Marketing Trends For Small Businesses In 2023

Christmas is just around the corner, and so with that is the New Year. However, whilst some are winding down, thinking about the mounds of Christmas dinner they’re going to have on their plate, the presents they might receive and how many rounds of charades they’re going to have to play with their heavily intoxicated uncle, others are thinking ahead to 2023 and what marketing trends they can follow or activities they can undertake to make their small business stand out in the 12 months ahead.

Fortunately, here at Kariba, we’ve got this covered in this very article! So read on to find out what we think 2023 has in store…

Tighter Marketing Budgets

As we head towards 2023, nine in ten small business owners are concerned about the cost of living crisis and the effect it may have on their business.

With rising costs across the board, the one element which usually suffers as a result of cutbacks is the marketing department. Whether it’s stripping back the spend on advertising, reducing your hours with your agency or even going to extreme lengths such as redundancies, most businesses make changes in the most creative areas when financial challenges appear. However, we would strongly advise against going too gung-ho with your approach to cutting back on marketing spend, as you will still need to find a way of effectively marketing your business to encourage the sales which are still there to be had. Yes, consumer spending may decrease, but it will never completely disappear, and you need to be there, ready to capitalise on any consumers who are willing to part with their hard earned cash.

An element of stripping back may be a necessity, but it’s important to make your marketing spend work smarter, not harder. Test and measure will be more important than ever, as will metrics such as Return On Ad Spend and of course, Return on Investment. In order to make your spend as efficient as possible, consider new ways of working, new platforms, and different ways in which to test and measure performance of those platforms.

QR Codes

QR codes have perhaps staged one of the greatest ever comebacks, up there with the likes of Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League final victory, the reemergence of the SodaStream and Leeds Rhinos’ 36-32 victory at Catalans Dragons despite being a man down earlier in 2022. Probably one of the few good things to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the QR code has reappeared to establish itself as one of the preferred methods of reaching an audience, despite it being considered ‘dead’ in 2013! It is particularly popular with millennials and Generation Z’s, as it means they can quickly access information on an app or landing page, without the need to enter a URL or search their app store.

Customer Communication

Customer communication in 2023 will be more important than ever before. We anticipate that more businesses will gravitate towards instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and will actually have real life people on the other end of them as opposed to chatbots. There are statistics to show that as many as 86% of people prefer dealing with humans instead of AI or chatbots, with many of them frustrated by the lack of options in terms of questions and answers, and the lack of ‘human touch’ by way of empathy with problems for example. With this in mind, it may be wise to make use of your social media platforms as channels of communication and ways of providing excellent customer service to your customers.


Podcasts have seen substantial growth over the last few years. In fact, according to RAJAR’s MIDAS survey, there was a new high of 19% of adults listening to podcasts every week in the UK, with people listening to 69m hours worth of audio content. Worldwide, there are close to 400m podcast listeners, so there’s a considerable audience there to get your brand in front of, no matter what sector you’re involved with. If you don’t feel like you have the time to dedicate to a podcast, consider approaching established podcasts to contribute to them, either on a semi-regular basis or as a one off guest. There’s also the option for sponsorship on a lot of podcasts – that content doesn’t come for free after all; there’s a lot of time, effort and resources which go into making them sound as good as they do.

Helpful Content

As you may know, Google has always been pretty hot on its content, and has constantly sought ways in which to improve its search results and provide users with results which contain content which is most relevant to them. Its most recent update, conveniently named ‘the helpful content update’, continues along that theme.

First arriving in August of this year, followed by an update in December, the helpful content update rewards people-first content and devalues content written for search engines. In other words, your keyword stuffed category pages no longer have much of an impact, and you may even be penalised for it. Instead, with the helpful content update, Google wants you to keep on topic, demonstrate knowledge and experience of the topic, provide answers to questions and contain factual information.

With this in mind, your content has to be more helpful than ever going into 2023!

Customers as Brand Advocates

Many businesses are dazzled by the bright lights and promises in the world of influencer marketing. The dream of getting your brand on a well-known face in the industry or a celebrity endorsement is one which is strong with many business owners and marketing managers, but it’s one which is often not realistic. What many fail to realise however is that your best influencers are right in front of you…your customers!

Who better to be an advocate of your brand and influence others to buy from you than people who have had a genuine experience with you? The vast majority of people see right through influencers now; they know brands have thrown significant money at someone with a few thousand followers in a bid to get them to post favourably about said brand’s product or service, instead of them posting because they’ve had a genuinely positive experience. The term fraudulent may be a little too strong, but the general public knows that the person who has posted doesn’t care about the product or service, and maybe doesn’t even like it, and instead only cares about the money rolling into their bank account as a result of agreeing to post about it.

Instead, your customers should be your influencers. Provide them with such a good service that they want to post about you on their social media channels, leave reviews on platforms like Google and Trustpilot and share the link to your site around their office! Better still, provide them with a community and build it around them.

Live Streaming

Every man and his dog seems to be banging on about video content… and to an extent, they’re right. However, instead of the usual ‘post on TikTok and Instagram Reels’ type advice we see on a regular basis, one of the best ways to get noticed in 2023 using video is to go down the route of live video.

With live video, you can interact directly with your audience, with them able to ask questions in real time, stream for free using Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, and you can really build up ‘going live’ as an event, encouraging people to be online in time for it. What’s more is a live video can be played back by people who weren’t on it at the time, so they can see exactly what they missed out on – it’s a double whammy!

Immersive Experience Slowdown

Much like the 3D television, everyone had such high hopes for Virtual and Augmented Reality and what it would mean for their marketing strategies, but, again like the 3D TV, it’s not really taken off in the way people hoped.

We anticipate a continued slowdown in the VR and AR world’s, mainly due to the costs involved and the lack of take-up by the audience. In fact, according to HubSpot’s 2023 Marketing Strategy & Trends Report, more than a quarter of marketers are planning to stop using them next year!

Mobile Optimization

You hear it every year, but mobile optimization will continue to be of utmost importance in 2023. With more than 90% of the world’s population owning a mobile phone, and 60% of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile friendly, passes all the Core Web Vitals checks and delivers an excellent all-round user experience.

Avoid Twitter

The Twitter turmoil continues since Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform back in October 2022. With controversy over blue ticks, an influx of bot accounts, and a reputation for a somewhat toxic atmosphere, Twitter may well be a dying platform. With minimal genuine engagement from other users, and an advertising platform which is clunky and confusing to say the least, we would recommend that your efforts are better spent investing your time into other platforms which reap far greater rewards.

So there we have ten marketing trends for small businesses in 2023. Hopefully you’ll have enjoyed reading this article and are prepared to put some of the hints and tips into practice as we head into the new year. Of course, if you would like more information on how we can help you achieve your business’ goals and objectives in 2023, then get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to have a conversation with you!

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