More 2017 Lessons From Inbound 2016: How To Ride the Wave of Change

By Mira Lyubenova, Scratch Marketing + Media

We marketers often find ourselves too busy planning budgets, managing campaigns and reporting to take the time to keep up with changes in our field. Fortunately, events like Inbound 2016 allow us get up to speed and hear about where marketing is going from the best of the best in the industry. In my previous post I introduced you to some of the key takeaways from Inbound 2016’s keynote speakers; here’s more about strategy for 2017 from the sessions that I attended.

Today’s Golden Growth Opportunity: Cross-Platform Promotion

Gary Vaynerchuk defined social media as the mainstream media of 2016 and beyond, and predicted that the big global brands will continue shifting away from traditional TV advertising to embrace much more cost-effective social advertising models. Other speakers backed up this prediction with their own outlooks for social media in 2017.

  • Do not miss the “golden era” of Facebook marketing: HubSpot’s Brian Halligan noted that our prospects live in Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp. If you are not marketing via these channels, he warned, “you are most probably marketing inside a trashcan.” Vaynerchuk also claimed that smart digital advertisers should leverage Facebook advertising for B2B today when it is the most cost-effective digital advertising channel, which will not be the case in few years from now.
  • Video is a must-have for social channels: Social media gurus Mari Smith and Larry Kim agreed with Halligan’s statement in our last post that video is the priority content format that you should be putting up on social, as it’s been much more successful in reaching target audiences. In the newsfeed, Facebook is giving priority to video, and especially Facebook Live, before other types of content. Video is the winning format in social ads, as well — video ads on Facebook generate 1,200 percent more shares that text and image ads combined (Mari Smith).
  • Pay-for-play in social: Being on the major social platforms is free, but reaching prospects is becoming increasingly a pay-for-play game. As the reach of organic posts is going down on Facebook and Twitter, advertising is becoming an essential part of B2B social media strategies. To do social content promotion at scale, Kim advises paying for the posts that generated the highest engagement, aiming to reach narrow audiences and then retarget them and push the hard offers like sign-ups and downloads.

Adopt New Marketing and Sales Technologies

In 2016 we saw the rise of new channels — like messaging and chatbots — that promise to transform the way we reach our potential customers. Mastering these will allowing better understand our customers and engage them in more meaningful interactions during 2017.

  • In 2016 we witnessed a major shift to messaging: Messaging apps have become substantial part of our work and personal life. As Smith noted, they’ve been successfully used to build trust and develop relations with prospects and customers. Now their capabilities are being expanded with search and users will be served content right into the app, which will lead to major changes in content consumption patterns and will open up the door for new advertising opportunities.
  • 2017 will be the year of chatbots: According to the predictions of HubSpot’s CTO Dharmesh Shah, chatbots — the software service that you can converse with — are the biggest wave in technology of the last two decades. Soon, marketers and salespeople will be able to ask bots to perform analytical and research tasks where results will be delivered instantaneously. Chatbots are also a powerful customer service tool that empowers websites to provide custom information to visitors 24/7. Hard to imagine how this looks like? See Hubspot’s solution in action at
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t sci-fi, but reality: Relax — machine intelligence is here to empower marketers and salespeople, not to replace them. While all mechanical tasks will become automated — e.g. lead scoring and updating the CRM system — marketers will continue to be involved with creative tasks like understanding the customer behavior and innovative design.

Search Is Everywhere, Regardless of Platform

Search is invading every area of our professional and personal live. Search platforms have become much more sophisticated in understanding what consumers are looking for and marketers need to make sure they provide a wealth of information to satisfy the queries of their prospects.

  • Search in all its different forms has become an essential part of our lives: In May 2016 Google announced that 20 percent of all mobile queries are voice searches. Dharmesh Shah predicted this will reach 50 percent — across all devices — by 2020. He also predicted that in 2017 we’ll have many more devices capable of voice searches in our homes (think Amazon’s Alexa), in our cars and even in our heads (think Apple’s AirPods)
  • For a competitive SEO edge in 2017, aim for higher engagement on your site: Google’s move to machine learning algorithms caused massive changes in the way content is ranked in the search results — and SEO professionals need to adapt their methods to this new reality. Moz founder Rand Fishkin, one of the most influential SEO experts, talked about the major updates that Google’s search engine underwent during the past two years
  • Learn to understand searchers’ behavior: In Fishkin’s words, the biggest competitive SEO advantage will be understanding the search intent and providing comprehensive content that anticipates all possible questions around a topic, delivered with an outstanding experience — which eventually translates into better site engagement and higher Google rankings. Strategies to accomplish this include creating search-friendly content for channels beyond Google (e.g. Youtube, Amazon, the App Store, podcast and webinar platforms), and putting a major focus on generating engagement on websites.

These blog posts does not pretend to exhaustively cover all highlights from Inbound 2016, but I hope they’ve given you a good idea of the insights and predictions some of the marketing industry’s thought leaders shared with those in attendance. If you are hungry for more marketing and sales trends and predictions, visit the Inbound 2016 channel on Youtube to access the video presentations. And if you want to engage with a trusted marketing advisor, come visit us at

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