6 Predictions For What 2018 Will Bring To Inbound Marketing

Post written by Erin Durham, Waypost Veep
On Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

There are a couple of cool things that tend to happen at the end of the year… Lots of food gets eaten,  lots of shopping gets done, and you get a chance to reflect on everything that happened over the past year. This reflection inevitably leads to looking ahead to the next year — and hopefully, getting our thoughts aligned as to what we need to work on and what direction our companies are going to be growing in.

In order to figure out what work we need to accomplish in 2018, it’s helpful to have some ideas of what changes are happening in our industry. After attending INBOUND17 in Boston, I’ve got some ideas about what 2018 is shaping up to look like:

1. GROWTH is going to be the main focus.

Rather than focusing on lead generation, content production, or even sales enablement, the tone for 2018 is going to be a much more holistic one focused around high-level business growth. ROI, important as ever, will be looked at from a big-picture view, and each tactic will be looked at as a piece of that, as opposed to the conversations we currently have, which tend to revolve around the ROI of each tactic or set of tactics individually.

2. Technical factors are beginning to have a huge impact on search engine rankings.

What we call “Tech SEO” is packing a heavier punch than it has in years. This refers specifically to the crawlability of your site, as well as its overall health. Now more than ever, it’s vital to ensure that your site navigation is well organized and structured so that Google’s bots can crawl every page of your site, that your site is modern and mobile friendly, and that your on-page SEO factors are on point.

3. Search engines value intent over keywords.

This is something that’s been in the wind for a couple of months now, but it means some significant changes in the way that we market. It isn’t 2007 anymore and the days of obsessing over keywords are officially over. Content marketing now means creating content clusters centered around targeted topics. The idea is that you have a pillar page with general content about the targeted topic. The cluster content is then cross-linked to the pillar page, so search engines understand what goes where. This leads us to our next point…

4. Better content is better than more content.

This is related to the new trend in search engine algorithms. Content marketing is still important, as the search engines still value keeping your site updated, but the emphasis is shifting toward better, stronger content… and to some degree, less of it. 

This makes sense to me. We’ve talked on our blog about the struggle to stand out to users who are constantly inundated with marketing material all day long. It makes sense to use your resources of time and energy to create more targeted content in more pleasing, easier-to-digest formats rather than simply churning out a high volume of blog content. 

5. Video marketing is the new black.

In keeping with the shifting focus on better, stronger content, video marketing is now no longer optional. HubSpot says specifically that “People don’t want to just read content anymore. They want immersive video experiences.” In order to market competitively in 2018, you must be using video.

Fortunately, new platforms are emerging to challenge the outdated [and greedy] marketing model that YouTube has been pushing us all toward, and the leader of this pack is clearly Wistia. With playback quality, analytics capability, and customer service that are simply unparalleled, Wistia is turning video marketing from a frustrating hassle to a real pleasure.

6. Artificial Intelligence is going to revolutionize marketing.

The technology that is used today on a global scale has led to the evolution of the way people seek help from the companies they choose to buy from. While phone-centric communication (read: call centers) are not yet a thing of the past, more and more, consumers are happier with having their questions answered by artificial intelligence.

As such, chatbots are exploding onto the customer-service scene, and the perks are self-evident. You can get answers to your questions whenever you happen to want them, regardless of “customer service hours”; you don’t run the risk of struggling through a painful conversation with an unintelligible accent who clearly doesn’t understand your questions; and you don’t have to suffer through high-pressure sales techniques from someone whose job depends on meeting a quota.

But artificial intelligence isn’t just going to be limited to customer service environments. In 2018 we’re going to start to see its emergence in marketing and consumer research as well. AI is going to enable us to reach our clients’ target market where they are. Marketers will be able to deliver the information consumers need in the way that they expect it. AI is going to open up completely new avenues of communication in 2018 and in the years to come.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year, and I’m looking forward to watching how this exciting innovation changes the landscape of this industry.

About the Author:
I'm the Vice President of Waypost Marketing, a digital marketing agency based out of Greenville, SC. When I'm not spinning the plates of marketing and parenting, I'm dreaming about my next travel adventure.

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