One of the great things about business in general, and marketing in particular, is that things are always changing - in a good way, of course. There are always new ideas, new technologies, and new twists on existing ideas and technologies that make it necessary for marketers to be in almost constant learning mode. Here are 5 important inbound marketing trends for 2017 that, if acted on, will keep you ahead of the pack in your industry or niche:
Like a hammer to the carpenter, Facebook has long been a standard tool for inbound marketers; but there will be even more to using Facebook in 2017 and beyond. Namely, the use of search. Facebook search now returns any content that is accessible to users based on their privacy settings. That includes public posts from all users, not just the user's friends. This feature makes Facebook a formidable alternative to Twitter and Google for real-time news search, fake news notwithstanding. Inbound marketers can leverage Facebook's search feature by incorporating keywords and phrases in their posts to attract more readers, followers and, ultimately, leads.
OK, video is nothing new in the inbound world either. But, continuing the carpenter metaphor, video is essential to marketing like blueprints are to the carpenter. Digiday reported that 85% of Facebook video viewers watch videos without sound. It's reasonable to assume that a similar percentage of videos viewers on other outlets watch video sans sound. What does that mean to marketers? Well, maybe you should consider creating silent movies in lieu of talkies. Of course, that presents some challenges in articulating a marketing message. But it's easier than you might think. Another option is to create videos with sound, but that can be just as easily understood with the sound turned off.
When most people hear the word bot, they think of things like those emails that open with "Dear John Smith" because the autoresponder automatically pulled your name from a database populated through the online form you filled out - and later regretted. But things have changed. The bot we're referring to hear is artificial intelligence (AI). There may be no single digital marketing trend greater than AI. Whether you're curating content, optimizing headlines for search, or targeting Facebook or other ads, AI can help maximize the effectiveness of these activities and others. That will free up your time to do the stuff that AI can't do - yet.
Oddly enough, in the "old days" marketing and sales departments didn't always get along. Sales types complained that the marketing department wasn't supplying enough highly qualified leads, while marketers grumbled that the salespeople weren't closing enough sales from the great leads they provided. What a waste of time and energy. In today's world of inbound marketing, companies are beginning to understand that marketing and sales is really a joint process, and that sales enablement is integral to that process.
Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that gives salespeople the ability to systematically and consistently have valuable conversations (from the customer's perspective) with the right decision makers at each stage of the customer's problem-solving cycle to optimize the return on investment in the selling system. Of course, with the main topic of conversation here being inbound marketing, the natural fit in terms of sales enablement is to implement an inbound sales strategy.
Data and Analytics
In case you don't already know this, data isn't just about the numbers and it doesn't stop when you've reported your website visitors, social followers, and conversions. To get and stay ahead of the pack in 2017, you must dig deeper into the data you're collecting and look for areas where you can improve. By converting your data into insights, you'll be better positioned to improve your overall marketing strategy.
Just as technology and the internet are continually changing, so too does the way people buy. And, although it's still the gold standard of marketing, inbound continues to evolve. Much of that evolution centers around improving how we use current ideas and technologies. We invite you to share what you're doing to update your inbound strategy in the comments section below.
For more information on how inbound marketing can help grow your business, send us a note or call us at Small Dog Creative 661-702-1310!