The Top 7 Digital Inbound Marketing Trends for 2021Vanda Williams
The inbound methodology is centred on using short- and long-form content such as videos, blog posts, podcasts, social posts, email, etc., to attract, engage and ultimately delight customers. The dominating characteristic of inbound is to position brands in such a way that consumers discover them on their own, or through the trusted recommendation of a friend or family member.
However, due to the swift advancements in technology coupled with drastic changes in customer behaviour year to year, new trends will emerge as marketers adapt their inbound strategies quickly and precisely.
2020 has been an abnormal year for businesses, brands and customers alike. Many industry trends in 2021 will be a direct response to the pandemic itself; particularly the efforts made by companies to recover from the devastation of the crisis.
Those brands, businesses, and people that can find a way to be flexible in the face of adversity will be best positioned to stick around and find their momentum in 2021.
So, what digital inbound trends should marketers keep an eye on for this year?
1. Semantic search, search intent and mobile optimisation
Most marketers should know of the importance of SEO by now. However, much of the SEO world will be shaped by how people search on the internet, as opposed to what it is they’re searching for. In 2021 and beyond, semantic search will be how search engines interpret infinite data to determine the context, intent and meaning needed to fetch the most relevant content possible.
Increasingly, people are treating search engine experiences, be they web-based, voice-activated, or mobile, as conversational. To add to the conversational nature of the experience, voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, etc., are there to interpret and respond to searches spoken in natural language.
To put it plainly, semantic search is how the Google algorithm can take your unfinished, grammatically incorrect, seemingly random search query and find exactly what you were looking for. Also, these searches are increasingly carried out over mobile. Just take a look at these Google stats:
- 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results.
- There has been an 85% increase in mobile searches starting with “can I”.
- There has been a 65% increase in mobile searches starting with “should I”.
- There has been a 65% increase in mobile searches starting with “do I need”.
Here’s how to optimise for semantic search:
- Create content that answers questions
- Optimise content for people, not computers (no keyword stuffing!)
- Create internal links
- Optimise for topics as opposed to keywords
2. PPC automation
If you’re not finding a way to automate the time-consuming aspects of your PPC campaigns, you’re likely falling behind a competitor who is in 2021.
The rising interest in campaign efficiency has given way to automation technology, powered primarily by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), that can automate campaign efficiency. To maximise conversion and minimise cost, something PPC marketers constantly strive and innovate for, marketers should prioritise PPC automation in the coming year.
What makes PPC automation so influential are their ability to more accurately target people at the optimal level of buyer readiness. These new automation technologies can also take care of bid management and predict click-through rate (CTR) and potential conversions, freeing up employee time so that marketing people can better shape messaging and guide strategy.
3. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
With the inundation of automation and new advertising channels, conversions are more important than ever. Conversion rate optimisation is all about getting people to your site and turning those site visits into palpable, revenue-generating outcomes.
Conversions are measured through actions people take on your site – whether they fill out a form to download your ebook, purchase something from your eCommerce shop, or sign up for a free trial. Your conversion rate is hence, the percentage of people that end up completing your desired goal.
In this sense, CRO can be broken down into two overarching questions:
- How are people arriving at your website or digital experience?
- What are people doing once they reach your site?
These outline the necessary touchpoints along the buyer’s journey, from awareness to conversion, which can all be optimised to increase the chances that your prospect will become a loyal customer. Examples of these include:
- blog posts
- landing pages
- website copy
- page speed, site navigation and structure
- Display and PPC ads
4. Omnichannel marketing and lead nurturing
In 2021, businesses will need to reach and nurture leads through multiple marketing channels. Traditionally, lead nurturing has been restricted to email marketing, but that’s changing fast. For B2B businesses, especially those that want to remain competitive this year, they’ll have to reach their leads where they are, in an omnichannel format.
Omnichannel marketing, in essence, involves the creation of advanced nurture programmes that consider the multiple touchpoints in a lead lifecycle. This is critical given that converting leads to customers is a top priority for 74% of companies in 2021. Some of these vital lifecycle touchpoints include:
- Social media ad remarketing – advertising to specific users given their consumer behaviours
- Online marketplaces – eCommerce sites where people shop online
- Organic search – how people find you using search engines
- Organic social – engaging with your brand’s various social channels
- Podcasts – a fast-growing medium for connecting with your niche
- Youtube – video content that people love to engage with
- Reviews – on sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook Business
- Sales outreach – through various mediums such as LinkedIn, email, cold calling, etc.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can analyse consumer behaviour and search patterns, and use data gathered from different channels to help businesses understand how customers find their products and services. AI will soon be the driving force behind many services in 2021 and beyond. In fact, according to Statista, the global artificial intelligence software market is expected to grow approximately 154% year-over-year. We can already see it implemented in such areas as:
- Chatbots and basic communications
- Product recommendations
- Email personalisation
- eCommerce transactions
- Content creation
Keep an eye out for AI, because by 2024, AI will be able to identify emotions and will influence <50% of the online advertisements you see.
If you want to stand out in 2021, you need to personalise your marketing – and that means personalised content, products, emails, offers and more.
Consider these personalisation statistics:
- Message Personalisation is the number one tactic used by email marketers to improve performance.
- Businesses that employ data-driven analytics for personalisation deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend.
- 80% of shoppers buy just to experience the personalised experience.
- Personalised homepage and shopping cart influenced 85% of consumers to buy.
- 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their personal needs influences their loyalty.
Personalisation is so effective because it makes for a more relevant customer experience. In 2021, CRO specialists will need to continue finding creative ways to precisely segment and personalise various aspects of their conversion funnels. This is especially true considering 90% of leading marketers say personalisation “significantly contributes to business profitability”.
7. Video marketing
Video might be the most important marketing trend of 2021, and likely for the next 5-10 years. It is one of the most popular mediums for customers to learn about new products. These numbers demonstrate the importance of incorporating video into your digital marketing strategy in 2021:
- 92% of video marketers feel the levels of noise and competition have increased in the last year.
- 88% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI.
- 83% of video marketers say video has helped them generate leads.
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
Because people find video content more compelling than text, Google pushes pages that include video higher up in the search rankings. So, if your site includes video, you’re 50% more likely to drive organic search results compared to text.
The great thing about video marketing is that you can reuse and reformat your content. You can easily turn an older blog post into an informational video, or go live showcasing interviews, product demos, and even behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand. Ultimately, this medium gives you new ways to connect with your audience and attract new people to your brand in 2021.