as they head into the new year.

“As a discipline, marketing is ever evolving, which requires candidates with unique, more varied skill sets,” Gilpin said. “Social media in particular is playing a larger and larger role in every brand’s marketing strategy and requires highly skilled professionals with in-depth knowledge of social media’s shifting landscape. With new platforms, features and more consumers preferring to interact with brands on social, marketing teams are tasked with hiring and developing talent across their marketing function who understands the total impact social media can have on your organization.”

What can you do?

To attract top talent, you’ll want to focus on your employer brand.

As Gilpin put it: “To attract talent with unique skill sets, our company has worked incredibly hard to build a strong employer brand that clearly communicates our values and culture to current and prospective employees. One way we’ve been able to amplify that message is by leveraging the social influence of our own employees. By going beyond our own social channels and by helping our employees become brand advocates on social, we’ve seen the visibility and authenticity of our content grow. Whether we’re announcing a new product, sharing a company culture initiative or promoting a job opening, our employees have become our greatest asset in building the type of brand awareness that will help us continue to grow our team in 2023.”

Strengthening your employer brand is one of the most effective ways to attract top talent, and leveraging your employees’ unique perspectives will help you demonstrate more authenticity in your recruiting materials. In 2023, marketing leaders will also want to consider how they can turn their employees into brand advocates.

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