2023 started with really exciting news for DS: we are proud to announce our designation as one of Chief Marketer’s top 200 agencies for 2023. This list recognizes the top performing agencies in the country based on their innovation, creativity, and effectiveness in delivering results for clients.
“Being recognized as one of the top marketing partners for clients is a great and humbling accomplishment for us,” says Mike Raleigh, President. “It means that the industry, as well as our clients, see us as a force for driving businesses forward, and that’s what we’re here for. I’m delighted to see us alongside so many great and productive brands in the marketing sphere.”
“DS has been one of the hidden gems not only in CT but everywhere,” adds Chief Experience Officer, Joe Pilcavage. “It’s humbling to be listed amongst the top agencies, and it’s a good indicator that we have more to share.”
As an agency that holds being forward obsessed as one of our core principles, we believe that change is the only constant. We know that marketing has faced countless changes over the past few years, and customers today expect brands to provide them with a personalized, exceptional experience across all channels.
With macro economic hardship and the potential for continued inflation on the horizon, consumer spending habits will continue to evolve and change, and the only way for marketers to keep up is to grow and adjust along with them.
To that effect and in honor of the Chief Marketer Top 200 of 2023 designation, the minds at DS put together a list of the top 2023 digital marketing trends that will propel us and other digital marketing agencies into the new year and beyond.
Artificial Intelligence Disruption
ChatGPT has dominated industry news lately: some marketers are calling the technology the most promising use of AI so far (we won’t disclose what sections of this article were written by the tool). Others worry that AI content generators will upend the jobs of creators and the creative process.
Either way, there is likely to be some big disruption from these apps. The technology can both help and potentially challenge agencies who live and breathe content creation.
For Pete Sena, Founder & Chief Creative Officer at DS, the challenge doesn’t scare him.
“The interplay between humans and machines is the future, whether you like it or not. It’s not about replacing creatives, or destroying creativity with computation. I’ve personally witnessed how AI will accelerate creativity, and we’re in the early days. As many companies have shifted roles to remote-first, we don’t always have that in-person contact with our colleagues that inspired many of us in the past. For writers, designers, and software developers, the blank page has always been one of our greatest fears. AI can give us a jump-start to get off the starting block faster.”
One major implication of AI is the over-saturation of content on the market. With the advent and ease of AI content generation, it’s much harder to create original material that stands out. As consumers and major marketing channels adapt to creating content at the click of a button, there will be an increased demand for truly unique and interesting subject matter.
The newly-dubbed “AI Content Marketers” are ahead of the game, and we’re going to need their passion and expertise. Those who know how to use AI to create quality content at scale and in the appropriate context will need to further differentiate themselves from the AI hobbyists and help all of us put this technology to good use.
“Everyone is enamored with AI right now,” says Mike Raleigh. “If it can help speed up certain aspects of our work, saving humans for the most poignant work, then we should embrace it as an industry as long as both marketers and partners understand its appropriate value.”
Regardless of where you stand on AI and its use, it’s clear that if AI is ignored, you might be fighting an uphill battle in 2023.
The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to revolutionize how we work. Owners and managers are coming to the realization that working from home is no longer taboo. Employees can and should be trusted to work in the place or way that works best for them.
But inevitably, companies will be asking employees who live in proximity to their offices to return to their physical desks, posing huge challenges for companies who want to build a hybrid working environment. Project managing the work of employees at home, keeping them involved in all company activities, and supporting employees regardless of where they get their work done is at the forefront of many leaders’ minds.
“As an industry, everyone is still trying to figure out the in-office vs. remote vs. hybrid approach. I believe 2023 will be a year where our collective patience with this gets tested a bit more, especially with an increased presence in office buildings, driving more hybrid gatherings,” says Raleigh.
This struggle is causing those who work in operations some headaches when it comes to choosing the right video conferencing software, cameras, microphones and office environments.
How can we make working remotely feel as close to an in-office experience as possible?
At DS, we’ve been testing different platforms and hardware to learn what works and what doesn’t. One of our favorite tools supporting a hybrid work environment we’ve recently implemented is called Teamflow.
Teamflow creates a virtual office that is identical to our real life space. Each of our team members have their own avatars with spatial audio features that make it feel like you’re sitting amongst others in an office. The avatars can be moved throughout the office to connect with others for scheduled meetings or impromptu standups. And with temporary meeting rooms, we can easily invite our clients to join us in meetings without having to create an account.
Teamflow stands out because it combines the layout of the SIMS, with the chat functionality of Slack and the video conferencing capabilities of Zoom or Google Meet.
Digital Brand Experience
In case you missed it, we are now officially a digital first economy. Most decisions consumers are making start and finish online, making digital brand experience more important than ever.
According to Joe Pilcavage, “Getting your digital online experience just right is truly the holy grail. A proper digital brand experience should act as the intersection between marketing, sales, and product, with a seamless transition between all three.”
Companies need to be focused on creating a proper digital experience no matter where their customers are first introduced to the brand.
There are a lot of agencies that do branding, explains Pilcavage. – “But at DS, it’s our bread and butter to connect everything into one cohesive unit. We are the glue that sits between all of those mediums and disciplines, helping customers experience brands the way they were meant to be experienced.”
According to HubSpot’s 2023 Marketing Strategy & Trends Report, influencer marketing will continue to grow and with it, its high ROI. The latest data shows that 1 in 4 marketing departments are presently involved in some sort of influencer program. And they should be–Influencers are providing the second highest ROI of any other marketing trend.
The importance of influencers will continue to grow, with 17% of marketers planning on implementing some sort of investment for the first time in 2023. Along with that, almost 90% of marketers currently using influencers will continue to do so or increase their investment this year.
Even with numbers like these, there are still those who are skeptical about influencer staying power and are anticipating a bursting of the influencer bubble.
It’s true that there has been some erosion of trust with influencers as of late – with influencers of all sizes not properly vetting or researching the companies they are working with. They have been accused of jumping into bed with any company for the right price, regardless of whether or not they are the proper partner for their audiences.
As the focus of consumers shifts more and more towards trust and authenticity, influencers will have to have a eureka moment of credibility in order to stay relevant.
So how will DS be adapting to these trends?
Our primary goal is to impact topline growth for our clients instead of just being active in their marketing efforts.
CMOs have never been under more pressure to deliver revenue while also developing a brand, and we’re here for them. We believe that both of these things can be true simultaneously – we can build a memorable, lasting brand while also driving revenue growth. We will continue to be forward-obsessed, seeking to drive measurable impact for our clients.