As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
I don't know about anyone else, but attending Inbound always feels like the first week at school after a long, lazy summer. You pop into your classroom, open up a brand new notebook, and start scribbling notes with your freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils. But then, the first week of school is over, the metal spring of that notebook is uncurling, you've lost almost all of your pencils, and you don't feel as motivated as you did before.
Thankfully, we're marketers, so we document and remember everything. After Inbound, I found a treasure trove of articles recapping the conference, as well as hundreds of tweets with the best quotes from the speakers and sessions. I also went through my notes to recapture some of the magic from the conference.
Here were some of my favorite takeaways.
The Exciting HubSpot Inbound Marketing Conference Announcements
The 2018 Inbound Conference was no exception, with Dharmesh and Brian dropping tidbits such as:
- HubSpot Video - If you have a Marketing Hub Professional or Enterprise subscription, you can host videos, place in-video CTAs and forms, and build an entire campaign around your video assets. HubSpot has a blog post with the video feature details, but needless to say, it's now easier than it's ever been to invest in video marketing.
- An Affordable Help Desk - Service Hub Starter provides an affordable option for a minimal help desk with their platform, with the ability to add tickets, build a chat-bot, and run live chat, as well as additional productivity tools.
- The Flywheel - HubSpot killed the funnel and made the switch to the flywheel. Rather than losing speed by the end of the funnel, the marketing flywheel leverages the momentum from your customers to help you grow.
- A Standalone CMS - You can now purchase the HubSpot CMS as a standalone product, which includes a website, blog, and LP creation, smart content, SEO tools, and more. You can also combine the CMS with any other hub for $300/month.
You can read more product updates via the HubSpot blog, or check out one of their most popular 2018 sessions, 150 Apps to Grow Your Business: A Grand Tour of HubSpot's Platform Ecosystem.
Overall, it's an exciting time to be a HubSpot enthusiast, with a lot of insights (and tweets) to unpack from Inbound 2018 this year.
#1. Start Integrating Video Everywhere
Overall, I thought a lot of the video marketing sessions at Inbound were good, but lacking a little pizazz.
The one tip I thought was fantastic came from Marcus Andrews in his session Introducing HubSpot Video. It’s Time to Make Video Work. His advice was to get your team using video by using it in anything you teach or instruct face to face.
Whether it's for internal use, to support your sales team, or to capture FAQs, the goal is to get your team comfortable with the medium, and incorporating it into their day-to-day processes.
Recommended Session: 7 Video Tactics That Enable Sales To Win More Deals with George Thomas, Inbound Evangelist at Impulse Creative.
#2. Keep The Human Connection
With HubSpot Conversation features such as lead routing and chatbots, it's never been easier to automate conversations with your leads. But regardless of how much you automate, you can't put everything on auto-pilot and expect results. There needs to be a human element.
The desire for human interaction was a favorite theme at Inbound this year. It gave me hope that weren't not all turning into robots. A lot of speakers found ways to blend human interaction with video, with recommendations on having more face-to-face conversations with customers over webcam to adding video email signatures.
Right now, I use Loom to follow up with clients via Slack, which you can easily install on your browser and record videos (with or without your face.) Loom even tracks when they watch the video, which is a bonus for anyone client-facing. It's a great place to start.
Recommended Session: The Top 10 Facebook Messenger Marketing Hacks of All Time with Larry Kim, CEO of MobileMonkey, Inc.
#3. Focus On The Distribution
We all know how to share something on LinkedIn or Facebook, but we don't necessarily know how to format the content for that specific channel. But Frank Maguire, who ran the session How to Create Relevant Videos (That Your Customers Won't Skip!) with Native Content was one of the only speakers to tell us.
He made an excellent point regarding video ads, that although people are using mobile to consume content, a majority of them won't use it for video. In fact, video ads have some of the most negative responses on smartphones. That's why so many marketers are using captions and text for video ads, knowing that a lot of people won't turn the sound on their phone.
Overall, regardless of it's a pillar post, video, article, or podcast, you’ve got to know your customer, your format, and your channel. Otherwise, you won't rack up more than a few views and likes.
Recommended Session: How Your Customers Can Fuel Your Content Machine with Cara Friedman, Director of Content and Community of ClassPass
#4. Invest in Self Service
The self-service theme was strong at Inbound, and rightfully so. When you equip your customer to self-serve, it can transform your website. There are so many ways to do it, either through a library of content, the ability to book a meeting or a direct line to sales.
According to Jon Dick in his session, Your Go-To-Market is Killing Your Business, and You Don't Even Know It, 51% of customers will book a meeting, 30% will call sales, and only 19% will use live chat. That's why it's critical to give your customers a few options and make it easy for them to answer questions or reach you 24/7.
Recommended Session: How to Predictably Attract, Convert and Retain High Paying Customers with Jeffrey Manu, Chief Executive Officer of Manu Equity
#5. Make Content For Humans
A lot of companies are excellent at pushing out content, writing blog posts, and creating assets, but I'm going to still call it out. We all continue to forget the human behind the screen. People, we need better stories in our marketing.
You want the reader to see themselves in your story. You want the response of: “I feel like you wrote this just for me," (which was a quote from Michaela Alexis's session, How to Build a Mega Personal Brand on LinkedIn on a Mini Budget.)
But you also need the content to be fun to use. After Inbound, Miles Ukaoma, the Head of Growth Driven Design here at Lean Labs, brought up the idea of gamifying our lead magnets. We're seeing this more with content, such as with HubSpot's new Make My Persona tool.
It's a persona generator and blows every other persona template away.
That's because we have enough static content out there. We do. As marketers, we need to make material that's more engaging.
Lena Waithe's spotlight session went into this when she brought up the importance of creating content that sticks and looking for inspiration outside of your industry. If you pay attention, you can get an idea for something innovative and new, and create a powerful asset that can grab your lead's attention.
Recommended Session: Everything You Need to Know About Publishing on Medium with Janessa Lantz, Senior Manager, Marketing at HubSpot
#6. Develop Passionate Employees
I don't care what anyone says, I thought Deepak Chopra's keynote was great. He brought up the concept of career success, and how it relies on being passionate about what you do. I was happy to see that theme trickle through other sessions as well, with a lot of business owners relaying the importance of supporting and motivating your most ambitious, creative employees.
If you find a way to elevate your employees, and help them pursue their passion, and invest in their professional development, it's only going to be better for your company.
(And yes, we should all strive to be the CEO our parents hope we'd marry, @WhitWolfeHerd.)
Recommended Session: Building Diversity and Inclusion Into the DNA of Your Brand with Andrea Flynn, Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability of MAC Cosmetics
#7. Make A Long-Term Video Strategy
At Inbound, the speakers covered so many opportunities to integrate video (as I mentioned above.) HubSpot covers a lot of that in their video about how to weave video throughout your business. It's worth a watch if you're still trying to convince your boss to invest in video.
However, without an overall strategy for videos, that content is going to seem disjointed. You may not get a lot of return.
After Inbound, I took my notes and came up with a few core components of a long-term video strategy, which should include:
Distribution - Use your customer's preferred channels, your buyer journey, as well as your ad and content strategies to determine where you will use video, and which formats you need. For instance, seeing that so many people mute videos they see on the Twitter or Facebook News Feed, every video posted on those channels should have bold text and subtitles.
Optimization - You wouldn't post an article without optimizing it, and video content won't be any different. You need to make sure every video has a keyword, a description, a captivating title, and more. Tyler Naples, an Inbound Marketer here, brought home an insight about Google prioritizing video featured snippets, using intuitive “pull-to” elements based on the focus keyword.
Branding - Your videos will cover different content, but overall, should have the same look, feel, and tone. You should decide how each one will open, preferably with an animated or static shot with your logo, and a plan about how you will use music and sound to establish a memorable identity.
You can also apply those tips to a podcast or webinar series. That might seem like a lot to swallow, so think about it like this. Every Netflix streaming series, every popular podcast, or every groundbreaking book has branding. The creator promotes the content differently on various channels.
That's why we see Orange Is The New Black marketing everywhere from Instagram to the side of this building.
You can't only post content and expect results. You need to have a process, an intention, and a unique voice.
Recommended Session: The Marketers' Guide to Integrating Video Into HubSpot and Improving Data with Steffen Christensen, CTO & Co-founder of TwentyThree.
Getting Ahead After Inbound
Now that the initial excitement about Inbound is over and we're all back to work, you all may (or may not) be thinking about putting what you learned at the conference to use. That's why we all go to Inbound every year, right?
However, if you find yourself in over your head with all of the recommendations from Inbound, I'd suggest bringing in a growth partner. Because if you invest in attending Inbound, but don't have the time, resources, or experience to put the takeaways to use, you're not going to see the value. And as we all saw from this year's conference, there's a ton of opportunity for the brands who take the initiative to grow, evolve, and change.
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