HubSpot certainly has a close eye on the latest trends and developments in marketing and sales. Their annual 'State of Marketing' reports always provide a good insight into what marketers and salespeople around the world are prioritising and focusing on. Recently, HubSpot released 'The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Trends in 2021' - in this article, we've summarised the most important takeaways.
New trends pop up constantly, but not all of them evolve into reliable best practices that stand the test of time. Despite that, it's still a good idea to stay on top of trends - if you want to meet the expectations of your customers and prospects and understand how their needs, wants and desires are changing, you need to know what's happening online and what your competitors are offering and investing in.
Here, I've summed up what I think are some of the most interesting trends that HubSpot has highlighted. If you want to learn more, make sure to check out the full guide on HubSpot's blog.
HubSpot's invention of the flywheel, a replacement for the traditional funnel, reflects an increase in customer focus among many companies. Rather than placing customers at the end of the marketing and sales processes, as the funnel does, the flywheel puts them in the middle. It reflects the power of word-of-mouth, and presents great customer experience as a driving factor that can cause the rest of the flywheel - made up of the attract, engage and delight stages - to spin faster and more effectively. Replacing the funnel in your head with the shiny new flywheel helps to re-focus your attention on a vital target group - your existing customers.
HubSpot debuted the flywheel in 2018, and it's made a big difference to how many companies think about their customer relationships. We wrote about the flywheel after 2018's Inbound conference - you can read more about the concept here.
Many of us use voice search on a daily basis - whether we're asking Siri to change the music or get directions, or telling Alexa to switch the lights on or set a timer. However, there's not many companies that give this fast-growing type of search enough attention. The key to adapting is framing your content differently, and answering your audience's questions.
Rather than typing a bunch of keywords into a search bar, when we use voice search, we ask questions in the same way we would ask a person. The search terms and intent are different, and if you want to attract people from voice search, you need to focus less on boosting your ranking for specific keywords and more on answering questions.
As digital assistants play a larger role in our lives, the amount of voice searches and the number of contexts in which they're made will continue to grow - so it's a good idea to start considering how your content creation can keep up.
Even on the online presences of traditional B2B companies, where the intended audience is most likely sat at a desk in an office (or a home office), more and more traffic is coming from mobile. These users are just as important as desktop users, so you can't afford to make your mobile site an afterthought. Responsive design and mobile-friendliness on your website is essential, and it's only going to get more important.
Site speed and mobile performance is important to Google as well - if you don't offer a good experience for mobile users, don't expect Google or other search engines to prioritise your content in search results.
There was a lot of buzz around chat a few years ago, and even though it's not as strong as it once was, chat bubbles are an increasingly common sight on all kinds of companies' websites. It's simply not enough to have a general contact form on your site where users can submit a question and maybe get a response in two business days - especially not when competitors have chatbots and live chat options that can provide answers in a matter of minutes.
Even for more complex customer service enquiries, an increasing number of users prefer to use a chat function to communicate, especially when the alternative is to call a customer service number, wait on hold, and get moved around between different switchboards. Chatbots can also be used to answer simpler queries without any human involvement at all, and their capabilities will only increase. Zooma has a chat option on the website - does your company?
Creating high-quality, relevant knowledge content can be a tricky and time-consuming process. So when you've gone to the trouble of writing an excellent article, why let it just sit somewhere in your blog archive? It's better to make the most of your investment by re-purposing the content - either by reproducing it in a different format, presenting the content as a video or a podcast, or using it to create bite-size pieces of social media content.
Over the last few months, we've discovered that podcasting is a great medium if you want to re-purpose content. Episodes of The Onlinification Pod have been turned into social media content, articles, videos, and providing transcriptions of your podcast is a great way to make it more likely that they'll be discovered through search.
The re-purposing process can also go the other way - if you have a popular article, create a podcast episode around it where you discuss the topic more deeply.
Time is a very scarce resource, for customers and prospects as well as for the people who market and sell to them. So re-purposing existing content is a great way to make a bigger impact with fewer resources. If you're curious about how you can do this with your own content, make sure to download our guide to repurposing content with the button below.
If you want to see HubSpot's full trend list, take a look at the article. And if you want to find out how your organisation can adapt to these changing trends, our in-depth guide to digitalisation might be of interest.