Top 5 Inbound Marketing Trends of 2017

Isabel Hasty - Fri, July 14, 2017

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inbound

Marketers chase trends like surfers chase waves. In an informational industry, it pays to be ahead of the curve.

So how do you know which trends are going to be huge – and which ones will just be washouts?

Like the best surfers, the leading marketers have developed an eye for big movements in their space. Instead of wasting time and energy on minor trends, they go all in for the big ones.

Today, we’ll dive into the largest inbound marketing trends taking shape in 2017. Being agile in a shifting industry like marketing means you’re always positioned to move full speed ahead. The more opportunities you catch, the higher your revenues will be.

 

1) Interactive Content

When surveyed, 75% of marketers said they were increasing their investment in content marketing. And while traditional blog content is still dominating, interactive content is picking up steam.

Webinars, infographics, interactive apps, polls, calculators, and other rich content bring new life to your website.

“Don’t interrupt what your buyers want to consume – be what they want to consume.”

Mike Volpe, CybeReason

Marketers agree that interactive content – which allows users to try out or play with something – is more effective than static content in a few ways:

  • 81% say interactive content is more effective in grabbing viewers’ attention
  • 79% agree interactive content results in repeat visitors and boosts retention of brand messaging

By elevating the customer experience with interactive elements, you’ll see increased time on page and higher engagement levels, meaning content is more likely to generate traction. 

 

2) Artificial Intelligence

 

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The most remarkable trend in inbound marketing is artificial intelligence (AI). Enabled by machine learning algorithms and fueled by data analytics, huge sets of customer data are now more accessible or more valuable than ever.

AI solutions have the ability to forecast customer behaviors using predictive analytics far too complex for any human. As a result, more businesses are starting to use AI to automate their marketing processes based on actionable insights gained from those analytics.

What sort of actionable insights are we talking about?

“ … What personality traits they share, what motivates them, which ones are more likely to share the content with others and much more.

Using personality insights, we were able to build a targeting strategy based on Twitter users that would be more receptive to our content, which in turn improved our campaign results and maximized the money we spent on Twitter Ads.”

David Rodríguez, Telefonica

Beyond enhanced targeting and informational capabilities, AI is beginning to automate customer interactions as well.

Chatbots are a prime example, found across many web pages to improve customer service. Facebook has also rolled out bots to support the user experience.

In the image above, you can see how 1-800-Flowers uses selling chatbots to streamline online purchasing. AI touches like these not only improve service but also help accrue more data, providing businesses with the information they need to convert leads to sales.

 

3) Mobile Inbound Marketing

 

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In 2015, Google announced that 50% of search queries were happening from mobile devices. Two years later, mobile-responsive site design is now a mandatory feature. The mobile-friendly trend continues through 2017, pushing marketers to create more mobile-ready content.

The key to 2017 is creating content that’s more engaging and relevant for people viewing it from a small, on-the-go device.

It’s all about making your content personalized, digestible and easy to share. As users bounce between mobile and desktop devices to research and make purchases, marketers who provide a seamless cross-channel and cross-device experience will be rewarded with higher revenues.

Amazon’s mobile cart abandonment email pictured above is a perfect example of how to reach mobile users. Amazon’s automation is sophisticated enough to reach users via mobile whenever they’re ready to buy – even if the cart abandonment occurred on the desktop.

Inter-communicating platforms are what empower mobile, omni-channel strategies… and provide users with the seamless brand experience they expect.

 

4) Marketing Automation

Companies are now spending more on marketing technology than on advertising itself. As inbound trends like content marketing and mobile expand, the means to track and engage with users across channels will increase to match.

Marketing automation allows companies to develop rich customer profiles, prioritize their leads with lead scoring, orchestrate targeted campaigns with triggered messaging across any channel, and then prompt the final conversion when the time is right.

Marketing automation also offers end-to-end visibility of each lead’s journey through the marketing and sales funnel, which gets rid of inter-departmental barriers when it comes to finding and acting upon insights. This allows sales and marketing to integrate more closely with one another – enabling a “smarketing” approach to campaigns.

A survey from Heinz Marketing shows that 61.5% of marketers who are adept in “smarketing” expect their budgets to increase this coming year. As online customer engagement and subsequent data fluency increase industrywide, marketing automation becomes pivotal to success.

 

5) Video Marketing 

Google knows that 50% of online users look for videos about a product or service before visiting a store. And Wordstream found that 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.

As mobile usage proliferates, expect high-quality video to reach new levels and new users in 2017.

Video allows marketers to quickly deliver large amounts of information in a super-engaging way. No matter where your audience is in the marketing funnel, video leads to high levels of retention.

The expansion of Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram video are making video content an integral part of any inbound marketing strategy.

The challenge facing marketers is to create hyper-engaging videos that result in conversions and shares. Viral video content is like the holy grail, and for good reason.

It’s difficult to simultaneously provide entertainment and direction to viewers within such a short window of time. Be sure to leverage emotive storytelling and creative imagery to hook viewers and deliver them to the final CTA.

Above, we see Dollar Shave Club showing – rather than telling – their audience that they’re the business to trust. In 2017 and beyond, we’ll continue to see the best marketers practice this balancing act in effective (and hilarious) ways.

 

Surf’s Up 

Marketers looking to make waves with their audience are turning to these top five trends. As online consumer psychology develops, it’s up to companies to provide their customers with what they want, when they want it – or they’ll get left high and dry.

Level up your inbound marketing strategy by investing in video and interactive content. And don’t forget to make sure everything is mobile-friendly.

AI and marketing automation will continue to support responsive, intuitive customer interactions, which will in turn produce superior customer experiences and drive more conversions. The ability to use data in fluid, actionable ways is empowering businesses like never before.

So what are you waiting for? Dive in right now!

 

  • Isabel Hasty
  • Author: Isabel Hasty

  • As Content Lead at SharpSpring, Isabel works with the marketing team to develop resources on a variety of topics. With a focus on the value of marketing automation, she creates case studies, white papers, blog articles and more that address numerous aspects of digital marketing.