Members of the Launch team trekked to Boston recently for INBOUND 2017, HubSpot's annual conference on inbound marketing best practices. It was a few team members’ first time attending, but it was a learning experience for all, as well as a chance to visit local Boston clients.
Always looking to learn, Launch used the trip as a chance to explore new trends and marketing technology, and to learn how it could impact client outcomes. Below are our team's takeaways.
INBOUND First-Timers Learn What All the Hype is About
For those who have been to HubSpot's annual event, it's no secret that they pull out all the stops. The Boston Convention and Event Center and larger-than-life (literally) INBOUND sign, the lights, music and crowds are impressive enough, but an agenda with keynoters like Michelle Obama prove that HubSpot is focused not just on the technology, but also the experience. The "Chill" lounge with personal hammocks doesn't hurt either.
But the glamour and hype works—INBOUND truly does make attendees excited to learn more about the shift to inbound marketing and motivate them to go all-in, to do the work to commit to change. For our team, INBOUND is insightful and reassuring. It gives us a first look at the newest marketing automation tools, keeps us up to date on best practices, and advances our skills.
On this trip, we were focused on:
- The full sales stack: New CRM and marketing automation functionality
- Best practices for sales and marketing alignment
- Marketing KPIs (key performance indicators)
- Design trends and best practices
Rethinking Design in the Digital World
User experience is changing, as is customer behavior. As these changes occur, influencing and reacting to technology, our toolset and marketing tactics must keep pace. Our marketing assumptions are lagging, though. Here are two areas where marketing is stagnant:
- We’re still talking product, not problems. Many company websites talk about themselves and their products when they should be providing content that helps answer customers’ questions. Pushing information on audiences that they don't want is a hindrance to building customer engagement and value.
- Companies are investing in responsive website design, but using content in the same old way. Professionals are doing more work and more research via mobile. Voice search is changing both SEO and customers’ demands of marketing.
Alexa, How Popular is Voice Search?
The big transition to digital has created a lack of marketing real estate. Voice search is already popular—Amazon's Alexa and Google Home have seen to that. So what's the impact on marketing? User experience will often no longer include visuals; marketers are going to have to learn how to make the same impact without the leverage of imagery. We’re going to need to reach customers in completely new ways in order to adjust to this shift in buyer behavior.
Maximizing the Event Experience for All Attendees
Many of the INBOUND attendees—agencies and customers alike—are new to inbound marketing. But as an early adopter, we’ve attended the conference for the past four years. Why?
- Personal growth—a commitment to the community, best practices, and continuous learning
- Team cohesion—to learn, debate, and challenge each other for better client results
- Relevance—to stay up to date on fast-changing technology, and translate it in ways that fit the clients and industries we serve
Based on all that we've seen and heard, here are our key takeaways:
- Skip the marketing jargon. Whether you call it “lead nurture” or “drip marketing,” every inbound platform is promoting its own language. This inconsistency creates a disconnect from the results-focused business world in which we operate.
- Take action, but think it through. Marketing automation is commonplace, but it is rarely executed well. Just like in manufacturing, automation should first be used for transactional activities, allowing your salespeople to spend their time on genuine relationships and customer service.
- Focus vertically to speed marketing results. HubSpot encourages its partners to differentiate, but in meeting with other Gold and Platinum HubSpot partners, we’ve seen that many are focused on geography or deliverables. It’s strikingly rare to see an agency that is vertically-focused.
With a factory tour, client visits, some amazing meals in Little Italy, and surprisingly good wine in a can, we certainly had a full week.