Today's consumers are the most educated the market has ever encountered. The average consumer will have visited a company's website and social media accounts well before purchasing a product or service. As a direct result of this shift in the buying process, businesses have begun to shift their marketing tactics to be in line with the current buyer's process.
This idea of providing quality content through digital channels where buyers spend the most time is called inbound marketing. It's all about being where your buyer is and giving them what they want—useful content about your product or service—rather than using disruptive advertising like web ads, TV commercials, or cold calling.
Inbound marketing is a term coined by the co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan. HubSpot recently held its fifth annual INBOUND marketing and sales conference in Boston. Two hundred and sixty-five speakers, 300 sessions, and 19,000 attendees made up this crazy, enlightening conference, which ranged in topics like social media, SEO, content writing, sales, and much more.
Fresh off of this unique and exciting experience, our team arrived back home with four key takeaways from our time at INBOUND 2016.
1. We’re in the golden age of paid social media marketing
Organic social interaction is down on all social platforms. According to Larry Kim, CEO of Wordstream, 99 percent of organic social content goes nowhere and 50 percent of organic social content gets zero interactions. So, what's the solution? Paid social marketing.
This is the cheapest and most scalable form of advertising on the market. Many companies are still spending big bucks on traditional forms of advertising (radio commercials, TV commercials, and billboards), but what they don’t know is that by allocating a small budget (often under $100) to paid social media marketing, their ROI increases substantially.
The average CPC for social media is $0.61, but this number is projected to increase considerably in the near future. The low CPC is a direct result of the enormous spending budgets on traditional advertising. When companies realize traditional advertising isn’t working and paid social media marketing is the next era of advertising, the CPC will increase rapidly.
In short, pay to boost your best social content now while the ROI is high and the CPC is low.
2. Conversion rate is everything
If we learned one thing from Bob Ruffalo, CEO of Impact Branding and Design, Dr. David Darmanin, CEO of Hotjar, and Jessica Meher, VP of enterprise marketing at InVison, it's this: CRO (conversion rate optimization) is everything.
CRO is optimizing paid search ads, landing pages, and overall website design to increase the conversion rate. This requires that SEO, content writing, UX, and development work in harmony to prevent friction in the conversion process. The brilliant minds at INBOUND 2016 gave this recommendation: analyze, fix, and test.
• Analyze your website to determine weak points in the conversion process.
- • Collect data from the analysis stage and fix the issues found.
- • Perform split-testing with these revamped areas and repeat the analysis phase to see if you're still encountering issues in the conversion process. In the not-too-distant future, people won't be asking "what is my ROI on this blog post?" Instead, they'll ask, "How will this blog post improve my conversion rate?"
3. Video will dominate traditional commercial advertising
"Facebook Live is the rebirth of live television", said Mari Smith, CEO Mari Smith International, Inc., during her INBOUND session. After the creation of live video platforms took the world by storm in 2014, Facebook got in on the action by creating Facebook Live, a live video component that is embedded into the Facebook platform.
According to Hubspot, social video content increased by 50 percent since 2011, with Facebook, in particular, hitting 8 billion video views in 2015 alone. With the inception of live video, Facebook saw their users spend 3x more time watching live video compared to recorded video.
With the obsession of live video currently sweeping the collective Facebook nation, the time to use this as a marketing tool is now. To jump back to Smith's quote at INBOUND, the rebirth of TV is happening now. In the near future, we wouldn't be surprised to see short TV shows or news broadcasts delivered exclusively through live video. If you don't think that could happen, ask yourself if three years ago you saw Amazon providing exclusive TV shows. This very idea was discussed at INBOUND.
4. Content (or rather, context) is still king
No matter your industry or target audience, your marketing efforts should tell a story (content) on a platform where your audience wants to consume it (context). The content or the story behind your brand is what informs your audience about your products and services and compels them to take action, but the context is what drives the user experience.
It's not enough to simply push as much content out into the world on as many platforms as you can and hope it sticks. It's time to get smarter about what you're posting and where you're posting it.
The key is producing content that is informative, helpful, personable, open, and honest. When your content is stiff and salesy, your audience can see right through it. Don't just talk about yourself. Listen to the conversations your audience is having, where they're having those conversations, and scout out the right opportunities to join in.
Pay attention to trending topics, and jump in only when they apply to your brand. Don't just give your customers a list of benefits or features of your company—show them that you understand who they are, what they need, and how you can help them.