If you’re like most marketers today you’ll recall the good old days when writing blogs filled with relevant links was the tail of that new thing called inbound marketing. Well, we’ve all evolved in the last ten years and it’s now trendy to talk about retargeting funnels, influencer-hosted virtual summits and proximity-triggered push notifications with deep links.
How did we get here? And should we stay?
Many companies saw the value of sharing relevant information to pull people to them instead of pushing advertising and promotions toward them.
However, the days of simply creating content as the extent of an inbound marketing strategy are gone. But those were heady days because most competitors had not caught on to the inbound movement and weren’t active on social media or publishing anything really.
Compelling content as the first evolutionary step
Fortunately, one of the things that have evolved in inbound marketing is content quality. Lessons in publishing bad content in high volume are all over the Internet. Content simply must be relevant and authoritative to work. Today we’re seeing that the content bar is much higher than it used to be and that’s paying off for brands in terms of attraction and conversion.
Marketers also need to take Google’s evolution into account. It used to be that companies could post almost anything and get a decent ranking. But today, Google knows how to tell the difference between quantity and quality and is much better at that distinction when it comes to ranking and publishing.
The science of inbound
Inbound marketing still requires creativity but today’s marketers are realizing the scientific components related to marketing and sales now. Martech and analytics programs help marketers track Key Performance Indicators as well as other marketing metrics to gauge performance. These markers help justify budgets and allow for course correction during campaigns. Add to that, elements like A/B testing and other trials, and a brand can count on better performance as part of inbound evolution.
Can we get personal for a minute?
Those of us who have had front seats to the inbound marketing movement, know one thing: the possibilities are endless. The introduction of technologies such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics help businesses learn more, quicker, so they can deliver the ultimate in personalized experiences. Personalization makes customers feel special and they, in turn, will return again and again, dramatically increasing loyalty and repeat sales.
Inbound today is a dream because of conversational marketing, a one-to-one style of personal marketing mentioned above. Conversational marketing includes tactics such as social media, live chat and chatbots, email and phone. Depending on customer preference, any or all of these tactics are being used to get even closer to the customer.
- Social media provides the ultimate conversational platforms and much better conversations with audiences
- Live Chat and Chatbots allow for better customer experiences through approachable engagements
- Email is an old stand-by that has never outlived its effectiveness when it comes to human interactions
- The phone is still a popular mode of customer conversations and it doesn’t get more one-to-one that a call
Making lives better with great storytelling
Much of inbound marketing relies now on a brand telling great stories about how its products and solutions are able to change lives for the better. Our draw toward personalization and conversational marketing leads naturally to great storytelling. We’re not talking about tall tales, but, rather those stories that tell how a product improved a situation. We’re all drawn to stories and if there are successes related to a brand’s performance , conduct or vision, they need to be told. People want to relate to other people and telling authentic brand stories goes a long way toward cementing customer relationships for the long term.
What will we see in the next ten years?
The last ten years have gone by in a flash. Seems like we were just starting to write blogs, post them and hope for the best. What will inbound look like as artificial intelligence, machine learning and other technologies become integrated into our worlds? What will remain as inbound stalwarts and what will leave because it has outlived its purpose? It’s fun to speculate. But it’s important to stay connected to customers and inbound trends and ride out the next evolutionary wave to rock our worlds.