In fact, if you think of the past predictions of futurists, science fiction authors and moviemakers, we should by now be piloting flying cars, instantly travelling from one place to another and owning hoverboards that actually hover.
In a similar way, many marketing pundits' predictions cover what they think are the main trends for marketing in the next year. And of the ones that are not entirely predictable, how many have subsequently proved useful?
So I thought I would take a different approach - here are some inbound marketing practices you should definitely stop doing next year (if you haven’t stopped doing them already). And these are a practical certainty.
STOP: Doing it all yourself
I’ve written about the unique nature of social media and the fact that it's not just a marketing channel; that you need to co-ordinate responses to the interactions it generates across the whole company. In addition, the more people you can get posting to social - responsibly - the better.
This collaborative approach also applies to inbound marketing. All departments and areas of the company should have an input. And as many people as possible should be creating content. Multiple contributors from diverse backgrounds will give you a variety of content with different points of view.
Whether it be writing blog posts, taking images for use in blogs, recording interviews, or just suggesting story ideas, you can get valuable contributions from across the business.
So stop doing it all yourself and get the whole company involved.
STOP: Ignoring mobile
If your website, your blog, and your social activity don’t play well with mobile devices, you are in deep trouble. Such is the rise of mobile that it dominates the usage stats and affects search engine rankings.
Check all your output for compatibility with smartphones and tablets. And not just the basic ability of devices to view your content, but look at the formatting and appearance of your output. Does it break down well into mobile-sized chunks? Is it easy to read on a phone? Have you optimised your copy for mobile? Is it easy to link and share your content on mobile devices?
Don’t forget to check usability - are your buttons, clickable areas and links big enough to find and use on a phone? What about those all important information capture forms - do they work seamlessly on mobile? Are your calls to action effective on mobile and does the associated giveaway - for example, an ebook - download and display correctly on a tablet or phone?
STOP: Doing without thinking and analysing
Too many companies are churning out content without a strategy, without a plan. And if they do have a plan, then they are not reviewing that plan in the light of results. So firstly, always make sure there is a strategy guiding everything you do.
And secondly, collect as much data as possible on the effectiveness of your content, the engagement with your content and the spread of your content - how much it is shared. Then take the time to analyse that data - spot the trends, see what works, what fails, identify the easy wins and recognise the tough gains that involve lots of work.
Revise your strategy and content plan based on this analysis.
STOP: Creating content without images
Recently I’ve written a whole slew of posts about the importance of visual content so I hope that one thing you’ve already stopped doing is publishing posts with no visual content or poorly considered stock photography (which can actually be worse than no image at all). Content without a visual element simply fails to gain attention.
Look at Twitter, which started as the archetypal text only service - it has now moved from that text-only based service to a channel in which images are now essential to get noticed in the stream and a must for successful engagement.
STOP: Just writing
Along with visual content, you cannot ignore the importance of video any longer. Stop just depending on writing as your only content channel. Look at video, podcasting, webinars and slide decks to expand your offering. Video, in particular, is widely recognised as one of the greatest tools in the content marketing toolbox at the moment.
And finally a bonus personal call from me:
Stop going on about wearable tech and the Internet of Things!
It seems every marketing fortune teller has been predicting the importance of wearable tech and the Internet of Things for a few years now. But they've so far failed to make an impact on marketing in real terms. By the way, did you know that connecting a device like a toaster to the Internet actually predates the World Wide Web?
The idea of wearable technology has also been around for a while. Has it gone mainstream? No. Will it happen? Yes. But on a practical day-to-day basis, we are a long way from having to worry about it as part of a marketing strategy.
For these two concepts to become useful channels for inbound they need:
- To be adopted en masse by the business community - and in particular, your clients.
- They need to have channels that you can utilise for marketing - and currently, we aren’t seeing that.
- They need to be a good use of our resources. In other words, they need to be more effective than other, existing channels for content publishing.
All of that is very much in the distant future. Sure, it’s fun to talk about these things - but then I’m still waiting for my flying car.
So take a look at your inbound marketing efforts - are you following outdated practices? Are you ignoring change? Are you doing the best you can according to current best practice?
Make a list.
Check it twice.