2023 Digital and Social Trends E-Commerce Marketers Need to Know
by Jeff Pearlman
E-commerce brands and marketers are just emerging from the year’s busiest season. First, the holidays. Next up, Q1 planning.
As you make your campaign calendar and ideate strategies, it’s vital to think about how you plan to leverage upcoming digital and social trends. The thing about digital advertising in the age of social media is that trends come and go, and it’s nearly impossible to predict which ones have staying power and which don’t.
Some trends aren’t even designed to stick around. TikTok capitalizes on that fact with fast-paced, ever-changing content that adheres to no cycle or rules. Knowing which trends to follow (and which to forget) will help you make a splash with your ideal customers.
What We Can Learn from 2022 Digital and Social Trends
Hindsight is always 20/20, so use that to your advantage. Last year, we saw some major trends work well, and some that … didn’t. Here’s what flopped and what has potential:
2022 Trends that Didn’t Hit
For many years, virtual reality has been touted as the next big thing. Many digital advertisers have been eager to find a way to fit it into their promotions to make a splash. Unfortunately, the barriers are just too high — VR is costly and requires specialized equipment. Even premium brands and luxury goods are struggling to make VR a seamless part of the digital experience.
Most of your ideal e-commerce audience isn’t interested in the complexities of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and it’s probably better that way. While there will always be those with niche interests in owning crypto assets, this wasn’t a digital phenomenon that had broad appeal for your audience. NFTs are sort of like owning the receipt for something and not the actual item. Most of your audience prefers the goods they buy from you to be, well, fungible.
2022 Trends with Staying Power
Last year saw the rise of shoppable capabilities on more social platforms. It makes sense that this trend has legs — it makes the path to purchase very linear for consumers. Instead of seeing an influencer or celebrity sporting a certain look and then searching and shopping around for the same items, consumers can simply tap the image and add-to-cart.
Video has long reigned supreme in digital advertising, but it’s getting more sophisticated and user-driven. Brands are putting big bucks behind their creative video assets. And the platforms themselves are driving more traffic and prioritizing “engaging” content — meaning video. Video-forward platforms like Youtube and TikTok have driven other platforms to follow suit. 2022 certainly ushered in plenty of interest in bespoke creative assets — including video. And that won’t be changing in 2023.
Self-Aware Ad Strategies
Consumers are digitally savvy and demanding more from brands now. Sustainability and ethics in business practice are driving customers to (or away from) the brands they choose to support. And with this comes the idea of “breaking the 4th wall” as an e-commerce advertiser.
Your audience is smart — they know a relationship with your brand is transactional, so don’t necessarily hide it. But don’t just be a salesperson. Your audience wants to be in a conversation with you. Listening and engaging your audience through self-aware advertising will get and keep consumers’ attention.
What Digital and Social Trends Will Take Over in 2023?
Here’s what we predict:
The Exponential Growth of Shoppablitity
Shoppable features on social media and digital platforms offer extreme value to e-commerce brands by giving purchasers a path with almost no resistance.
Not only do consumers enjoy this feature (they can see their favorite influencer wearing a striped sweater and then immediately purchase the same one), but it’s got massive benefits for advertisers as well.
With shoppable features, all the data comes directly from the platform — you don’t have to worry about cookies, so you have data on conversions. Then, using your platform to validate, you can really put together a granular view of the customer’s purchase activities.
It’s a win-win. And the winners in 2023 will be those who leverage social and digital shoppable features.
Wider Use of Augmented Reality
While VR takes a nosedive, we anticipate the wider adoption of augmented reality (AR) as a vehicle of e-commerce digital advertising. Why? Because the barriers to entry are lower, and it meshes well with consumers’ lives.
Let’s face it — you can’t do much while wearing one of those VR headsets. However, augmented reality is accessible to anyone with a cell phone, laptop, or tablet. Augmented reality is already proving to be an excellent tool — it’s making shopping more convenient and reliable for consumers.
Try eyeglasses on virtually, or visualize a couch in your space — all with the power of AR. Even aspirational products, like luxury cars, can leverage AR in a powerful way to make splashy promotions. For example, promote an AR feature that enables potential customers to view the newest jaguar in their driveway. Then pair that with UGC videos of real people test-driving their dream cars to funnel shoppers toward a call-to-action.
High Expectations of Personalization
Audiences have seen a bit behind the curtains of advertising and have high expectations. Consumers know more about security and privacy, and realize they are in control of their preferences. Though privacy across platforms is tightening, most of your customers are still willing to trade a bit of personal data for convenience, promotions and better experiences. Once you have that data, you better put it to good use by creating highly personalized campaigns that impress your audience.
This means your personalization better be top-notch. If a customer knows you’re tracking their online interests and you know their purchase history, it makes sense that the stakes for personalization are high. It goes further than including first names in emails now.
You need to have a solid plan for measuring, attributing, and leveraging your data to provide a customized, personalized experience that builds a real connection with your customers. Remember, you aren’t just selling — you’re building a relationship based on values and mutual interests.
Follow the Right Trends, Not Just Any Trend
The key to success is quickly seeing the trends and knowing which ones will work for you. One thing to consider is how these trends align with your brand values. Only follow the trends that make sense and align with your brand voice and your audience’s values. And don’t sacrifice your budget by hopping on trends without a strategy.
There are significant industry-shaking trends like TikTok taking over and leading a vertical-video evolution. And then there’s micro-trends that come and go, like trending audio sounds or internet memes that only last a week and a half. A strategic plan that allows budgetary flexibility for capitalizing on relevant trends will make your e-commerce brand standout, while remaining authentic and on-budget.
Capitalizing on trends is like keeping up with the Joneses. You need to be quick to make a decision to hop on a trend, and then quick to hop off and on to the next once the moment has passed. Otherwise, you risk looking like you are a step behind.
But when you successfully identify and leverage the popular trends — it does more than make you look like one of the cool kids. It can set you up for continued success throughout the year. Make sure you don’t overlook the next big thing in 2023.
About the author: Jeff is an analytical and creative Digital Strategist with 9+ years of Social Media, Influencer and Content Marketing experience with various brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, Lenovo, Motorola, Ulta Beauty, Malin & Goetz, Teleflora, b New York and Raaka Chocolate – to name a few. He started his career as a copywriter, penning copy for an online sports company where he found his work featured on the back covers of national publications and featured on ESPN Radio. He currently resides in Seattle where he likes to spend as much time outside as possible with his three kids, one of which is a dog.