With a rapidly changing marketing technology landscape and new channels for communication emerging at a rising cadence, modern day marketers face increasing challenges to create campaigns that reach their audiences effectively.  In a recent study by Hubspot, marketers reported that inbound campaigns yield higher ROI than outbound efforts, but 41% of respondents couldn’t calculate that ROI, a challenge that needs to be rectified to secure budgets. To stay at the forefront of inbound marketing in 2017, it’s important for marketers to plan holistically, create thought-provoking content, and consider disrupting factors in the industry.

Strategy Comes First

According to Hubspot, online marketing is the new mainstream, and it’s an easily observable shift. With new social media channels, messaging apps and a shift toward video and virtual reality as preferred mediums, the ever-evolving digital space is an easy place to get lost – unless you stay on top of your strategy. Hubspot’s study finds that there is a disconnect between C-level leadership and individual contributors when it comes to perceiving the effectiveness of their company’s strategy.  69% of C-level respondents reported that their strategy was effective, compared to 55% of lower level employees. As company leadership creates high-level strategies with metrics to measure success, it’s important that the why behind new goals be communicated to management and the teams who execute these strategies day-to-day. Likewise, management and leadership should create opportunities for those working on the ground to share feedback and observable successes or challenges that arise in the granular details when implementing campaigns, empowering all employees to produce their best work.

Align Sales and Marketing

It’s no secret that your Sales and Marketing departments’ efforts go hand in hand when it comes to achieving business goals. While many companies report that their sales and marketing teams are generally aligned when it comes to initiatives, Hubspot survey respondents who had a formalized process in place for alignment between these two teams were three times more likely to say their strategy was effective compared to those who did not have an alignment procedure in place. Inbound marketing has been shown to provide the highest quality leads, and a creating a strategy that allows marketers to fully understand the needs of the sales team helps them produce resources that are effective tools for bringing in quality leads and closing accounts.

Make Content Customer-Centric

It’s time to take a hard look at the content you’re putting out and ask if it’s customer-centric. Marketing teams should work with sales to understand buyer personas that allow them to create targeted, vertical specific content that serves as a resource to help the sales team close accounts.  Although word of mouth still ranks high as a conversion factor, case studies also hold a lot of pull with potential customers. Share stories from customers that empower potential buyers to make a decision about your product. Marketers should leverage in-depth customer use cases of their product or service to provide the most helpful, valuable content possible for their audience.

Look for the Disruptors

While a holistic strategy, an established partnership between sales and marketing and quality content based on personas is extremely valuable for the success of your marketing efforts, there are several emerging disruptors to the industry that also need to be considered. Video is rapidly moving to the forefront of preferred consumable content. Marketers need to evaluate the channels where their audience is present, the topics that provide value to their customers and look for ways to integrate video into their content strategy. Over the coming year, we will most likely see more brands allocate resources to building their presence on Facebook and YouTube with innovative videos. A second area in which we’ll continue to see movement is artificial intelligence, chatbots, and virtual reality. Brands are already starting to utilize apps like Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers, and as technologies become more refined, companies will want to consider the benefits of having a presence on messaging apps like WhatsApp. Another major disruptor is social media. Existing channels are developing additional metrics and features, and new platforms are emerging at a rapid pace. Ultimately, disruptors will create new opportunities for marketing teams to creatively reach their audiences in helpful, new, and exciting ways.

As leadership creates inbound marketing strategies for 2017 and beyond, it’s important to include space for industry disruption. Taking time to identify where and how your audience interacts, what content helps them make buying decisions, and how you can offer them a superior customer experience utilizing new methods will elevate your campaigns. Once you have a plan in place, make sure you have clear communication between upper management and those implementing campaigns, and align your sales and marketing steam for streamlined, cohesive results.

 

Read Hubspot’s full State of Inbound 2017 study.

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