We’re nearly at the quarter-way mark into the year, which in our experience is the right time to take a look at trends for the year ahead.
With that in mind, and based on the evidence and data that we’ve gathered, below are what the 5 inbound marketing trends for 2016 that will significantly shape the rest of the year and beyond:
Inbound marketing trends for 2016 #1: An Increase in User Generated Content
User generated content (UGC) is content supplied by customers, and used by businesses on a marketing campaign. Research by Crowdtap has found that UGC can boost conversions by 20%, and AdWeek notes that 20 percent of the world’s leading brands use some form of UGC in their marketing campaigns.
We expect to see more of this in the months ahead, although this trend will primarily be driven by businesses in the B2C space rather than the B2B space.
Inbound marketing trends for 2016 #2: Less Selling, More Stories
Harvard Business Review has confirmed what any 4-year old will gladly reveal: stories are awesome!
However, while 4-year olds may base this on how fun and exciting – or sometimes how scary and creepy – stories can be, the folks at HBR have naturally taken a somewhat more scientific approach, and linked good storytelling with neurological changes that “motivate voluntary cooperation”. In other words: our brains love stories, and businesses that tell great stories can cater to this craving.
So, whether you have a 4-year old at home who can’t get enough of “The Piggy in the Puddle” or you’re more invested in what HBR has to say, the trend is the same: we’ll see more storytelling in the marketing world, and businesses that do a better job will be rewarded with more influence, customers and sales.
Inbound marketing trends for 2016 #3: Guest Blogging Evolves
Rumors of guest blogging’s demise have been exaggerated, and the fact that Google has re-evaluated the value it gives to such content doesn’t change this. Guest blogging is alive and well – and better than that, it’s evolving.
That’s because (as Google discovered), a lot of so-called guest blogs weren’t good content. They were throwaway, phone-it-in, “content for the sake of content” pieces that were created for one purpose: to generate a backlink and earn some offpage SEO juice. This is not and has never been the purpose of guest blogs!
Rather, guest blogs were supposed to allow experts to share insights and provide value to an audience that may otherwise not know they exist. For example, lawyers could write guest blogs for websites run by doctors. Life coaches could write guest blogs for websites run by job counselors. Inbound marketers could write guest blogs for everyone (because really, who doesn’t need inbound marketing?). The point is that guest blogging was about delivering value, not manipulating Google.
And so, in the year ahead, we see the rise of TRUE guest blogging, which is the version that should have existed from the beginning. Yes, this will mean that a lot of folks out there won’t be guest blogging anymore; which is great news for readers, who will no longer be exposed to their poorly written, ill-conceived crap.
Inbound marketing trends for 2016 #4: Go Small or Go Home
While bigger can be better in many contexts, the marketing world is getting smaller in the sense that we’ll see more campaigns and messages aimed towards specific buyer personas (i.e. micro-targeting).
This is a very positive development for a few reasons. By far the biggest is that micro-targeting is much more effective than generic messaging. What’s more, this approach helps businesses better understand their offering and marketplace, and can make adjustments accordingly.
Inbound marketing trends for 2016 #5: Email Marketing Rises Again
When email marketing first hit the scene in a legitimate way (we’re not talking the crazy SPAM era of the 1990s), it was hailed as the greatest marketing innovation since…well, ever. And really, the only folks who didn’t see things that way were the post office and stationary companies. Everyone else was thrilled.
But as we all know, email marketing fatigue set in as consumers began to get drilled dozens or hundreds of times a day, and so there was some belief that, as a marketing tool, email’s best days were behind it.
However, we see email making a strong comeback, because businesses are using it in a more strategic and thoughtful way. That is, they’re delivering value, and using it as a touchpoint – sometimes simply sending a short, personal thank you note immediately after an ebook is downloaded. Email is also ideal for tracking, which makes it a marketers BFF.
And as for those on the receiving end of these marketing emails – they, too, seem to be warming back up to the medium. According to IMPACT, 9 out of 10 consumers faithfully check their email each day (and the vast majority several times a day!).
To learn more about reaping the rewards of these inbound marketing trends for 2016, contact the Leap Clixx team today. As noted, the above predictions are based on our direct experience, and those of our satisfied customers across the country.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing