Marketing is a constantly evolving industry, in large part due to rapid technological advances. It’s important to stay ahead of the curve to keep your business relevant. Stay up to date on the latest inbound marketing trends, platforms and opportunities to connect with customers in new ways that cut through the clutter.
What is inbound marketing?
Before we dive into this year’s inbound marketing trends, let’s talk about exactly what inbound marketing is. Inbound marketing is high-quality, informative content that draws people into your brand without being pushy or salesy. It’s all about providing value by answering questions people have about your industry and company.
The resources you create as part of your inbound marketing strategy should be closely related to your company’s product or service. These users aren’t buying right this second, but they may be great leads that will convert in the near future.
This Year’s Inbound Marketing Trends
1. User Experience
Inbound marketing’s primary purpose is to answer questions about your industry and brand. In the past, quick blog posts were enough to satisfy users (and search engines). Now, general blog posts litter the internet. Your business needs in-depth, high-quality content to stand out.
Notice we didn’t just say you need high-quality blog posts. Different users enjoy different types of content when learning. Creating content that directly speaks to your potential customers means high-quality images, social media posts, videos, podcasts and blog posts.
Mass marketing is long gone. Now, potential customers are looking for messages that are tailored specifically to them. Emails that use your first name, chatbots that know you already visited a page and social media responses that address concerns have the power to delight users. Ignoring these touches can not only put you behind the competition, it can actually take you out of consideration completely.
User experience also includes technical elements that make your website easier to use. A secure, mobile-friendly and quick site is essential in 2019.
HubSpot claims that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers and that 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Video marketing draws its viewers in and keeps them longer, even more so than imagery. Why? It’s intriguing, rich content that readers (and therefore search engine algorithms) enjoy. If you are looking to engage your audience and convert more leads, video is the way to go.
As the popularity of video increases, it’s no surprise that the platforms that support video continue to grow as well. Video can boost performance on social media, where it is favored by algorithms. Live video (great for brand-building behind the scenes footage and special events) is also an option on social platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Video can boost organic search performance because it keeps viewers on your pages longer, signaling to search engines that users find your information helpful. A variety of content, including videos, on your pages helps you communicate with website visitors in the way they’re most interested in.
Your marketing is more powerful when each of your strategies, both on- and off-line, work together to connect with customers. Integrating inbound marketing with social media, paid advertising and public relations will help each of these channels reach its full potential.
This year, coordinate your SEO content calendar with your social media calendar, identifying holidays or special events that your strategies should be especially aligned. The same is true of any public relations campaigns your company is planning.
When you create content designed to capture organic traffic, make sure you’re not running any paid search campaigns that could compete with your new blog post or video in the search results. Create a plan for SEO and paid search campaigns that complement each other, rather than competing.
Email is a powerful tool for delivering inbound marketing to potential customers. A monthly newsletter can include exclusive offers, as well as recent articles from your website and images from your Instagram feed.
We’ve already talked about data as a general marketing trend. Of course, data is also of increasing importance in inbound marketing. As strategies become more diverse and interwoven with other marketing tools, it’s important to document how inbound marketing tactics are helping you meet goals and build your business.
Data allows you to identify how to allocate your budget. As social media and search engine algorithms change, your blog posts or videos may not reach as many viewers as they once did on their own. When you know how inbound marketing helps you capture leads and sell products, you can better identify how much you can spend to promote content or work with influencers.
Analyzing data also helps business owners and marketers continually experiment and optimize. This could mean email send times, Instagram hashtags or blog post calls to action.
Video and podcasts (as well as other types of social media and content marketing) are ideal platforms to harness the power of influencers. Today’s savvy consumers trust honest reviews over ads. Take advantage of this preference by partnering with YouTubers, bloggers and podcasters with loyal followers already interested in the type of product you’re selling.
To make the most of your investment in influencer marketing, incorporate the content influencers generate into each of your inbound channels.
With more marketing channels than ever before available to companies, automation is an important tool. Automation saves inbound marketers time, helps them create personalized experiences and moves users into the next step of the customer journey.
Email automations, including welcome campaigns, monthly newsletters and abandoned cart messages provide value to your leads on an ongoing basis. Social media and chatbots are also easy to automate. Prescheduled posts and welcome messages make it easy to engage viewers without constantly responding to messages and posting updates.
Data collection and analytical reporting can be automated to give your team more time to focus on creating and refreshing content.
7. Brand Building
Inbound marketing’s informal, informational tone, along with the fact that it’s rarely salesy, is perfect for building your brand. Keep potential customer’s view of your business positive by responding to comments (even the negative ones), interacting with customers, sharing user-generated content and committing to transparency.
Authenticity is essential. Create content that makes sense for your company and feature real-life customers. Work with influencers who regularly use your products and will work hard to feature them in a natural way.