What You Need to Know About Inbound This Year
10 years ago, blogging was a highly effective inbound strategy in and of itself. Today, a brand needs videos, articles, social media and lead magnets just to stay competitive. It’s fair to say that inbound marketing moves quickly.
And guess what?
In 2017, things are already changing big-time. We don’t mean to be hypey, but the fact is that a combination of new technologies and evolving consumer behaviors is forcing inbound marketing to adapt.
The question is, do you want to learn what this year’s hottest inbound trends are going to be?
If the answer’s “yes”, then you’re in the right place. Make sure to read all the way through, because we’re about to cover all the main trends you need to know about this year. The first is…
Trend 1 – Virtual Reality Becomes a Real Thing
In the past, there was this stereotype that virtual reality requires expensive or complex equipment. Then Pokemon Go came out, offering users a V.R. game that required nothing but a modern smartphone…
And the world found itself rocked.
The game peaked at 25+ million daily active users, definitively showing us that V.R. is a viable technology that engages users like gangbusters.
Add to this the fact that 75% of Forbes’ most valuable brands investing in V.R., and you already know what’s about to happen. Virtual reality technology is already built into many everyday devices – and in 2017 we’re going to see marketers enrich their content with it. A lot.
Before you think, “oh, we don’t have the budget for that…”, consider this. Companies like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are finding low-tech ways to use V.R. in their marketing.
Specifically, McDonald’s helps customers turn cardboard boxes into smartphone-compatible V.R. glasses. Their V.R. marketing campaign doesn’t cost a fortune – and yours doesn’t have to, either.
Another trend we’re going to see plenty of this year is…
2. Interactive Content Everywhere
Did you know that one specific kind of content makes up 84% of Facebook’s social media shares? It’s crazy but true. Quizzes are that dominant over every other type of content.
Want another wild statistic? BuzzFeed – a website famous for its quizzes – sees a 96% completion rate from participants, which is incredible.
What these statistics tell you is that interactive content has incredible engagement potential. What they don’t tell you is how few “serious” businesses and B2B organizations are using them.
In fact, outside of some very savvy marketing teams – like the one behind blockbuster T.V. series, Walking Dead – few serious brands have any interactive content as of right now
In 2017, expect this to change as quizzes, interactive whitepapers, responsive infographics and contests spread across inbound marketing like wildfire.
Another thing you can expect? Lots of interactive mobile content, and here’s why.
3. Mobile Will Be #1
What this means is that mobile has displaced desktop as the main way users access content. Mobile isn’t a side-project, auxiliary strategy or the second-most important way to promote. It’s the main way users connect with inbound marketing.
If you want to stay competitive, accept this fact and adjust to it. For example – users spend 89% of their mobile media time in apps. If you don’t have one, you’re short-changing your inbound marketing efforts.
In the past, this was nice to know – but not critical. Today, it’s imperative that you stay abreast of information like this.
Fortunately, you don’t have to handle the mobile-to-desktop change on your own. In 2017, you’ll see help arrive in the form of…
4. Robots Will Help Your Marketing
If you’re a marketer, you may already know that an on-site live chat function improves lead generation by 400-800%. This is big because it allows you to convert inbound traffic into customers at a terrific clip.
The downside is that a live chat operator can be expensive. Even if you hire an overseas employee for, let’s say, $5 an hour, that’s still $100+/day to keep the Live Chat working at all times.
Or at least it was – until the ChatBots came along.
Yes; ChatBots are back, and this time they’re smart enough to convincingly pass for humans. One of them aced the Turing test last year. In the corporate world, 25 (!!!) ChatBot start-ups were highlighted by Venture Radar.
All of this indicated that ChatBots are about to enter the “mass adoption stage” – and help us convert inbound traffic better than ever before.
5. Quantity to Trump Quality. (Sometimes)
The story has long been that quality trumps volume when it comes to content. Now, folks are starting to have serious doubts – and here’s why.
In 2015, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. His content strategy? Make as many articles as possible – even if they’re not particularly good.
To this end, Bezos enlisted robots and low-quality writers to help write articles about things like – not kidding – Logan Dooley’s 11th place finish in the Olympic Men’s Trampoline event.
Washington Post currently publishes a new post every 1.2 minutes (that’s 1,200 per day). Soon after implementing this mass-content strategy, they beat the New York Post in online traffic for the first time ever.
This case study opens the door for mass content as a viable strategy. Quality’s still going to be important, but volume’s making a comeback – so expect to see more publishers release more content than ever before 2017.
6. Marketing Through Influencers
Influencer marketing isn’t new. What’s new is using it as an inbound strategy. In 2015 and 2016, we saw inbound enter users’ conversations outside traditional advertising channels – and we expect this trend to gain steam in the following year.
Here’s one example of brilliant inbound-influencer marketing. Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow on the Game of Thrones series, appears in a comedy bit where his character attends a contemporary dinner party.
The result? 12+ million YouTube views, countless shares and loads of inbound traffic (we assume).
Here’s another example, this time from the sports news industry. Lebron James’ news platform, Uninterrupted, features videos from multiple NBA players. This has allowed it to drive tens of thousands of views to its content without traditional advertising.
If that’s not an effective inbound strategy, then what is?
Yes, UNINTERRUPTED’s videos may not have millions of views… But considering this is long-tail content that isn’t marketed directly, the numbers really are staggering. Expect to see more influencers in inbound marketing in 2017!
Just don’t forget about two old friends that aren’t going anywhere in the near future.
7. Blogging and SEO
Inbound marketing is arguably the most effective way to promote – at least in the digital age. It’s also evolving extremely quickly, with webinars, quizzes and virtual reality content all about to make their mark in 2017.
That’s why it’s crucial to remind ourselves that the “bread and butter” tools of inbound – SEO and blogging – aren’t going anywhere, even if that’s how it feels on a gut level.
Let’s start with SEO. According to a HubSpot report, leads coming in from Google and Bing’s organic results converted at a whopping 15% rate. Meanwhile, up to 80% of all users ignore paid ads in search engines. This means SEO is indispensable – and will continue to be that way.
The same goes for blogging. Yes, it’s been around for ages… But companies that publish an average 4 blog posts per week still get 350% more traffic than those who don’t.
In other words, the biggest trend for 2017 is that your old favorite tools aren’t going anywhere. SEO and blogging will continue to be a major part of effective inbound marketing – even as high-tech solutions become available.
To summarize, let’s go over the 7 inbound marketing trends you can expect in 2017:
- Virtual Reality Becomes a Thing
- Interactive Content Explodes
- Mobile Becomes Bigger than Desktop
- ChatBots Improve Your Inbound Marketing
- Quantity Matches Quality in Importance
- Influencers Become a Big Part of Inbound
- Blogging and SEO Remain Crucial
That’s a lot of change – but in a way, inbound marketing is going to stay the same as it’s ever been.
It’s still all about reaching out to your potential customers with content that they want and need. It’s still about using every tool at your disposal to engage website visitors and nurture your leads.
It’s just that now, companies are starting to do what they’ve always done with robots, virtual reality technology, and complex interactive content.
The question is, what does all of this mean for your company?
That’s the real question here – because technologies like V.R. may be more accessible, but still far out of reach for the average business.
Fortunately, the answer is simple.
All it means is that you should continue to do the best inbound marketing you can with an eye on trends that can – and will – eventually change your industry.
And to help you do just that, below you can download our Free PDF with 7 Ways to Make High-ROI Content Quickly. It may not feature robots, but it will make you significantly more effective at using what you already have in your inbound strategy.