Is it too early to start thinking about 2017? Of course not, in just four short months it will be the start of a new year. To make this thought a little less stressful, we have researched and compiled a list of seven marketing trends that we believe will emerge and evolve in the industry.
To make it even easier for you, we will explain how to begin capitalizing on the trends now in order to put your business ahead of the game and ring in 2017 with a head start.
Think of it as us having done the heavy work for you. Now, take some time to explore our findings and see which inbound marketing trends you will most likely encounter in the following year.
Blending Account Based Marketing (ABM) With Inbound
Though many are skeptical about blending these two approaches with one another, account based marketing and inbound can actually compliment each other very well. Many companies see the value with ABM and many see the value in Inbound. So, why not appreciate how these two can balance each other and work well together?
As a simple definition, account-based marketing targets specified high-value accounts that can generate high revenue rather than targeting leads. This may seem like the exact opposite of what inbound marketers want. However, these two strategies can coexist and your business can very well integrated ABM tactics with your current inbound strategy, or vice versa. David Rigotti, Head of Marketing at Bizible, provided his insight on merging these two: “Unless you’re exclusively selling the Fortune 500, a mix of ABM and Inbound is likely the right strategy. It captures your target accounts with Outbound and those with high intent with Inbound.”
Finding the right mix for your business is important. To do so, combine ABM with Inbound marketing by linking the two and giving your team the resources for a two-pronged approach. Allow your sales team to give the best experience while having marketing support similar messages delivered differently. Mike Lieberman of Square 2 Marketing refers to this as a blend of strategic sales and the educational content of inbound marketing which moves prospects through the buyer journey in a more directed manner. Thus, buyers can close more quickly and at a higher rate.
More Audio/Video Content, Less Text
There are two content kings that will continue to prosper in 2017: video and audio. The on going trend of creating innovative, attention grabbing content will continue to be powerful because today’s customers want fast, easy to consume information. Videos and audios can quickly communicate a brand story and value proposition while building relationships with the viewers. As Forrester researcher Dr. James McQuivey estimates, one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. With the way we process information changing, a well-produced webinar or podcast can convey a more powerful message than a simple “How-To” guide on the same topic.
A recent Forbes study pointed out that 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Think about the last time you chose to watch a video rather than scroll through a long web article. The reason for this is simple, videos and audio are much easier to grasp and provide viewers with the opportunity to consume information on the go–while driving, mowing the lawn or waiting patiently at a doctor’s office.
Put simply, prepare to create more video and audio. As more and more people demand for rich media content, your company must incorporate these two tactics for success. Statistics don’t lie. Did you know that including video in an email can increase click-through rate by 200-300% or that 90% of users say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in their decision process?
If these statistics don’t send you running to upload new content today, then maybe these will:
- Unbounce reports that including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%.
- Mist Media reports that the average internet user spends 88% more time on a site with video.
More Interactive Content
Not only will video and audio dominate, so will interactive content. Not only will you still need to include blog posts, ebooks and infographics in your marketing strategy, but these content types will need to be pushed to another level. Creating interactive content is not difficult and will definitely pay off in the long run as it provides people with that chance to customize their own experience. As a marketer and web strategist Aaron Aguis states, “Professionally designed and developed content that enables readers to choose different paths in the content, click on sections that are of interest and are applicable, and that is more entertaining than the standard text heavy content we see today.”
One way to provide an interactive content is by creating quizzes–yes, B2B companies have a lot of potential with this type of content. A benefit of creating interactive quizzes is to help you gather new persona information over time by asking questions related to your audiences’ challenges, needs and desires. Another interactive content idea is to create interactive ebooks. Reading a plain PDF file no longer engages the average reader. Instead, produce an ebook that can prompt your reader to take action as they work their way through it. Even providing checkboxes and videos will put your readers into the driver’s seat. (Check out this affordable tool to create interactive ebooks Guides.co!)
To enable your audience to find out the real benefits from using your product or service, provide them with a calculator. By using a calculator, you can show your users the benefits that they can gain or lose if they don’t utilize your resources. This is an easy tool to use to illustrate an ROI, understand your marketing contribution, etc. All of these interactive tools that we have listed can benefit your strategy in multiple ways as it gives your prospects a chance to really commit to your content rather than just briefly skim it.
Sales Enablement: A focus on the bottom of the funnel
Your sales team must really know what they are doing in order for your business to succeed. In 2017, if you are still ignoring the inabilities of your sales team or letting issues go unaddressed, you will be let down by your results. This is where sales enablement comes into play. To put simply, sales enablement is the processes, practices and tools which improve the performance and productivity of the sales organization and enhances its ability to increase revenue via sales.
Sales enablement is multi-faceted and encompasses a wide variety of techniques such as sales training, onboarding, content creation and other duties. Creating mini campaigns for individual sales reps and pushing your team to nurture sales are just a few of the ways to set yourself up for success. (A great example of this to utilize the Sequence tool in HubSpot Sales Pro.) According to research conducted by Demand Metrics, 75% of respondents insist that a strong sales enablement organization can make a moderate or significant contribution to their sales force. What’s more is that 88% with effective sales enablement functions classified their organizations as “very strategic”.
To focus more on the bottom of the funnel means that your sales and marketing teams must both work toward a common goal of increasing revenue. These two teams must be co-dependent since they both benefit from increased collaboration. They go hand in hand–sales teams need content produced by marketing to drive conversions and marketers need sales insights to optimize their content. Additionally, don’t be surprised to see new roles emerging as these two begin to blur together. Rather than having the Head of Marketing/Head of Sales, seek to have someone as the Head of Growth who can really push your teams to connect and continue the dialogue.
Enable Prospects to Build the Case Amongst their Internal Team: The Challenger Customer
Today, buying groups are made up of, on average, 5.4 people. These people have diverse responsibilities, points of view and authority which can create conflict and buying dysfunction. Often, the buying committee can agree upon some things: minimize risk and save money. However, there are multiple aspects that these individuals disagree upon such as the priorities that they believe are most important.
Bring in the mobilizers. These individuals are active buyers who are committed to bringing about changes needed to help their companies grow. Based on research into B2B buying behaviors, mobilizers play a critical role in the buying decision process as they drive change within their organization. A term coined from “The Challenger Customer”, the novel suggest that businesses should enable mobilizers to build a case amongst their internal team with the tools and content that your business can provide rather than having to do all of the influencing yourself.
Mobilizers are capable of aligning their teams around the need for change and around the option that is most likely to achieve it. Thus, having a mobilizer onboard can amplify the impact of your sales activities dramatically. This person is about driving attractive opportunities past the evaluation stage. In order for this person to succeed, it is important to create tools and content for them to appeal to different motivations and modes of behavior.
As many more companies adopt the inbound methodology, it is becoming increasingly difficult to appear on organic searches. Though seen as an “outbound approach” advertising can actually help your business avoid this hurdle by using it to promote content that prospects can find valuable. HubSpot recently pointed out some interesting facts on advertising with an inbound approach.
HubSpot points out that paid advertising has been a missing puzzle piece to the inbound methodology and cannot be completely gone unused. Paid advertising is actually not against the rules if used correctly, especially if it can help businesses who are looking to jumpstart their growth. Using a comprehensive list of keywords and research and help your business figure out if this is the correct solution for you.
Another key use of inbound advertising which will surpass traditional advertising is native advertising. According to Business Insider, spending on native advertising will increase from $11 billion in 2015 to $17.5 billion in 2017. Native advertising are those “sponsored by” or “brand publisher” tags that are on the articles you are reading and videos that you are watching. Instead of interrupting people, native ads are designed to fit naturally into publications and media that people are enjoying. The ad just becomes additional content for the user to take advantage of such as sponsored videos, discussions or products. The main takeaway is that advertising cannot completely be take out of your inbound strategy.
Snapchat and Live Streaming for Business
In a recent post by writtent, the founder Helen Nesterenko reached out to 25 experts in the content marketing industry and asked them this question: “What are the top 3 content marketing trends for 2017 and beyond?” A recurring answer from these individuals was Snapchat and live streaming. As one expert puts, “Snapchat will no longer be a novelty, but something most businesses have, accompanied closely with the use of live video on Facebook/Periscope.”
Though some business experts may be skeptical about incorporating Snapchat into their business strategy, not taking it seriously as a social media platform can be a mistake. As more and more users are interested in seeing live events, Snapchat offers a great platform for your business to provide them with this special access. This real-time media marketing puts your audience where you are despite the actual distance. Use it for product launches, trade shows or special in store deals. This authentic experience delivers private content that users may not have seen otherwise. This is also a great way to offer contests, perks and promotions and even partner with influencers who can spread awareness to a demographic that may be harder for your business to reach in the more traditional ways.
Additionally, Snapchat now allows business to advertise between stories and be certified by third party agencies. This means that your business can choose to add actions for users such as swiping to read more content, send them to an extended video or direct them to your website or article without ever leaving Snapchat. Recent studies have also shown that Snapchat ads, compared to those on TV, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, garnered more visual attention and better emotional responses with the intent to purchase.
We hope that our insight into the future trends will help you prepare your marketing strategy to be an early success. Though trying to stay on top of all of these trends is overwhelming, try to see if a handful of these can make a difference in your strategy. Get your entire business on board by having a discussion about these trends and see how some aspects can be incorporated in different areas of your team.
If you need further assistance in guiding your strategy to align with these trends, feel free to reach out to our team or explore some tools on our website.