In 2006 a software company called Hubspot launched a marketing automation platform designed to appeal to small to mid-size businesses. Along with the launch of the product, the company also evangelized a new way of marketing called “inbound marketing.” The philosophy has since gone mainstream, today you’d be hard-pressed to find a digital marketer who wasn’t applying an inbound marketing methodology to attract leads and customers.
But a lot has changed since 2006, today customers expect more from brands, and marketers have more powerful technology at their fingertips. To help marketers keep up with an ever-changing world, this article will review four inbound marketing trends to watch out for in 2018.
- Content personalization
Today consumers are used to engaging with brands that personalize content. Brands like Amazon and Netflix have created enormously valuable organizations because they are able to recommend experiences that customers are likely to enjoy.
According to an article by Evergage, 75 percent of buyers are more likely to work with organizations that personalize content. And thanks to a variety of technologies available to most businesses, digital marketers now have the ability to create personalized experiences across channels.
Tools like Optimizely and Adobe Experience Cloud allow brands to build websites that surface content depending on visitor behavior. That means marketers can display different content to different marketing personas. Tailored content can improve visitor to lead conversion rate, and can help to advance leads down the marketing funnel faster.
- Online resource centers
The state of search is changing. A report published in Search Engine Land found that the average number of organic search results per page has shrunk from 10 to 8.5. Search engine inbound marketing is changing too.
Savvy digital marketers understand that the way search engines rank pages has grown more sophisticated over time. Building content that is optimized for a handful of keywords won’t cut it anymore. Instead, search engines are capable of ranking content by topical relevance.
To create search engine optimized content, the best brands now build topic clusters, instead of writing to a few specific keywords. Clusters are resource centers where website visitors can find a variety of rich information about a specific topic. These clusters tend to earn prominent search engine rankings as opposed to one-off blog posts that can struggle to gain traction in a sea of similar content.
As a result, some digital marketers have decided to build resource centers as opposed to blogs. A resource center can include a blog, but it often also includes ebooks, videos, infographics, and webinars as well.
- Custom audience ads
For the first time in history, marketers spent more on digital advertising than on television advertising. This trend will likely continue since businesses of all sizes have the ability to use ad platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Adwords to connect with highly targeted audiences.
Speaking of targeting and content personalization, custom audience ads can be a powerful way for marketers to display contextual ads to members of a specific list. Both Facebook and LinkedIn (among other platforms) offer custom audience ads. To get started, marketers simply upload a list of contacts they want to target, and the platforms will match the emails provided to users.
Using custom audience ads, marketers can target contacts within particular stages of the inbound marketing funnel with relevant content to motivate audience members to take the next step in their customer journey.
- Data warehousing and visualization
Amazingly, the average marketing team uses nearly 100 cloud-based tools. Even Cisco, an outstanding organization with the ability to consolidate platforms uses nearly 40 marketing platforms. Since marketers have no choice but to use a variety of technologies to get the job done, connecting data to extract meaningful insights can be challenging. Few tools offer out of the box ample integrations, and most teams don’t have the ability to build on top of an open API.
That’s where data warehousing and data visualization come in. The best marketing teams connect the platforms that collect marketing data to a tool like a Segment, from there, marketers store their data in a warehouse like Amazon Redshift. Once all of the data is properly stores, world-class marketers visualize data in real-time reports using tools like Looker, Siesense or Tableau.
The need to develop a data-driven inbound marketing organization has never been more important. In order to create magical moments between brands and prospects, marketers must rely on data collection and analysis.
This year is slated to be an incredible year for marketers. Never before has the world of digital marketing been more accessible thanks to powerful and reasonably priced technology.
The best way for readers to stay ahead of the 2018 trends listed here, is by focusing on one trend at a time.
Identify the trend that will likely have the biggest impact on your business, and develop a strategy to implement best practices as soon as possible.
What trend will you choose to focus on this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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