#INBOUND17 was everything and more. 21 000 Inbound marketers, Michelle Obama, Brené Brown and Refinery29’s Piera Gelardi as keynote speakers, attendees from 104 countries, 250+ educational sessions and 20TB of Wi-Fi later, we’re back, well rested, and armed with our top 5 content marketing insights.

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1. What is Search Marketing Coming To?
Google commands 62.6% of all online searches. According to big data company Jumpshot, Facebook (5.9%), Imgur (1.5%), YouTube (4.7%) and Reddit (4.1%) also rank for query. After Google, users are employing search engines like Yahoo (5%), Bing (2.1%) and (1.4%), and also using (1.4%) for their searches.

What does this mean? As Moz founder, Rand Fishkin, puts it, “SEO isn’t an exact science” and recommends diversifying results by adding to your search marketing efforts ‘easier to measure’ platforms such as pay-per-click advertising, social media advertising, retargeting/remarketing, email marketing, direct mail advertising with ‘harder to measure’ channels like word-of-mouth, SEO, (organic) social media, content marketing and PR.


2. Topic Clusters Are The New Keywords
Are they a kind of chocolate? Or an odd meteorological phenomenon? No. Topic Clusters are the new SEO. Their benefits include: higher rankings, traffic, and conversions, greater authority with your audience and improving SEO results from every piece of content you publish around a given topic. This new SEO tool revolves around the main pillar page that introduces the main topic. They speak to Google’s latest keyword changes, which identify Topic Clusters as authoritative and trustworthy results.

To show your authority to people and bots, consistently create useful and accurate content around a topic, rather than one-off pieces targeted to particular keywords. As Aaron Plaut and Angela DeFranco from Hubspot’s Product team noted, Topic Clusters are a way to capitalize on the topics and pages that are already driving a ton of your engagement.

3. A New Approach to Brainstorming
Brainstorming, conceived in the 1950s by advertising executive Alex Osborn, is an office modus operandi: shouting out as many good, bad and crazy ideas as you possibly can with your group. But a recent study on brainstorming shows that “[a]s soon as one person throws out an idea, it affects the memory of everyone in the group and makes them think a bit more similarly about the problem than they did before,” explains Art Markman, author and professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. On the other hand, when people brainstorm by themselves and later share their ideas, more varied solutions are contributed as the pressure to come up with ideas on the spot aren’t present.

Similarly, Laura Crimmons, Communications Director at Branded3, found a way to brainstorm for those in the digital space. First, get rid of any talk of pageviews, clicks and shares. We’re speaking to humans, not robots. The next step is to present a few insights from social media and website analytics to guide the group. Then, introduce the topic at hand, shout out your worst ideas and what you believe you could never get away with. Once those are out of the way, move on to ‘brainwriting,’ meaning jotting down 3 ideas, for 5 mins each, over 6 rounds. The group, finally, should research the best ideas and test them out to analyze results.

-You may also be interested in 5 Insights From MozCon 2017

4. Personalization: Beware Of The Creepy Factor
As marketers, we’re aware that personalization brings in positive results; it’s a way to cut through the “marketing noise.”  Web users ignore irrelevant, untargeted messages much like they ignore 99.95% of online ads. In the hopes of staying relevant, marketers are using their prospects’ data as a competitive advantage. However, at what point does this data leverage become unethical and creepy?

An Experian Marketing Services study showed that “67% of customers find it intrusive when companies that they have never purchased from use their personal information to tailor their marketing.” Emma Knox, Senior Manager of Demand Generation at Hubspot, came up with the “creepy scale,” concept, here’s how to make sure you’re not on it:

– Understand your prospects goals, read their digital body language through their clicks and views
– Gather information on them through forms but don’t push their boundaries
– Personalize their experience but don’t get creepy. Put yourself in their shoes, be empathetic.



5. Social Media, Meet Email
According to the The Radicati Group, global email use will exceed 3 billion users by 2020. Not only are email marketers reaching a vast audience but they also save on advertising costs. 90% of emails get delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, but only 2% of Facebook fans see a brand’s posts in their news feed.

And social media tips could help email marketers improve their e-newsletters and emails. First, write consistent on-brand content, employ your storytelling skills and a personable tone, rarely pitch or sell, and share content from other sources. On the design front, maintain visual appeal (doesn’t need to always be the same), make sure your content is responsive, and embed videos (that’s right, videos). Finally, concerning web rules, follow SEO keywords best practices, if possible engage and interact with your readers and lastly, listen.

Content Marketers always need to diversify their content’s location. As we learned at the conference, users are performing queries from discussion sites, search engines to video platforms. Topic Clusters are the next step to optimizing SEO results. Flip the brainstorming technique on its head by coming together, then separating and regrouping to divulge your results. Check the creepiness at the door, put yourself in your users’ shoes, don’t try to become Big Brother, and act with humility. Finally, adding a touch of social to your emails could help jazz them up.

To find out more about INBOUND’s sessions on content, marketing, SEO, social media and more visit their website.