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  • 11 Inbound Marketing Trends for 2020: Top Forecasts & A Look Into What’s Next Ahead

11 Inbound Marketing Trends for 2020: Top Forecasts & A Look Into What’s Next Ahead

Category: B2B News

Inbound marketing emphasizes the use of substantial content to induce relevant interactions and draw prospects to a business. When executed correctly, this marketing strategy can generate qualified leads and deliver high marketing returns-on-investments (ROI) in the long term. However, these benefits can be hard to come by, especially if you’re not up to date with the latest inbound marketing trends.

In this post, we’ll reveal all the hottest marketing trends you need to keep an eye on in 2020. We’ll show you how marketers are cutting through the clutter to build trust and credibility for their businesses. Understanding these trends will help you employ a more targeted marketing approach and draw prospects into your business more cost-effectively.

trends and forecasts for inbound marketing

Inbound marketing encompasses multiple strategies, including SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and pay per click marketing. According to 75% of marketers, these inbound marketing strategies are effective and can deliver a high rate of return (HubSpot).

What’s intriguing is that, with inbound marketing, you don’t interrupt or persuade consumers at random. Instead, inbound marketing takes on a more targeted approach, allowing you to connect with people who are looking for your product. Generally, it stresses the creation of relevant, valuable, and helpful content that matches the needs of prospects. Inbound marketing aims to provide value to consumers. This way, prospects and existing customers are drawn towards a business when their needs emerge.

That said, inbound marketing delivers leads that are 61% less expensive than outbound leads. Also, businesses that use inbound marketing save at least $14 for every newly-acquired lead (Invespcro.com). Most importantly, according to 53% of marketers, inbound marketing delivers higher ROI. In contrast, only 16% of marketers believe outbound marketing delivers a higher ROI. (HubSpot).

Which Marketing Strategy Delivers Higher ROI?

53%

Inbound Marketing

16%

Outbound Marketing

Source: HubSpot (2018)

Designed by

The cost-effectiveness of inbound marketing and the other benefits that it delivers makes it perfect for today’s business. However, with the fast-paced consumer behavior shift, it’s becoming harder to get the most out of inbound marketing techniques. If you want to get the best out of your marketing efforts, it’s time you changed your process with the following inbound marketing trends in mind.

1. The Rise of Micro-Influencers

Micro influencing is one of the inbound marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2020. As you know, influencers are people who have built a commendable social following by producing engaging, quality content. The influencers can be YouTube celebrities, Facebook influencers, or Instagram stars.

Generally, influencers are relatable, and followers trust them. As a result, the opinions they convey are respected and can easily influence the behaviors of a target audience. This is the trait most brands are interested in. By leveraging the influencer’s position, inbound marketers build brand awareness, connect with customers, and promote content.

While working with A-listers is every marketer’s dream, brands are now treading this scope with caution. In a bid to make influencer marketing part of their digital marketing mix, businesses are currently exploring the possibilities of working with micro-influencers.

Take the partnership between Coca-cola and travel and food influencer Miette Dierckx, for example. The heritage soda brand wanted to build reach and increase consumer engagement in Belgium. Working with Miette and other micro-influencers in the country enabled Coca-Cola to get in touch with the target audience in the most personable way. The campaign exuded authenticity since the ad was in line with Miette’s own posts, thus, delivering a strong appeal to the audience.

However, working with micro-influencers comes with its set of problems like extra management work, time, and resources. This is certainly the case when running multiple campaigns concurrently. But, with the lower cost and higher ROI, we’ll see more and more businesses use micro influencing in 2020 to propel their inbound marketing efforts.

Micro-Influencer Marketing

Coca Cola’s working with micro-influencer Miette

Key micro-influencers trend takeaways

  • Connecting and working with A-listers is expensive for small businesses and startups. Moreover, many consumers no longer trust celebrity endorsers. As a result, companies are partnering up with micro-influencers.
  • Micro-influencer opportunities promise higher ROI at lower costs. That said, working with micro-influencers is increasingly becoming a norm for small businesses.

2. Interactive Content

Gone are the days when consumers were ready to stick around your website and read a blog to the last word. Today, there are millions of websites competing in one niche. As such, there is an overabundance of information, and it’s narrowing the collective attention spans of readers.

Besides, consumers nowadays thirst for control and interaction, which are hard to come by with passive content. The ineffectiveness of passive content has tipped the odds in favor of interactive content. Interactive content like VR content, charts, engaging maps, and graphics make the audience part of the activity, rather than making them feel targeted. It allows them to make choices, explore scenarios, respond to comments, and gain insights.

Ultimately, it raises the engagement level and increases conversion rates. In fact, according to one report, interactive content generates two times more conversions than passive content. With evolving technologies and consumer demands, marketers are finding creative ways to deliver interactive content.

The VenturePact calculator is a quintessential example of how brands can add interactive aspects to help consumers explore scenarios. The firm partnered with Outgrow to add a calculator that enabled its target consumers to estimate the cost of building an app. VenturePact knew that the cost was the biggest concern for its consumers. Therefore, adding the calculator was a well-orchestrated move aimed at quelling this concern. Within two weeks of introducing the calculator, VenturePact recorded a 15% growth in traffic and a 28% increase in conversion rate.

As the going gets tough, we’ll continue to see interactive content/aspects spring up in even more creative ways.

VenturePact Interactive Content

The VenturePact calculator is an example of interactive content. This, in particular, allows readers to calculate the cost of building an app.

Key interactive content trend takeaways

  • Today’s customers crave increased interaction and control, which are offered through interactive content.
  • Interactive content plays a significant role in today’s content marketing strategy. With it, marketers can make their content stand out amid the online digital noise.
  • Lastly, interactive content delivers better conversion rates than passive content. So, marketers would very well be able to make the most out of their content by leveraging it.

3. Voice Search

SEO is constantly evolving. Yet, in spite of all these changes, it’s still a requisite marketing strategy for digital marketers. SEO impacts inbound marketing, and as a marketer, you need to stay on the edge of the latest development in this arena. One such development is the voice search trend. Voice search was one of the hottest inbound marketing trends in 2018 and 2019.

The growth of voice search is partly attributed to the advent of intelligent voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Initially, users had doubts about the accuracy of the voice-assisted devices. However, developers have continued to perfect these devices, and today they have a word accuracy of more than 90%.

As such, it’s hardly surprising that in 2017, 35.6 million US consumers used voice-activated devices at least once every month. (eMarketer). Despite the growing usage of voice-enabled devices in 2017, text-based search remained popular. However, things are changing. Today, users are ditching text-based search queries for voice-assisted searches. Moreover, as ComScore predicts, 50% of all online searches will be made via voice search by 2020. (ComScore).

The growing usage of voice-enabled devices and changing user preference point to a burgeoning future of voice search. Businesses are adopting the necessary changes to keep up with voice search changes and drive more traffic. Some of the notable changes include adding a voice search snippet to blog posts and writing content that is direct and conversational.

Key voice search trend takeaways

  • Voice search is increasingly becoming popular with the growth of AI-powered voice assistants. In fact, many consumers use it for daily web searches.
  • Voice search will be a crucial driver of traffic in 2020 and in the years to come. So, businesses would need to create content that can accommodate this if they want to yield the best inbound marketing campaign results.

4. Changing Social Media Preferences

As you know, social media has faced a slew of era-defining issues with privacy and integrity. But, 2018 marked the boiling point when the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out. From that point on, users started to question the value that social networks provide, and many were skeptical about sharing information online.

Since then, a lot has changed about how users connect and share content online. For example, Facebook introduced a new algorithm in 2018 in a bid to restore its reputation, which was, at the time, going south. In addition, Instagram stories feature has been revamped, and one-to-one messaging has exploded. Most importantly, new social channels like the ad-free WT Social have emerged, taking the traditional social behemoths, head-on (The Next Web). These raft of intimate new formats swung the pendulum back to a real, authentic, and personal approach of sharing content on social media.

For marketers, this means that the only way to compete now is to devise more meaningful methods for customer engagement and lead generation. Emphasis is no longer pinned on maximizing reach. Instead, the focus has shifted towards creating quality content and facilitating transparent engagement. Marketers are more interested in nudging the behaviors that deliver a tangible impact on increased ROI and brand value.

For example, in a bid to connect with millennials, GAP, an American apparel retailer, blended music, pop culture, and fashion in one visually striking, Instagram ad. The ad imparted straightforward messaging via attention-grabbing “Logo Remix” that was easy for the young generation to relate with. After 19 days, the campaign recorded a 73% higher clickthrough rate than GAP’s previous Instagram ads.

Key social media preferences trend takeaways

  • The social media space is a niche in constant change. So, brands have to continually adopt new strategies to keep up with the shifts.
  • The context-specific messaging will overhaul the traditional one-size-fits-all social publishing approach. Consequently, marketers will have to adjust their strategies to keep attracting quality leads.

5. Featured Snippet Optimization

Every brand strives to be number one on the first Google SERPs. Right? But, it seems there is position zero. Yes, Google’s Featured Snippet is the new number one on SERPs. The featured snippet was introduced in early 2014, so it is not necessarily new. However, in the last couple of years, the featured snippet has gained prominence with the changing Google algorithm.

Today, appearing in the featured snippet is every brand’s dream. As we mentioned earlier, Google is trying to make itself as helpful as it can to its users. The featured snippet resonates with Google’s desire to deliver instant and accurate results.

What the featured snippet does is help users find answers without having to leave the first SERP. For example, when a visitor searches “what is best help desk software” they quickly get the answer even before they open the websites on the first SERP.

The featured snippet is the first thing most users see when they search for a word or phrase on Google. Because of this, there is a high possibility that the users will visit the websites mentioned on the featured snippet. This means if your web page appears in the featured snippet, you will get commendable organic traffic to your website.

This tells the whole story of why marketers are in a rush to optimize their content for the featured snippets. The importance of the featured snippet will grow as the days go by. Don’t be surprised if the optimization for featured snippet trend persists for years to come.

Featured Snippet

This is an example of a featured snippet.

Key featured snippet optimization trend takeaways

  • The featured snippet is the new position to strive for in Google SERPs. Thus, we can expect the race for featured snippet optimization to intensify in 2020.
  • Optimizing your web content for the featured snippet can earn you increased profits.

6. Video Marketing

The content marketing landscape has changed a lot over the last couple of years. From the way the content is created, served, and consumed, nearly every aspect has had a facelift. Besides, the boundaries on how, where, and when consumers can interact with content have moved.

While some forms of content have taken backstage roles, others have leaped to the fore. Take videos, for example. Video has become so prevalent that consumers expect it from all businesses, big and small. Compared to other forms of content, video is far more engaging. It educates and informs consumers while promoting products and services in a way that’s relevant, valuable, and flexible.

The video ticks all the boxes of a cutting-edge form of content. Besides delivering what the consumers want, when and how they want it, video delivers numerous benefits too. For example, adding videos on landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.

The benefits of video marketing have caught the attention of many marketers. Also, with video content set to account for the lion’s share of all web traffic, we’ll see the video marketing trend accelerate in 2020. We expect brands to invest more in live streaming, podcast, and webinars. What’s more, new types of video live VR video and 360-degree videos will become a familiar sight in 2020.

Key video marketing trend takeaways

  • Video is currently the best way to serve content to modern consumers. This cutting-edge form of content guarantees increased engagement and better conversion rates.
  • With the rise of formats such as interactive videos and 360-degree videos, video marketing will gain more prominence in 2020. As such, businesses should start looking into how they can incorporate it into their inbound marketing strategies.

7. Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming an essential part of nearly all industries, including marketing. Primarily, AI has had a great impact on inbound marketing, reinventing the very gears that make it tick.

Remember, the real essence of inbound marketing is to deliver content via a blend of marketing channels — SEO, content marketing, and social media — to grab consumer attention. However, with the vast amount of content, you would be at risk of overwhelming your audience. This is where AI comes into play.

Artificial intelligence enhances your content marketing efforts and helps you deliver personalized user experiences. Simply put, the proprietary technology empowers you to give your audience everything they need and nothing they don’t. AI helps you understand your audience better by analyzing consumer data. As a result, you can deliver the right content to the right consumers, and at the right time to increase reach and drive quality traffic.

Over the years, we have seen the advent of AI solutions geared towards simplifying inbound marketing. Take the AI-powered content recommendation widgets, for example. The widgets suggest additional relevant content for website visitors to explore. They personalize the content options based on the reader’s actions and preferences. This way, every website visitor gets a personalized experience, thus, increasing engagement and, ultimately, conversion.

Ecosultancy discussed in detail some examples of how artificial intelligence is impacting digital marketing.

Already, companies like One North have invented an AI-powered solution (Relevance Engine). The software is designed to empower professional service brands to deliver meaningful user experiences and increase engagement. We expect to see more and more companies turn to AI to enhance their inbound marketing efforts in 2020.

Key artificial intelligence trend takeaways

  • As AI-powered marketing tools become more sophisticated, marketers will be able to deliver increasingly personalized content recommendations.
  • There is a growing need for increased personalization in inbound marketing. Thus, we will see more marketers using AI to augment the customer experience.
  • With AI, brands deliver content at the right time to increase engagement and drive increased traffic.

8. Chatbots

When consumers first land on your website, they are searching for information to make the buying decision. Chances are, the consumer visited many sites before, and you have just a few seconds to make an impression. In most cases, the content on your website is not enough to drive the visitors down the funnel.

Why you may ask? Well, as a consumer scans through the product description, they will start coming up with real-time questions. If no one is around to provide instant answers, the potential customer will walk away. To prevent this from happening, brands are adding AI-powered chatbots to their websites. This comes after the realization that 83% of online shoppers want instant help (usually in five minutes) to complete a purchase. Chatbots can help you meet this demand.

Chatbots are designed to hold live chat and talk with prospects and customers. They hold formal conversations with the prospects, providing quick answers to real-time queries to keep visitors hooked. Not just that, chatbots can be programmed to route the customer questions to a human agent. Ultimately, chatbots reduce customer wait time and help deliver 24/7 customer services more cost-effectively.

Besides, chatbots help brands to collect vital data which can be analyzed to power more targeted marketing campaigns.

The AI-powered chatbot is a technology in its infancy, so it’s easy to understand why its acceptance and implementation is snail-paced. However, with the latest development in AI and mobile technology, consumers are getting accustomed to chatbots. As a result, more and more businesses are using them on their websites. That said, it is something you should consider adding to your arsenal of marketing tools.

Chatbots for Marketing

An example of a chatbot in action

Key chatbots trend takeaways

  • Even though it’s still in infancy, the chatbot technology is causing ripples in the inbound marketing industries.
  • With chatbots, the customer wait time is significantly reduced. Thus, many businesses are implementing it to improve service.
  • Chatbots offer the best way to understand the audience persona through data. Consequently, it will soon allow marketers to create more targeted inbound marketing campaigns.

9. Mobile Inbound Marketing

Now, 80% of internet users today own a mobile device. (Smart Insights). Mobile has become part of the consumer’s daily life, especially the younger ones. Individuals are consuming more content on their mobile devices than on desktop computers. The paradigm shift is shaping what promises to be an exciting future for inbound marketers.

The best thing about mobile marketing is that it has a huge viral potential and delivers instantaneous results. No one wants to miss out on the benefits of mobile marketing. Because of this, content and website optimization for mobile devices has taken precedence in brands’ marketing strategies. In 2020, we expect to see an even more spirited rush of marketers optimizing their content to work seamlessly on mobile devices.

Websites will become more mobile-friendly, as marketers try to create an engaging and consistent user experience. For example, marketers will optimize their website to ensure it’s easy to navigate on mobile devices and apps will become easy to use. Moreover, load times will significantly decrease to prevent web users from abandoning web pages.

internet users with mobile devices

Key mobile inbound marketing trend takeaways

  • Mobile phones are an integral part of the consumer’s daily life. Thus, more and more brands are optimizing their website for mobile in 2020.
  • With most shoppers browsing the internet using their mobile devices, marketers should find ways to create mobile-ready content to remain competitive.

10. SEO-Driven Content Clusters

Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times every year. Google has constantly been tweaking its algorithm in response to the changing consumer behavior to enhance the user experience. The first real shakeup to the Google algorithm came in 2013 with the Hummingbird update. Many SEO experts believe that this change spelled the end of keyword dominance and elevated content clusters as a vital ranking factor

Since 2013, marketers and SEO experts have been propagating new content clustering ideas. The first fruitful topic cluster experiment was carried out by HubSpot in 2016. HubSpot found that the higher the number of internal links, the higher the placement in SERPs. The findings of this experiment opened a new SEO horizon, and from this point on, the content cluster trend was set in motion. In 2018, the trend exploded. Then, in 2019, there was a mad rush to reorganize web content and adhere to the content cluster rules.

Here is how the content clustering works:

Let’s say you have “software for small business” as your pillar post. Then, you create variously related but narrowly-targeted pages and interlink them to the pillar post. For example, you can have subtopics (clusters) such as collaboration software, communication software, accounting software, and more. When the content is created in strict conformity with other SEO practices, Google presumes you to be an authority in the field. As such, for every “software for small business” search on Google, you’ll have higher chances of being found on top of SERPs. This is because Google sees you as being more helpful than websites that feature no topic clusters.

We don’t have the crystal ball to foretell the future, but 2020 might be the year for this trend to see its zenith.

Key content clusters trend takeaways

  • Content clustering is now an important factor in SEO strategy. That said, marketers should try to learn how to use it to their advantage.
  • In addition, the significance of content clustering will only grow in 2020 as brands seek to boost their rankings.

11. Authenticity Meets User Experience

Consumers are now enlightened and can easily see the sales speak in your piece of content. The worst thing is, today’s consumers won’t hesitate to shove aside content that drops charm offensive, to entice them to buy. So, what do consumers want? Today’s consumers crave authenticity and are interested in content that’s engaging, personable, and conversational.

Authenticity, coupled with a touch of user experience, is the new way for inbound marketers. This means producing high-quality videos, social media posts, images, blog posts, and podcasts. Besides, your content will have to address your audience persona in the most personable, interesting, and engaging way. Above all, every aspect of your business from culture, marketing, and communication has to ooze authenticity and transparency.

For example, to boost trust and loyalty, marketers nowadays are sending emails that bear the customer’s first name. Besides, the use of intelligent chatbots that recall the customer’s last visit is becoming the new norm. Even better, marketers are using any of the best tools for social media management to monitor all customer interactions. This way, they can deliver personalized responses that address the customer’s pain points.

The North Face Climbing Instagram account is the perfect example of how brands can be authentic and empathetic. In one of its videos, the brand intimates the importance of not forgetting where you come from. The brand urges followers to draw inspiration from their history with a message that resonates with its brand story. This way, North Face provides a relatable and authentic message that nudges the viewer’s interest to what the brand cares about.

Key authenticity trend takeaways

  • Today’s consumers crave authenticity. Meaning, brands should veer away from overt advertising and focus on creating genuine interactions.
  • With this increasing demand for authentic interactions, it is pertinent for brands to start delivering high-quality, personalized content to improve reach and drive traffic.

How Can You Use These Inbound Marketing Trends to Stay Competitive?

We have highlighted the latest trends to help you plan and execute your inbound marketing strategies. What you ought to know is that change is the only constant in this niche. Simply put, the inbound marketing industry is steadily evolving as marketers aim to keep pace with changing consumer behavior.

As such, you’ll need to stay abreast of these marketing trends to boost your marketing ROI and overall business growth. To keep your edge against the competition, train your sight on emerging technologies like AI and AI-powered chatbots. In addition, learn and implement the latest SEO strategies, including voice search optimization, content clustering, featured snippet optimization, and video marketing.

Most importantly, create authentic, interactive content that your real-life customers can’t live without reading. You should also look into partnering with micro-influencers and adopting the latest social media best practices. This way, you can keep your strategies up-to-date.

In addition, you can check out our compilation of crucial inbound marketing statistics to get more insights into the shifts in the industry.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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