Inbound marketing is not just a buzzword; it is a battle-tested marketing methodology many companies now rely on to attract their ideal customers.

The inbound methodology is focused on using content – blog posts, podcasts, video, social posts, email – to attract, engage and delight customers.

The whole ethos of inbound marketing is to position brands in such a way that consumers discover these brands by themselves.

However, with the rapid technological advancements and changing consumer behaviour year on year, we see new trends emerge as marketers adapt their inbound strategies to these changes.

2020 has been an unusual year for businesses in every sense of it. As many industry watchers expected, the emerging Inbound trends going into 2021 are driven in part due to the pandemic and the efforts made by companies to recover from the devastation of the crisis.

So, what inbound trends should marketers keep an eye out for as the new year rolls in?

#1 Short-form Video Content is Here

One reason video marketing works is that consumers love to see video content from brands they follow on social media.

It’s not surprising then that 87% of marketing professionals say they use video content in their marketing.

88% of marketers that use video say they are satisfied with the ROI of their video campaigns, and when used as lead generation, video generates 66% more qualified leads per year.

While video continues to grow in popularity and importance, a new trend is emerging in the video marketing niche—the consumption of short-form video content.

A report from Deloitte showed that consumers who watch short video clips grew by 74% in 2018. The number was even higher for Gen Z at 84% and 81% for millennials. The report also showed that 40% of U.S. based consumers spend one hour on average every week watching short-form videos.

The rise of TikTok app, the introduction of Instagram Reels and Stories on LinkedIn indicates that short-form video content is here.

And, if you’re looking for data that justifies including short video format in your marketing toolkit going into 2021, here’s one:

According to the report from Deloitte, 71% of people who frequently consume short-form videos are more receptive to advertising. Consumers in this demographic also have above-average subscription rates.

#2 Progressive Forms

Forms, whether it is to generate leads or get prospects to book a demo session, is an essential piece in the inbound marketing methodology.

While the conventional rule is to ask for name and email from the prospects, there are cases where you may need to request for more details to build a complete profile of the consumer.

In such cases, long form fields can be a turn off for the prospects, and they may fail to complete the action. 

The use of progressive forms is emerging as a solution to long forms. So, instead of requesting all the information all at once, the details are progressively collected.

Consumers are made to fill a form every time they download a resource, and each time, new information is requested, until you have all the data you need.

Keep in mind though, that you’ll need to request for the prospect’s name and emails every time, as that is how the system accurately identifies the individual.

#3 Funnels Evolve to Flywheel

A new theory on customer conversion and the buyer journey is emerging.

Before now, marketers are used to the funnel-shaped conversion diagram, where prospects get pushed down the funnel till they convert.

However, HubSpot recently proposed a new conversion diagram - The Flywheel.

In this new conversion model, the customer journey is continuous. And at the core of the model is the customer, unlike the funnel model, where the customer is the outcome.

The Flywheel model efficiently harnesses the momentum generated across the three phases of the Inbound process: attract, engage, and delight to transform customers into brand promoters who, in turn, help generate business for the company.

The key driver of this emerging trend is the complete overturn of customer behaviour. 

Today, customers are primarily influenced by word of mouth and referrals than your marketing materials to make a purchasing decision. 

A Harvard Business Review article posited that 57% of B2B purchase processes are completed even before customers reach out vendors. And, 81% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family and friends to make a purchase.

The Flywheel model offers a holistic mental framework to help businesses eliminate friction from their internal processes, which will, in turn, help improve customer experience.

#4 The Age of Micro-Influencers

We have seen how rapidly influencer marketing grew from just fad tactics to become a $5-10 billion industry in only five short years.

Influencers are social media stars with a large following. They often create unique, relatable content for their audience.

Over the years, brands have collaborated with these influencers to introduce their products/services to a new audience and drive other marketing objectives.

However, a new sub-niche is beginning to emerge, the micro-influencers. These are super-niche influencers with sizeable followership but not as large as the top influencers.

Since the micro-influencer is often an expert in a specific industry, their audience is hyper-engaged and opinionated. This makes micro-influencer marketing an attractive inbound strategy for marketers looking to reach their target audience.

Partnering with micro-influencers is an inbound marketing trend you want to keep an eye on, and possibly figure out ways to collaborate with a micro-influencer in your niche.

#5 Featured Snippet Optimisation

Featured Snippets was first introduced in 2014. While it is not something new, it has gradually become prominent, especially with the constant Google core updates.

In the past, the holy grail of SEO is to get the number one position on Google search results; today, the goal is to appear on the Featured Snippet.

The Featured Snippet is Google’s solution to keep more users on their platform instead of just clicking through to the websites listed on the SERP.

When a user asks a question, Google pulls answers from sites it has indexed, which the user can quickly read on the search page without needing to visit the website. 

Interestingly, the Featured Snippets are the first things most users will see when they search on Google. And since the user is likely to click on the link to the website, sites that appear on the snippet will naturally see an uptick in organic traffic.

We expect to see the importance of the Featured Snippet continue to grow going into 2021.

The Inbound marketing world is continually evolving. New technologies are making obsolete what used to work and changing customer behaviour in the process.

We hope with these latest trends you can stay on top of all the changes happening in the inbound marketing world and adapt your strategies accordingly.