We live in a world driven by data. Nowhere is this more true than in the digital marketing space, where practitioners constantly depend on a myriad of digital tools to provide us with the information we need to deliver value to clients.
It should come as no surprise then that when we consider what the top trends for the next year will be, most, if not all, are based on the accumulation or delivery of data.
Trend 1: It starts and ends with Google
As with most things, the drive for data begins with the largest search engine on the planet. Any digital marketer worth their salt should know by now that Google is in the process of sunsetting its Universal Analytics, to replace it with GA4.
This handover is set to finally take place in July of 2023. For some time, Google has been warning those who use analytics to make a move across now, to ensure a seamless flow of data from one use case to the next.
Magesh Ramsammy, Head of Analytics at growth marketing agency, Somebody Digital, notes that “GA4 is going to set a new standard for data collection and with its Machine Learning Technology aided by Predictive Analysis, it’s going to set the bar very high for its competitors.”
GA4 is going to enable marketers to improve their client’s ROI with increased data-driven analysis while measuring engagement and conversions. GA4 will protect user privacy, while allowing marketers to collect more data points, across more platforms, devices, and user touchpoints.
As Ramsammy says, “GA4 will be a must-have for every marketer that wants to get the most out of their data.”
Trend 2: All about attribution
Devon Hyde, who heads up Digital Strategy at Somebody Digital, believes that 2023 will see the increased importance of attribution data. “We need to understand what contributed to a conversion,” she says, “Was it the content, copy, creative, channel, personalisation, promotion, time of day, and/or, and/or, and/or?”
The collection of this attribution data (which again will likely be enabled by the rolling out of GA4) will be critical to evaluating and optimising digital marketing efforts. Deciphering the data and filling in the gaps with sound data modelling will be foundational to striking a balance between a multitude of elements that drive business growth, both in times of increased data proliferation and economic uncertainty.
Trend 3: Deep dark data
The attribution of data, and the understanding of the human behaviour behind specific actions, is what separates good marketers from average marketers. While GA4 will go a long way to providing key insights into how and where users are engaging with brands, John Wilkes, Co-Founder of Somebody Digital, believes there needs to be another layer to our understanding of why people do what they do (on the internet at least).
“A big thing for 2023 will be what is called dark social, which although it sounds ominous, is just another way of measuring where people, traffic, and clicks are coming from,” says John.
“When you look in Analytics, Google will tell you traffic was organic. If I click the ad, paid search gets credited. But dark social is understanding that layer deeper, maybe someone shared a blog link, or I heard someone on a podcast, then I went to Google and converted later. Dark social is what made me do that in the first place.”
Essentially, it’s being able to measure one layer deeper, on a more human level than is currently possible using digital or automated tools only. The trick is, you’ve got to reach the human on the other side of the screen to get this kind of dark data.
Trend 4: Automation of data
While marketers have plenty of tools to choose from when it comes to automating all the daily ins and outs of business operations (including Google Analytics), Hyde’s second point is that automation of data collection will be critical to keeping teams operating optimally in 2023.
“Automation has been in play in social media scheduling and reporting for many years now, but it will become increasingly important in regard to data collection from multiple platform sources to enable and maintain insightful reporting,” she adds.
Bonus trend: the bots are coming
According to Ramsammy, there is one more worthwhile trend to note in the coming year: the rise of chatbots in business.
“We are going to see more and more businesses adding Chatbots to their sites as 2023 starts becoming more data first and businesses start transitioning from offline to online,” he notes.
In a recent survey performed by Drift, 64% of participants were impressed with 24-hour services while 77% of participants preferred engaging with the chatbot over sending an email. But besides enabling businesses to be available 24/7, there is a benefit to bots for marketers too.
“Chatbots generate user data, which can be extremely beneficial to marketers who know how to interpret and use this data to their benefit,” adds Ramsammy, particularly when it comes to creating highly personalised marketing experiences.
What the future holds
No one in 2020 would have predicted how the next two years would turn digital marketing on its head. That’s why predicting the future has never been viewed as an exact science. Perhaps that’s why data is so attractive, and why it’s becoming such a pillar across the digital marketing space.
If you’re planning for your year ahead, it’s a safe bet to back the data horse for more than just the coming year, but for the foreseeable (unpredictable) future ahead.