What You Need to Know About Inbound This Year
10 years ago blogging was a highly effective inbound marketing and sales strategy. Today, a brand needs more; a brand needs sparkling video, informative and interesting articles, quirky social media content, and ever-changing, vibrantly imaginative lead magnets in the attempt to remain competitive. It’s a lot to take in, but the truth is, inbound marketing moves quickly. Very quickly.
Things are forever changing, big-time. A combination of new technologies and ever evolving consumer behaviour is forcing the hand of inbound marketing to adapt even further. Sometimes it can feel like too much, just trying to stay in the loop. But, we all know one important thing; burying your head in the sand gets you nowhere.
But, try not to despair, we’re here to offer you a heads-up on this year’s hottest inbound trends? So, sit back and make sure to read the whole way through, because we’re about to reveal all the main trends you need to be aware of in the coming year.
Trend 1 – Virtual Reality Becomes a Real Thing
In the past, there was a notion that virtual reality requires expensive or complex equipment. But, that was before Pokemon Go appeared on the scene, offering users a virtual reality game requiring nothing more than an internet connection and a modern smartphone. Welcome to the future.
The game peaked at 25+ million active daily users, definitively demonstrating the fact that virtual reality is now a reality, a viable technology, engaging customers like never before.
Add to this the fact that 75% of Forbes’ most valuable brands are already actively investing in virtual reality, and we guess you know what that means for the future. Virtual reality technology is already built into many everyday devices, and in the coming year we’re going to see marketers enrich their content by means of this exciting new medium. A lot.
Before you think, “oh, we don’t have the budget for that…”, consider this. Companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are finding low-tech means of employing virtual reality in their current marketing strategies.
Specifically, McDonald’s are helping customers turn cardboard boxes into smartphone-compatible virtual reality glasses. Their virtual reality marketing campaign doesn’t cost a fortune, and yours doesn’t have to either.
Here’s another trend we’re going to see a lot more of…
2. Interactive Content Everywhere
Did you know that one particular kind of content makes up 84% of Facebook’s social media shares? It’s crazy, but true. The humble quiz.
Want another wild statistic? BuzzFeed – a website famous for its quizzes – boasts an incredible 96% completion rate from participants. Who wouldn’t like that?
What these statistics reveal is that interactive content offers off-the-scale engagement potential. What the statistics don’t tell you is how few ‘serious’ businesses, and B2B organisations, are actively utilising them to their best advantage.
In fact, outside of some very discerning marketing teams – like the one behind the blockbuster T.V. series, Walking Dead – few have any interactive content at present.
In the coming year expect this to change dramatically, as quizzes, interactive whitepapers, responsive infographics and contests spread like wildfires across the plains of inbound marketing.
And, here’s another thing you can expect? An inundation of interactive mobile content, and here’s why.
3. Mobile Will Be #1
What this means is that mobile has displaced the desktop as the principal manner in which users access and interact with content. Take this on board. Mobile isn’t just a side-project; nor is it an auxiliary strategy or the secondary option. Mobile is the main means by which users connect and interact with inbound marketing.
If you want to stay competitive accept this fact and adjust accordingly. For example; users spend 89% of their mobile media time in apps. If you don’t have one, you’re short-changing your inbound marketing efforts.
In the past, information like this was nice to know, but not critical. Today, it’s imperative that you stay tuned-in and abreast of game-changing information like this.
Fortunately, you don’t have invest valuable time personally overseeing and handling this mobile-to-desktop change. In the coming year, you’ll see help arrive in the form of…
4. Robots Will Help Your Marketing
Firstly, no, not those robots!
If you’re a marketer, you may already know that an on-site, live chat function improves lead generation by as much as 400-800%. This is real news. Adding live chat functionality potentially allows you to convert your inbound traffic into actual customers, at a pace previously unimaginable.
The downside is that a live chat operator can be expensive. Even if you hire an overseas employee – for let’s say, $5 an hour – that’s still $100+/day to keep the live chat function actionable at all times.
Or at least it was – until the ChatBot came along.
Yes; ChatBots are back, and this time they’re smart enough to convincingly pass for humans. One of them aced the Turing test last year. In the corporate world, 25 (!!!) ChatBot start-ups were highlighted by Venture Radar.
This dramatically indicates that ChatBots are about to enter the ‘mass adoption stage’, helping you to convert inbound traffic better, and more profitably than ever before.
5. Quantity to Trump Quality. (Sometimes)
The story has long been that quality trumps volume when it comes to content. Recently, it seems, some people are starting to have serious doubts, and here’s why.
In 2015, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. His content strategy? Produce as many articles as possible – even if they’re not particularly good. Ouch!
To fulfill this strategy Bezos enlisted robots and low-quality writers to create content concerning topics, such as – this is not a joke – Logan Dooley’s 11th place finish in the Olympic Men’s Trampoline event.
The Washington Post currently publishes a new post every 1.2 minutes (that’s a staggering 1,200 per day). Soon after implementing this mass-content strategy, Bezos’ publication beat the New York Post, hands down, in online traffic, for the first time ever.
The premise of this case study opens the door for mass content as a viable strategy. Don’t get me wrong, quality will remain hugely important, especially high quality, but volume is making headway. In the future it’s expected that you will see more publishers release more content than ever before.
6. Marketing Through Influencers
Influencer marketing isn’t a new phenomenon. What is new is using it as an inbound strategy. In the very recent past, we saw ‘inbound’ enter users’ conversations outside of traditional advertising channels, and we fully expect this trend to gain momentum into the future.
Here’s a prime example of some brilliantly executed inbound-influencer marketing. Kit Harrington – the actor who plays Jon Snow on the Game of Thrones series – appears in a comedy clip where his character attends a contemporary dinner party.
The results, along with being hilarious, led to 12+ million YouTube views, countless shares and a surge in inbound traffic (we assume).
Take another example, this time from the sports news industry. Uninterupted – the sports news platform of professional basketball star, Lebron James – features videos from multiple NBA players, driving tens of thousands of views to its content, outside of traditional advertising routes.
If that’s not an effective inbound strategy, then what is?
Uninterupted’s videos may not have solicited millions of view, but keeping in mind that it was designed as a long-tail content strategy, the numbers really are staggering. In the future you can expect to see many more influencers involved in the world of inbound marketing.
Together with what we’ve just said about change, there are two long established industry stalwarts who have no intention of going anywhere, at least not in the near future.
7. Blogging and SEO
Inbound marketing is arguably the most effective means of promoting your product or service – at least in the digital age. With continually evolving strategies involving webinars, quizzes and virtual reality content all about to make their mark, we shouldn’t forget the ‘bread and butter’ tools of successful inbound marketing. SEO and Blogging have no intention of going anywhere in a hurry – no matter how it may feel at gut level.
Let’s start with SEO. According to a HubSpot report, leads emanating from Google and Bing’s organic results, converted at a whopping 15% rate. Meanwhile, up to 80% of all users ignore paid ads in search engines. The conclusion is that SEO is indispensable – and will continue in that vein.
The same goes for blogging. Around for a long time as a means of promotion and marketing, many may get the impression that this dog has had its day. But, the fact remains that companies who publish an average of 4 blog posts per week still manage to garner 350% more traffic than those who don’t.
In other words, the biggest news for the coming year is simply this; favourites are going nowhere. SEO and blogging will continue to be a major part of effective inbound marketing – even as more and more high-tech solutions become available.
To summarize, let’s go over the 7 inbound marketing trends you can expect in the coming year:
- Virtual Reality Becomes a Thing
- Interactive Content Explodes
- Mobile Becomes Bigger than Desktop
- ChatBots Improve Your Inbound Marketing
- Quantity Matches Quality in Importance
- Influencers Become a Big Part of Inbound
- Blogging and SEO Remain Crucial
That’s a lot of change – but in a manner, inbound marketing is going to remain pretty much the same as it’s ever been.
The main function is still about reaching out to your potential customers with content that they want and need. It’s still about using every weapon in your arsenal to engage website visitors and nurture your leads.
What’s changing, is that companies are doing what they’ve always done, but now, they’re employing new weaponry, like robots, virtual reality technology, and complex interactive content.
The big question is this; what does it all mean for your company?
Technologies like virtual reality may indeed be much more accessible, but for now they remain far out of reach for the average business.
However, in reality, all that means is you should continue to practice the best inbound marketing strategies available to you, while keeping an eye on the evolving trends which can, and will, eventually change your industry.
And to help you do just that, below you can download our Free PDF with 7 Ways to Make High-ROI Content Quickly. It may not feature robots, but it will make you significantly more effective at using the tools you already possess in your inbound strategy.