I’ve never run a marathon, but after attending Hubspot’s Inbound Summit last month, I can say that I’m creatively winded. This year’s summit in Boston consisted of four days packed with 170+ educational sessions, five inspiring keynotes, over 14,000 attendees and countless networking opportunities. As a new customer and the Hubspot lead at my company, I came to the conference ready to absorb everything and made some new friends along the way.
Inbound Marketing- what does it mean?
Inbound marketing is about creating content that attracts potential customers who are likely already looking for a product like your own. When you produce great content and promote it properly, you can pull people to your company, instead of blasting emails to bought lists and shoving ads in people’s faces. The importance of inbound marketing took center stage in all my lessons learned at the summit.
Here are my five key takeaways:
– You don’t need to be a designer to create awesome promotional graphics. Images can dramatically increase post performance and readership. The good news is you don’t have to be a Photoshop or Illustrator wiz to create great images. Websites like canva.com allow you to upload a background image and modify the wording and design for one-of-a-kind images. You can also save yourself the stress of attributing photos off the internet by using free stock photos. There are countless websites such as pexels.com and unsplash.com that house thousands of free images.
Repurposing images and quotes can also be an easy way to promote your content. Pulling chunks from your content can act as a teaser, as it tells the reader what they can learn by opting in to read more.
– Paid media can be essential in supporting organic efforts down the inbound marketing funnel. Although paid media is not “inboundy” as Hubspot would say, paid media such as social ads, retargeting and pay-per-click can supplement inbound marketing efforts by capturing leads that are not already on your radar.
If you are using Facebook and Twitter for advertising, Hubspot suggests using their integration with GoChime, which gives you the ability to create lookalike audiences in order to expand your reach. For pay-per-click, using a tool like Moz allows you to look up specific keyword rankings and the cost-per-click of different keywords to make educated decisions about where to put your money. Hubspot also has a new Ads Add-on (it’s in beta for Hubspot customers), which allows users to manage LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and Google AdWords campaigns through HubSpot to give marketers greater access to insights about their customers’ journey, while easily tracking ROI of their ad-fueled content campaigns.
– Marketing and sales go hand in hand. Hubspot calls this idea SMarketing, which involves frequent communication and goal-setting between the two departments. It’s not uncommon for sales and marketing teams to become off-sync and at the Summit, it seemed that the importance of keeping the teams aligned in inbound marketing was constantly talked about. Almost every question I asked – technical or strategic in nature – the answer almost always sounded something like, “it depends what your sales goals are” or “it would be beneficial to have a conversation with sales to better understand their needs”.
To get started, utilize Hubspot’s blog for tips on how to align sales and marketing. The Hubspot Academy has one particular video about the “why, what and how” of SMarketing , which could be beneficial to present to your sales team. While it is no small task, sales training and education on inbound marketing are things worth investing time and money in.
– Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Goal-setting, planning and analyzing are key to a successful campaign. Planning weeks in advance, setting deadlines, communication expectations and responsibilities can save hours of unnecessary work down the road. Having a clear goal will ensure all tasks stay in line with the main objective (for lead gen campaigns a goal could be to increase website traffic or to generate a certain amount of leads).
You can’t improve performance without analyzing results. This is why setting a goal and examining what contributed to its success can improve long-term campaign success. Hubspot encourages sharing campaign results with upper management so that they can see the fruits of your labor. It can also increase upper-management buy-in resulting in deeper support of future inbound marketing efforts.
– Conferences can be fun, too. Not many conferences hire comedians like Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari for keynotes, provide free food trucks for lunch and host afterparties with break dancers. The overall feel of Inbound was casual and most attendees were young, motivated professionals. If you want to attend a conference that is highly educational, innovative and inspiring without the need to wear a blazer and attend stiff cocktail parties, this may be the conference for you.
The opening video reel at Inbound Summit denounced the phrase “just a conference” and replaced it with the word “movement” to describe Hubspot’s (possibly biased) proclamation that “inbound” is on its way to being the next major development in marketing. I think it is safe to say that at the least, inbound is a trend that has gained an enormous amount of traction in the short time it has existed and in my opinion, Hubspot’s 2016 Inbound Summit is worth attending.