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How marketing agencies can overcome 2023’s challenges

Here are 4 ways that marketing agencies can think creatively to overcome the latest wave of challenges.

5 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

How marketing agencies can overcome 2023’s challenges

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As 2023 continues, marketing challenges are becoming very apparent. Layoffs are hitting the tech sector hard and rising artificial intelligence tech is making content creators and marketers wonder if a chatbot could replace them. While this is unlikely, overcoming that fear is no easy feat. The focus this year will be demonstrating your marketing agency’s value.

For agencies that want to overcome the obstacles facing them, they’ll need to think creatively about the innovations available. 

AI will become a valuable tool

Arguably the biggest technology innovation in recent history is generative artificial intelligence  – including ChatGPT – which has kicked off a wave of applications like Google’s Bard, Jasper, Anthropic and Bing AI. Generative AI is now capable of writing incredibly believable text and is already having an impact on SEO and how search engines work. So what does that mean for marketing agencies? 

While AI’s exact influence on the industry is still being understood, it is clear that the role of the agency will remain critical. Agencies always will be the experts at providing holistic digital marketing strategy, something businesses will continue to need as tech evolves and the digital landscape becomes even more complex. 

There are several strong use cases where AI can make processes more streamlined. AI allows agencies to be more efficient and productive. It also creates new business opportunities by allowing an agency to go downmarket and service small- and midsize businesses that were once out of reach due to the previously high cost to serve them.

Additionally, while the data is still in the early days, Google is happy to support AI-generated content, as long as it is original, high-quality and people-first. So it can be a great starting point and can make it much faster to create quality content. Keep in mind, the content produced by generative AI is the new floor, and marketers should still aim to raise the bar in quality. 

Agencies that want to scale can use AI tools to draft proposals, and brainstorm go-to-market strategies and other templated information quickly. Then, they can customize it for each client. 

AI also can generate reports from monitoring metrics, tasks that generally are manually time intensive. Doing this frees up the content creators to focus their creative energy on those original, in-depth pieces that can’t be solved with AI. 

Companies will be tempted by DIY marketing

With the rise of do-it-yourself programs like Canva, many small businesses will be tempted to make their own marketing assets or build their websites themselves. While these tools are designed for everyone and are generally easy to use, businesses typically don’t have the expertise that an agency does. 

This is a chance for agencies to assist clients with messaging themes and assets. You’ll also need to demonstrate value by incorporating those elements into a cohesive strategy. Perhaps offer clients guidelines they can use that align their goals with the strategy you recommend. 

Social advertising will not replace quality SEO

For a while, social advertising was one of the best ways to get your business in front of potential customers. TikTok especially has seen impressive growth numbers, despite a general downturn in advertising overall. 

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency is partially responsible for this. When it was released in 2021, it set off concerns for advertisers and marketing agencies as it changed how advertising data was gathered. Now, after over a year to adjust to the changes, we’re seeing that the world of targeted advertising has changed drastically. 

While most companies adapted the way they gathered data on consumers, others didn’t, hoping to fly under the radar regardless of Apple’s new regulations. While the market has somewhat cooled from the panic that initially ensued, the challenge remains for agencies.  

As 2023 progresses, agencies that offer social advertising will likely need to pivot or adjust their services to ensure they’re delivering ROI. For starters, tried-and-true strategies like email marketing and SEO remain strong contenders in turbulent times. It’s always worth taking the time to ensure that your client sites are search engine optimized and perform well in terms of driving conversions.

Marketing agencies need to prove their value

This is true every year, but it bears repeating: agencies need to be agile as they face the challenges a new year brings. If you want to prove to current and prospective clients that hiring an agency is still worth their time, you need to demonstrate how your work is creating value and delivering ROI. 

It’s not easy. A pessimist will say that AI is taking jobs, they can do it themselves, and advertising isn’t worth it anyway. So what’s the point? 

The point is that agencies will always have that experienced edge over businesses. Agencies have value, whether they’re using AI to streamline their workloads or creating asset guidelines for clients. 

Agencies also need to understand that they are not competing on price, but instead, on value. Over time, AI will serve as a deflationary tool, making things easier and less expensive, so agencies need to consistently level up the value that they offer.

Ultimately, the key to surviving 2023 is the same as any other year; stay flexible, think ahead, and remember what it is you do well. 


Russ Jeffery has worked in technical management and product strategy for more than 11 years. He started at Duda as a customer support lead, working his way up to director of Platform and Product Strategy. The combination of technological expertise and relational skills allows him to formulate creative and innovative solutions to complex problems. His experience incorporates multiple website technologies, SaaS billing, CRM tools, API integrations, customer support, e-commerce best practices, knowledge base design and the mobile web.

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