We’ve explained why inbound marketing is more relevant than ever.  But inbound itself is evolving all the time. Here are five new strategic priorities that will upgrade your existing inbound marketing strategy for 2020, making it work harder for you.

#1 Voice-search SEO

As with many of the trends in B2B marketing, the increase in voice search was one that was first noticeable in B2C. A US study in 2019 found that customers were using voice search significantly more, both at home and in the office. With the widespread adoption of smart speakers and increased use of digital assistants, marketers need to adapt their keyword targeting to reflect the nuances of voice searches. 

So how does the emerging dominance of voice search impact on search optimisation? This has contributed to the dominance of long-tail search terms, as people are less likely to voice-search short-tail keywords – the results would be too generic and people naturally search by using full sentences. 

At ESM Inbound, our approach to marketing has long-tail keywords at its heart. It applies whether we’re thinking about Google Ads, content marketing (pillar pages and blog posts), website content or SEO more broadly.

#2 Integrating Google Search Ads into your content marketing

Speaking of Google Ads, the inbound approach to marketing means that far from being an ‘add-on’, a Google Ads Campaign is best approached as an integrated aspect of your wider inbound marketing strategy.  

Rather than simply directing customers to your pricing page, for example, an inbound approach to Google Ads ensures they work in conjunction with your content to show up on the results page when prospects are searching for products or services like yours. Your paid Google Ads campaign should convince those prospects that you understand their needs and can answer their questions. All content should be created on this basis, giving you a smorgasbord of relevant blog posts to link to in your Google Ads. 

Having an agency like ESM Inbound on hand with a team that is fully Google Ads and Inbound certified, ensures you have somebody managing your campaign who knows their way around the Google Ads platform. This means we understand how to maximise your ROI by customising all of the extensions to ensure your ads have the best chance of reaching the right prospects.

#3 Better-quality long-form content

Content is at the heart of inbound marketing, but not all content is created equal. There is a real, constantly evolving science to optimal content and if you’re going to invest in it, it’s essential to choose an agency that is up to speed on the latest thinking. 

Currently, the average length of content ranking highly on Google is around the 2,000 word mark. As a rule of thumb, blog posts should always be more than 800 words, and less than 2,200. Long-form content, such as a pillar page, is more likely to garner backlinks in future, making it more valuable from an SEO perspective (backlinks are links from other content to a particular post or page). 

At ESM Inbound, we create blog posts for our customers that are around 1,200 words long, and we find this is an optimal length for driving traffic. We ensure there is a good ratio of internal and external links to build credibility, and build out a "content web" for our clients that connects all of their blog posts and pillar pages into a networked whole. 

Google likes these interconnecting links and it’s a way of prolonging the shelf life of content. Quality is more significant than quantity. The most important thing is to create a piece of quality content that is genuinely useful, interesting and well written. Customers should want to return to it, save it and share it. 

Interactive content such as quizzes and tools can boost engagement, too – Forbes lists interactive content as one of their top digital marketing trends for 2020. At ESM Inbound, we often help customers create interactive quizzes, calculators or bot-flow tools to help identify customer pain points. If this hands-on, two-way content is something you haven’t invested in yet, it’s time to explore your options.

#4 Targeting Google’s position zero

If you’re thinking ‘What is Google’s position zero?’ allow me to explain. Where once it was all about reaching position 1, 2 and 3 in SERPs, best practices for digital marketing in recent years have begun to factor in the structured snippet that Google introduced at the top of the results page. This is known as position zero. 

This is where Google pulls out an excerpt of the text on a given page it feels best answers the search query. As a result, concise ‘in a nutshell’ answers within long-form posts do well. Position zero has a significantly higher click through rate than even position 1, so it is highly coveted and worthy of attention. 

However, as of this year, making it into position zero now means that content won’t rank for the organic searches 1-10 beneath. Because there’s always an element of mystery in SEO ranking, we advise customers not to get hung up on how to rank as a featured snippet, but to think more broadly about positions 1-3 on Google. An effective inbound marketing campaign should boost your chance of appearing there – and we’ve achieved this for our customers (and ourselves) time and time again.

#5 Understanding UX is now the most important decision-making tool

Experience is everything when it comes to customer satisfaction. Your customers and prospects' experience of your business is influenced by every interaction they have with you, whether in-person, automated or via word of mouth. 

Every aspect of your approach feeds into this, from your pre-sales processes through to your after-sales service. Interactions that factor into user-journey mapping include the content that customers consume, the communication style of your sales team, the ‘shop window’ that is your website, and your ongoing support of existing customers. 

As our HubSpot partner colleagues over at Digital 22 reveal in their report on the state of inbound marketing in 2020 (scan down to the section on customer experience), any savvy inbound marketer understands that nurturing and rewarding existing customers is an essential investment that keeps your repeat business rolling. Keeping existing customers rolling over is far cheaper than the outlay you need to make when attracting a replacement. 

Salesforce estimates that it’s 6-7 times more expensive to bag a new customer than to retain a current one. HubSpot has lots of tools to help you focus on keeping existing customers happy. Its tools enable you to segment customers and identify new opportunities for upselling and check-ins, helping to ensure they get the best possible digital and IRL experience with you.

When it comes to inbound marketing, it pays to be ahead of the game in your strategy and to always be evolving. Engaging an expert inbound agency such as ESM Inbound ensures you’re investing in a marketing strategy that will keep pace with the changing digital landscape your business inhabits.