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Inbound Marketing 2021: Hottest Marketing Trends and Updates


Are your inbound marketing efforts optimised for 2021? Learn the latest inbound updates and trends.

Businesses today face more challenges when it comes to making their brand stand out. Since consumers are exposed to hundreds of promotions and marketing stints daily, companies need to find better strategies to cut through the noise. The best way to do this is to utilise inbound marketing strategies.

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Effective and efficient businesses don’t chase after leads; the leads come to them. Inbound marketing allows your brand to attract, engage and delight people. The brand then establishes trust amongst its customers and provides value in their lives. By creating content that is relevant and helpful to your customer’s problems and needs, you attract qualified prospects and establish your brand as one of the thought leaders in your industry.

Inbound marketing rose to prominence to address the rapidly changing landscape of consumer behaviours. The term was coined by HubSpot in 2006 and defined as focusing on attracting people to your brand rather than pushing messages. Though it has evolved over the years, inbound marketing, at its core, is a permission-based marketing strategy that pulls in prospects towards you.

The inbound methodology has proven to be an effective strategy for many businesses as it brings in three times more leads. To make the most out of inbound, marketers must continuously update their marketing plan according to the current trends. 

From Funnel to Flywheel: The Evolution of Inbound Marketing

Following the funnel analogy, the buyer’s journey in inbound is classified into three stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. The awareness stage is focused on sparking the interest of your target audience. In the consideration stage, strategies are more focused on making your customers interested in a specific product. The decision stage involves guiding prospective customers to buy the product and/or service.

However, in the funnel analogy, the customers are the output of a marketing campaign. Once they leave the funnel, most of them are forgotten about. Even with businesses with loyalty programs,  these customers tend to no longer repeat purchases. This framework is not sustainable enough to retain customers.

In 2018, HubSpot announced that it was retiring the funnel framework in exchange for the flywheel diagram. Much like a flywheel, marketers can create strategies that will improve customer loyalty without compromising their lead generation. It still uses the attract-engage-delight stages, but, this time, the customers are placed at the centre of the wheel.  The rotation of the wheel symbolises the business’ growth and the energy to fuel that growth stands for the customers’ happiness and brand loyalty.

There are some similarities between the flywheel and funnel approach, but their differences tend to make one stand out from the other. Here are some of the reasons why the flywheel is more relevant in today’s marketing landscape.


In the funnel approach, customers are the output. Many qualified leads will fill the top of the funnel, a few leads will take action, but even fewer will become customers. Moreover, these customers are left out of the process to generate new leads. Loyalty and customer support programs are always in place, but these are no longer handled by the marketing team.

With the flywheel approach, the leads are the most important. They serve as the energy to drive business growth. Additionally, these customers continue to become the marketing team’s focus since they can continuously cycle through the engagement and delight stages. Customers can then become the strongest supporters and advocates of the brand.

Ongoing marketing efforts

In the funnel framework, the marketing efforts stop when the marketing cycle ends and the team starts from scratch for the next cycle. This means that the success from the last cycle could not be fully utilised to drive the next cycle’s success in terms of lead generation. In the funnel’s internal processes, customers also tend to be shuffled from the marketing team to sales to customer service, preventing a smooth handover.  

The flywheel model is centred around the customers, with the business’ assets applying force for the flywheel to spin. However, friction can affect its speed. Such friction takes the form of prospects’ being stuck in their buyer’s journey or the lack of consistency or an integrated structure between the marketing, sales, and customer service teams. Friction can be minimised or reduced when internal processes are aligned and strategies that invest in building outstanding customer experience are implemented. 

Your business keeps spinning when happy customers become repeat customers and invite new prospects to buy in because of a satisfactory buying experience. This momentum from repeat sales and referrals allows the marketing team of the flywheel framework to start marketing cycles with the promise of more qualified leads.

Today, prospective customers rely more on online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals when considering and researching a product or service that they need. This is why marketers need not just to increase their inbound marketing efforts but also optimise their efforts with the latest marketing trends.

Marketing Trends and the Technology Driving Them

Along with shifting consumer behaviour, technological advancement is also a driving factor to changes in the marketing landscape. As 2020 continues to see more innovation and growth in tech, marketers and businesses need to learn how to utilise these to grow their business. Here are the key tech trends in 2020.

AI and Digital Marketing

AI can empower your marketing strategies such as lead generation, communication, data analysis and decision-making to augment your customers’ experience. At the same time, AI software is also built-in with technology that will help you get in-depth insights into how customers interact with your brand. 

One application of AI in marketing is sentiment analysis which helps you understand what people are saying about the brand. Negative content is detected and analysed sooner rather than later, allowing for more efficiency and effectiveness in brand image management. Hubspot also leveraged AI for better contact management. Their business card scanning tool was created to minimise the monotony and time spent on manually transcribing business cards—on which most sales and businesspeople were still dependent on for the exchange of contact information. 

Hubspot also designed an AI-powered duplicate management feature in answer to the inefficiency and even monetary losses caused by duplicate data. The development of AI tools like these can only improve CRM technology and improve engagement with customers and leads.

Social Media Marketing

In 2020, influencers will give your business a boost. Their audience trusts the content they produce. Associating your brand with an influencer will immediately capture qualified leads. Moreover, these influencers add a human touch to a brand which helps a business develop relationships and loyalty amongst customers.

Video Content

Video content will grow to be a bigger marketing trend in 2020. Statistics have shown that video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year, as well as increase brand awareness by 54%. Videos have also been proven to amplify SEO performance through higher click-through and conversion rates. In the flywheel framework, one of the strategies to reduce friction and attract more customers is the use of video content. For example, offering a free webinar will not only provide content that caters to an immediate need of a prospect but could be repurposed as the resource that sets you up as a thought leader in your industry. 

Two of the evolutions of video content will be the wider reception of long-form and 360-degree video content. With 72% of people preferring video rather than text to learn about a product or service, more and more businesses should explore the adoption of newer forms of delivering this content. Tools like Vidyard allow content creators to integrate video into their marketing portfolio and track and analyse the performance of content amongst users.

In social media platforms, the Stories feature is also another tool that could create a sense of exclusivity while furthering engagement with brand followers. 

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Email will continue to be relevant in 2020 for three main reasons: everybody still uses them, it’s easy and economical, and optimised emails drive engagement. According to Radicati, 4.25 billion email users will be maintaining 1.86 email accounts by 2022. The right approach to this demographic would be to master the segmentation of your email list and create interactive content and elements inviting and tailor-fit to the subscribers.

Email also ties in with your omnichannel strategies because of its utility as a direct line of communication. This is why marketers should make the content of their emails more accessible and personalised to maximise their relationship-building capacity. 

Paid Digital Media

The opportunities to refine strategies with paid media and ads will continue to increase in 2020. Costs for paid ads are rising, especially for Facebook. Marketers should carefully choose their target audience and optimise content to visual and voice searches. As automation capacities are further developed, the need for technical expertise in handling, translating, and strategising according to data is also rising. 

Remarketing is also an integral strategy for paid media because personalised ads will bring back users three times better than non-personalised ones. When you customise your audience list according to your source of traffic, it will be more likely for traffic to lead to conversions. 

Because we understand the value of remarketing, we summarised for you the steps to use Google Remarketing for your site visitors. 

Web Design

More content creators will prefer to work with developers for the management and presentation of content in a headless CMS context. Headless CMS is more liberal with the framework the developer prefers as well as the multiple platforms on which content is managed and published. This allows business more flexibility in the construction and revision of their brand beyond the template-based traditional CMS.

This translates in the growth of interactive and personalised websites that could further stand out. Entrepreneurs could explore how investing in the development of unique websites could provide a customer experience that will get users talking. 

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Buyer (Persona)-Focused Content

With more of user-focused optimisation, the inbound principles of attracting and keeping prospects with industry-leading brand characteristics will be more crucial than ever. Buyer personas should be consistently updated according to market and individual buyer research. Additionally, the developments in Google’s algorithms will compel marketers to be more lethally precise when creating valuable and relevant content. However, the accessibility of programming languages and SEO automation should allow 2020’s marketers to focus on building relationships with customers, revising and refining their brand, and researching how to further optimise their content for their prospects.

Growth of Review and Testimonial Sites

The new decade will welcome more review and testimonial sections and dedicated websites, which will impact customer service for both business-to-customer and business-to-business transactions. The growth of dedicated review platforms in a peer-to-peer and B2B context, like G2 (formerly G2 Crowd), highlights the importance of aggregating and analysing what users are saying both inside and outside your channels. 

Inbound Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix It

Now that you know the different marketing trends in 2020, it is also important to know some of the common inbound marketing mistakes. That way, you’ll know how to avoid them and ensure that your business’ marketing advantages are maximised.

Vague inbound marketing plan

Inbound drives results, but only if there is a clear and solid marketing plan. Oftentimes, businesses are blinded by the success stories, so they’ll immediately hop in the inbound bandwagon without fully understanding the concept behind it. To avoid this, ensure that your marketing plan has SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals. 

Setting up your inbound plan should be based on certain key performance indicators or KPIs, which include how many leads you’re working on and where they’re from, how long is your usual sales cycle, and how many customers you attract and retain. Buyer personas should also inform marketing content because they are important for ultimate targeting.

When a company has one collective goal and all departments, especially sales and marketing, are aligned with the plan to meet that goal, there should be much more transparency, consistency, and unity among teams that will reflect on the service of prospects and customers. 

No helpful blog content; publishing “more” instead of “better” content

Providing helpful and relevant content is essential to attract target customers. That is why creating blog content on your website instead of third-party platforms will maximise the full benefits of relationships built and mitigated by online marketing tools. This will also enable your brand to rank up on search queries and thus improve your visibility amongst your target customers.

By understanding your buyer personas, you can tailor your content to a specific demographic with a specific need and outstanding characteristics. And when it comes to users finding your content, blogs with both relevance and authority translate to a higher SEO value. Through pillar pages that are structured and designed around a core topic, you will be able to both attract and keep prospects as well as rank up your presence in search engines.

Publishing content regularly is essential for a successful marketing campaign. However, these blog posts must contain quality content and answer search queries. Instead of focusing on inserting keywords in a blog post, marketers will better benefit if they understand how their target customers search for answers. The Google algorithm update released in March 2019 made it clear that a blog post must meet the Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness factors to rank for a query. One strategy to fine-tune blog content would be to find, analyze, and use relevant and niche keywords that will increase your SEO results. 

Non-optimised campaigns for mobile

Most people are now on mobile due to the convenience it provides. According to Google, a non-mobile-friendly site will require site visitors to pinch and zoom just to read the content. This is a frustrating experience for the users and they will be more likely to leave the site. It is also necessary that developers account for the need for less load time for mobile sites. According to a study, a one-second delay in the loading time of mobile sites can impact a business’s conversion rate by up to 20%. It is then crucial to optimise your website to make it mobile-friendly.

Metrics are not monitored regularly

Setting a clear benchmark and metrics will help marketers comprehend the scope and success of their inbound efforts. It condenses insights into what works and what doesn’t in terms of strategy. To avoid this, businesses must monitor their marketing campaigns to evaluate if they are hitting their target metrics regularly. They should be able to measure baseline metrics for traffic attraction and lead conversion by analysing unique visitors, traffic-to-lead conversion rates, the sources of your traffic, email engagement performance, and revenue. That way, they’ll be able to discover the areas that need improvement and respond promptly.

Optimise Your Inbound Marketing Strategies Today

2020 is going to be brimming with tech innovations which can drastically change the way consumers make buying decisions. That is why the start of the year is an excellent time for businesses to re-strategise and optimise their plans. Integrating tech innovations that make the brand stand out whilst avoiding the common marketing pitfalls is essential to ensure a successful campaign.

Contact Whitehat today to learn how you can create effective inbound marketing strategies for your business. 

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Marketing 101: Flywheel vs Funnel,

Why Inbound Marketing Works for Businesses That Want to Grow,

Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing – What’s the Difference,

Marketing Trends in 2020 That You Should Know,

7 Mistakes that Can Derail Your Inbound Marketing Campaign,

The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2019,

Video Marketing Statistics: What You Must Know for 2020,

Why Video Is The Future of Content Marketing in 2020,

Inbound Marketing With Webinars Part 1 – Production

Video Marketing Trends 2020,

How Vidyard is Changing our Video Marketing Game, revenue

The importance of email marketing in 2020 and why should you care,

Why We Are Still Talking About Email in 2020,

4 Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2020,

5 PPC Trends to Get Ready for in 2020,

Remarketing: the Ultimate Guide for 2020,

Finding Your Audience: The Importance of Developing a Buyer Persona,

Keyword Research for SEO,

Milliseconds earn millions: Why mobile speed can slow or grow your business,