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Top 3 Digital Marketing Trends in 2023 With Paula McLean

Top 3 Digital Trends in 2023-Dorks Delivered

What’s new in digital marketing this year? What digital marketing trends will have the most impact? What are the biggest digital marketing mistakes to avoid in 2023?


Paula McLean is the founder and director of PAK Digital, a boutique marketing group. She started her career more than 20 years ago when businesses had to rely on traditional media for marketing, which often came with big price tags.

Digital marketing was a game changer. Now, every single business, no matter how big or small, can leverage digital platforms to build its brand credibility at a foundation level and ultimately generate more leads and revenue.

That’s why we invited Paula, who is passionate about marketing specifically within the digital space, to join Business Built Freedom With Joshua Lewis and talk about digital marketing trends and mistakes to avoid in 2023. Make sure you’re doing it right and you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Listen to the podcast or scroll down to read the top digital marketing tips from Paula McLean.


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1. Data-Driven Digital Marketing

In 2023, Paula McLean says we’re going to see some big changes in the digital marketing industry. There’s a third-party data strategy that will be impacting businesses as we move into 2024.

Google has announced that they will stop the use of third-party cookies in Chrome in 2024. Google is one of the biggest players, but there are other players and they already implemented privacy policies to protect the privacy of users.

From the user perspective, users no longer have to worry about being watched. From the marketing perspective, we will no longer be able to look at and leverage the cookies from other websites. This means we’re not going to be able to see what users do on the websites of other businesses. You will still see the user behaviour on your website and you can still look at your analytics through Google Analytics.

This may not heavily impact the small business sector because a lot of small businesses are not even utilising third-party cookies at present. If you are, you need to start creating a first-party data strategy this year. You need to generate more users to your website and give them a good user experience (UX).

We need to be smarter about the way we are implementing our strategies. Think about the fundamentals of how your users are navigating your website and capture those contact details. Have a lead magnet and make sure your contact information is easily accessible in the header of your website.


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2. Black Hat SEO Still Falls Under Don’ts

Black hat SEO is when you target organic search using techniques that Google and other search engines don’t favour, such as link building with websites that are not associated with your business at all just to get as many backlinks as possible.

Back in the day, black hat SEO was really big and then Google made sure that you’re not using some naughty techniques to market your website. Google keeps changing the algorithm, which is always so much fun.

Now, the majority of SEO strategists that are worth their weight and gold are only using white hat techniques. It’s definitely worth just following the best practices and making sure that you engage someone who’s definitely giving you a full set of what their strategies are.


Content Is Still King

All Google wants is for users to have a fantastic experience. When someone searches for something, Google wants it to be relevant, fast, and easy.

If your website is not fast, if it’s not easy, and it doesn’t give a fantastic UX, then it doesn’t matter how great it is. Google will notice and eventually change the algorithm to make sure that your site is ranking where it should be.


It’s All About the End User

If you’re always thinking about the end user and you just put up relevant, easy to understand content onto your website, Google will relish your website and you won’t face too many problems even if they change their algorithms. At the end of the day, frequent and relevant content is what’s important for Google.


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3. Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Marketing Strategy - Dorks DeliveredAutomation is going to be a game changer in 2023. Paula predicts that the artificial intelligence (AI) part of marketing is going to be absolutely huge in the next decade. She shares, “We’re actually building landing pages that are AI-based and -led, which is really exciting. It takes A/B testing to the next level.” 

A/B testing is where you’re comparing one marketing component to another. For example, you can have the same copy on your landing page but two users will see a different heading, helping you determine which of the two headings work best in terms of engagement or conversion.


Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing is where you would utilise something such as a chatbot on your website. Before, users could have a conversation with someone from your staff through live chat on your website. Now, we’re seeing AI-based chatbots that are literally learning based on the conversations they’re having on websites.

However, chatbots can get confused (we’ve all talked to chatbots that just had no clue what we’re trying to ask).

You could differentiate yourself in your industry by implementing an AI-to-human led chatbot on your website. If the AI gets a bit of trouble or gets confused and miserable, it passes the conversation to a human agent.

It makes the UX better, which we all want to do for our customers and website visitors. It also frees up resources but allows your team to engage with your website visitors on a much more personable level. It’s one of the best examples of AI complementing the human element.


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AI-Created Marketing Visuals

AI can also be used to create an image that’s never existed before. For example, if you want a blue apple sitting on a bunch of strawberries, you can write that in and AI comes up with a unique image. You can just type whatever you want to create and forget the sites that charge you for stock images that others can also use.

Fear of Technology 

Paula thinks a lot of small businesses have been really scared to use technology, particularly artificial intelligence. There’s been a lot of concern especially on the cost of tools but now we’re at a point where technology has become very affordable for almost every business, no matter the size.

If you’re on a platform like WordPress, Shopify or Squarespace, you can integrate apps and plugins quite easily without spending thousands of dollars on the integration. It’s something simple that could generate so much more revenue for small businesses.

You can’t be scared of new technologies. Everyone was probably scared of the car when they had the horse and then they’re scared of the electric car. Now gas cars may be phased out over the next few decades.

Embrace technology! If you’re not going to be uptaking things like automation and chatbots, your competitors will and the UX will be better for their clients. And then your clients will become their clients.


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Bonus: How To Know If You Are Getting Ripped Off?

Google and social media advertising can be done really well or really poorly. As a business owner, you need to have a base level of knowledge across all areas so you can make sure that people aren’t ripping you off and you’re not spending money on fairy dust.

Even if social media advertising is not your strongest suit, you still want to understand the difference between spending $3,000 a month with someone and spending $300 a month with someone else from overseas.

If you’re looking to engage anyone to do social media advertising for you, ask about:

  • the experience of every single team member
  • industry-specific results supported by data from previous campaigns
  • previous clients

Paula shares, “We’ve had a client recently who was trying to come on board but they couldn’t get out of the contract that they’ve been locked into for six months, which it’s really tricky so be really careful. Generally, four weeks is pretty standard within the industry. If someone is asking for locking contracts, that’s definitely a red flag.”

Another red flag across any digital marketing account is when the marketer is actually holding the key to your front door—they’re running the ads through their accounts. They should not be doing that. Marketers should be running your ads through your Facebook account and your Google Ads account.

If you part ways with them, that’s still your intellectual property. And if another marketer has to jump in and actually help you out, they will have all the analytics and data they need to actually get you on track.

Even with IT services, we see it all too often. Businesses don’t have control of their digital assets or don’t understand where they’re at. So one of the first things we do for new clients is we document everyone’s processes so that we can see where things are at. If someone’s hit by a bus, what details would they have in their head and who is the next in charge? So when outsourcing your digital marketing, make sure that any Google Ads or analytics are all running through your own accounts that you have access to.


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Have Realistic Expectations

When it comes to digital marketing, sometimes business owners’ expectations can be different to what the future or the actual process is. Keep in mind that the return on investment depends on what the marketing activity is.


When Can You Expect to See ROI From Your Marketing Spend

Website builds are pretty straightforward so you can be very strict about deadlines. If you’re doing an organic campaign where you’ve got a website, social media and your messaging, it needs to be super sharp, polished, up to date and ready to go before you can do any other marketing.

Some websites just need optimisation or stronger calls to action. Perhaps you haven’t established a unique selling proposition and you’ve just said you’re the best, but what are you the best at and why? Why should people trust you?

It’s important to have your foundation. Building that foundation could take a month, three months or six months depending on the state of your website, your social media, and how much market research is actually required to determine what your brand positioning needs to be. That’s a foundation-level strategy.


Lower your IT spend and boost your efficiency at the same time. Turn IT into utility!


When it comes to ads, you may want to see conversions on Day 1. However, you can definitely have visibility on the first day but as far as conversions, it will be specific to competition and industry.

For a managed service provider like Dorks Delivered, going for standard short keywords such as “IT Support Brisbane” on AdWords will cost $55 to $60 a click while other businesses in other industries such as hair and makeup have to spend only $2 or $3 a click. That’s such a big swing to be able to give some of the same answer.

Paula added, “It will also depend on your location. If you’re a hairdresser based in Sydney, there’s going to be a lot more competition.”

In addition, Google Ads has so much AI going on in the background where it’s learning what is really important. Even though marketers can run ads on Day 1, you might not see phone calls straight away because Google Ads generally has a two-week learning phase before you can actually get any kind of data that is worth looking at.

It can take months to optimise campaigns and accounts to a point where we’re actually reaching that return on investment. We need to understand audiences and refine the ad copy. There’s a lot that goes into the process.


Paula McLean

Paula McLean helps small and medium sized businesses grow enormously and achieve targets that they thought weren’t possible. She combines a strategic approach with her extensive knowledge and experience in marketing to achieve the best possible results for her clients.

PAK Digital is a boutique marketing group. They can be your onshore team who will work within your business with you. It’s like having an in-house marketing team!


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What Is Business Built Freedom for Paula?

“Business freedom is definitely flexibility and being able to do what you want on your own terms and your own time but then still producing great results…I think everyone understands that after we’ve gone through Covid, flexibility is absolutely key. I know within our business, all of our strategists have a great deal of flexibility with their schedules as well.”

– Paula McLean, PAK Digital

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