Last year, we polled our community of content marketers to predict what 2022 would hold for the world of content marketing. Now that 2023 is almost here, let’s take a look at those predictions, how the year panned out, and how these insights are clueing us in to what’s coming next.
2022 Prediction: We’re Going to Get Rich
Despite the ongoing pandemic and record low budgets in 2021, last year a whopping 67% of survey respondents expected their content marketing budgets to increase in 2022…
And they were right. According to Gartner, marketing budgets climbed from 6.4% of company revenue to 9.5% year-over-year.
While marketing budgets still aren’t what they were pre-pandemic, there are plenty of signs of recovery across the board and projections for continued growth in the year to come.
“As post-lockdown buying journeys adjust and the need for fast-track investment and capability building recedes, digital commerce’s top spot [in program spend] has been taken by campaign creation and management, closely followed by brand strategy and activation and marketing operations,” according to this year’s State of Marketing Budget and Strategy report from Gartner.
This represents a back-to-basics approach — a return to marketing’s core value proposition: building awareness and engagement through compelling brands and effective campaigns that connect with customers, tie strategy to execution and deliver results.
What This Means for 2023
Think smarter about budget allocations. Despite growing fears of a full-blown recession, many outlets are predicting a rise in marketing budgets in 2023. According to research from Matter Communications, 89% of CMOs and senior marketing executives plan to increase their investments in marketing in 2023. But where’s that money going to go? And what’s the best way to put it to use?
Consult resources like Gartner’s report to compare your marketing budget and spending, and leverage materials like studioID’s Audience Snapshots for insights to help steer your efforts. “Start by looking at how your investments in people, agencies, technology and media compare with our benchmarks,” Gartner advises, in an effort to “review how you fund marketing’s key resources and capabilities.”
💸 Related Reading: Why Maintaining Marketing Spend Is the Most Strategic Path Through Tough Economic Times
2022 Prediction: More Podcasts
When polled about formats, 60% of our survey respondents agreed we’d see more podcasts in 2022.
Our community’s forecasting was spot on. As of November 2022, Apple Podcasts hosts 2,503,247 podcasts, up 2,332,900 (+6.8%) from September 2021. And according to Edison Research, podcast listeners in the U.S. aged 12 and up grew from 57% to 62% between 2021 and 2022.
With monthly podcast listeners hitting 125 million in America alone this year, the medium’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down. For brands, the possibilities in the realm are full of potential with impressive engagement rates, easily traceable KPIs, and programs spanning every genre under the sun.
When undertaking a podcast project, many companies choose to focus on promotional topics closely tied to their business, but that’s not the only way to succeed. GE famously delighted listeners with its science fiction-focused show, The Message. The podcast explored the limits of technology via a fictional story that ultimately shared the brand’s future-forward values. The Message was such a hit that it earned the Cannes Gold Lion and made way for an equally successful sequel — as well as a slew of copycats.
Alongside growing listeners, The Map reports a corresponding “sharp rise in audience interest surrounding ad opportunities in the audio space…[so] brands have a new way to target niche audiences – and ensure they’re highly engaged.”
As a result, “marketers will be looking to understand how best to advertise on podcasts, how to ensure brand suitability, and how to measure results. They may also look to understand how their own brand can utilize an effective podcast content strategy.”
What This Means for 2023
Consider podcast SEO + your brand’s broader sonic identity. If you haven’t produced an audio ad or tried your hand at a branded podcast, now’s the time to start. But don’t forget that, these days, providing a transcript of your podcast is a great way to augment your content, provide accessibility options, and drive better rankings for SEO.
But your company’s aural world can go far beyond podcasts alone. Studies at Spotify show that “brands with music that fit their identity are 96% more likely to be recalled than those with non-fit music or no music at all… [and that people] are 24% more likely to buy a product with music that they recall, like, and understand.”
“Even written content can benefit from the inclusion of music or audio,” according to Getty Images. “Bloggers may choose to include music with some of their stories while brands try their hands at curated playlists to engage new audiences.”
Think about repurposing blog posts as expanded podcasts and recorded audio for optimized accessibility and as a way to repurpose content and reach a broader demographic.
2022 Prediction: Demonstrating ROI Will Be Our Biggest Recurring Challenge
Demonstrating ROI continues to be a hurdle that plagues the industry. In fact, according to Parse.ly’s 2022 “Content Matters” Report, 49% of marketers don’t know how their content is performing.
Even more alarming? 53% don’t even tie their content efforts to a specific revenue goal. After all, that’s the first step to being able to demonstrate ROI even if things get murky along the way. And since they often do, smart marketers need to ensure they’re working against a sound measurement framework with buy-in from leadership to ensure success and achievement of goals can be traced.
The only right level of channel investment is the one that supports your unique business goals.
When it comes to social content, according to Hubspot’s latest report on the State of Inbound Marketing Trends, “Brands are still seeing the best direct ROI from ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and a rising number of companies are investing in paid campaigns on TikTok, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitch, and Pinterest.” But your investment as well as your success across channels heavily depends on your company and audience niche.
Niche communities are powerful, and ads tend to have better engagement rates, conversion rates, and lower acquisition costs when compared to less targeted channels.
Bookmark these other ROI-specific considerations to keep in mind from Hubspot:
- B2B brands have seen better ROI from inbound marketing and SEO than B2C brands
- B2C brands have found better ROI from short-form content and native advertising
- B2B and B2C brands have found fairly equal success with influencer marketing in terms of ROI
What This Means for 2023
Think outside the box with B2B influencers and social media marketing. “Research shows that word-of-mouth, essentially consumer recommendations, is still one of the most effective marketing techniques,” The Drum reports. That’s why influencer marketing is set to skyrocket in 2023 — and not just for B2C brands.
When thoughtfully matched and arranged, this impactful strategy does wonders to authentically boost brand awareness and sentiment for any kind of brand. And not even just on the more B2B-skewing channels you might expect, like Twitter or LinkedIn.
According to Hubspot, “B2B marketers actually see higher engagement and better ROI on TikTok than marketers for B2C brands. And 58% of B2B marketers plan on increasing their investment in TikTok in 2022 vs. 49% of B2C brands.” Might that make sense for your business? Or could you find a creative way to run a pilot test to find out?
📈 Related Resource: Content Marketing Measurement, Demystified: How to Demonstrate ROI from Brand to Demand
As the year draws to a close, we hope these insights will help you and your team align on strategy, spend, audience, and market share to start 2023 off with a bang. As you can see, our community’s got a knack for fortune-telling, so keep an eye out for the upcoming release of the results from our 2023 Content Marketing Predictions survey for even more insights.