Marketing trends for 2023: Avoiding the tactical tailspin when the going gets tough

Marketing trends, business woman looking at marketing trends, woman in business

Article by Orla Murphy, Managing Partner, Seeblue Marketing.

In the first part of this two-part series, I looked at the value of AI for creating powerful customer experiences and why companies will need to be even more creative to build their brand’s appeal.

We also looked at why demand generation rather than lead generation will be so important in the coming year.

This neatly leads us to part two, where I’ll look at how and why marketers need to adjust their view of the world when it comes to tracking demand and leads, and why they mustn’t fall into the trap of the ‘tactical tailspin’.

So, let’s start with taking a new approach to qualifying leads in the future.

Marketing Attribution – the pathway to irrelevance

As we move away from typical lead generation tactics and defining Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) as a key success metrics, we call into question the effectiveness of marketing attribution and lead scoring. Studies are showing no correlation between the volume of content consumed and intent to buy. Instead, active intent is happening outside of measurable channels, such as by listening to a great podcast by an unrelated expert.

In the past, marketers have used attribution software to measure and add weighting to the marketing channels which deliver the highest converting leads. As a result, marketing budgets have skewed to spending in channels that are measurable, such as PPC or content syndication. But that’s changing. The term ‘Dark Funnel’ emerged this year, as a way of describing all the different places where buyers are engaging and making decisions, that can’t be tracked or attributed by actions taken by the business.

I think there will be a greater move towards this form of demand capture, in that the actions a prospective customer takes on your site, will be more valuable than the steps they took to get there – someone booking a demo or requesting a sales call is a higher indicator of intent than someone who downloaded an ebook and finds your site after googling a search term.

So how can marketers shift away from lead scoring and attribution? By asking their prospects how they got to learn about you and trusting that, if they are actively engaged and interested in your solutions, they will give you an honest answer about what drove them to your site.

When it comes to analysing data, look for trends in anonymised IP data hitting your site. Hone in on where you see groups of individuals from the same account. Prioritise and qualify at an account level, not the individual.

Avoid the tactical tailspin

Every marketing plan should have a balance of activities that will deliver results in the short-term and the long-term. But when customers delay purchase decisions and short-term sales targets come under pressure, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of the ‘tactical tailspin’.

In a previous life, when there was any deviation in the weekly sales volumes, I was regularly harangued across a meeting table to ‘make the phones ring more’ and get more leads into the funnel. Many marketers know that this is outdated – the waterfall model has had its day. But when pressure mounts to support very short-term objectives, old habits die hard.

The same goes for over-investing in ‘final touch’ channels such as PPC. If it didn’t work when times were good, why would it be any different now?

Another classic tactical tailspin is to invest time and budget on short term measures such as promotions. Econometrics expert, Les Binet, recently wrote about the futility of doing so because they rarely drive incremental revenue. Actually, what happens is that revenue you would have won anyway is subsidised.

So how can you avoid tactical tailspin? Under pressure it’s unrealistic to say the business will never respond with short-term tactics. Staying agile and competitive should still be a viable option when the market shifts. But in these times of change, it’s prudent to review the strategic plan and provided nothing has fundamentally changes, stay with it, and aim to ensure 80% of it remains true. That way, 20% of the resource and budget can be used as a buffer for more reactive ‘fire-quenching’ campaigns.

Any tactical plan should come from a comprehensive brainstorm of possible options. Be clear on what is ruled in and out and the start and end date – too many short-term tactics running concurrently over a lengthy period can de-stabilise the rest of the marketing programme.

Tougher times are ahead, but there’s proof that a solid approach to marketing, and continued investment, can lead to growth and scale despite it. Stay focused on the strategy at all times, and use tactical measures when necessary, rather than all the time. The companies that are already following this approach, are winning in their markets, providing plenty of reason for marketers to get behind it in 2023.

Read part one of this series here.


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