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The Biggest Inbound Marketing Trends Shaping Up 2017

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Alyssa TysonSenior Marketing Manager

One of the things about marketing that has always inspired me is the idea of learning. There is always a new trend, a new technology, a new idea that influences the industry and shapes the knowledge that today’s marketers need. We begin every year thinking about what trends will pick up pace in the upcoming months. As December rolls in, we reflect back on those predictions and use them to make new predictions about the future.

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December is fast approaching but before we get there, HubSpot’s INBOUND 2016 – an event fueled by inspiration and education – visits Boston and we get a taste of the industry from some of the leading marketing influencers. Looking at this year’s agenda and breakout sessions, it’s clear that there are some key trends today’s marketers should be keeping an eye on as we approach 2017.

  1. Visual search is here. Images, videos and other visual content show up in search results – leading to purchase decisions. In fact, 80% of consumers are more willing to engage with content that includes relevant images. I love this quote from a recent Moz blog, “We are visual creatures. We eat first with our eyes, we love with our eyes, we become curious with our eyes. And that is why the future of search is visual.” As marketers, if we’re not optimizing the images on our website and blog, we’re missing a big opportunity.

Check out ‘Using visuals to increase engagement on social media,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session The Future of Content Consumption: How We Discover and Distribute Content is Radically Changing, with Meghan Keaney Anderson – VP, Marketing, HubSpot.

  1. Virtual and augmented reality are shaping content consumption. Of Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands, 75% use VR or AR in some form. It can already be seen influencing the future of search, and consumers around the world are lining up to try the technology. Remember how video became that marketing platform you need to use in 2016? VR/AR is coming next.

Check out ‘Virtual Reality: Accomplishments to Date and What is to Come’ or ‘AR – Not Just a Way to Catch ‘em All’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Virtually There – How Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Become the Ideal Brand Experience with Mitch Joel – President, Mirum or The Future of Virtual Reality and the Web: Where Great Experiences and Immersive Content Collide with Sach Robbins – Senior Digital Strategist, Viget.

  1. Conversation will influence voice search. It’s a well-known fact that Google has made changes to their algorithm over and over again to make their search box – and search results – based on conversational search. This change helped to clear the clutter of keyword stuffing and make way for results based on intent. As voice-activated digital assistants (i.e. Siri, Cortana and Alexa) increase in popularity, marketers will see Google make additional algorithm changes – calling for changes to the content that we produce.

Check out ‘The Continuing Rise of Voice Search and How You Can Adapt to It,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Voice Search, Chatbots and Conversational UIS: Discover How Conversation Will Force Digital Advertising to Evolve with Purna Virji – Senior Manager, PPC Training, Microsoft.

  1. Consumers crave personalized content. Personalization is here, and it’s not going anywhere. Earlier this year, PAN’s Content Fitness Report found that 49% of marketers are already in the process of aligning content to their personas and buyer journey. However, over the last 3 years, there’s been a decline in marketers’ confidence that they’re being successful at personalization. To increase engagement, personalizing the buyer journey across all mediums is a must. Stopping to monitor and listen to your customers and target audience will help you down this path.

Check out ‘The Ultimate Struggle for the Modern Marketer: Quality & Frequency of Personalized Content,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Content Marketing 2020: Hyper Personalization of Content with Yaron Galai – Co-founder & CEO, Outbrain or See, Touch & Feel: How to Measure Experiential Marketing with Ja-Nae Duane – Managing Partner-Innovation, Revolution Factory.

  1. Why ‘Inbound’ is framework you should be adapting. In a 2016 report, HubSpot discovered that inbound organizations are 4x as likely to view their marketing strategy as effective. Producing content, optimizing your website and engaging in listening and monitoring on social media are must-haves for a modern marketing strategy. When done correctly, using this as part of an inbound approach is more cost-effective than outbound tactics.

Check out ‘Brands’ Top Inbound Marketing Priorities,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Why Inbound PR is the Future of PR with Iliyana Stareva – Principal, Channel Consultant, HubSpot.

  1. Influencer marketing is on our minds, but are we doing it right? It seems like it’s the marketing buzzword of the year, but it is an important tactic to increase awareness and advocacy alike. Don’t think that you need to start with the “Ted Rubin”s or the “Brian Halligan”s of the industry. Start small – turn to your employees, customers and social followers. Start with your micro influencers. It’s better for your time, your effort and your ROI.

Check out ‘Influencer Relations: It’s All About the Personal Touch,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Why the Stars of YouTube, Instagram & Twitter are Today’s Game-Changers with Promise Phelon – CEO, TapInfluence.

  1. Data isn’t just about the numbers. It doesn’t stop when you’ve reported your website visitors, social followers and conversions. Dig deeper into the data that you’re collecting and see where you can improve your customer experience. How can you better optimize that landing page to increase traffic and leads? How can you better engage with your followers to turn them into brand advocates? Analyze your data and turn it into insight to improve your overall marketing plan.

Check out ‘The Difference Between Data, Analytics, and Insights,’ or if you’re going to INBOUND, find breakout session Why Data Isn’t Everything with Jenifer Kern – CMO, Tracx.

What other trends are you noticing going into INBOUND? Tweet us at @PANcomm.

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.