These days, inbound marketing goes way beyond simply having a website, blogging, pushing out social media posts or sending email campaigns. Instead, it requires the perfect combination of ingenuity and careful planning.
As B2B marketing agents and representatives work to set their companies apart in a digital landscape cluttered with run-of-the-mill content, they may find themselves struggling to adopt methods that are effective. Yet, marketers can simultaneously attract new users and craft memorable experiences by implementing the following eight inbound marketing strategies in 2016:
1. Recognizing that content is still king
Though the phrase "content is king" is said to stem from the '90s – or perhaps even earlier, digital marketing experts continue to widely use and endorse the concept on their blogs today. That will remain true for the coming year as content evolves to fit changing trends and attempts to meet customers where they are. Given that 88 percent of B2B marketing agencies in the U.S. currently have a content marketing strategy in place, those who are lacking one should seriously consider the benefits of this consistently popular marketing strategy (1).
2. Implementing a more targeted lead-nurturing process
In the coming year, marketers will redefine their B2B lead nurturing processes through the use of micro-targeting and hyper-segmentation. These two concepts use metrics to track consumer behavior; from there, inbound marketing agencies can deliver campaigns targeted to better meet an individual's list of needs or wants. Such promotions are typically delivered through email marketing, but can even be extended to social media and mobile marketing as well.
3. Getting personal
Companies will continue to get personal in 2016 – both with content development and throughout the sales process. More than ever, today's customers seek out companies that can cater to their pain points (2). Consequently, sales team members will strive to build relationships with customers through increased research and social selling.
4. Allowing the audience to speak on a brand's behalf
User-generated content saw a surge in 2014 and has since become an essential component in the marketing landscape. A recent example of a popular user-based campaign can be seen in Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" movement. For this particular promotion, the soft drink company produced bottles with different names and phrases on the labels and distributed throughout the country – following the release, many buyers took to social media to share their bottle finds. Last year Coca-Cola reported sales rose more than two percent, following years of declining activity (3).
5. Not making the customer work for content
Though companies sometimes hide valuable content behind paywalls and subscriber buttons, in 2016 there will be a push to increase accessibility. Consequently, many digital marketers will refrain from locking up their content. If, however, a business feels strongly about limiting access to certain documents and features, it can ensure those elements remain at least somewhat easy to access. Those entities might choose to do so by not including pop-ups, landing page forms or clunky click-through slideshows that can be difficult to navigate, particularly from a mobile device (4).
6. Crafting more interactive forms of content
In the coming year, diverse, engaging content will reign supreme – and for good reason. A recent survey indicated 91 percent of buyers prefer visual and interactive features over more traditional content (5).
Consequently, more B2B marketers will rely on video, simulations and interactive infographics. Content creators will also work to create more episodic content – whether text-, audio- or video-based – that keeps followers on edge and wondering what their organization will release next. Simultaneously, quizzes will continue to be a wildly popular marketing tool.
7. Embracing underutilized content forms
Producers will piece together more elongated forms of storytelling in 2016. Though marketers have long advised against wordy pieces, longer, more comprehensive text-based pieces will become common practice.
8. Placing more emphasis on the site experience
In the past, businesses may have been content with launching a website and putting little maintenance efforts into it thereafter; however, this will not be an acceptable practice moving forward. Customers consistently seek new information, and companies that fail to meet that pain point risk looking outdated and losing sales.
Simultaneously, it's no secret a company can provide an exceptional first impression through its web design. In fact, 94 percent of people indicate design as a reason they fail to trust a website (6). For this reason, marketers will seek to provide a more inviting and seamless website experience through more attractive visuals and responsive web design. Simultaneously, web designers will pair these elements with effective SEO practices to consistently attract new audience members.
Marketers can increase B2B lead generation and boost sales numbers in a myriad of ways. Ultimately, they should make it a priority to not get too comfortable with their current strategy and to continuously evaluate their efforts. By understanding how the latest trends can be used to meet customer needs, promoters can head into the new year with a clear vision.
(1). B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America
(2). 2016 Predictions: Inbound's Impact on the Sales Process
(3). 'Share a Coke' Credited With a Pop in Sales
(4). 6 Critical Components of Every Inbound Marketing Strategy
(5). 2015 Content Preferences Survey
(6). 5 Data-Backed Reasons to Redesign an Ugly Website