As 2023 gets underway, those of us in the cybersecurity profession approach the new year with guarded optimism. After all, just as there will be magnificent achievements to improve our lives with technology, there are also reasons to be cautious, as technology will also provide new means of exploiting us. In the field of cybersecurity marketing, these topics factor into a large part of how we operate as well.
Over the last few years, remote working became the standard functional method of many companies, and while that presented many security challenges for most organizations, it broadened many opportunities in the marketing community by opening the ability to work with a global client base. This was enhanced because marketing companies were no longer boundary-constrained. A wise marketing company would grasp this opportunity in 2023 by expanding their staff without the need to open a separate office. This would add a global perspective as well by engaging with the candidates and the clients where they were domiciled.
Cybersecurity Marketing Budget Constraints of 2023
The emerging challenge of 2023 is the budget constraints that all companies will have to confront, due to the overall economic uncertainty, which was exacerbated by overzealous growth, especially in technology companies. The rush to add redundancies and to grow has caused many of them to miss their predicted sales projections. The end result of this is often seen in the reduction of marketing initiatives, i.e., smaller marketing budgets.
Companies will be more discerning in where they spend their marketing money, and they do this by seeking the highest return on investment possible. One way that this can be realized is through good customer advocacy. The use of various peer-reviewed customer review platforms is a good way to build reputational capital. People place a lot of trust in the top industry review sites, and this translates directly to sales.
Creative & Integrated Marketing Campaigns
Content creation will also be an important factor for marketing companies. Budgetary restrictions will force companies to seek marketing organizations that do more than just regurgitate already existing content. People seek creative insights, and a company that can create exclusive, new content that generates backlinks can mean higher views and downloads.
Sometimes, it can simply mean covering more than one angle on a compelling topic. Having integrated campaigns isn’t anything new as such, but due to the way budgets are going to change this year, it becomes really important. So, instead of creating 10 bits of content around one thing, and then maybe an eBook, a topic could be explored as it relates to different industries. Some content that’s at the top of the funnel, which is high level, such as blog posts, is a good starting point. People don’t need to give up any data, and they don’t need to download anything to benefit from that educational content.
From that, the content can move to the middle of the funnel into a white paper, bringing more technical information into the mix. Ultimately the bottom of the funnel becomes more product-centric information. People don’t want to be sold to immediately, but there is a natural path where people start at the top, then download something, and then can be presented with the product that answers the question about what they are trying to solve.
Marketing Attribution Tells a Story
The third point, which will be important in 2023, relates to attribution, where people need to know what’s working and what’s not working. In the past, a lot of companies lacked proper attribution, so they couldn’t measure exactly what was working and what was not. Companies need to take into account that if they don’t have the right insights, then they don’t know what they should be planning for and what they should be doing.
For example, with social media advertising, if a company doesn’t set up the right UTM codes so they can see what’s being clicked and what’s being downloaded, then there is no way of knowing what’s actually working. A more specific example would be if a company spends $10,000 to run a LinkedIn campaign, they need to know what return they are receiving from that; otherwise, that budget might have been wasted. The same principle applies to other areas, such as webinars for example. Webinars have worked really well for a long period of time now, but as more people are working in hybrid or virtual environments, more people are doing webinars. Five years ago, a typical webinar could average 50 attendees. Now, the attendee rate might have fallen to around 20 for the same kind of activity. A company needs to have that attribution in place to understand what’s working.
Of course, some content engagements are easier to measure than others. It is hard to accurately measure blog content to know whether it is working to its full potential. However, blogs are part of the marketing mix. Therefore, the content has to offer something from a sales lead generation point of view. On the one hand, some of the tracking mechanisms have become restrictive because people are reluctant to share any personal information to receive free content. On the other hand, some of the search indexing mechanisms can increase traffic flow due to the popularity of the content, which can translate to direct consumer contact; interested customers will call you to find out more.
Another, more subtle method of appealing to prospects is to offer them the option of receiving a piece through email, so they can read the material at another time. This is a subtle, yet effective way of helping potential customers to stay connected and giving them support in the sales process. The important thing is to not take advantage of a person’s generosity by bombarding them with sales materials after they share their email address. That violates the spirit of the tacit agreement they are making with the company. Less content can actually increase interest in a product.
Are You Attending Cybersecurity Events This Year?
Another interesting development in marketing will be how security conferences in 2023 are transformed in a budget-constrained but Covid-weary environment. Travel has become expensive, not just for a conference attendee, but even more so for a vendor. Since there seems to be webinar fatigue, people are eager to interact in-person. However, it is possible that the increased costs of travel may create a greater call for local events. Also, since the pandemic keeps re-appearing, smaller conferences could become more desirable.
A final point that cannot be ignored is the emergence of artificial intelligence in the marketing business. Many are threatened, as an AI-generated sales sheet is nearly indistinguishable from a human-created one. However, this is why we believe that more creativity is required to create more compelling marketing. AI can only synthesize already-existing materials into an insipidly and uninspired product. It will become the subject of many legal battles as it trounces the creative arts. While marketing may not rise to the level of a Picasso, or a Pulitzer prize-winning poem, it still requires a creative wit that is, so far, absent in most artificially created pieces.
The future looks bright.