Survey Insights 2023: Overcoming Digital Marketing Challenges

Chris Rowell

Efficient resource allocation and management are vital for success in digital marketing. Marketers face an ongoing challenge in optimizing their available assets to attain desired outcomes.

We must strike a delicate balance with our finite resources – time, budget, and tools. This isn’t easy to do while meeting client expectations, staying ahead of industry trends, navigating the digital terrain, and analyzing campaign performance. 

The good news? You’re not alone. Keep reading to discover some of the biggest challenges for digital marketing in 2023 and how you can overcome them. 

2023 Digital Marketing Challenges

After surveying 100+ professionals, our team discovered the top pain points plaguing marketing and advertising programs this year. While a common theme of resource allocation arose, each challenge was unique in its own way. Keep reading to learn more.

📋 About Our Survey
KORTX surveyed 100+ digital marketing professionals in order to understand the key industry challenges. Each participant was able to select multiple challenges. Participants were sourced from our current clients, connections, and social media followers.

41.1% of digital marketers struggle with client expectations.

Managing client expectations is challenging. Unrealistic goals, lack of clarity, limited budgets, shifting priorities, and a lack of understanding of the digital marketing landscape all contribute. Clients often set lofty goals that are not achievable within time and budget constraints. Miscommunication and a lack of clear understanding lead to misunderstandings. Plus, limited budgets can hinder delivering extensive results. Shifting priorities necessitate adjustments to strategies and resources.

Additionally, some clients may have limited knowledge, resulting in unrealistic expectations. Industry-specific challenges and competitive markets further complicate matters. To overcome these challenges, marketers must establish clear goals, educate clients, maintain open communication, and continuously monitor and adjust strategies. Effective management of client expectations is crucial for successful digital marketing campaigns.

How can you set realistic expectations with clients?
“Setting expectations with clients starts WAY before they meet with their account manager for the first time. If you’re going to nail expectations, you need to ensure that the sales team is in lock-step with the accounts team when it comes to deliverables, timelines, and performance benchmarks. Deliverables are easy. A productized list of services and what’s included is all you need.When it comes to timelines and benchmarks, the sales team must speak in ranges. Clients will always remember the most attractive numbers and shortest timelines – use ranges to combat this. Get this right, the initial onboarding call should be a breeze and your new client won’t go into an immediate state of buyer’s remorse.”

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President, Co-Owner, Invisible PPC

40.1% of digital marketers have a hard time keeping up with trends in the marketplace.

Digital marketers should avoid the pitfalls of shiny object syndrome. The constant emergence of new platforms and ad placements demands adaptation without succumbing to the allure of trying every exciting technology or placement. They must carefully select platforms that effectively reach their target audiences. The deprecation of Third-Party cookies necessitates finding alternative methods for personalized advertising without chasing every new tracking solution. Social media trends like TikTok require understanding and adaptation without blindly jumping on the bandwagon. Marketers must strategically integrate rapid technological advancements into their strategies without getting distracted by every new shiny tool.

Navigate these challenges successfully, and you will achieve meaningful results by maintaining a focused and discerning approach.

How do current trends compare to past years?
“This has always been a great career for the curious. But lately, marketers are being pushed into new trends faster than ever. The struggle is real. Just to keep up, a lot of us have put 100+ hours into GA4 training over the last year. And now we need to invest another 100+ hours into AI research and experimentation. And that’s above and beyond the usual trend spotting in the platforms and algorithms. Marketers who do not invest significant time in professional development in 2023 will be at a disadvantage in 2024. That is reality.”

39.5% of digital marketers struggle to meet campaign outcomes.

Campaign outcomes can be a pain point for digital marketing, particularly due to limited data availability and crowded digital space. Marketers often struggle to obtain comprehensive and accurate data, hindering their ability to gain insights, measure performance, and optimize campaigns. The complexity of channels and touchpoints, ad fraud, bot traffic, competition, privacy concerns, and ad-blocking technologies hinder accurate attribution, measurement, and campaign visibility while wasting budgets and reducing reach, conversion rates, and costs.

Furthermore, evolving platforms and algorithms require continuous adaptation. To address these issues, marketers must focus on data infrastructure, advanced analytics, fraud detection, personalized approaches, privacy compliance, and staying informed about trends. By doing so, they can overcome these pain points and achieve better campaign outcomes.

How do you determine how to measure outcomes?
“Know your goal before launching the campaign, prioritize decisions based on what supports that goal, then decide ahead of time which platform will be used to measure success. LinkedIn, Google, your marketing automation platform, and your CRM can all paint a different picture. Knowing which platform is your trusted “source of truth” for each metric will spare you the time (and headache) spent deciphering metrics that don’t match when it comes to reporting.”

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Account Manager & Content Strategist, Common Mind

33.2% of marketers deal with resource constraints.

Digital marketing teams face limited staffing, ad placements, and budget constraints. Insufficient staff hampers task execution and efficiency while lacking expertise leads to suboptimal campaigns. Restricted access to ad placements limits audience reach, reducing campaign visibility. Time constraints affect planning and quality. 

To mitigate these challenges, teams can prioritize key channels, leverage automation tools, outsource tasks, target specific audience segments, and optimize campaigns with data-driven insights. Seeking additional resources, training, or exploring low-cost channels can also help. By taking strategic measures, teams can navigate resource constraints and maximize their marketing efforts.

How are resource constraints impacting your marketing plans?
“It’s more difficult to experiment at a large scale. You have to use smaller batches or smaller experiments, and then gauge the results before expanding these days. With content marketing & paid advertising, I’m taking smaller bets which may mean it takes longer to see results.”

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Head of Marketing, Tettra

34.5% of marketers struggle with the complicated digital landscape.

The digital marketing landscape includes key issues and pain points regarding new tech, data, and attribution, leading to a difficult-to-understand level of complexity. 

The rapid evolution of technologies requires continuous learning and adaptation. The abundance of data available poses challenges in extracting meaningful insights and ensuring accuracy and quality. Attribution modeling is complex due to multi-channel marketing, making it difficult to measure effectiveness accurately.

Privacy regulations demand ethical and legal data usage. The crowded digital space presents challenges in standing out and reaching the target audience. Ad fraud and viewability issues persist, impacting advertising budgets. Plus, AI is now becoming a requirement to stay up to speed.

Marketers must stay updated, invest in data governance, and leverage reliable data sources to address these challenges. Collaboration, compliance with privacy regulations, and personalized experiences can aid in navigating the crowded digital space effectively.

What steps do you take to continuously learn and adapt to the rapid evolution of technologies in the digital marketing field?
“Learning and adapting means that brands must determine what is working and what they should avoid. This can only be confirmed by allocating budget and resources to testing scenarios that aren’t guaranteed to produce successful results. Understanding what does not work is a valuable insight that pays off throughout the lifecycle of a marketing program.”

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Director of Strategy, KORTX

28.9% of marketers struggle with time management.

Managing time effectively in digital marketing is challenging. Marketers struggle with endless meetings, conflicting priorities, managing multiple clients, and the need for increased efficiency. Excessive meetings consume valuable work time, while priorities create a juggling act. Working with numerous clients demands efficient time allocation. It can be difficult to figure out how to streamline workflows and automate tasks. While many tools exist to help solve these issues, constant client demands or daily fires often force marketers to give up on efficiency plans or protocols.

What tips do you have for managing your time?
“1+ hour calendar blocking isn’t helpful for most of us because people don’t often respect large-time blocking (unfortunately!) Instead, try blocking 1 hour at a time and focus on completing your to-do’s based on a priority list! Prioritize your day in 3 ways: What is important and urgent? What are the next deadlines? What tasks are related? What is important but not as urgent? When prioritizing, the goal is to focus on your top 2-3 items. You “must get this done” tasks, and everything gets second priority.”

24% of marketers find analyzing performance challenging.

Analyzing digital marketing performance is not easy. Finding meaningful data is crucial amidst the overwhelming amount of available information. Getting your team or clients to focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with business goals rather than getting distracted by vanity metrics can be difficult. Additionally, attributing conversions to the correct channels in a multichannel environment is complex, requiring advanced tracking and attribution models.

Data quality and reliability must be ensured to avoid misleading insights, and integrating data from multiple sources can be complicated. Aligning data analysis with business objectives is essential to derive actionable insights.

Lastly, keeping up with evolving platforms and algorithms and finding a reliable source of truth can be daunting. In 2023 and beyond, establishing data governance, standardized reporting methodologies, and leveraging reputable analytics tools help address these challenges.

What key challenges do you see with analyzing performance?
“In the context of the ever-growing and quickly-maturing commerce space, there is increasing complexity in analyzing performance, notably exasperated by the oftentimes competing sources of data truth and how to measure results with enough confidence to make the next best decision for dollar spent and hour resourced.
By unifying the right compatible data sources, products, and platforms to communicate better, the ability to measure some of the more incompatible datasets (like retailers’ sell-out data and media performance data, or bridging identity data with commerce media campaigns) becomes more substantial, thereby solving a number of hurdles in analyzing performance to better calibrate, optimize, and drive incremental performance (e.g., nailing iROAS and return on effort).”

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SVP Head of Commerce Product,Publicis Commerce

13.8% of marketers struggle with platform and technology overload.

Using too many platforms can lead to fragmentation, lack of integration, data overload, and an inability to locate a single source of truth. Marketers struggle with managing multiple platforms, integrating data, analyzing vast amounts of information, and determining the most accurate metrics. Too many tools complicate decision-making and result in intense analysis paralysis. Plus, continuous training and upskilling are required to keep up with changes. Concerns about platform dependence and vendor lock-in can restrict flexibility. Balancing the benefits and challenges of any new digital marketing platform is crucial.

How do you handle the endless platforms available today?
“One of the biggest challenges facing digital marketers today is how complicated the landscape is. There are endless platforms and ways to keep in touch with your audience, but the strategies cannot be one-size-fits-all. Your clients may want to be everywhere all at once, but it will be more effective to focus your efforts on a few channels that you know will drive leads. Being on a platform to be on a platform just looks messy and like you haven’t thought out your strategy.”

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Digital Marketing Strategist, DNSFilter

5.9% of marketers worry about budget constraints.

Budget constraints can pose challenges for marketing teams striving to make an impact. Key pain points include rising costs, fierce competition, ad fraud, attribution complexities, and evolving technologies. However, the worry about budget constraints may not be as overwhelming as before. 

Digital marketing has become more efficient and targeted thanks to advancements in automation, AI, and diverse marketing channels. Data-driven decision-making empowers businesses to optimize strategies and allocate budgets effectively. Many brands face similar constraints, and it can be a source of frustration and stress. 

How are you dealing with budget constraints in 2023?
“2023 is a year where we’re looking to produce as much as we can with a small team, limited time, and a budget that doesn’t allow us to invest everywhere. We’ve made a deliberate effort to prioritize efforts that turn into multiple outputs across channels: interview-based content we can use as video and written pieces/promote on social media, as well as cornerstone assets we can promote across channels and use to bolster our newsletter. For any given asset, we’re trying to map out 5 – 10 different ways we can leverage it intentionally, and we’ve adopted a posture of experimentation to see what works best.”

Thriving in the Ever-Evolving Digital Marketing Landscape

Succeeding in digital marketing requires efficient resource management. Digital marketers face numerous challenges. These challenges can be overcome with careful planning, strategic measures, continuous learning, and adaptation.

By setting realistic expectations, staying informed, leveraging data-driven insights, prioritizing key channels, optimizing workflows, and making data-driven decisions, digital marketers can achieve meaningful results and thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of 2023 and beyond.

KORTX just might be the marketing partner for you! 

We work with brands and agencies to help drive marketing results.

Chris Rowell is the Co-Founder and CRO at KORTX.

Chris Rowell

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