Each year, our team looks forward to the release of the annual State of Inbound Report. While we understand that a combination of solid inbound and outbound marketing techniques can provide the most value to some businesses, a majority of our own marketing efforts are rooted in inbound marketing strategies.
If you haven’t had a chance to read the report, you can download a copy for free here.
Sure, there are a few things you would expect to see in the State of Inbound Report. I can't imagine closing leads into customers will ever not be a priority for marketing and sales teams. But as we dug deeper into the report, we found that three surprising trends are almost guaranteed to shake up the marketing world in the coming months.
We would all be better off understanding and preparing for the changes ahead, so here's a quick look at what's in store for your business.
1. Video will make or break your marketing in the near future.
Is the video marketing revolution here? You betcha. All you have to do is scroll through your personal Facebook feed to see that video marketing is taking over. Here is a bit of what my own feed shows in just four swipes:
- A cute puppy is opening a box from an automated dog-food delivery service (Awww…)
- A woman twirls slowly in a wedding dress that’s available just down the street from me
- My hairdresser is styling a client’s hair in a fast-forwarded before-and-after video
For B2B companies that are hesitant to incorporate video, the channel will become an enormous disruptor. Many companies are rearranging their entire marketing budget (sometimes dedicating a full quarter) to develop and promote remarkable video content. In fact, some participants in the survey believed that video marketing would one day make their content-writing job obsolete.
One participant argued, “Video is just going to get bigger and bigger. I think more people want raw, honest connection. They want to know you and the company in a way that feels personal.”
But not every company requires a $20,000, professionally filmed, delicately written, super-star acted video to feel connected to your brand. In fact, many customers are happy to see you talk about your product in 5-second tidbits on their Snapchat or Instagram Story. Check out these video marketing ideas for inspiration.
In light of this, it also comes to no surprise that the report states YouTube, Facebook Video and Instagram are the top three distribution channels companies plan to add to their marketing efforts in the next 6-12 months.
Notwithstanding the budget your company has for video production, the end result is clear: video is on the rise, and it’s best to get ahead.
2. People don’t want to talk on the phone, which means the sales role has to change.
The report asked participants what their preferred method of communication is, specifically for business purposes. Across the globe – Asia and Latin America included – most people prefer to communicate through email. In fact, 91% of participants in North America selected email as their preferred communication channel.
And yet, 36% of participants believe that telephone calls are the most successful channel for sales representatives to connect with prospects, with email coming in at only 26%. That’s a big disconnect.
There is no question that a helpful, regular, and user-friendly email campaign is a surefire way to connect with leads – after all, it’s how most people want to consume content. So why do so many companies still believe that a phone call is the best way? It could be because the role of the salesperson is changing. The report predicts that the sales role will soon evolve from traditional selling (let me tell you about our awesome product!), to that of an advisor or concierge (what goals are you trying to accomplish, and how can we help?), to better serve prospects.
Why the change? Because buying habits are changing. Prospects have already researched almost everything about your company through your website before asking to speak with you on the phone. They have read your story, and your testimonials. They have read your reviews, and your services pages. They have compared your prices to your competitors'. And the reality is... most people don’t want to be on the phone with your sales reps, or feel as though they are being sold to.
One participant wrote: “Our industry is going through a seismic shift. Gone are the days of the salesperson being the gatekeeper for information. Our website has now become our primary mode of marketing where it used to be our brick-and-mortar locations. I think in the next three to five years we will see a shift to brand selling and concierge-like service.”
3. Not adapting is leaving businesses in the dust.
Whether it’s video, developing social media personas, putting your CEO on Snapchat, or completely reimagining the sales role, one thing is clear from this report:
“IF A COMPANY IS SLOW TO CAPTURE A NEW MODE OF COMMUNICATION, IT MIGHT AS WELL STOP THE BUSINESS.”
It’s an unfortunate reality of today’s marketing environment. If your customers are using Snapchat, your business should have a Snapchat strategy. If your customers are chatting on WhatsApp, your business should develop a WhatsApp strategy. It can feel tiresome, especially for companies that are just feeling like they’ve finally nailed their nurturing campaigns using email to keep up – or if resources and budgets are limited. But adaptability is key to success.
Small changes your company makes today could make a huge difference to your bottom line. If the priority to close leads into customers is still #1, then we have to close customers the way they want to be closed. What new strategies is your business implementing next quarter?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the marketing channels your customers are using? Maybe it’s time to bring on a partner. Download 7 Signs You're Ready to Outsource Your Marketing for some helpful insight!