Just as you think you’ve got a handle on inbound marketing, 2018 comes along and changes everything! Okay, that’s hyperbolic, but that feeling in your chest that you need to revisit your marketing strategy to ensure that it’s in tip-top shape for 2018 is real. Inbound marketing is evolving. It may not look incredibly different from last year, but that’s mostly surface level; beneath the front-facing elements, there are new depths to be discovered.
To scale your business well into 2018 and beyond, you need to understand what’s happening to inbound marketing and make sure you know how to leverage the new places it’s going. Here are six ways that inbound marketing is changing in 2018, what to expect with these changes, and how you can leverage them.
1. New Tech
There’s more and more technology dedicated to supporting inbound marketing than ever before. Some tools are spin-offs of previous tools, such as more advanced dashboards, and some are ongoing improvements to new tools like chatbots. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Beneath the tried and familiar tech, inbound is stretching its limbs to try new avenues. Have you considered creating a podcast as part of your strategy? What about virtual reality? The more platforms you’re on and the more you vary your marketing strategies, the more likely you’ll draw someone in.
There’s also the reality that, despite using mobile devices more and more, people are less frequently turning to browsers to search, instead using apps. If you don’t plan to be in these places, your great stuff is likely to be missed. It’s time to invest resources into growing your content and where it lives.
2. Better Web Design
It’s too easy nowadays to create quality, stunning web pages to settle for “good enough”—your customers surely won’t.
With just a few clicks, designers are putting together content-ready sites ready for your brand. As the breadth of your content continues to grow, the place where you bring a potential customer—i.e. your landing pages—is more important than ever. Take the time to do it right. A website redesign might be an investment, but in the long run,the ROI is well worth it (and the alternative is a loss of sales).
3. Even More Data—And Artificial Intelligence
It’s hard to imagine that an even greater reliance on data could be possible, but here we are in 2018, ramping up efforts to collect and understand even more data. As you probably know, better data means better decisions. If you know how people are going to respond to a page, either positively or negatively, you know how to tweak the experience to get your desired result.
Marketing should never be about guessing. Data is the bridge that lets you see and understand the habits and behaviours of your customers, so you can predict how they will respond to new campaigns and new products. If you’re really good, you’ll be able to predict what they’re going to need before they need it and have a new product ready to launch as they do.
As artificial intelligence gets more robust, it offers greater opportunities to engage with your data and turn it into something helpful. If you thought your business’ potential was maximized now, just wait until you get AI crunching away at your numbers to determine best-case choices when it’s decision time.
4. Improved Customization
So you’ve got a wealth of new data on a broad range of customers—now what? Well, inbound marketing in 2018 says, “Customize!” You know locations, titles, companies, web surfing behaviours, anticipated reactions to site design, demographic information, and more. It’s time to put this info to work by creating unique experiences for each visitor to your site.
Change the experience, often with just a few tweaks, and suddenly you’re not just a company trying to sell a product but a digital friend providing just what each customer needs, as he or she needs it.
This may mean different photos are displayed or geographic-specific adjustments are made to cater to the customer’s location. Think of it as “Choose Your Store,” except automatic and on a much deeper level. Suddenly, all that work you put into target messaging isn’t just in email campaigns or on social media, it’s happening in real time as someone visits your site.
5. Immediate Sales
Inbound marketing strategies in 2018 are going to focus on a new area—immediate sales. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition out there. There are near infinite places for entertainment, information, distraction, research, learning, and more.
Inbound is about drawing in an interested audience, but there’s more noise online than ever before. When you do manage to hook someone’s attention—and if you’ve been following along with the above strategies, you will!—you want to encourage a sale right away.
Rarely does someone end up on your site by accident. If they’ve come for a visit, it means they’re interested in what you’re offering. The more you can provide that user with everything he or she needs to research, learn, feel good, and decide to purchase, the better your revenue is going to be. If you give people a chance to get distracted, odds are they will; and when it comes time to buy, they’ll go with whichever good option is currently in front of them.
New tech and platforms, combined with customization, are what’s going to make immediate sales possible. Inbound needs to build up the goodwill, develop the trust, and provide the information necessary to make an informed decision and then get the client to your site where they can purchase. Technology is making buying easier and easier; your inbound strategy needs to be about informing each individual with what they need to know, setting up an easy way to purchase—then getting out of the way!
6. Customer Experience—First!
Finally, inbound marketing in 2018 is going to realign to the idea of the customer experience.
Your inbound strategy needs to create memorable, unique experiences, tailored to each client’s needs. Just like a story, every element should be connected and serve the greater whole. Be interesting, be intriguing, and, most importantly, demonstrate you have the solution to a potential client’s problem. Make it easy for them to purchase, and they will.
These are some ways that inbound marketing is changing in 2018. Learn to master these new strategies and don’t be afraid to explore their depths. Just remember to always keep your customers at the forefront of your plans and you’ll see success in 2018.