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2023 Digital Marketing Trends in the IT Channel

Reposted from Adam's Linked-In Articles - Jan 1, 2023

The Technology Services Channel is a unique and dynamic industry with unprecedented growth. I've had an incredibly fun time in my career getting to know amazing marketers, sales pros, and engineers. With this growth, channel agencies are investing in and growing their marketing efforts to compete for new clients, and that energy will carry forward into this new year. Today, let's look at two elements driving marketing strategy and activities in 2023: the Human Essence and the Return on Investment. 

The Human Essence

Let's first consider the Human Essence of marketing.

Going back to Seth Godin shaking up messaging strategies in the late 90s and carried forward by brand titans like Gary Vaynerchuck, messaging continues to evolve from stoggy and stale corporate taglines as marketers aim for authentic conversation between company and customer.

1 - Influencer Marketing

Expect to see this trend accelerate in the channel in 2023 as influencer marketing takes a prominent seat in small business channel marketing. Deploying tactics like a testimonial from a happy client and a supportive social post from a leading partner will help drive channel agency brands forward while providing the authenticity of the human touch. 

Look for agencies producing more short-form videos with happy clients, suppliers, and TSDs who can add support to their credibility and capability to deliver for their clients.

2 - Human Encounters

Buyers want to feel like they've had a conversation while building a relationship. For all our love of technology, automation, and the rest, we are still human and want a human experience when buying. We want systems to make that experience easy to navigate.

Savvy channel agencies will find ways to produce messaging in mass that carries a personal touch. We will continue to see broader adoption of intelligent CRMs connected with marketing automation platforms, so that messaging can be sent to potential buyers in real-time, based on triggers, while being customized for the recipient. 

3 - Value

Like you, prospective customers face uncertain economic headwinds, and more than ever, we will see a stronger value-based focus in messaging. The effort to empathetically connect with the buyers' need to reign in costs will motivate marketers to emphasize the value of services and products above the standard features and benefits. 

Even outcome-driven messaging will face a stiff challenge as cost-sensitive IT departments balance finding solutions that provide exceptional outcomes with big-time "bang for the buck." 

The Return on Investment

Channel marketing teams and small business owners will be under increased pressure to "prove it" when showing that the juice was worth the squeeze. Even more than in 2022, every marketing dollar spent in the channel will face scrutiny this year, and channel agencies must show that new initiatives will produce a positive return. We will see a focus on tools, data, and outcomes as agencies seek to realize an impressive marketing ROI.

1 - Tool Enhancements

From CRMs to marketing automation and AI, channel marketing teams will look for cost-effective ways to increase production efficiencies and provide greater visibility into customer activity. Dev teams will improve workflows while companies invest in better tools directly tied to revenue influence. 

Channel agencies, especially smaller ones, will seek ways to avoid wasting valuable time and resources on activities that could otherwise be automated or eliminated. Only the critical work will remain, and the tools which drive direct connection and capture buyer intent will champion.

2 - Data-Centric Strategy

A strategy or tool is only good if it is measured effectively. 

Channel agencies will become laser-focused on mining for valuable data to provide action-based insight into their prospects' and customers' intent. "Buyer intent" will be top of mind, and strategies to capture, analyze and summarize critical data on all marketing activity will be paramount to successful campaign results. The agencies who ultimately win big this year will tell a story detailing the effectiveness of marketing efforts, tying it all to outcomes. 

If the content was king for the last 20 years, data was the prince ready to assume the throne. Get prepared to bow to the almighty King Data.

3 - Outcomes

This one will be short. EVERYTHING, that's right...everything will have to have an identified outcome. The best channel teams will only pursue those strategies and programs with a specified outcome from the start and a plan to get there. 

So, what does this all mean for marketers in 2023? To stay ahead, you'll need to adapt to these trends and find new ways to connect with your audience and demonstrate the value of your campaigns. This means embracing authenticity and personalization, as well as using data and outcomes to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Are you up for the challenge?