Keeping ahead of the latest inbound marketing trends and changes can sometimes seem like a full-time job in itself. But it’s a challenge that marketing strategists thrive on.
Strategists are the ones leading accounts, drawing on years of marketing experience and directing multi-skilled teams to develop and optimize marketing efforts. Creating strategy out of lots of moving pieces, pivoting when needed, is their bread-and-butter.
Whether those pivots are prompted by new marketing trends, shifting business goals or data-driven insights, being able to adjust and stay ahead is a key trait of marketing strategists. Every business is unique, but there are some overarching similarities we see at Kuno Creative in terms of where clients are seeking the most support. So, as part of our Inbound Marketing Trends Series, let’s dive into some of the latest opportunities in digital marketing from a strategist’s standpoint.
The makeup of the marketing teams coming to us has shifted somewhat in recent years, reflecting a change in what organizations are looking for in an agency partner.
Not too long ago, we saw a lot of one-person marketing teams needing to outsource as much as possible to an agency. More recently, though, larger marketing teams are coming to us for support and insight – not to replace their in-house marketing efforts, but instead as an addition and extension to their teams. Agencies have the benefit of subject matter experts who can zero-in on specific elements of your marketing strategy and, of course, plan your strategy end-to-end with you.
This kind of partnership between an organization and an agency brings a wealth of opportunities for innovative digital marketing strategies and insightful campaigns. More perspectives are brought to the table from both the client and agency side, which ultimately leads to a more insightful strategy.
The role of an inbound marketing strategist has also evolved to meet this shift in dynamics.
Strategists have always been the glue that holds a team together – which includes everyone from strategic account managers and SEO experts to designers and content marketers on the agency side. Now, executing forward-thinking solutions while collaborating on big picture strategy is more important than ever for successful inbound marketing.
Similarly, alignment between sales and marketing has become a bigger priority. And it’s something we’re seeing organizations seeking more comprehensive guidance on.
Sales have become incredibly sophisticated with regard to different platforms and technology used. HubSpot, for example, allows sales reps to track contact behavior and glean insights from what term a prospect clicked on to find the site to what pages that person visited.
Tools like this give sales teams a much more thorough understanding of their leads – where they’re at, what they’re searching for and what they’re doing – and can do so long before the first conversation.
This all means that marketing and sales simply can’t be siloed. It’s a hindrance for sales teams not to know what marketing is doing and vice versa. Organizations are increasingly centralizing their data with tools like HubSpot and wanting to get both teams working better together on a single platform.
As a strategist, helping client organizations maximize HubSpot - or other CRM platforms - for the strongest return on investment for both teams is huge.
The kinds of information and amount of data available to marketers continue to grow exponentially. Insights that seemed unfathomable just a few years ago are now commonplace and expected.
As just one example, heat mapping software displays information about a site visitor’s mouse movement to show where they’ve paused, hovered and clicked. The wealth of information marketers and sales teams can gather becomes increasingly sophisticated by the day.
This changes the game for marketing strategists. There is greater demand for immediate feedback on how a campaign is performing. Constant reporting on how a new tactic is working is commonplace. The tools available to harness data are ever-evolving and can deliver real-time performance.
The benefit, of course, is that this data allows for more adjustments and optimization. On the flipside, some areas like SEO and organic traffic take time to build momentum. For strategists, maintaining a balance between making quick adjustments based on the data and knowing when to let a tactic play out is crucial in a time of so much information. Setting realistic goals, timelines and expectations is key.
A big part of keeping up with inbound marketing trends is staying up to date with the latest marketing technology. You have to have your finger on the pulse of everything from web design and demand generation to video marketing and content marketing.
Luckily, one of the advantages of working with an agency – and part of the job for the strategist – is leveraging the wealth of insight and expertise we have as a diverse team. Each team member has expert knowledge of their respective marketing concentration. Critical areas of marketing are growing, strengthening the impact of specialists like demand generation, or multimedia experts. The strategist then brings it all together for a cohesive course of action.
Every year, certain trends and techniques are particularly popular. This year, we’re seeing more requests and questions around the following:
And marketing automation, while not new, continues to be a must for all businesses. Everything from simplifying workflows to scheduling demos can benefit from automation to save time, nurture leads and help shorten the sales cycle. In particular, setting up live website chat functions has been a priority for many businesses we work with this year.
In the world of content marketing, there's a lot of competition. HubSpot recently published these statistics:
Clearly, content is king for inbound marketing. Blog posts, ebooks, videos, case studies, landing pages, podcasts, emails and social media are key to attracting and converting buyers. But more is rarely better.
Sharing relevant content that provides value is more important than ever to be heard above the noise.
With email marketing, this could look like sending a single newsletter round-up with three or four pieces of content the audience can pick from instead of four separate emails. For blogging, four tailored posts and a couple of videos may resonate better than eight posts a month.
This is where creating insightful buyer personas and focusing on customer journey mapping from the beginning makes a real difference in understanding your audience and what they’re looking for.
Aim to create fewer pieces of content, but provide more value.
One of the benefits of working with an agency and marketing strategists is having access to a full team to fill in the gaps, execute forward-thinking solutions and collaborate on big picture strategy.
The Kuno Creative team can help you level up your inbound marketing strategy by implementing these top five trends and much more. Check out our case studies for examples of how we help our clients get results.