No matter the industry you're in, the solutions you sell, or the audience you target, every brand investing in a stronger online presence needs to utilize the power of inbound marketing.
But even with this said, inbound marketing is nothing new. The potential that comes with implementing inbound marketing tactics has hit the mainstream, resulting in fiercer competition that forces digital marketer's to get creative and rebuild their strategy.
Competitors are racing to create the most engaging content possible for their audience, but with everyone clawing for the consumer's attention, how do you stand out from the herd while remaining relevant and staying competitive?
Luckily, the solution is simple! Your brand needs to be readily aware of the constantly changing direction of inbound marketing trends. Here are five inbound marketing trends to track in 2016 to help maximize your online marketing ROI and make the most of your SEO strategy.
1. Interactive Storytelling Reigns Supreme
Last year inbound marketing saw a rise in the number of brands creating and implementing interactive, story-based content. The dynamics of online marketing are shifting towards creating content that immediately grabs the reader's attention and holds their interest.
This is where interactive storytelling takes the wheel.
Stories stick with people. Stories capture the imagination. They're full of knowledge, helpful information and stir emotions. According to the Community Coordinator of Impact Branding and Design, storytelling is one the most effective ways to develop deeper connections with an audience.
Expect to see more storytelling from major companies in the coming year, and expect it to contain interactive elements that keep the reader engaged. A good example of interactive storytelling is Dos Equis' virtual reality video of a Halloween-themed masquerade party published on their Youtube channel in October.
Start creating content that is more dynamic, creative, simple, and most importantly, gets your audience involved. Use stories to solve the consumer's problems, make the content about them without directly letting them know about it.
Start using interactive content elements to help people connect and stick with your ideas, such as: quizzes, questionnaires, infographics, videos, assessments, graders, checkers, and of course, fiction and non-fictional story ideas that help push your point and engage the audience .
2. The Rise of User-Generated Content
These days, anything that is of remote importance receives an acronym, and User-Generated Content (UGC) is no different. User-Generated Content became a hot inbound marketing topic in 2015, and expect its use by brands small and large to continue to rise in the coming years.
A good example of a major brand harnessing the power of User-Generated Content is Starbucks' White Cup Contest they launched back in mid 2014. The contest idea was simple but very effective: Starbucks challenged its customers to design their white coffee cups with their own personal artwork, where customers would then take a picture of the cup and show it off on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.
This User-Generated Content tactic not only gave the company an endless supply of free social media content, but it also drove significant traffic to their other social media outlets and their official website.
Expect UGC within inbound marketing strategies to be even more prominent in the coming years. Research conducted by go.crowdtap.com found that millennial's spend around 30% of their daily media time engaged with brands using UGC.
Utilize User-Generated Content by creating personable reviews, use pictures of products taken by your customers, engage in the comments section of your blog and be very active on social media. UGC has the ability to improve brand awareness and increase customer engagement.
3. Search Beyond Google
No one can argue with the fact that Google has been the king of searching and finding information since the inception of the internet, but what happens when 'search' becomes synonymous across social media platforms?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are already making huge strides in improving the way their search function delivers information to its users, so your social media presence needs to be ready to take advantage of an influx of new social media fans and followers.
Brands who will benefit the most from Google-esque social media platforms are companies who sell their services directly through their social media pages, which is becoming commonplace on Facebook, and more specifically by e-commerce stores. Enticing Buy Now buttons and offering multiple payment options is a step in the right direction, but all-in-all just be ready to capture more leads and make more sales through social media.
4. Content Tailored to Wearable Tech Users
As our technological abilities improve, so does the demand for wearable tech, and thus, the demand for a more personalized and memorable experience within those gadgets.
Google Glass, the iWatch and FitBits are just the tip of the iceberg, and optimizing your brand and its content for these mediums is a must in the coming years. Google Glass and wearable technology in general is changing the way we look at inbound marketing, and so failing to be properly prepared for these changes can have a negative impact on your brand's consumer reach.
There will be a strong demand for a higher quality user experience designed to fit these micro screens. Try to create more short-form, user-friendly content for the gadget lovers. If you thought the smartphone user hopped around too much, the wearable tech user is likely to set a new standard for the term 'click happy.'
5. The Return of Email Marketing
Back in 2009, the Wall Street Journal published a piece called "Email No Longer Rules". The result was a flurry of online marketer's parroting the inevitable death of email marketing.
But by now we should already know that email marketing never really died. It may have gone through a drought-like period consisting of people cleaning out their inboxes and unsubscribing from over-aggressive product sellers, but it never went away.
And even if it did die, it's back from the dead and converting better than ever. Email marketing is converting so well in fact, that a study by McKinsey and Company shows that email marketing converts three times more effectively than social media leads. That's a 17% higher conversion rate!
And if this statistic wasn't enough to revive your faith in the power of email marketing, here's a few other stats to help sway you:
- 91% of online consumers check their email at least once every single day. (Source: Litmus)
- Over 50% of surveyed consumers claim they read a majority of their emails. (Source: Hubspot)
- 25% of companies interviewed consider their ROI with email marketing to be 'excellent.' (Source: EmailStatCenter)
So now that you realize email marketing continues to be an integral piece of an effective inbound marketing strategy, what's next?
Up your email marketing efforts by optimizing your email's content and design to fit on various screen sizes. It's also a good idea to automate the process as much as possible and utilize both up and cross-selling. Most importantly, make sure to personalize each email marketing campaign as much as possible.
This concludes five inbound marketing trends to track in 2016 and beyond. In summary, marketing is shifting towards methods that bring more engagement, interaction, accessibility and ease of use. Keep track of these trends to stay ahead of your competitors, forget about them and risk getting left behind.
Not sure your SEO and inbound marketing strategies are correctly aligned? Need guidance in the right direction? Feel free to contact us today for more information.