The merging of inbound marketing and sales will be the unifying force ~ the catalyst ~ for business change in 2016. Where two distinctly separate departments once functioned and fought for budgets and attention now work in collaboration, conjunction, and communion. Here’s a look at some specific inbound marketing / sales trends to fully embrace and run within 2016.
Be strategic, mindful, and purposeful.
In 2016, the strategy will be the driving force in inbound marketing ~ you’ll need to create a methodical approach for your inbound marketing campaign and use all the technology available. Up until this point, this wasn’t the case. Some companies had awesome e-books to download, but their landing pages weren’t impressive. Others were great at posting new content every day, but not-so-much at connecting the content to videos or other resources that inspired the visitor to take some form of action.
Create a holistic customer experience.
From sparking the initial interest and generating viable leads (through videos, engaging content, and having a presence on social media) and turning the visitor into a buyer, to transforming that buyer into a referring, loyal, repeat customer, each step of the marketing-sales process must be in sync. Separate silos of information are no longer the norm.
Embrace artificial intelligence and automation.
With the ability to expand the impact of your content, improve your lead-to-sale conversation rates, drive repeat business, capture data for targeted leads, and improve the overall shopping experience for your customers, automation technology will be a key component of your inbound marketing success in 2016. To filter through all the noise and process all the increased data you’ll access this new year, the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence will prove useful.
Enable sales to experience qualified leads.
Demonstrating a true collaboration between sales and inbound marketing, in 2016 inbound marketers are going to be able to help their sales staff easily close the leads that come in. This “sales enablement” will be one of the biggest trends in 2016 ~ eliminating the presence of unqualified leads or poor sales alignment.
Offer a portion of remarkable content.
Whether it’s through an e-book, white papers, or a newsletter, continue to provide engaging information to your potential, new, and established customers—but with a twist. Instead of offering only downloadable e-books for free in exchange for an email address, offer portions of content that is remarkable, useful, and of value. That is, offer a portion of a training video or a portion of a “How to” method via an online course.
Expect the return of the old kid on the block.
Inbound marketing / sales trends for 2016 include more competition. Apple introduced a new set of apps with the launch of iOS 9 that are profoundly changing the way users experience the web on their mobile devices. What’s different? The apps protect the iOS 9 users from having to be bombarded with paid advertisements. While Apple owners are delighted, big-time advertisers (enterprise-level companies) now have to change their course of direction to reach these customers via a different route. They’re going to go where the small-to-medium-sized business have been all along—inbound marketing.
So, while the trend for the big players is to build up their inbound marketing efforts, the trend for the SMBs is to increase what you’ve been doing all along (creating organic content on your websites and via social media platforms).
Get (and stay) social.
A huge portion of your SEO efforts must be on social media platforms. You’ll need to create content that is instantly eye-catching and attractive—with truly click-worthy titles. Further, to do this effectively, you first have to understand not only what your targeted audience wants (before they even realize it), but also how they browse, share, and link to inbound marketing content on the internet.
Although your potential buyers can (and do) a lot of the research about your product prior to ever talking to or connecting with a sales representative from your company, inbound marketing/sales trends for 2016 will offer tools that will enable shoppers to do a lot of the calculations that typically only sales people behind desks did.
Further, by being well-equipped with the ability to build interactive content on your website (quizzes, ROI calculators, and knowledge tests), you’ll be engaging your prospective buyers, expediting the buying process for them, and helping them to make well-informed confident buying decisions.
For 2016, inbound marketing / sales trends will lean toward customers (still) continuing to demand (and deserve) a better overall shopping experience.
For sellers who “get it” ~ for those who understand their targeted audience, what their customers’ preferences are (blogs, videos, e-books, tweets?), and what frustrates them, marketers will be able to provide a more personalized approach to the engaging, information-laded content they provide and how they go about provide it.
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