A Dynamic Process
We are in the midst of a radical change in the way that people use and engage with the web. At its inception, the internet was seen as a tool, and treated as such. However, with the advent of social media and the proliferation of personal mobile devices, we as users have become more dynamic in the ways that we access and disseminate information through the web.
This has created both a problem and an opportunity for marketers. For the first time in the history of the industry we are able to reach targeted demographics across multiple platforms with ease. The paradox this creates is that there are so many different ways to reach people that it becomes easy to invest a lot of time and energy into campaigns only to see lackluster engagement and poor ROI for your efforts.
This is why it is important to remember the purpose and stated goals of inbound marketing. The whole premise behind inbound is that a company (you) create valuable content that potential customers will see, and because of it, be compelled to visit and engage with your site. In this sense, a successful inbound campaign will have the following three characteristics: 1) you have valuable content, 2) the content compels customers to visit your site, and 3) potential customers view the content.
When it comes to content creation, there are successes and failures as far as the creative process goes–that is just the nature of the beast. But the important thing to remember is that creating valuable and compelling content is completely within in the marketer’s control. However, if we look to engagement and conversions as the measures of success for a given piece of content, then it could be said that we experience a forfeiture of control as soon as we begin promotion. At that point it is up to the user.
As stated above, the third characteristic of a successful inbound campaign involves making sure that potential customers actually engage the content with the end goal of conversion. So let’s say that you have great content, it is compelling, and you know where your target demographic tends to interact on the web. From there it should be easy to engage your audience with your content and have an extremely successful campaign. Right? Well, almost.
Trends in Mobile
Something that has recently been at the forefront of both site design and content strategies is the issue of user experience, particularly mobile users. Whereas in the past, engagement on the web has been primarily been from desktop users, those numbers are changing rapidly. In fact, in April comScore produced a report which stated that mobile-only users now exceed desktop users.
It should come have come as no surprise then, that Google in the same month released their much talked about mobile update, and began applying a separate algorithmic filter to mobile user’s results based on if the site was “mobile-friendly” or not. This update was referred to as “Mobilegeddon”, but I honestly never understood the hype. In fact, I think it is time that we stop viewing this update the way that we have come to view Panda or Penguin.
Why? Because unlike past updates which were an attempt to improve Google’s ability to match user intent, penalize those who were subverting their efforts, and bolstering their own best practices, this one was different. In reality Google was responding to an emerging trend in user tendencies. So rather than this update being a part of an internal process, it was driven by their desire to improve UX in light of the staggering number of mobile users that were accessing their site.
What Can We Learn?
Usually when Google takes notice of a trend, it is behooven of anyone working in the digital space to do the same and the shift towards mobile is no exception. The question is, how does this affect inbound marketing. I think here it is important to recognize the fact that people are becoming multi-platform and mobile users at a rate that far exceeds that of desktop growth. And as such, we have to literally think about the way people are seeing our inbound marketing efforts.
It would be great to write a dissertation about inbound marketing (I’m sure there are a few out there), and you could hypothetically share it across every platform available, but who would actually read it? On a phone? What about those umpteenth megabite infographics that scroll into oblivion? As you can see, the goal of inbound marketing in the mobile age is simply this–make all your content digestible through a mobile device, because odds are that now (and in the future) that is how they will see and ultimately engage with your marketing efforts.