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Where to spend your next digital dollar: A glimpse into the 2023 Growth Marketing Report

Laura Colton
Laura Colton
Content Communications Specialist
7 min read
18 July 2023

In times of economic uncertainty, every marketing dollar counts. You must play the long game and be strategic with your budgeting and investment priorities to get the most bang for your buck. With the economy in flux, it’s time for you to rethink your growth strategy and focus on channels that yield the highest return on investment.

Just because the economy is slowing down doesn’t mean you should. To stay ahead, you must invest in the right areas to push ahead of your competition and better position yourself for future success and sustainable growth.

Over the last few months, DEPT® surveyed 450 marketing professionals about their growth marketing practices and capabilities. From this survey, we provide an exclusive early look into some key insights from our upcoming Growth Marketing Report for 2023.

We’ve identified the top three focus areas marketers are investing in year-over-year (YOY) and the top three areas they plan to divest for 2023.

Person holding sprouting plant in palm of hand.

Top three digital marketing activities where marketers are investing

Paid search: Ride the wave of changing tides

Ignoring the latest and greatest in paid search is like throwing your already-squeezed budget down the drain. If you want to survive in this digital jungle, staying up-to-date on the latest paid search trends is not just essential–it’s the key that unlocks the door to marketing success.

While traditional search engines remain significant, emerging technologies such as chatbots, automation, and social media platforms like Tiktok and Instagram are reshaping the search marketing landscape. These innovations are revolutionizing how people search and unlocking new potential growth drivers.

While no one can predict the future with certainty, recent trends provide valuable insight into what’s to come, and savvy marketers will need to adapt and determine how to leverage and capitalize on these trends.

Our survey findings indicate that brands respond to economic uncertainty by meeting audiences where they are, placing heavy investments in bottom-funnel activities like paid search. The downside of these findings is that marketers may face cost barriers in paid search, making it harder to achieve target ROI and build new audiences to drive brand expansion.

Despite volatility in paid search, it remains a top priority for most marketers. Relying solely on this channel can be risky as it can become expensive and generate diminishing returns over time. As user behavior continues to evolve, there may be opportunities for you to explore other channels beyond Google and Microsoft Bing.

Paid social: Embracing the social frontier

Our survey reveals that brands are giving high priority to paid social to keep pace with evolving audiences. While there may be a decrease in the number of people investing in paid media activities, paid social is projected to grow steadily. This suggests that while fewer people are investing, those who do invest may spend more on their paid social efforts.

As engagement becomes more costly, diversifying social media budgets across several social channels is an important consideration to make for more affordable growth opportunities. Diversifying social media budgets across multiple platforms–particularly those with a younger demographic–presents a unique opportunity for brands.

With their focus on user-generated content, platforms like TikTok and Instagram allow you to connect with potential customers authentically. Bear in mind that ad fatigue is real, and if your ads become intrusive, users may start ignoring or blocking them, resulting in diminishing returns.

Break through the wall of ad fatigue and show your customers something they didn’t even know they needed with engaging and relevant ad content and creative. By working with the latest trends and leveraging them to support relevancy, you can effectively connect with your audience in the spaces where they actively spend their time.

Video and Audio: Captivate, differentiate, and nurture

The survey results reveal an upward trend in brand and display ad investments. Investing in brand display ads helps you break through the clutter and differentiate your brand from competitors. These ads are pivotal in building brand awareness, fostering familiarity, developing new audiences, and nurturing customer trust.

While brand ads require a long-term investment, they contribute to loyalty and recognition over time. With their eye-catching visuals, display ads generate brand visibility and highlight promotional offers during challenging economic times.

By adopting a strategic mindset and focusing on brand advertising, you can effectively reach your target audience, generate down-funnel leads, and position yourself for the eventual economic recovery.

Three digital marketing activities where marketers are cutting costs

While some marketers may view these areas as non-essential during a recession, they present untapped opportunities to gain an advantage.

1. Conversion rate optimization (CRO): Embrace change and convert it to your advantage

During a recession, consumer spending habits and priorities tend to undergo significant shifts. These changes can significantly impact brands and the customer journey at large. Brands must be aware of these changes to adapt and meet their customers’ needs.

Despite this, marketers consider conversion rate optimization (CRO) non-essential and are pulling back. But here’s the silver lining: This presents a golden opportunity for you to lean into. You understand that the customer journey can be fickle, but by adapting and personalizing it, you can turn the tides in your favor.

Implementing CRO strategies allows you to optimize your websites and increase conversion rates without additional advertising spend. By understanding customer behavior and personalizing their journey, you can make the most of your existing media spend, organic traffic, and maximize ROI.

2. Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD): Entertainment on a dime

In an economic downturn, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services offer a wide range of content to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. This is especially important when people seek ways to save money without sacrificing their entertainment options.

According to our survey, marketers view SVOD as non-essential, and it is not being prioritized as a result. Some marketers may be underestimating the shifting media landscape and are failing to recognize the growing popularity and influence of SVOD services.

By leveraging the power of SVOD, you can better reach and engage your target audience, all while gaining invaluable demographic, viewing behavior, and preference data. With this treasure trove of information, you can laser-focus your ads to reach the right audience at the perfect moment.

3. Out-of-home (OOH)/Digital out-of-home (DOOH): Unleash the physical and digital

Despite being divested by some marketers, out-of-home (OOH) advertising remains a unique opportunity to create lasting brand impressions and engage consumers beyond the digital realm. By focusing on specific geographic areas and leveraging the physical world, you can stand out and generate buzz beyond the confines of a screen.

Another area where marketers are divesting is digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising. DOOH offers powerful targeting capabilities based on location, time of day, and audience demographics. By utilizing data to personalize ads, you can boost the effectiveness of your campaigns and deliver more relevant content to your target audiences.

With DOOH, you can capture viewers’ attention and engage them in a way that traditional static OOH ads cannot. DOOH remains a crucial growth driver, enabling marketers to deliver targeted messages, leverage data insights, and drive brand growth with the right strategies and creative execution.

Don’t let the slowing economy hold you back. Contact us and find out how we can support your growth journey and set your brand on the path to success.