14 Key Lessons from Inbound Marketing Experts
More than 10,000 business owners and marketers traveled to Boston last week for HubSpot’s Inbound 2014 conference. With HubSpot co-founders, Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, Guy Kawasaki, Malcolm Gladwell, Simon Sinek and Martha Stewart leading the keynotes, this year’s conference drew a crowd – double that of last year’s, in fact.
If you weren’t able to attend Inbound 2014, fear not: you can catch the keynotes and many of the break out session videos on HubSpot’s website, as well as view presentation decks from many of the speakers on inbound.org and SlideShare.
With four days’ worth of material from 180 sessions, it can be a little overwhelming to consume. Like many professionals, you may not have time to sort through videos and slides right now, but you still want the low-down on some of the conference’s high points. So, here are a few easy-to-digest takeaways from Inbound 2014:
1. HubSpot Introduces a New CRM
Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan introduced several new tools, including the new HubSpot CRM tool, which is useful for small businesses who don’t have room in their budget for Salesforce.
The Hubspot CRM allows you to take the time you would normally spend manually entering data and shift it towards engaging your sales-qualified leads. Sidekick also delivers contact insights when they open your emails or when you capture more information about them. Sidekick creates context for you and finds prospects for you. It's just that: a sidekick.
The CRM tool also has an optional built-in phone that allows you to contact your lead within the portal while displaying all of the contact information on screen, so you can tailor your call to the individual’s interests and demographics.
You can find out more about HubSpot's new tools by watching the product launch video.
2. The Future of Inbound Marketing is Inbound Sales
Rebecca Corliss, HubSpot Content Strategist, mentioned that the future of inbound will reach beyond marketing to focus on increasing an efficient coordinated sales strategy.
As Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, says, “Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” This means that your inbound marketing efforts, from attracting visitors to lead generation and nurturing, are not just marketing efforts, but are also aids in a positive sales experience.
Chris Brogan posted his thoughts on inbound marketing on his website, where he emphasized: “The biggest value of inbound marketing is earning the right to outbound market and direct sell.”
In the future, if you aren’t already, you need to be utilizing inbound marketing to support inbound sales, to convert customers and accomplish company goals.
3. Lead Nurturing Does Lead to Sales
According to Chris Brogan, 80% of all sales come through the 5th-11th contact with the person you’re trying to sell to. This means that you will want to follow up with your leads and have the right conversations with them at the right times during the buying process.
4. It’s Not About You – Think About Your Customers
You need to create content with you buyer persona in mind. Of course, you may already be doing this, but you need to ask yourself if you are producing content your customers actually want.
“Do what you love in service of those who love what you do.” Steve Farber, Leadership Expert Tweet
Quoting renowed leadership expert Steve Farber, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Evangelist Laura Fitton suggests publishing only the content that appeals to and benefits your customers. Tailor your marketing content to your audience’s needs, rather than interrupting them with a sales pitch or irrelevant information. Clarify a mission statement with your employees and audience and follow through on that statement by providing what you have promised.
Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing Inc, says most companies expect customers to have done a value translation and understand how their products or services will benefit them. You need to thoroughly understand your prospects and customer pain points and objectives so you can align your value proposition.
A more effective approach is to engage customers with what they want to talk about, not what you are interested in talking about. He also suggests using “you” and not “I” or “we” when creating content. During Laura Fitton’s session, she reiterated the power of incorporating the customer perspective by mentioning the outstanding customers your company is interacting with.
5. Stop Focusing on Leading & Be Helpful
During your inbound marketing research, you may have learned that your company needs to become a thought leader in its industry. This may have been an effective approach in the past, but Chris Brogan suggests shifting your focus from being a leader to being a helper. “I've never tried to be a thought leader. I don't see the value in that. I just try to be helpful.” Tweet
6. Be Personable
MK Getler, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Consultant, touched on the benefits of making your c-suite approachable by personalizing email addresses and signatures. You should better resonate and deepen the user experience by creating smart content that is tailored to your contact based on both his or her behavior on your website and other available data.
You want to leave your visitors feeling as if they’ve made a connection with your company and that you are more than just a faceless business behind a contact form.
7. Shifting Power from Seller to Buyer
During Brian Halligan’s keynote, he commented on the evolving buyer-seller relationship by saying: “The world used to be buyer beware, but it’s shifted to seller beware.” This not only effects how consumers buy, but also how they interpret the way you market to them.
Today’s buyers have the power to choose how and when they will engage with a company; they often block out advertising messages and other forms of marketing naturally. So in order for you to make a real impression, and for your company to thrive, you have to modernize your marketing efforts to reflect modern buyers’ buying habits.
“Products are no longer sold, they are actually bought,” according to Stacey Bishop, Scale Venture Partners. The time has come for business to help potential customers make an informed purchasing decision. David Meerman Scott also supported this stance by saying, “Instead of selling, you educate and inform.”
In PJ Harrell's “It’s Not You, It’s Me” session, he proclaimed that it is time to move away from a product-centric marketing approach to a persona-centric marketing approach, so that visitors hear and trust you.
In order to adapt to this new mindset, it’s important for your company to shift its sales mentality from “Always Be Closing” to “Always Be Helping.”
8. Blog Your Heart Out for ROI
You may already think that the Internet is diluted with industry blogs, but blogging is necessary to maintain a competitive edge online.
Over time, you will most certainly see a return on your blogging investment. In fact, HubSpot’s Pamela Vaughan stated that 90% of leads generated are from old blog posts and that this old traffic can be attributed to organic search coming from email subscribers. For example, 70% of traffic to new posts on the HubSpot Marketing blog comes from email subscribers.
So, what are the most important metrics to track?
- Total visits
- Traffic sources
- New email subscribers
- New leads
To quantify the success of leads, you must first establish a service-level agreement with your sales team that identifies a KPI for quality and quantity of the leads that are generated. You can also view top posts by leads via the last interaction using the new attribution report.
9. Stop Creating Content Just to Create Content
Your content should have purpose.
Rand Fishkin from the popular analytics website, Moz, said, “If you don't know who will share your content and why, then don't publish it. “
According to HubSpot’s Kieran Flanagan, if you don’t have time promote your content, you don’t have time to create content. You need to treat any content launch like a product launch with a coordinated campaign and distribution strategy to support it throughout its runs. You should also remarket your past offers and content like you would for a product.
Having a coordinated campaign in place before you launch is extremely important. In fact, coordinated campaigns generate 72% more leads.
10. Stop Doing What You’re Doing If It Isn’t Working
The simple rule of marketing is to figure out what's working and do more of it. This means you must test, measure and CHANGE to see results. Simply aspiring to be better than your competitors is no longer enough. Hiten Shah eloquently said, “It's not about being better than somebody else. It's about being better than you used to be."
11. Stop Measuring Things Just to Measure
76% of marketers believe measurement is important, but only 29% believe they are doing it well. Tweet
It’s as simple as choosing the right KPIs. According to Paul Roetzer, “Marketers use KPIs that make them feel good. You need to select KPIs that affect your bottom line.”
He suggests turning data into intelligence by selecting a singular goal per campaign that has a measureable value.
12. Shift from Specialist to Generalist
Roetzer brought up another interesting point during his session: in the past, in most fields as well as marketing, there was a preference for experts and specialists, people who had a complete knowledge of a certain practice or concept. In fact, being an expert or specialist made a job candidate that much more marketable. Today and into the future, however, demand for specialists has dwindled, and demand for generalists has soared.
Because traditional marketers and specialists have spent such a long time becoming experts in a particular arena that when challenged with innovative ideas, they have to hire a team to adapt. The bottom line: companies need someone who can think strategically but also implement at the tactical level. Generalists will soon be in high demand. So grab yours while you still can.
13. Reimagine for Growth
“Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence, not a mistake.” Guy Kawasaki Tweet
“Remarkable results rarely come from avoiding risk. You must try new things.” Dharmesh Shah Tweet
14. Best Easy-to-Implement Session: 25 Email Marketing Hacks
This session, presented by Matt Heinz, offer the most tactics that you can implement today.
I found it to be the most useful because it made me question everything I thought I knew about email marketing.
An example: at one point in the session, Heinz suggests sending emails out during holidays or over the weekend and not including a subject line. He stands by resending to prospects that haven’t opened your initial email, encourages you not to disqualify disengaged leads based on email open rates and that maybe email isn’t the best way to reach c-level decision makers at all!
This guy’s lost it right? Or maybe he is really on to something.
Let me know how these ideas work for you! Share your success stories in the comments below.
Special thank you to HubSpot and all who participated in the video project!