Ever since Seth Godin turned the marketing world on its head with the concept of ‘permission marketing’, the idea of attracting customer’s attention by developing a strong relationship and offering genuine value has gained momentum to the point where it now makes up the foundation of a web business’s marketing strategy. The great thing about using inbound marketing as your primary marketing strategy is that it’s win-win – your customers win by receiving quality information, added value and entertainment, while your business wins by keeping costs down, building up a reputation organically and continually expanding the amount of magnetic content on your site. Of course, although you can keep costs down, you have to put in twice as much effort to make sure that your communication really stands out from the pack, and that’s why today we’ll be looking at some of the new techniques and trends inbound marketing has to offer, to keep your strategy fresh and your audience engaged!
Infographics go Viral – But Video is Still Boss
In 2012, we saw infographics go from being a cute way to represent information to becoming a fully-fledge meme unto themselves. They’re easily sharable and can communicate catchy ideas quickly and simply. However, don’t get too caught up in the hype – while infographics can go viral, they don’t have anything on video. Just consider that a single platform -Youtube, receives over 4 billion views per day, and you get an idea of the size of the online video market. The fact that video can be shared and viewed easily across devices – from desktops to tablets and mobiles – makes it a critical marketing tool and the most efficient way to try to score a viral hit. For example, the viral advertising hit of the year ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ was produced in Australia for the cost of a medium-sized TV commercial, yet generated an estimated $50,000,000 worth of global media value. You may not have the budget to produce a fully-fledged live action piece, but a new trend brings sharable video budgets down to earth – enter video infographics, a way to repurpose your infographics and bring them to life by animating them. Add that into your toolkit, put on your creative hat and you may very well be the next one to go viral on a budget!
Personalization is not just Auto-Responding
With automation technology continually improving, tailoring communication to individual customers is becoming easier every single day. Don’t just stick to plugging a customer’s name into an autoresponder – think outside the box and utilize all of the channels you have available to you. If you’re reading an article about Inbound Marketing then you don’t need to be told that you should be using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and potentially Pinterest and Instagram to engage with your customers personally, but it’s always worth noting that these channels can be used to answer questions, provide support and follow-ups, as well as to provide additional value to existing customers, such as add-on packs, upgrade offers and ebooks / white-papers. Drip-feeding content via these channels is a great way to prep your customer base for an upcoming release, and can also help new customers familiarize themselves with your brand character. Expect these channels to become an even bigger part of web marketing strategies this year, and make sure you squeeze as much you utility as you can out of each one.
Retention is Marketing Too
The previous point leads into this one – inbound marketing isn’t just about drawing first time customers into your sales funnel! The goal is to minimize churn and share a relationship with a customer that enables both sides to exchange value over an extended period of time, so you should place just as much focus on your retention strategy as you do on your acquisition strategy. No-one wants to be taken in by a flashy online campaign only to realize that the company behind it doesn’t value the customers it has – so put in the extra effort to create content that rewards them for their loyalty. They’ll respond with word-of-mouth recommendations, and you’ll continue to benefit for years to come. Watch how the big players roll out their retention strategies across all of their channels this year and take a few plays from their book.
Your Website Design is a Strategy
With sites like Behance and Dribble growing strong design communities, and plenty of sites dedicated to featuring the best design on the net, customers not only like to spend their time on sites that look great – they expect to. You can even turn your website’s design into a promotional strategy in itself – by creating something that gets people talking. Make your site responsive, customizable, visually unique, and you’ll find that people share it of their own account. It’s no longer acceptable to have another ‘me-too’ web-site, unless your content is the best in its niche. Even then, expect certain platforms to take the lead (and generate leads!) purely on the basis of their visual design. It’s worth the extra effort.
Cohesion – Laser Focus is Key
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that no matter which trends and techniques you employ, your inbound marketing strategy needs to be laser-focused; each and every element should support the next. This is not so much a trend as a necessity. To use Social Media as an example: your Facebook communications should be linked in with your Twitter or Instagram, and your website should be directing people to these platforms and vice-versa. Offer specific pieces of content via one channel this week, and then offer your audience the opportunity to share their thoughts on another channel in exchange for even more content. Each section needs to be interconnected and supportive of the next, and you need to embrace a ‘campaign’ approach. It’s the right time of the year to plan in 3-month quarters, which gives you enough time to let a particular strategy play out and provide enough data to inform the next quarter. Inbound marketing may be cheaper than traditional channels, but it’s up to you to put in the effort needed to reap the rewards!
How have you employed inbound-marketing over the past year? Which of the above trends do you plan to add in to your mix? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section and share your tips for 2013!