Avengers, Black Panther, Deadpool 2, Incredibles 2 (14 years later), a football world cup, a royal wedding, 2018 was huge! But what did that mean for us marketers? Well, more movies and more football obviously! But no seriously, as someone that has been an inbound marketer for just under a year, there's so much I learnt - the good, the bad, the ugly.I'm going to attempt to summarize some of my biggest learnings from 2018 in the hope that we can use some of these to make 2019 better and bigger!

Don't ever neglect SEO

I mean, I know..duh! But, a lot of articles lately have discussed how all of the changes in Google's algorithms might tend to yield us marketers helpless. But in spite of all of those changes, what I've come to realize is that SEO is here to stay. We started off with a 100+ ranking for a keyword we were trying to rank our client for. Simply working on the basics of SEO, such as title, meta description, URL helped the keyword reach number 11 on Google SERP rankings. Some more SEO, namely keyword density, interlinking, deep linking, helped us climb the rankings even further and reach number 7.While it's important to keep track of updates in Google ranking algorithms, it's also important to make sure and carry out Search Engine Optimization, before trying anything else. The key here really is to make sure that you're incorporating all the updates along the way when you carry out SEO.

SERP rankings can be unpredictable (and stubborn)

Might sound contradictory, but as much as SEO can help with climbing the SERP rankings ladder, it can be equally stubborn for some keywords (and you might never find out why). We started off at rank 6 for a keyword. Did possibly everything the SEO Gods would need for us to do and voila, 6 months later, all we could manage was position 4. Keywords can be stubborn for a variety of reasons. The competition could be extremely high, the keyword might have a high search volume meaning lots of people are already writing and ranking on it. Most times, you'll never know why you're unable to rank, most times, you'll never stop trying either. So, take a break, try to come up with a new strategy. Or maybe move the focus to a new keyword all together. Sometimes for SEO, less is more.

YouTube can be a gold mine

Confession time. We never really optimized YouTube the way it can be optimized. Quite honestly, we didn't give it all that much attention in 2018 at all. But guess what? One of our clients, ended up with 39 leads from YouTube and 1 customer as opposed to 9 leads from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter combined. We'd posted every week on each of those channels but posted only 3 videos on YouTube all year long. Lesson? Optimize YouTube. Spend some time planning out a YouTube strategy and execute the same. We'll catch up in the December of 2019 so you can tell me how that worked out for you.

Your Gray mail List gets you more than you'd think

An experiment conducted by Inbound Mantra involved emailing contacts on the gray mail list. We sent across an eBook landing page and ended up with 13 more submissions (13 contacts that were marked gray due to lack of activity). Further on, we tried using a third party email sending software (other than HubSpot) to a bunch of our contacts and ended up getting 9 more submissions. Of the re-engaged contacts, 2 went further on and got product demos. So, make sure to interact with that gray mail list every now and then.

Your form type REALLY impacts your conversion rate

Your form type impacts your conversion rate more than you think. We went from 22 submissions in a month to a drastic 115 submissions. That's a 422% increase. Moreover, we've seen that growth consistent for almost four months now. The only thing we changed - form design and the order of the fields. Engage your audience before you expect them to give out any information. When was the last time you got a girl to give you her number easily? Well, the same thing applies to your users. Make the form filling experience interactive, engage the users in a conversation before expecting them to give out personal information. A form with interactive, colorful buttons will do far better than a plain old form.

A/B testing is key to success

It's hard to figure the exact recipe of success when it comes to what CTAs work and what don't. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible. It took us close to four months of experimenting with different CTA texts and positions to figure out what worked for our audience and what didn't. But after four months of erratic submissions, we finally saw results. An important part of this exercise is making sure you collect data. All kinds of data. We saw a certain CTA go from having a 1.5% conversion rate to 7.5% conversion just on the basis of changing text.

Your menu matters

We installed Mouseflow on some of our client's website and there was one thing that stayed consistent. Your viewers spend the most time on your menu. Make sure it's easy to navigate through the menu. Make it clear, concise and clean. Make sure you're highlighting the pages you want your user to go to. Add a CTA to the menu (trust me on this one)!You're welcome for all these Inbound Marketing hacks. Your website will now grow traffic and leads by 100% in 2019. Just kidding. But who knows? Either way, the goal is always to keep growing and thinking ahead. Which brings me to the following scenario:Picture December 2020. Say you grew traffic and leads by 100%! (YAY). Goal for 2020 : grow traffic and leads by another 100%. How do we achieve that? You think beyond Inbound Marketing. While definitely an important aspect to grow traffic and therefore business, there's other things you need look at. For example, are there industries that are not using my product at all? Do I need to create a need? Do I need to create a category and reach out to people that are not even aware they have a problem?Google has been around and thriving for the last 20 years. I'll leave you to that thought.