This year HubSpot expanded its product and strategic reach into the full client lifecycle, from initial site visit and marketing qualified lead to sales management and e-commerce to ongoing customer success. INBOUND 2017 was consequently broader and even harder to get one’s mind around, as major themes expanded to include e-commerce, advertising, universal messaging and AI, and much more.
Our team attended INBOUND 2017 for two days. We went to all the major keynotes and felt inspired and motivated to up our game for 2018. What follows here are eight reviews with actionable insights from the sessions that meant the most to us. Enjoy!
by Ken Lempit, ALG President
Built to Last: How to Make Inbound a Culture and be Truly GREAT for Decades to Come
Marcus Sheridan - Presidient, The Sales Lion
Sheridan is famous in the Inbound world for using Inbound Marketing and HubSpot to grow his Florida-based pool company into a $9 million juggernaut and the most-visited swimming pool website on earth. The man has cred. And he is a powerful motivational speaker (so I can be forgiven if I've drunk the Kool-Aid).
Sheridan’s key messages:
Get everyone on-board with Inbound. It’s not a tactic, but a fundamental change in the way the company goes to market and deals with prospects, customers and employees. Thinking about the needs and wants of your ideal customers should drive everything in your business.
Inbound is about selling. HubSpot is a sales tool that lets you measure marketing impact. Marketing is a soft word that people think they can ignore. But no one can ignore revenues. Every business needs to grow to thrive. Put the emphasis on making sales more effective and people will gravitate toward marketing and help achieve the mission.
Create content with your subject matter experts. Maybe they can’t write, but they can share their insights with you for 30 minutes at a time to fuel content creation that will help them sell. Book a meeting regularly with the people that know your customers and business best and build the content out from there.
Start at the bottom of the funnel. Resources are scarce, so start where the sale is made. Give prospects that are ready to buy the information and tools they need to make a decision, and they’re likely to trust you. On Sheridan’s site (and those of his consulting clients), the blogs and resources that cut to the chase (price, comparisons, reviews, problems and “best”) get the most traffic – buy far – and will lead you to greater success.
If the sales team can’t use it, lose it. The most valuable content and engagement resources are those that the sales team can use in its sales process. In a way, this forces sales and marketing alignment: if you make stuff they want, they’ll want you to make more.
Start obsessing with video. Video impacts our culture. It’s favored by the algorithms that form social media feeds. By 2019, 80 percent of content creation will be video, but it’s nowhere near that now (so get busy).
Measure it. Show ROI. ‘nuf said.
Outbound at Inbound: You've tried ABM. Now Make It Work.
Peter Clark, AdRoll
Outbound at Inbound? It’s a natural progression according to Peter Clark, director of product at Adroll. He called it an evolution of performance marketing. The idea is to marry intent with marketing efforts. By doing so, you improve the alignment of sales and marketing.
What is Adroll? Adroll is an online service that displays personalized ads to customers and prospects across the web and connected devices. You can show ads to people who have visited your website, or are demographically similar to your customers. And it’s now integrated with HubSpot.
More than 73 percent of B2B marketers have tried ABM, but it is challenging to implement. ABM is a best fit in the middle of the “spectrum of intent” between inbound leads that are highly engaged and outbound (sales prospecting) leads which are the least engaged. And with Adroll targeting, you can identify and serve ads to prospects with high intent.
More than 16,000 B2B companies use Adroll. With the HubSpot integration, budget minimums are essentially done away with (direct relationships require more a minimum $5,500 monthly spend).
With Adroll, you can customize ads by the rep that is assigned an account or even the prospect company. You can find new customers, engage with more people at current accounts and uncover new accounts that are in-market for products and services like yours.
The importance of retargeting cannot be over-emphasized. You’re reaching people who have visited your site but might not come back unless reminded of their site visit.
Building a Bridge Between eCommerce and Inbound
Casandra Campbell - Content Marketer Lead, Shopify
Nancy Riley - Director of Product, HubSpot
Shopify integration with HubSpot was announced at INBOUND. Shopify is a SaaS provider of an integrated shopping cart and back-office system that provides an array of services and connections to make building an online store a lot easier.
People are buying where they discover new products. This is now happening on Facebook, messaging services and even games. It’s important to be able to extend your commerce to where your customers and prospects are, versus driving them to your store.
Paid marketing works very well for ecommerce, but it gets more competitive all the time. When a tactic starts to pay off, all your competitors will jump on it. And there’s only so much ad space, so high-performing keywords will be bid up, raising customer acquisition cost.
One answer to rising CAC is to integrate commerce with content. This will allow you to use the longevity of great content to increase the value of commerce, reduce CAC and drive repeat business. It’s a great complement to paid advertising. As all inbound marketers know, once you get your content to rank and draw traffic, it will continue to do so for some time. Contrast that to commerce pages, which generally don’t do very well in search.
With the HubSpot integration, each customer’s order history will be present in the CRM, enabling email marketing and enhancing customer service. In addition, abandoned cart emails can be automated through HubSpot, further increasing yield on the traffic you do generate.
The underlying message: integrating content with commerce with CRM provides small- to mid-sized online retailers with the advantages of much larger stores.
by Suzanne Marsalisi, Director of Client Services
Solving the Mystery of ROI: How to Find Marketing’s Impact on the Business
Sam Melnick - VP of Marketing, Allocadia
Most marketers can relate to the need to prove ROI, so it was no surprise that this session was fairly crowded despite being the final session of the day. Melnick wasted no timing in dashing the hopes of those that expected a formula or scoring rubric that would suddenly prove value and justify budgets. Instead, he encouraged attendees to turn the discussion from proving worth to focusing on business impact, a subtle but important distinction.
To get there, Melnick recommended marketers use the following as guidance:
Instead focus on...
What did I get for my spend?
What is working and what is not?
Is marketing pulling its weight?
How can marketing impact the business tomorrow?
What have you done for me lately?
Where should we spend our next dollar?
From there, focus on understanding your core investments and analyze projections to actuals. Next, layer in tactical results such as CTR, web traffic, MQLs - whatever data points are most meaningful to your organization’s success. While these “vanity metrics” aren’t likely what you’ll report to the C-suite, you do need to review these on a daily basis to ensure your core investments are driving results.
What you should report: advanced metrics such as spend mapper to buyer journey stage and corporate objectives or pipeline development.
How to Grow an Engaged Instagram Following Fast
Peg Fitzpatrick - Director of Content Strategy + Social Media, Kreussler Inc.
Instagram is by far the best platform according to author, speaker and social media expert Peg Fitzpatrick. With over 800 million users, the platform has become a go-to spot for brands to interact with consumers. This user base is only expected to grow as the platform continues to add new features and tools like InstaStories and filters. But much like we previously saw on Facebook, changes to Instagram’s algorithm are impacting how posts are served to users and making it challenging to grow organically.
Peg’s top tips for organic growth are:
- Set your Instagram style guide. Black and white or big bold hues? Use the same filters and colors across all posts so anyone who scrolls through can instantly recognize your style. Don’t forget to add your branding.
- Add variety to your posts. Instagram has long abandoned the one-photo only format, allowing users to assemble carousel posts, add videos and keep followers entertained on loop with Boomerangs. Graphics and quotes are also a popular way to mix up your feed.
- Dig into user generated content. Did you know that 77% of users prefer UGC content over professional photos? Create a hashtag and encourage followers to use it. We recommend adding it to your profile with instructions to use it for features. When you use UGC content, tag AND mention the Instagrammer so they get credit. Consider creating a dedicated Instagram worthy spot in your store or office for customers to use.
- Use Instagram stories. This is a great way to engage with followers and share your brand personality. Ask questions, give them a behind the scene glimpse of your day or offer a sneak peek of upcoming products. Just don’t forget to plan your stories out from start to finish. Just because this is less formal doesn’t mean it should have any less planning!
by Kelly Burke; Inbound Marketing, Sales Enablement
The Minimum Viable Email Sequence
Arvell Craig - Marketing Coach, Design That Speaks
Email isn’t dead, says Arvell Craig—it’s just held to higher standards. He claims that email is the foundation of the funnel, yet some people no longer prioritize it. And when emails fail, it could very well be because the content is boring or irrelevant.
Why is email still critical? Craig names five key reasons, stressing the final two as the most important:
- Nearly every company relies on email.
- Nearly every social media service requires email.
- Social media content is momentary, but email remains until removed.
- Email data is owned, while social media channels / messengers are rented.
- Email is inexpensive—its ROI is highest of all marketing channels.
What if we applied our knowledge of what works on social media to email? Looking at this list of social media best practices, the idea doesn’t seem farfetched:
- Consistent content
- Quality content
- Share other people’s content
- Format content for medium
- Tell stories
- Be personal/personable
- Pitch and sell rarely
- Use automation sparsely
- Be visually appealing
- Use more video
Craig’s minimum viable email sequence is a framework for the defining the minimum factors for email engagement for today’s users. The factors are quantity (send more!), content (use personality, storytelling and humor), engagement, and your personal “marketing superpower," or the medium in which you already excel, whether it be audio, images, or simply writing.
The bottom line: Generating 174% more total conversions than social media, email marketing is still very much alive and will almost always have a better ROI than the trendier marketing channel.
Critical Conversations with Your Head of Sales
Matt Cameron - SaaSy Sales Management
Matt Cameron shares the the critical conversations that executives and sales leaders need to have:
- Revenue plan. This needs to be reviewed by the sales/business development and marketing teams. This plan should include a quota, attainment coverage, timing of hires, ramp time, average deal size, win ratio and lead to opp conversion rates.
- Culture. How will you celebrate closing new deals? Will your culture be relaxed or competitive?
- Hiring plan. Tip: Get recommendations on LinkedIn from current sales reps to get more potential hires interested.
- Productivity plan. Make sure you have an onboarding process as well as a 30-60-90 day plan, and eventually, conduct a regression analysis.
- Technology. Ask: what tech do you really need? The four you absolutely need are a contact database, a CRM, a way to engage (web commerce, dialing) and an electronic signature.
- Managing plan. You need to plan individual performance as well as business performance. The manager must drive the one-on-one meeting with a sales rep. Sales meetings with the whole team need to: Align, Inspire, Educate.
- Forecast and deal pipeline. Manage to the pipeline, not the forecast. Pay attention to the close date, probability and mutual plan.
These are the inspection points you need for a sales leader to start on their path to success!
Get More Leads from Content with Facebook Lead Ads
Louis Moynihan - MarTech Partnership Lead, Facebook
Lars Osterberg - Product Manager, HubSpot
More business decision-makers are on Facebook than any other digital platform, so it’s no surprise that Facebook Ads came up fairly often at INBOUND. This session offered advice on how to capitalize on Hubspot’s free integration with Facebook.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of lead ads in HubSpot, here are the top reasons to start:
- Choose your ideal audience. Connect with people using Facebook’s first-party B2B data (Custom Audiences), OR take your best customers and converters and upload them (Lookalike Audience).
- Create and customize forms. Choose from 21 pre-populated form fields and 15 optional customizable fields. Forms make for a much faster, better user experience.
- Automate and nurture in near real-time. HubSpot automatically imports new leads and updates contacts with the data from lead ads submissions.
Lead ads work on so many levels—they’re customer-friendly, go beyond research, provide a cross-industry solution, reach real people and identities and exist on a storytelling platform.
Learn how to create and analyze lead ads from HubSpot.
Looking ahead to INBOUND 2018
Next year, we’ll attend even more sessions and provide a more consistent review format to make it easier to digest our digests. As a HubSpot Gold Certified Partner, we’re in constant contact with HubSpot, use its beta software for our own portal, host the regional HubSpot User Group and are in a great position help you make the decision if HubSpot is right your business. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-391-3006 if you’d like to open a dialog. You can also book a 15-minute meeting with me by clicking here.