Over the past few years, there has been a tremendous increase in emerging technologies and trends in inbound marketing. And these emerging trends have been able to create more personalised, streamlined and overall better experience for customers online. As per a study, there are around 73% of marketers who report inbound strategies as their primary approach while 4x inbound marketers feel their strategies as highly effective as compared to the outbound marketing tactics. And then there are those B2B marketers who have committed almost 30% of their budgets on average to content marketing alone. Hence to see continued success in 2018, inbound marketers must understand and be ready to apply emerging trends that are expected in the coming year.
Mentioned below is a list of seven trends that are on the rise in 2018.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Marketing
Over the past few years, Artificial intelligence has made significant progress and has now become one of the breakthroughs in digital marketing. There has been a rise of Alexa and other bots that could answer any questions and obey commands very instantly, and in 2018 this trend is going to be massive hit for digital marketers.
According to Salesforce research, artificial intelligence (AI) use by marketers will grow more than 50 per cent in the next two years.
Large amounts of data can be taken and analysed by Artificial Intelligence solutions, and it can be segmented at a level that is beyond human capabilities. These then can be used by inbound marketers to execute intelligent campaigns further. As per a study, there are around 57% of marketers who already use AI, and this is projected to grow 53% in the next couple of years.
2. Smart Content
Though smart content has been around for some time, it is only in the recent time; it has been taken seriously by marketers as they find out new ways to incorporate contextual marketing into their websites. As personalisation is considered to be a significant element of inbound marketing for both the consumer and the company, smart content helps deliver personalised content by using cookies and dynamic lists.
Along with smart content, personalisation helps the company to track how familiar a visitor is with their website and nurture the lead as per the stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. In this way, the website and the brand do not feel like an unknown territory for the consumer.
As per emarketer, by 2019 65% of the global population will use messaging apps. With so many messaging apps now supporting chatbots, the global chatbot market is expected to grow exponentially between 2016 and 2023(as per Credence research.) Chatbots are much appealing to inbound marketers because of the groundbreaking, progressive technology. From Artificial intelligence to chatbots though bots are at the forefront of technology and they are here to stay, marketers have been playing it safe, having it only on their websites, to reach out and help the visitor.
Over the past few years, the rise of voice search and also the introduction of bots like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, saw many companies adopt chatbots, but those who do not adopt this type of efficient technologies have every chance of being excluded from the search and eventually be forgotten.
Podcasts are comparatively newer platform for content, making content convenient, a great relief for those who find it hard to hunker down at the desk or sit down to read the content. Instead, podcasts gives the consumer the convenience to listen while getting stuck in traffic or exercising. As per HubSpot, 11% of marketers are planning to add podcasting to their marketing efforts in the next year.
Podcasts are very easy to make and don’t require a huge budget to prepare. There are a lot of new kinds of creative content like storytelling and interviews which can be gained access to the customer base of audio channels like iTunes.
5. Pillar Pages
Pillar pages are comprehensive resource pages that cover a core topic in depth and then links to the higher quality content that is created for supporting subtopics. The content on a pillar page should be adapted to convert your visitors into leads and further leads to customers as this is valuable information that you are pushing visitors to.
The pillar page finally gains authority with a number of quality inbound links from your subtopic content. Pillar pages that are ungated and complementary resources are already very popular in inbound marketing and are expected to see a lot more of this practice in 2018.
As per HubSpot, here’s its pillar page about Instagram marketing which provides a thorough overview of how to use Instagram, and it's hyperlinked to specific pieces of cluster content -- like this blog post about how to write good Instagram captions.
6. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is that form of marketing that is focussed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. This particular type of marketing saw an increase 90x from 2013 to 2016, and it had doubled in first half of 2017. It also proved to be the most effective form of advertising and was on every trend list this year and will continue to hog the limelight and be the focus of inbound marketers in 2018.
In the year 2017, micro influencers dominated but in 2018, the focus will more on integration. The coming year will witness brands doing a great combination of different types of influencers to achieve their marketing goals. When each of these selected group reaches the specific target audience, it will naturally help the company reach more people than ever. Apart from the combination of mega, macro and micro influencers, companies will also try to combine other word of mouth strategies like advocacy, referral programs and loyalty.
“A Return on Relationship is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship over time. This will demonstrate that the influencer is true to the brand, and this true relationship connection will pass through to the consumer. - TED RUBIN, Chief Marketing Officer, Brand Innovators”
7. Voice Search
As per Google, in 2016 voice searches made up of 20% of search queries in the US and 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Voice, a natural evolution of search, layers on top of the existing search technology, which has existed for over a decade and it is only now is robust enough for commercial use. And in the year 2018, the influence of voice search on SEO is expected to become increasingly significant.
Voice search can be used by consumers just about anywhere, be it phones, smart speakers, tablets, desktop computers and tablets. And while optimising for voice search, include long tail keywords and conversational phrases that people would be more expected to say it loud.
Marketing in 2018, if based on current trends is expected to be more analytical and focussed on inbound marketing methods of voice search and social media. With the evolution of technology, the above mentioned trends may become fruitful but some may not, as it will be entirely dependent upon the expectations of the consumers, which is expected to change in the near future.