December 22, 2022 / Thought Leadership

Top Digital Trends to Watch in 2023

Colin Hetherington, Managing Director, ZOO Digital
Martin Byrne, CTO, ZOO Digital
Rachel Carrigan, Head of UX/UI, ZOO Digital

It’s estimated that in 2023 we will hit peak internet – we just won’t be able to fit any more into our daily lives. With that comes a new battle for brands to gain customer attention. So what does that mean for what’s ahead this year? 

Well, at ZOO we are predicting a strengthening of the “human” online experience, even greater interactivity, increasing “subliminal digital,” continuing data visualisation and not to forget good old email marketing, which can get overlooked but still plays a key role. From a pure user experience point of view, we predict brands will realise that improving customer experience will bring new sales, that there’ll be an even greater holistic approach to CX while the “always above the fold” approach to website building will be no longer. 

Read about all the 2023 trends predicted by the ZOO team below. 

Peak Internet

2023 will be the year of peak internet. In 2022, according to GWI, the average global time spent online hit 6 hours 43 minutes per day, down from an all-time covid-induced high of 6 hours 56 minutes in 2021. Next year, we estimate global daily online usage will plateau at 6 hours 40 minutes.

Combine this with further predictions that global digital media spend will increase by 12% in 2023, meaning brands and businesses will be competing fiercely for audience attention online. 

To grab people’s attention, many brands will take a more holistic and complete approach to their digital strategy by adding new channels, focusing on their user experience and identifying the real value they can provide through content.

Even More Interactivity

According to HubSpot, 90% of marketers will increase the use of short-form video in 2023. This is despite video engagement rates decreasing across certain formats and platforms. 

A TikTok case study cited 3.33 seconds as a strong result for an average campaign video view. So, brands have 3 seconds to capture, engage and keep a person viewing a piece of short-form video – that’s not a lot of time at all.

Don’t get us wrong, short-form video is important but we predict that in 2023 we will see brands beginning to move away from video content to create even more engaging and interactive experiences – think Burger King’s classic Subservient Chicken or Red Bull Strike – that combine both creativity and technology to create something special.

Subliminal Digital

With attention hard to earn and video views being short, we will see the emergence of a new practice called Subliminal Digital. The objective will be to use every fleeting half second to create brand awareness. 

This will involve reviewing all brand elements (colour, logo usage, audio cues, opening frames, product placement) across digital channels with a view to maximising every micro opportunity for brand recognition.

Strengthening the “Human” Online Experience

The threat of recession, reduced customer spending power and the battle for attention will result in higher cost per acquisition rates in 2023. With customers becoming harder to get, there will be an even greater focus on keeping those you have happy.

According to a PwC report, what makes a good customer experience is speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness. And one big connector: the human touch. In 2023, we will see the rapid advancement of AI and its ability to replicate human interaction through the adoption of chatbots and digital assistants that offer personalised services. 

Email Marketing Still Quietly Does Its Thing

Not a trend for 2023 but something that needs to be given the credit it deserves, as it is often overlooked in these types of lists, is email marketing. With the ever-increasing importance of first-party data, email marketing should be core to creating ongoing, cost effective communications with customers. Whether a customer opens it or not, the fact they see you in their promotions folder is a micro reminder that you’re there. 

Data Visualisation Is Still Key

Another area set to continue to play a major part in 2023 is data visualisation. The fact is that marketers continue to be overloaded with data, which too often forms a meaningless mass of numbers. However, there’s gold in that data. Through clever curation and interpretation, UX teams can derive better evidence-based insights to act upon. A great example of bringing data to life was released just recently – Spotify’s creative visualisation with Instafest let you create your own festival lineup from Spotify playlists and 2022 Wrapped – Story of your year with Spotify. We predict more of that from brands in 2023.

More CX, More Sales

The thing is, customer expectations are now pretty high when it comes to a lovely, positive experience on websites and apps. And it’s that experience that makes them increasingly return and spend. 

We’re going to see the continued realisation by businesses that their customer experience should be front and centre in their acquisition, sales and retention strategies. That’s going to mean some investment, particularly in a test-and-fix cycle in how they improve their online offering. 

There is a growing appreciation that fixing the online user experience (UX) is only a part of the puzzle. Customer experience (CX) will begin to encompass all customer touchpoints so that they all work in concert, using the same language, intent and purpose. Your digital, OOH, DM and everyone speaking to your customers will need to use the same language and synchronise their efforts – especially sales. 

RIP “The Fold”

The ongoing chat about “below the fold” will finally be put to rest and nobody will come to the service. Analysts will finally convince sales VPs that customers scroll and that the top of the page isn’t the only show in town. 

We’ve known for years from heatmaps and eye tracking that users scan for words they recognise and have been trained to ignore the hero banner (well, mostly). Journey mapping, AB testing and easy-to-interpret measurements will all help convince the CEO that there’s more to the store than the front window.