Change is everywhere and we cannot escape from it. Change can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. The digital age has brought  many innovations that we’re using today. These innovations can be a direct or indirect advantage which help us in our daily tasks and decision making.

Image courtesy of gochiropractice.com

Image courtesy of gochiropractice.com

One innovation that the digital age has brought is inbound marketing. Since 2006, inbound has been the most effective method of marketing for online business. Instead of the old school outbound marketing methods of buying airtime, buying ads, buying email listings and hoping to make leads, inbound marketing is putting focus on creating quality content that attract people to your company’s services or products which they would want to have or purchase. By aligning your strategies with the customer’s interests, you will naturally attract inbound traffic that can convert and satisfy customers in time.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is defined as promoting a company through blogs, eBooks, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization, podcasts, video, Whitepapers, newsletters and other forms or types of content marketing that will serve to attract customers to be closer to the brand. It also refers to a type of marketing activity that brings or attracts customers in rather than marketers having to go out to get attention from possible customers or prospects. This type of online marketing gets the attention of customers by making the product or company easy to find and draws them to the website by creating interesting articles or content. Inbound content marketing should have the major following themes to be more effective:

  • Content creation – creating or building targeted content that answers the basic inquiries and needs of customers. The content should also also be shared with a wide audience.
  • Lifecycle Marketing recognizing that website visitors will go through stages as they interact with the company or product, and each stage requires different marketing strategies and actions.
  • Personalization – by learning about your possible leads over time, you will be able to personalize your content and messages to the specific needs of customers or prospects.
  • Multichannel Approach – inbound marketing by nature, uses a multi channel approach because it can connect where customers are in the channel where they want to be reached or interact.
  • Integration – the analytic tools and your content publishing all work together, allowing you to focus on creating, uploading and sharing the right content at the right time.
The Differences between inbound and outbound marketing. Image courtesy of www.bpwrap.com

The Differences between inbound and outbound marketing. Image courtesy of www.bpwrap.com

Inbound Marketing Trends For Your Consideration

Marketing tools and best practices are continually evolving so you have to do your research and adapt which will fit and work for your company’s goals. You have to also note that not all trends will work for you so choose wisely. Below are the 2014 inbound marketing trends that you can research and possibly apply to enhance your marketing strategies in order to attract customers, make leads and make sales.

1. Context Marketing            

There is a lot of buzz about contextual marketing and it will be the biggest inbound marketing trend as stated by some experts. The rise of context marketing is spurred by the launch of HubSpot’s Content Optimation System. COS is a combination of content management system and Personalization system which enables marketers to serve targeted content based on the site visitor’s lifecycle stage and their last visit with marketing content.

Imag courtesy of http://www.ektron.com/

Imag courtesy of http://www.ektron.com/

2. Images And Microvideo

There will be a rise of Vine and other short video content and images. Web sites like SnapChat will help push this trend into the business world and marketing world.

vine instagram

Image and microvideo platforms Instagram and Vine. Image courtesy of Gadgetsmagazine

3. Brands Sharing Fan Content

More brands and services will be putting money into fan content to get first hand, authentic and quality content. Dunkin’ Donuts and Kenneth Cole have already adopted and used this approach. The best content can be created and can be highlighted on the company’s website, showing first-hand feedback from customers.

Image courtesy of exceleratedapps.com

Image courtesy of exceleratedapps.com

4. Online Audience Optimization or OAO

Content is still king. With the changes to Google’s algorithm with restricted data on keywords, OAO will be the key to the many inquiries that were originally answered by keyword strategy or SEO. The demand for relevant content has risen by 70.94% in the last year and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

OAO is the new SEO. Image courtesy of www.digitalsrc.com

OAO is the new SEO. Image courtesy of www.digitalsrc.com

5. Mentioning Brands Is The Future Of Link Building

Years ago, directly mentioning brands was prohibited from created content and for some time there have been speculations on how Google measures brand quality. At this point, brand building is considered the best strategy for long-term organic visibility. There will be a shift in how links are measured and their relevance. How can this be implemented? Creating relevant content that people are likely to share will drive maintains and will help build the brand.

Image courtesy of moz.com

Image courtesy of moz.com

6. Customer Voice

More companies will be utilizing the voice of their customers in their content marketing strategies. Studies have shown that peer-to-peer testimony is one of the most effective and preferred sources of information for customers today. It is also expected that marketers will be maximizing customer video interviews and customer testimonials.

Image courtesy of www.ideastogo.com

Image courtesy of www.ideastogo.com

 7. Google+ Hangouts

Google+ was considered an outsider for years and it was always made fun of. This year, Google+ will definitely start to trend more and more.  High profile people are having their accounts in Google+ Hangouts and this will give some needed publicity to the site. If done properly, Google+ Hangouts could be fun, interactive and very valuable to marketing strategies.

Image courtesy of http://phandroid.com/

Image courtesy of http://phandroid.com/

8. Knowing The Key Metrics in Measuring Success Will Be Essential As Ever

In the past, marketers measured the success of their content based on a few high level metrics like page views or website traffic. These sample metrics can give important insights, but are often misleading. By maximizing independent marketing applications for optimization and publishing, there will surely be no shortage of metrics available to be analyzed. Marketers need to focus on a small selection of KPIs. The KPIs will be determined based on the company’s goals in their content and their business objectives. It can be more website hits or visitors, maintaining an engaged community and converting more leads. And most often, it’s the combination of the three.

Image courtesy of admablog.com

Image courtesy of admablog.com

9. Interactive Content

Savvy customers will be looking for content that they can interact with and can be customized based on their taste, interests and needs. Interactive videos  will be bigger because they can attract the customers attention by providing a personal connection to the content.

Image courtesy of www.toprankblog.com

Image courtesy of www.toprankblog.com

10. Alignment Of Content With Email and Social Marketing

Aligning email and social marketing will form a true conversation among the company, customers and prospects. Marketers need to foresee the demand in inbound, generation, content creation, lead nurturing and sales as essential parts of the conversation.

11. Location-based Services And Responsive Design

Smartphones and tablets are the preferred device of many for the last two years. Smartphones and tablets are continuously outselling traditional desktop and laptops in the market. Companies should take heed of this tech direction and should maximize the development of responsive design. At present, it is noted that location-based services can convert and it will be an advantage to follow location-based services like Momentfeed and/or Foursquare.

Image courtesy of blog.azoft.com

Image courtesy of blog.azoft.com

12. Expert Interviews

Expert interviews and roundups will be bigger because it provides a very effective strategy in getting accurate and quality content. Research time will be minimized and will at the same time drive traffic for any competitive keywords through expert  onferences and roundups.

Inbound marketing has the ability to empower marketers in attracting customers, prospects, convert leads, delight the promoters and satisfy the customers. Be a great inbound marketer by using all the necessary tools and applications that can help you in creating relevant and effective content that will appeal to the right people and propel your business to success.

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.