December 27, 2016
Your job as marketer has never been more challenging. Recent scientific research conducted by Tennessee State University professors, Roberts, Geho and Webbs found that the most successful small business are the ones that use social media on a weekly basis, regularly analyze and update their sites, and keep in touch with digital marketing trends.
The scope of online marketing technology intimidates.
Its history started with a digital rolodex program that ACT!, a contact and customer management company, introduced in 1986, evolved to the first Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software in the 1990s, and then to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and blogs among others. The 2000s gave you an explosion of software marketing solutions for social, mobile, search, and analytics.
The challenge of mastering these capabilities continues.
We have worked over and analyzed more than 200 articles that include academic, peer-reviewed articles, pdfs, white papers, blog posts, infographics, research studies, and reviews of marketing conventions to share with you online marketing trends that will dominate 2017. The trajectory will be the same. There’ll be an emphasized focus on live video streaming, augmented reality (AR), and a preference for dense, personalized and immersive content in order to woo clients.
If we can choose two overarching factors, they’d be the following:
In 2015, Hubspot surveyed 4,000 marketing professionals and found a definite trend towards inbound marketing that transcended company types. Outbound marketers put the attention on sales. They buy slots or ads from TV, newspapers and other print items. It’s a declining and very expensive business. In contrast, inbound marketers focus on leads, or traffic, and use the far cheaper methods of social engagement, content creation, SEO, lead nurturing, data analytics and measurement, and so forth. Rephrased, “inbound” means constant communication with customers which results in repeated traffic. HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2015” report found that not only do “inbound efforts achieve higher ROI than outbound, regardless of company size or total marketing spend,” but “every company that HubSpot surveyed regardless of marketing budget”, from B2C to B2B to non-profit “was 3X as likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound.”
Content management ranks high on inbound marketing trends for 2017. There’ll be more of the same, but, to catch attention, marketers will personalize their content, use immersive strategies to have the user interact with it, and make it denser so that each word, or image, counts.
The preoccupation with content in general and social media in particular has reached the point where corporations such as Nike and General Motors in-house their content management and employ full-time marketers to exclusively supervise that division.
In 2013, Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing surveyed all components of inbound marketing, which included PPC, Telemarketing, Direct Mail, SEO, and Social Media, and found that 16% of companies were forced to employ a full-time social media marketer to control its enormous personnel and responsibilities. Challenges are manifold. One is the struggle to find and create conversation that matters and to personalize all aspects of digital marketing so as to make them relevant and literally “outstanding”. This challenge is predicted to grow as marketing technologies expand.
People are buying smartphones like crazy. According to Morgan Stanley Research, in the space of five years - from 2009 to today - more than 300 thousand global mobile phone units were shipped per quarter; of these 30% are smartphones. In April 2016, ComScore Mobile Advisor, a marketing consultancy, ran a detailed global analysis and found that in France and Germany alone, more than 80% owned a smartphone, and that, during that same month, Britain saw more than one-third of smartphone users make an online purchase.
Last year's Pew Research Study found that almost two-thirds of the population possess smartphones, while four out of five Americans keep at least one smartphone with them every day. Experts predict that one out of four Americans will be wearing a wearable device next year. Seventy-four percent of these phones respond to location-based alerts. Users browse and post location-specific content.
If you want to be found, your business needs to be optimized. This includes email optimization, too.
In 2012, Gartner reported that most mobile users (84%) used their smartphones for checking email. Usage has quadrupled since!
How does this affect you?
Earlier this year, Equinox showed that less than 12% of email marketing campaigns optimize their design for mobile devices. If you create content that looks good and works well on any device, regardless of whether it’s a Blackberry or an Apple Watch, you’re more likely to win an extra 30% more prospects over, at least, according to Pew’s Internet Project’s research of 2013.
Part of the mobile email optimization includes email automation - automated email campaign is one of the best ways to nurture leads. Orchestrate, a data-driven mortgage consulting service, predicts that in 2017, email marketing will focus more on automation and that automated responses will be more personalized, dense and interactive.
In short, the trend is towards mobile. That’s where you want your business to be.
Your best news may be that digital trends of the future are inexpensive and democratic. The trend is towards inbound marketing, where even small businesses and struggling startups can compete against larger rivals by consistently following an informed, relevant and creative marketing strategy.
You have a huge advantage: The last Hubspot research shows that 29% of customers say they want to see more blog content this year, two billion people use Facebook every year, four billion people use messaging apps to communicate and search. In contrast, only 16% of people rely on salespeople for defining their decisions.
Inbound marketing is the clear way to go.
On the other hand, Hubspot found that marketers aren't creating the content that people actually want. Businesses on shoestring budgets need to acquire and develop the specialized technologies and skills for creating and improving this content.
All companies struggle with the same issues, which include how to find and create conversations that matter, how to keep informed with evolving trends including mobile optimization, and how to find the right tools to gauge their ROI. In fact, a 2013 Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing found that almost one in five marketers noted that without an analytics systems in place, the cost of managing social media may feel more than it’s worth. For startups, or small companies with smaller resources, these challenges are, of course, exacerbated.
Our experience shows that your highest marketing ROI will come from improving your blog content, social media and SEO efforts. A qualified Inbound Marketing Agency will get you these results way quicker than what your learning speed is.
In short, an experienced agency helps you control costs, helps you create right conversations, helps you understand all aspects of inbound marketing and sales, so that you can tie them strategically together.
Such an agency, also, helps you improve your own social media system and analytics so that, in 2017, you may become one of the successful businesses mentioned in the Roberts, Geho and Webbs study.