Described by Forbes as, “a must-attend event for agency owners and professionals” the INBOUND conference is an event built and powered by HubSpot - the CRM platform supporting marketing, sales, and customer service professionals around the world. Each year, INBOUND is packed with thought leadership panels and presentations that help marketers and sales professionals make better use of their tools and stay at the cutting edge of trends and tactics. The conference is also an incredible opportunity for networking, allowing agencies, in-house HubSpot gurus, and software integration partners to help each other do more with their campaigns in HubSpot and beyond.
Even though we couldn’t bring you all to Boston with us this year for INBOUND 2022, we want to share with you the key insights that stuck out to our team as priorities that we feel marketers should be paying attention to.
Authenticity Over Algorithms
As digital marketers, algorithms are always top-of-mind. It’s our responsibility to keep our finger on the pulse of the guidelines search engines and social media platforms are using to deliver our content. Which, let’s be honest, is a lot of pressure, and can be extraordinarily frustrating when organic KPIs just aren’t where they should be or a shift means reoptimizing all of our content.
But the truth is, Google is not trying to create chaos. When we get so wrapped up in Google’s neverending Twitter feed of algorithm updates, it can be easy to lose sight of the purpose behind this logic: to serve users with the content they are looking for. In short, the algorithms are not the problem, our content is.
If a brand is able to serve up fresh content that adds to a conversation in an authentic way, then there’s no need to fear algorithm updates since the content and the platforms share the same goals. Of course, this isn’t to say we should throw optimization out the window. Google after all is a machine that doesn’t read, sort, and prioritize info the same way you and I do. But, serving up great content is a surefire and evergreen strategy for engaging potential customers.
Trust & Transparency
Trust is the easiest thing to lose and the hardest thing to gain back. In today’s digital economy, users are more fatigued and jaded than ever. This is even more true for the next generation of consumers. Gen Z-ers have spent their whole life in the age of the internet and, according to a prediction by Zurich Insurance Group, will account for 27% of the workforce by 2025. Marketers need to think differently about how we’re engaging our future prospects, because pulling the wool just won’t work anymore.
On a tactical level, this means privacy-first marketing is here to stay. Tracking cookies are destined for the dumpster - and how many times have you been frustrated by a cold call or newsletter you didn’t even sign up for? For marketers, this means creating experiences that feel real and offer true value in order to leverage first-party data. (And let’s not forget about finding ways to measure the success of our campaigns *cough* Google Analytics 4 *cough*.)
A Customer-Centric Approach
When designing campaigns, think about what you’re offering and what you’re asking for in return. Gated webinars and eBooks might not be enough to exchange for email addresses and phone number anymore. Lead generation is evolving, and becoming more sophisticated, and the key lies in brand transparency and a customer-first approach. In essence, the future of lead generation is no longer reach and frequency, it’s connection.
This means investing our time and treasures into understanding the holistic customer journey. Marketers should be keyed into intent signals and understand how the human organism reacts to what is in front of them. This could mean:
Being willing to talk about what no one else will. Acknowledge when your product isn’t the right fit. Be human and vulnerable in your monthly newsletters.
Understanding user preferences. If your customer prefers to self-serve, “schedule a consultation” forms might not be the right move. Check-in with customers - both qualitative and quantitative data will give you the context you need to thrive.
Ungating some tools and downloads in order to nurture a stronger lead. I know, it feels weird.
Implementing The Golden Rule of Marketing. Market to others the way you would want to be marketed to. Send a gift with no expectation of anything in return. Stop interrupting browsing experiences or trying to pass sub-par content as valuable.
The Crisis of Disconnection
All industries are shaped by people, human people. And, after a global pandemic, social upheaval, and the first glimpses of a recession here in the US, we’re frankly tired and terrified. The mainstream marketing methodology of the past ten years - that we need to find where our targets are, interrupt them, and scream into the noise louder than our competitors, is not going to get you very far. Instead, we need to reach a hand through the fog and connect with our audiences. Yamini Rangan, HubSpot CEO, defined this as a “Crisis of Disconnection” in her keynote, citing how disjointed systems and a divide between customers and companies is what’s slowing down most businesses today. So how do we tackle this?
Community is not ancillary to any product or industry but should be a large part of a company's offering. This idea is what HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah coins, “Community-Driven Growth”. The best influencers and content marketers are active participants in their audience communities. With seats at the table, they are connecting dots, producing great content that’s not reactive but proactive. With a strong community where learning is shared, exchanges occur, and identity is defined, everyone benefits - what Dharmesh calls a “growmance”. People want to matter and when engaging with your brand helps them feel like a part of something, you’ll be surprised by how far they’ll go with you.
Brand vs Demand
Speaking of brand, did you know that more people Google “Nike” than “shoes”? This is because Nike is 1) known for something and 2) genuine and trusted to not spout out “fake news” and most importantly 3) makes you feel something with its empowering “Just Do It” messaging. In B2B we often dismiss feeling, but this is an incredible frontier of untapped opportunity for many of us.
Agility Against the Unknown
Okay, all this is talk about brand and community-driven growth is fine and dandy, but what happens when a particularly vulnerable market - SaaS for example - has to start pinching its pennies to stay afloat in a tumultuous economy? You should put your budget into reliable tactics like PPC ads, right? Let’s challenge that. How much of your budget are you spending on things that you care about? And that’s not a question of altruism. What opportunities for connection, for content syndication, or for brand equity, is your pipeline missing out on by not being tapped in? The value of a company is no longer measured by what we hold in our hands, but what we hold in our heads and our hearts.
We Love Inbound Like It's Our Job
Inbound marketing is what we do here at Vye. Yes, we’ve got our eyes deep in the dashboards watching web sessions, conversion rates, and post engagement, but we think it’s just as important to keep our eyes ahead and to ask the bigger questions. What is valuable to a customer? How does this piece of content connect the dots? Does this feel authentic? Let’s get together sometime and chat about how to level up your lead gen in the modern digital marketplace and how HubSpot and inbound can help get you there.
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