With every new piece of technology, every changing consumer trend, and every emerging business, the goalposts of marketing shift. If we want our business to succeed in 2015, we need to understand the changing directions of inbound marketing – and be forward-thinking enough to jump ahead of the curve.
Whilst I’m no soothsayer, I have spent some serious time analysing the industry, and getting to grips with the predictions of inbound marketing’s brightest and best. I’ve combined their best predictions, some tech-sector observations and my own inbound marketing musings to come up with 20 inbound marketing trends we’ll see in 2015!
Inbound Marketing Trends 2015
20. There’s more to content than blogging…
Requiring low investment and offering a solid ROI, business blogging was the medium of choice for 2014’s fledgling inbound marketers. However, low costs translate into low barriers to entry; and for every valuable, targeted blog post we saw last year, it was easy to find a dozen terrible posts.
In the same way branded articles and blogs became accepted in 2014, this year will see B2B content diversify. 2015’s marketing trends will see a shift to widespread adoption of other forms of inbound content – video blogs, Slide Shares, infographics, webinars and other mediums we’re yet to uncover.
19. Smarter B2B SMM strategies
2014 proved that B2B and SMM can be difficult to reconcile. Thankfully, with a year’s worth of experimentation (and social media fails) behind them, B2B social media marketing will reach maturity in 2015. Businesses will target fewer networks, but engage audiences in greater depth, deploying brand personality and humour like never before – and prove that work and play can be a powerful marketing combination.
18. Persona-first marketing
If there’s one thing I hammer-on about ad nauseam, it’s the importance of buyer personas. 2014 saw a ton of businesses start to define their audience, but in 2015, we’ll see more brands successfully incorporate their personas into effective marketing strategies.
Personas are at their most effective when they inform a marketing strategy – and this year, we’ll see a ton of well-executed persona-first marketing. If you want to get started on your own buyer personas, you can download my free buyer persona template below!
17. Email marketing returns!
2013/14 saw a significant reduction in email marketing. This reduction was fuelled by a move away from outbound tactics; and with email marketing so laden with spam, it was easy to categorise email as an outbound (and outdated tactic).
Email will be the most resurgent of marketing trends in 2015, with automation, personalisation and content workflows breathing new life into the channel – and marketers will see an insane ROI from their renewed email efforts.
16. Cold-calling breathes its last
Where there is life, there must be death. With a 9.1% success rate, cold-calling is low-efficiency marketing tool – and as an outbound tactic, one that costs up to 60% more than inbound strategies. 2015 will see fewer B2B businesses waste their marketing budgets on cold-calling; instead opting for content creation, email marketing and paid advertising.
15. Wearable tech and the Internet of Things
Google Glass, Samsung Gear, the Apple Watch – 2015 will be the year of wearable tech. When combined with Smart Cities infrastructure, and a whole range of other interconnected Internet of Things devices, marketers are about to be overwhelmed by an influx of consumer data. B2B businesses and brands that manage to master this data will be the real winners of 2015.
14. Data collection =/= data analysis
These wearable devices will massively amplify the Big Data phenomenon. As a result, core marketing trends in 2015 will be less about successful data collection (it’ll be easier than ever), and more about effective data analysis and implementation.
13. Micro-targeting and hyper-segmentation
Unprecedented access to consumer data opens the door to a whole ton of targeted marketing opportunities, and never-before seen conversion rates. However, to paraphrase Spiderman, with great data comes great responsibility – and these benefits are likely to be tempered by increasingly strict data compliance regulations.
12. Increased marketer specialisation
2015’s marketing trends will see greater diversity of content, and require a higher standard to achieve meaningful ROI – both of which will require a greater degree of specialisation. In order to succeed, inbound marketing will require dedicated marketing copywriters, skilled designers, innovative developers and programmers, and a whole host of other niche roles.
11. Deploying paid media alongside owned media
As more B2B businesses master their owned media strategies, greater numbers will experiment with complementary paid media strategies. As Copyblogger’s Brian Clark eloquently explains,
‘2015 will continue a trend that has caught steam this year, which is mixing paid media with owned media to accelerate content distribution. The best “native” advertising helps build an audience into a long-term business asset, and that’s a goal worth spending on in conjunction with owned content creation.’
10. Increases in PPC advertising
In the majority of cases, this will translate into greatly increased PPC spending. Offering a controllable, measurable way of generating targeted traffic, Pay Per Click is already an inbound marketers best friend – but it’s popularity will only grow throughout 2015.
9. Real-time marketing takes off
I’ve looked in-depth at the Agile Methodology, and it’s applications in and implications for marketers. This year will position Agile as one of the most crucial marketing trends, with success in a fast-paced digital world determined by the responsiveness of a business’s marketing efforts.
8. Inbound marketing gets organised
Content – content everywhere. With an infinitely expanding volume of blog posts, guides, eBooks, articles, case studies, whitepapers, opinion pieces, roundup posts and much, much more, organisation will be a key success factor in 2015.
Businesses will have to adopt a structured process of content organisation; and if you’re already suffering at the hands of this marketing trend, you can start organising your inbound marketing with my free downloadable marketing templates!
7. Farewell, Penguin hysteria
Tired of incessant ‘OMG New Penguin Update!?!??’ blog posts? Me too! Thankfully, I predict that the next 12-months will see Google move further towards a system of rolling updates, with fewer massive upheavals and overhauls. Hopefully, this will help marketers put the SEO bogeyman to rest, and focus on creating quality content that readers (and thus, search engines) love to read.
6. Automation goes business-wide
With access to more data than ever before, automated processes are essential to running an efficient inbound marketing operation – to the extent that we’ll see a very definite trend of inter-departmental adoption of automation platforms. HubSpot are blazing a trail with their new Sales system, and we’ll see more joint sales-and-marketing automation platforms emerge in 2015. Smarketers, rejoice!
5. Content promotion will become a seriously big deal
Inbound marketing has been around long enough for a decent number of B2B businesses to have effective content creation strategies in place. Whilst these businesses may have the killer content sorted, very few have effective promotion strategies. Success in 2015 will be less about content quality (it all has to incredible), and more about effective promotion and delivery.
4. Guest blogging will die (but not really)
2014 saw Google take decisive action on guest blogging networks (goodbye and good riddance, MyBlogGuest). Their message was, and still is, clear: engage with paid blogging networks and link building, and you’ll be penalised.
With that said, the act of contributing high-quality, relevant content to third-party sites hasn’t gone away. The focus has instead shifted to ongoing blogging relationships – and in 2015, we’ll see more brands and businesses collaborate to create truly stellar content marketing.
3. Everyone invests in epic content
Remember Content Shock? Whilst the hype of Mark Schaefer’s sensationalist look at content marketing has certainly died down, there is a small nugget of truth to be gleamed from his rhetoric: with increased content comes increased competition. In 2015, effective inbound marketing is only going to get harder.
Stand-out inbound marketers will produce stand-out content; and to earn the continued attention of audience, brands will have to invest into epic, actionable content.
2. Low-quality content gets low-quality engagement
Brands that continue to churn-out low-quality, low-value content will find themselves quickly outcompeted. With ever-increasing access to ever-improving content, there’s no reason for consumers to engage with sub-par marketing. Thrown-together 200-word blog posts and useless infographics from Fiverr will have even less impact in 2015. Personally, I’m extremely happy about that.
1. Inbound marketing becomes… ‘marketing’
Inbound marketing is easy to define through its antithetical relationship to outbound marketing – telesales and cold-calling, print advertising, TV and radio. However, as greater numbers of businesses realise the efficacy of inbound marketing, this distinction will be less important.
Inbound will become the most popular, and the most accepted, form of marketing. Inbound marketing will stop being an exciting new buzzword, and will instead become the new standard of marketing in the digital era.
Want to learn more about Inbound Marketing? Download my free Inbound Marketing Explained eGuide, and discover how Inbound Marketing can help your B2B business stand out from its competitors!