The way you think about inbound marketing just may be broken. Many businesses are finding that the tried and true inbound marketing tactics that worked in the past just aren't producing the results they need. There are two main reasons that traditional thinking may be negatively impacting your marketing results.
There is a glut of inbound marketing content being produced and it's increasingly more difficult to rise above the din with your content. TrackMaven found that the average number of blog posts produced by brand increased 800% over the past five years.
Buyer behavior is changing. DemandGen's 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report found that 34% of buyers have less time to devote to researching purchases.
It's time to throw away traditional ideas about what works and what doesn't. In the post below we will share data with you that illustrates what buyers are looking for and how you can reach them.
How are buyers doing pre-purchase research?
The Demand Gen Content Preferences report confirmed much of what we're seeing in the marketplace. The old standard "listicle" blog post format still draws buyers into the top of your marketing funnel, but serious buyers are looking for something entirely different.
Time-starved buyers are looking for short-format content. DemandGen found that 46% of buyers prefer shorter format inbound marketing content. Even when producing longer-form content, you should structure it so that buyers/readers can quickly scan it and find the information they want.
Visual content is increasingly important to connect with buyers. 41% of buyers agreed that visual content is more important to them in 2017 than it was in 2016. If you're not using more visual content in your inbound marketing, you really should. You don't have to have a huge budget to produce compelling video content.
B2B buyers want less "roadblocks" to access content. When asked what information they were willing to share to access content, 95% of buyers were willing to share name/company/email address and 85% were willing to share job title/industry. Only 33% were will to share their phone numbers to access content and a paltry 18% were willing to share budget/purchase timing/annual revenue. We recommend only asking for phone numbers and purchase information for bottom of the funnel offers like consultations. If you include them in your top of the funnel offers, you may be starving your sales pipeline.
More buyers are accessing marketing content on mobile devices. 52% of buyers are more likely to access marketing content on smartphones and tablets in 2017. Your inbound marketing content should reflect this - use responsive templates and size images and headlines to display properly on mobile.
There is a nascent movement to shift from delivering marketing content via PDF to using interactive website pages. This article (Kill the PDF) by Jeff White of Kula Partners does a great job exploring the hows and whys of moving away from PDFs. We are big proponents of this approach and are moving in this direction with great haste!
How To Communicate Visually
Video courtesy of Visme
Contrarian tactics that get your content noticed
My friends at TrackMaven studied 65,000 blog posts between September 2015 and August 2016 to see what makes blog posts successful. The results of this study aren't conjecture; they are conclusions based on hard data analysis. What I take from this study is that going against the grain can separte your content like wheat from chaff. Here are some of the key data points from the TrackMaven 2017 Blogging Report.
Posting your blog at "uncoventional" times leads to more social sharing. It only makes sense - if you post your blog post at the most competitive time, it's more likely to get lost in a flood of other posts. TrackMaven found that Wednesday is the most competitive day to post your content and noon EST is the most competitive time. Sunday is the best day of the week for social shares and 3 PM EST is the best time.
Use superlatives in your content titles! The optimal number of superlatives in a title is 2 for social sharing. Using the second person (you, your, yourself, etc.) in your content titles is also a best practice to increase sharability. We like this headline analyzer from Co-Schedule to help optimize headllines.
The structure of a sharable blog post corresponds with buyer preferences. The optimal blog length is 1,200 to 1,400 words; the optimal paragraph has 2 sentences and the optimal sentence has 20 words. This is all in keeping with buyer preferences for short-form content where information is easy to access. Don't forget to use headers, images, videos, bulleted and numbered lists, horizontal lines an other visual elements in your blog posts.
Take a second look at your content publishing practices and apply these data-proven tactics to optimize your inbound marketing results.
You should be practicing a "lean" approach to your inbound marketing, constantly evolving your tactics based on marketplace feedback. For those stuck in the past and unwilling to change, your results are either suffering or about to. Keep in mind how buyers consume your content and pay attention to the data to structure a successful inbound marketing program.