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Here's Where Online Marketing is Headed

There are a couple simple ideas powering the current movement of online marketing: make it user-friendly, more informative, more authentic, not only because it builds brand equity but because the tools customers use to find their way online have become increasingly sophisticated. 

While marketing trends seem to change every week, it's pretty easy to see where everything is moving. If you're wondering what will stand the test of time and continue to dominate the best marketing strategies, read on.

Smarter content 

As Google, Facebook, and other channels become increasingly capable of putting what their audience really wants in front of them, the savvy move for online marketing, even in B2B, becomes delivery of high-value, personalized content.

You can’t just stuff obvious keywords into your articles and hope that this will get you ranked at the top of Google. You can’t just build link farms full of exact phrase anchor text backlinks. Getting attention from the gatekeepers today means natural content and natural backlinks—building a site that gets good traffic from search engines and social networks requires either very good content and a lot of luck, or very good content and a very good marketing team.

That’s why inbound marketing is thriving. 

Generating qualified leads with content

You have a website built according to the current best practices. You have content written, filmed, or otherwise produced by knowledgeable experts, stuff any visitor will be glad to see. Now, how do you take these ingredients and produce leads?

It’s simple. You start with a 'gate', meaning visitors need to give you their contact information to gain access to valuable content. The exact strategy for your site depends entirely on the specifics of your business, as there’s no one-size-fits-all ideal.

Maybe your gate is low-investment; you put access to your best and most intriguing content behind a simple newsletter sign-up. Maybe you want your audience to commit strongly from an early stage, because anyone hesitant to spend isn’t worth your time as a lead; in that case, put everything but the bait behind a paid gate.

The shape of your gate, as much as the content and the channels pulling people to your front door, will determine what your leads look like. Experiment, experiment, experiment, and you’ll find what works best. Don't have time to experiment? Work with an inbound agency who can give you the best chance of success.

Video and Webinars

There are two major forms of content which have exploded in popularity recently, which means they’re not only important for your marketing, but they’re high-efficiency. Why? Because not all marketers have caught onto their value yet, offering you an edge.

Video content is the first place to pay more attention to. Not only are customers consuming video at much higher rates as mobile devices and superior data plans make doing so effortless, the major search engines and social networks are valuing and evaluating video content at increasing rates. Facebook, for example, can now tell which of its customers like which videos in their feeds by metrics like how they adjust the volume.

That means good video content can grow legs in a big way. It also means you can’t spam out bad video content and expect to thrive because ‘video is hot’.

The other hot channel in content is an old one with an increase in efficiency, webinars. You might not think of it as a hot area for younger customers, but young customers are relatively more enamored with the unique, valuing experiences over items; one need only look at the explosive rise in attendance of music festivals in recent years to see the same trend playing out offline.

Both of these lead us to a single important point: modern marketing online demands a healthy media budget.

Media budgets and marketing

We’ve already touched on the importance of quality in modern online marketing, and quality doesn’t come cheap. It’s also usually going to be more expensive to produce good video than it is blog posts or e-books. Producing top-notch webinars demands a combination of skills that can quickly stretch the traditionally lean media budgets of an online marketing operation.

However, most marketing agencies, even those in touch with inbound marketing, don’t yet recognize the growing value of these more expensive forms of content—creating an opportunity. Compared to PPC advertising in a competitive B2B environment, you’ll still be getting by quite cheap.

When it comes to investing into your marketing program, put your money where it's going to work the hardest for you.

Check out our CEO guide to ROI of Online Marketing for ideas.

Increased Touch Points

The more times and ways you make contact with a prospect or customer, the stronger the impression you’ll create. That’s simple science; for the same reason we see songs and dances and other strangeness used in modern teaching, we want our customers to read about us, see us on videos, and play with our apps. All those connected neurons make us ever more memorable.

That’s why you want to keep up with your blog posts and email marketing, even as it gets more difficult to succeed with those alone. Clean up your list, A/B test constantly, and keep at it. Multiple touch points break through the noise in a way no single piece of content, however potent, can.

Getting Ahead of Competitors

If it seems like the rise of honest value and the fall of dirty tricks in online marketing means the future of online marketing looks simpler, don’t be fooled—to eliminate the element of luck and make sure good content truly makes for good marketing remains a remarkably complex task.

Make sure you have people on your team who understand how things run under the hood, so your natural, high-value web presence is natural and high-value in the right ways to succeed.

About the Author: Samantha Anderson

Samantha Anderson

Samantha is the COO and co-founder of 41 Orange, inc, a marketing agency. She is also currently a member of the Board of Directors for San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Balboa Park’s resident classical ballet school since 1945. Hailing from the agency world, Sam has worked with Fortune 500 tech, financial, and consumer brands, including Intel, Petco and LPL Financial, to shape their online presence and reach their target audiences more effectively through social media and beyond. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, emphasis in public relations from San Diego State University.