Inbound Marketing‘s Second Act: 4 Things Every Inbound Marketer Should Do in 2024

Inbound marketing has come a long way since HubSpot first coined the term in 2006. What started as a novel approach to attracting and converting leads online has become the default playbook for digital marketers everywhere.

But as buyer behaviors and technologies have rapidly evolved, inbound marketers can‘t afford to rest on their laurels. The strategies and tactics that worked 5 or 10 years ago won‘t necessarily cut it with today‘s savvy, self-directed buyers.

As we enter 2024, it‘s time for the second act of inbound marketing. Here are 4 things every inbound marketer should do to stay ahead of the curve and drive maximum results in the years ahead.

1. Make Video an Inbound Cornerstone

It‘s no secret that video has become a dominant force in online content consumption. Consider these eye-popping stats:

  • Online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2024. (Cisco)
  • 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. (Wyzowl)
  • 84% of people say that they‘ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand‘s video. (Wyzowl)

Video marketing statistics
Source: Single Grain

The takeaway is clear – if you‘re not making video a central part of your inbound strategy, you‘re missing out on a massive opportunity to engage and convert your audience.

But not just any old video will do. To maximize impact, inbound marketers should focus on two key types of video content:

  1. Short-form, social-first videos. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels have made bite-sized videos the default mode of content discovery and consumption, especially among Gen Z. Create snappy product tutorials, behind-the-scenes clips, and trending content tailored for each channel.

  2. Personalized, interactive videos. Give your videos a choose-your-own-adventure feel with interactive elements like quizzes, polls, and branching. Platforms like HubSpot‘s VideoBooth allow you to easily create interactive videos that engage viewers and collect valuable lead info.

The key with inbound video is to keep it authentic, informative, and on-brand. Use video throughout the buyer‘s journey to build awareness, nurture leads, and drive conversions.

2. Optimize for Zero-Click Searches

For years, inbound marketers have focused on creating keyword-rich blog posts and web pages to attract organic search traffic. But the rules of SEO have changed dramatically thanks to the rise of zero-click searches.

A zero-click search is a query where the searcher‘s intent is satisfied directly on the search results page, without having to click through to a website. Google and other search engines are increasingly serving up instant answers in the form of featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other SERP features that keep searchers on the results page longer.

Just how prevalent are zero-click searches? According to data from SparkToro, 65% of Google searches now end without a click. For searches with a featured snippet, that number jumps to over 75%.

Percentage of Google searches by result type
Source: SparkToro

To adapt to this zero-click reality, inbound marketers need to rethink their approach to SEO and content creation. Some key strategies:

  • Target question-based keywords. Identify the questions your audience is searching for and create content that directly answers them. Use question-based headers and a clear, concise writing style.

  • Structure content for featured snippets. Use header tags, numbered lists, and other formatting elements to make your content easily digestible and snippet-friendly. Aim to provide a complete, standalone answer within the first few paragraphs.

  • Provide unique value beyond the SERP. Give searchers a reason to click through to your site by teasing additional tips, examples, tools, or resources in your meta description that aren‘t available in the snippet.

The goal is no longer just to rank on page one, but to be the page one answer. By optimizing for zero-click SERP features, you can boost your brand‘s visibility and credibility with searchers, even if they don‘t end up clicking through to your site.

3. Embrace Conversational Marketing

One of the biggest shifts in buyer behavior over the past few years has been the rise of conversational marketing. Today‘s buyers expect to be able to engage with brands in real-time, on their preferred channels, to get answers and personalized recommendations.

Consider these conversational marketing statistics:

  • 82% of consumers expect an immediate response to sales or marketing questions. (HubSpot)
  • 79% of companies say offering live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. (Kayako)
  • Conversations with chatbots will deliver $11 billion in annual cost savings for retail, banking, and healthcare by 2025. (Juniper Research)

To deliver the fast, personalized experiences buyers crave, inbound marketers should embrace conversational tools and tactics like:

  • Chatbots: Use AI-powered chatbots on your website and social media channels to answer FAQs, recommend products, and collect lead info 24/7.

  • Live chat: Offer real-time support and sales assistance via live chat for buyers who need a human touch. Integrate live chat with your CRM to get a complete view of each buyer‘s journey.

  • Social media messaging: Meet buyers where they are by engaging them via private messaging on social platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram DMs.

  • Personalized video: Create one-to-one videos to welcome new leads, answer specific questions, or walk buyers through a product demo. Platforms like Vidyard and Loom make this easy.

The key is to engage buyers in natural, contextual conversations and make it effortless for them to get the information and support they need to make a purchase decision. By combining automation and human touch, you can provide a concierge-like experience at scale.

4. Accelerate the Inbound Flywheel

The traditional inbound marketing funnel has served marketers well for years. But in today‘s customer-centric world, many are shifting to an inbound flywheel model to accelerate growth.

Inbound marketing flywheel
Source: HubSpot

Unlike the linear funnel, the flywheel puts customers at the center and focuses on creating remarkable experiences to drive ongoing growth. As HubSpot puts it, the flywheel is "a model adapted to the customer-centric reality that the way we treat our customers is more important than how we attract them in the first place."

To accelerate your inbound flywheel in 2024 and beyond:

  • Align your teams around the customer. Break down silos between marketing, sales, and service to provide a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint. Use a centralized CRM to keep everyone on the same page.

  • Turn customers into promoters. Leverage social proof like case studies, testimonials, and user-generated content to showcase happy customers and inspire trust and credibility with prospects. Make advocacy and referral programs a key part of your inbound strategy.

  • Optimize for customer lifetime value. Focus on generating not just first-time sales, but repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty. Personalize the post-purchase experience with targeted content, product recommendations, and proactive support.

  • Remove friction at every stage. Audit your inbound funnel for any points of friction or abandonment. Use A/B testing, personalization, and conversion optimization techniques to continuously improve the customer experience.

The flywheel model recognizes that inbound success isn‘t just about generating leads, but about delivering value to customers and turning them into brand advocates. By aligning your entire organization around the customer experience, you can build unstoppable momentum.

The Future of Inbound is Here

As inbound marketing enters its second act, the playbook looks very different than it did a decade ago. From zero-click search to conversational marketing to the inbound flywheel, marketers have a host of new strategies and technologies to master.

But at its core, inbound is still about the same things it‘s always been – attracting the right audience, engaging them with helpful content, and delighting them with a remarkable customer experience.

By staying customer-obsessed and adapting to the latest trends and tactics, inbound marketers can drive sustainable business growth well into the future. The second act of inbound is just getting started – is your marketing ready?