The State of Inbound Marketing

Post written by Nate Vickery
On Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

The innovations in the field of inbound marketing were always about just one thing- staying competitive and being relevant to your target audience.

As the digital marketing landscape is evolving at an astonishing rate, both marketers and salespeople need to learn how to adapt to these changes to offer the utmost user experience.

To help us figure out how the online marketing industry is going to change in 2018, HubSpot has done the 2017 State of Inbound report. Simply put, this piece of content analyzes the connection between management and employees, the collaboration between marketing and sales departments, as well as the ways they’re formulating their strategies.

Here are a few crucial takeaways you need to be familiar with.

Analyzing Data is Still one of the Major Challenges

The report states that some of the major challenges marketers face are:

  • proving the ROI of their marketing practices
  • generating more traffic and leads
  • targeting content for their visitors
  • finding the right technologies for their needs
  • securing enough budget
  • managing their site

In other words, the majority of the problems they face are metrics-driven. And, without the use of proper tools, these areas will continue to be a problem.

To make the most of their online marketing strategy, marketers need to stay on top of the industry trends, monitor the changes in their customers’ buying habits, do competitor analysis, and track their overall business’ performance regularly. Only this way will they be able to make data-driven decisions.

However, keeping track of all KPIs relevant to your business doesn’t mean investing in multiple digital marketing tools. On the contrary, with the advance of reporting tools, they can have all their facts in front of them. Furthermore, they will be able to create their own digital marketing dashboard and keep track of only those metrics that are currently relevant to them.

The Marketing-Sales Alignment is Critical

The rise of marketing and sales automation tools keeps rising, giving us the opportunity to bridge the longstanding gap between marketing and sales. Yet, in many organizations, this problem isn’t solved yet.

The report points out that only 22% of marketers believe that their sales and marketing are tightly aligned, while 44% of them claim that their SLA is generally aligned. On the other hand, 11% marketers say that their marketing and sales are misaligned.

Even though better revenue is their mutual goal, these departments do business in different ways and rely on different metrics. While marketers focus on looking at the big picture, salespeople analyze each customer individually by their name, account, and preferences. As neither team has a clear insight into why and how their customers choose their products/services, this may often result in the overall confusion.

To prevent this problem, marketing and sales need to cooperate. Salespeople can provide their marketing counterparts with relevant data and insights into their customer behavior, allowing them to create more specific and relevant content, tailored to the preferences of their target audience.

The statistics HubSpot generated back me up, showing that that marketing and sales teams with tight alignment perform better. Namely, businesses with their marketing and sales teams in place are 3 times more likely to say their strategy is effective compared to those in misaligned organizations.

Future Trends: Focusing on New Content Formats

Traditionally, digital marketing was based on primary customer acquisition channels, such as websites and email, which were fully controlled by brands. However, today’s content has become highly decentralized. With the rise of social media marketing and various content publishing platforms, delivering the right content, to the right people, through the right channels has become more challenging to marketing specialists.

Videos are obligatory

As the content marketing is rising at an astonishing pace, readers’ demands have changed, as well. They require content to be relevant to them, engaging, and interactive. Precisely because of this, writing and promoting high-quality articles is not enough to grab their attention. To stay relevant and boost their rankings, content marketers need to adopt new, innovative forms of content and start implementing them as soon as possible.

For example, video marketing is already referred to as the future of content marketing. It represents a powerful, raw, and honest connection between a brand and a customer. Given this fact, it’s not surprising that marketers are paying more attention to the video’s global appeal. Namely, 48% of them are planning to invest in YouTube, while 39% wants to add Facebook video to their strategy.

The rise of AI, AR, and VR

There is a lot of buzz created around the concept of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality and their implementation with the digital marketing industry. They are exciting, engaging and, as such, they motivate users to complete purchases. Most importantly, they provide brands to make their products more approachable to users and build stronger relationships with them.

However, these technologies are still in their initial phase. Therefore, it’s difficult to clearly assess how they will impact digital marketing and how marketers will adapt to them.

When discussing this growing trend, digital marketers believe that:

  • It will open the door to the better adoption of big data.
  • Chatbots and similar technologies will take over repeatable tasks.
  • Artificial intelligence will enable automated content and facilitate the process of content creation.

Collecting Customer Data

To know what methods bring more traffic and sales, marketing teams need to constantly monitor and measure their customer behavior. Most importantly, they need to change their strategies in accordance with their customers’ feedback. Research shows that some of the most reliable sources of information are:

  • Word-of-mouth
  • Customer references
  • Media articles
  • Vendor-authored materials
  • Analyst reports
  • Salespeople

Another interesting finding is that salespeople are rated as the least influential source of information. This is a great opportunity for business owners to boost lowered customer expectations. For example, they could outfit your sales staff with some helpful data their target audience cannot find on social media or case studies. Most importantly, they need to give actionable tips and provide their target audience with personalized tips. If your salespeople become your customers’ trusted advisors, they will manage to establish themselves as trustworthy and to build better connections with customers

Social networks and instant messaging become more relevant

Did you know that your customers expect you to be available to them 27/7? To boost their experience with your brand and take your communication to the next level, you need to provide them with omnichannel communication.

But, what are the most preferred communication channels?

  • 86% of marketers believe that email marketing is the most powerful communication channel.
  • Traditional communication methods, like phone calls (56%) and face-to-face conversation (60%) remain important.
  • 40% of marketers labeled social networks as the most common social networking platforms they use. Furthermore, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Instagram are rated as the most effective, while Snapchat is still an uncharted area for the majority of businesses.
  • Instant messaging apps are gaining momentum as one of the most effective ways to provide customers with real-time feedback.

Overview

To stay relevant, businesses need to make their content more engaging by boosting their relevance and quality.

They also need to boost their productivity by aligning sales and marketing teams.

Most importantly, they need to keep pace with the latest online marketing trends and measure their performance regularly.

Unsurprisingly, this strategy will be constantly updated to keep up with the ever-growing inbound marketing landscape.

About the Author:
Nate M. Vickery is a business consultant and editor-in-chief at Bizzmarkblog.com. He has a degree in marketing and almost a decade of experience in company management through latest technology trends.

Posted in: Marketing

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