Agencies should keep one word in mind as they head into the new year.
“That means expanding your methods, expanding your offerings and expanding the technology you use,” says Maddie McNamara, Partner at Socially Adept Solutions.
And not just because doing so is professionally rewarding, but because this type of expansion is professionally necessary in a more competitive, demanding client landscape. Agencies that deepen their offerings and evolve their strategies stand to succeed far into the new year.
If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in the right place. We spoke to industry leaders and Wix Partners to feature the most exciting—and helpful—predictions that will guide you in the months ahead. Consider them your road map as you charter new territory.
1. Design will become an escape
“As we head into a recession, people will look to design to do two things: cheer them up and offer an escape. That’s why we’re seeing more hot pink and neon colors.
The metaverse is a big part of this escape. If the recession happened a few years ago, design could have taken on a more negative, hard-core, gritty vibe. But now that we have this new digital realm to play with, we can create new, more positive realities for ourselves. (Read more about the metaverse and agencies here.)
AI imagery, like the stuff designers can make using Midjourny or DALL-E, plays into this, too. These images offer an escape, but there’s an element of realism to them, almost like you’re walking into an uncanny valley. They’re simultaneously realistic and unrealistic. Designers who work well with AI tools will create the most unique work.”
— Yaara Schattner, Strategic Design Partnership Manager at Wix
2. Focus on media sales and marketing support this year
“You’ll need to be flexible with your service offerings in 2023, but if I were to give one direction to pursue it would be to focus on media sales and marketing support. Sales are a lifeblood to companies and there seems to be more opportunities in providing services related to marketing campaigns like paid search, social media (organic and paid), SEO, email marketing, and landing page design and optimization.”
— Jay Donaldson, founder of TimeHoodie and Wix Partner
3. You’ll be able to create unique, complex and secure projects at scale
“Wix is rolling out Blocks this year, which will allow you (or a developer that you outsource to) to build a unique application once, then apply it to any site you want. The application automatically adjusts to the new design environment. Velo has always been about customizing websites for a client’s specific needs, but Blocks will allow you to take a highly customized feature and package it for lots of different websites. You’ll be able to invest in one project, then use the same feature—one that’s unique to your agency—across multiple projects at a scale like never before.”
— Yoav Abrahami, Head of Velo by Wix
4. Short-form video is unstoppable
“Short-form video is the way of the future. It’s how we are going to consume content, and it’s how marketers need to create content for their audience. Marketing won’t be about whitepapers or very long articles anymore. It will be about creating content that’s approachable, real, honest, and to-the-point, regardless of the platform.
We see this play out on Linkedin, too: leaders are more transparent about their struggles and people far outside of the C-suite are becoming industry thought leaders. People are craving realness. They want to be seen, heard, and entertained—not sold to. Thought leadership will still resonate, but only if the leader is approachable. This means you need to share your struggles openly and be real in your imagery and headshots.
Content doesn't need to be slick and expensive to be good anymore. In fact, it shouldn’t be. In 2023, invest more in promoting your content than producing it. It will be better if it’s less produced anyway.”
— Susan Kaplow, Head of Content at Wix
5. Ethical brands will thrive
“People choose inclusive brands that give back, and the digital-first generation has purpose right at their heart. That’s why I spend a lot of time talking to business leaders about how they put purpose to work in their organization for employees, shareholders and customers. The more diverse and engaged and inclusive you are with customers or employees, the closer you are to them. And that means you can innovate more efficiently, you have better ideas, and you also understand what's relevant and meaningful to your customers. Ethics and integrity are going to be at the cornerstone of all organizations and brands.” (Read more about it.)
— Chris Nurko, Chief Innovation and Growth Officer at Interbrand Group
6. The SEO winners will be deep, helpful, and human
“The helpful content update, which Google rolled out in 2022, goes after content that was written primarily for search and not for users. There’s a wide range of what that can mean, but to me, AI content and recycled content very much come into focus.
By definition, AI content is taking content that’s already there and regurgitating it. That’s what it can do. But people regurgitate content based on what’s already ranking, too.
That’s why deep and unique content will be rewarded. People with first-hand experience in a topic are able to provide insight that AI or a non-expert can’t. For example, if you’re Googling ‘what to know before going to a Yankee game,’ AI can tell you the time of the game and the snack menu, but they can’t tell you that you’ll get your ass kicked for wearing a Red Sox hat.
Google is using machine learning to profile all sorts of language structures to better identify various forms of low-quality content. The more input that it gets, the better the output, so it refines and recalibrates until one day you wake up and your rankings are gone.
This could happen to marketers who don’t rethink what it means to create web content. Content is a long-term game, and all of your content is one song, not just a series of individual pages. Every piece you publish—even if it doesn’t rank—builds authority, identity, and trustworthiness on the domain level.
A successful SEO strategy should be about reinforcing your brand’s unique take over and over and over again. This builds authority and trust, in the eyes of Google and among your customers. Ultimately, you want to understand your readers’ pain points and create content that meets those needs. Do that, and you’ll most likely create quality content that reinforces your brand’s unique identity in the market—and in Google search.”
— Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Branding at Wix
7. It’s the end of fluff
“Over the last year, there’s been more focus on results and lead conversion. Business owners are super educated on the digital landscape, and they think, ‘if I can do it myself, why should I hire you?’ Business owners are also seeing people on Instagram and TikTok saying things like, ‘do X and you’ll see leads quickly.’
That means 2023 will be a year of fast, meaningful results. To thrive in this climate, you’ll need to be who you say you are. You’ll need winning strategies, because you’ll be in trouble if you can't do what you say you can do. People don't want fluff; they want transparency in reporting and robust strategies that lead to a clear return.
We’ve been really transparent about what we are good at versus what we are just okay with. We’ve left the ‘okay’ in the past, and we’re focused on our strengths and nothing else. Our clients have been way happier.”
— John Vagueiro, Founder of Adapting Social and Wix Partner
8. It’s the year of outsourcing. Get your agency ready.
“As companies reduce headcounts and reallocate internal resources, they’ll outsource more of their services, which presents an opportunity for agencies to score bigger clients. And as the freelance talent pool grows, agencies can easily scale their teams up or down depending on the project load, so they can better meet the demands of these clients.
To get your agency ready for 2023, you’ll need to work efficiently, plan ahead, and communicate well with your clients. This could mean templatizing repeatable projects like design patterns or code components, holding post-mortems to improve certain processes, and carving out dedicated time to do the work and dedicated time to brainstorm. Be sure to discuss 2023 goals and budgets with your clients, so you can plan accordingly and anticipate challenges.
Also remember that agency work is tangible and quantifiable, so highlight the value you’re bringing to a client’s business with regular reporting and analysis. Make sure your clients are in the loop on the steps you’re taking to move their business forward.
On that note, a lot of clients will be bogged down in the ‘now,’ so listen to their current business challenges, then make smart, economical recommendations for both the short-term and longer-term. Whether it’s security, SEO, data privacy or the metaverse, as the digital sphere gets more complicated, clients will depend on agencies to keep up with the changes, educate them on the relevant pieces, and evolve their own services to meet these shifting needs and requirements. If your clients start asking for a particular service you don’t offer, consider expanding to include it. Agencies that adopt advanced technologies and embrace the latest marketing trends will stay ahead of the curve.”
— Michal Bignitz, Head of Wix Partners
9. It’s a year for expansion
“It’s the year of agency expansion. That means expanding your methods, expanding your offerings and expanding the technology you use. This field is ever-changing and you need to keep up with current trends, algorithm shifts and changes to laws surrounding accessibility and privacy. It’s much more complex than designing a pretty website—although that’s still important!—and your agency needs to have a strong handle on all elements of establishing and growing an online presence. Websites are such a powerful tool for your clients.”
— Maddie McNamara, Partner at Socially Adept Solutions
By Kiera Carter
Editorial Director, Wix