I’ve never been one for fortune telling, but in an ever-changing industry like inbound marketing, anticipating what’s coming next is crucial to staying ahead of the competition—for our clients and ourselves. That’s why us inbound marketers just can’t help but look ahead, especially at the beginning of a new year.
But instead of peering into a crystal ball and hoping the future magically reveals itself, we take a considerably more productive approach to predictions: We interview people who know the industry the best.
At Kuno Creative, we have experts in various inbound marketing disciplines, but few know the industry as a whole better than our fearless leaders, CEO and Founder Chris Knipper and EVP and Co-Owner John McTigue.
Chris and John set aside time from their busy schedules to speak with me regarding what they think will happen this year in inbound marketing. Here’s what they had to say:
John: The whole industry is moving toward more quality content and more of a personal relationship with visitors. It's causing us to change the way we're thinking about delivering services [like email marketing]. We’re getting away from marketing automation [in the traditional sense] and heading toward using marketing automation to be personal.
Chris: We focus on how you can do more as a marketer. It's not just based on email marketing anymore—it's a whole dynamic experience. There are tools out there that didn't exist a year ago. Mid and upper management are scrambling to understand those tools because they're going to have much better results as far as getting the right content to the right people. We need to go beyond just sending an email to people who indicated they’re interested in a certain subject.
John: We’re trying to make content more personal, more relevant and less brand-y. We’re not pushing brand; we’re having a conversation. For example, we’re kicking off a campaign [for Kuno Creative] where every email is a personal email from me with my name and return address and that speaks to their needs.
John: One of the big things that's going on in 2014 is using a website in a new way, which is to provide dynamic content and not just static content that is always the same and always addresses your products and company. Your website needs to be a personal resource for the visitor because your customers have already done their homework before they ever contact you. Your website needs to be completely responsive to their needs as they're doing that research. You need to anticipate what they're looking for.
The whole idea is that the entire website is really customized by virtue of the information and the interaction visitors have with the website. It means you really have to know your buyer personas and design content that's relevant to everything they're looking for: everything from search engine optimization all the way through website design, content and lead generation. All of that has to be tied together with the individual in mind. It's going to be a lot more work, but you don’t have to have all of that overnight.
Chris: When inbound marketing was in its infancy stages, everybody had the idea to create content and engage in social and SEO. All that stuff is pretty easy as far as just learning a little bit and then trying to do-it-yourself. There was a large volume of small self-proclaimed “gurus” in those areas.
Now if you're trying to build your resources, whether you're running your own internal marketing department at a company or you're hiring an agency, you need really good technologists and people who are really good at writing content. What worked one or two years ago in regards to the quantity of content being published doesn't work as well any more because there's so much of it.
John: It’s changed on the technology side, too, because just a few years ago, we were all looking for different tools and how to use them and how to put them together. HubSpot is really driving this big trend toward integration and having everything in one place. Now, instead of going to HubSpot and asking, "Can you do this and this and this for us?," HubSpot is telling us we have all the tools available already. The technology is actually out in front and people are trying to catch up, which was not true a few years ago.
John: You can't ignore sales. [Marketing] has to be completely aligned with sales. You cannot just do marketing anymore, and you can't just do sales anymore. You have to do them both together.
Throughout January, we’ll be discussing inbound marketing trends for 2014 in areas such as sales, content, design and web development more in-depth with experts from the Kuno Creative team. Subscribe to the Kuno Creative blog now so you don’t miss these exclusive Q&A’s with some of the industry’s brightest minds.
How do you expect inbound marketing to change in 2014? Share your predictions in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Mo