Inbound 2018: Three Tactical Marketing Takeaways

With breakout sessions at Inbound 2018 such as: ‘Why No One Gives a Shit About You or Your Company’ (Keenan), ‘Building a High Velocity Lead Gen. Machine in 2018’ (Gaetano DiNardi) & ‘SEO Mastery at the Pace of Google’ (Sarah Bird), I knew I was in for an incredible week filled with curiosity, learning, and key takeaways to grow professionally; HubSpot’s Inbound Conference did not disappoint.

Inbound 2018 was my first time attending the conference, and my first time in Boston, which I discovered is an awesome city! I enjoyed being surrounded by professionals, from all over the world, hungry to learn, find inspiration and challenge themselves professionally. Topics covered at the conference included marketing & sales best practices, company culture, diversity & inclusion, startup life, and more — all focused around us as humans: empathetic, passionate, caring, ambitious…I could go on and on.

There was so much incredible content, it’s hard to summarize in one blog post — What I’ve done here is extract proven growth tactics that you can leverage and apply to your business.

If I had to choose one word as a key takeaway from this event, it would be ‘DELIGHT’. If you plan to grow your business, whether B2B, B2C, or B2B2C, you must delight your users at all touch points. This hit home as I listened to HubSpot founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, speak on the future of inbound marketing.

There are always unique opportunities to delight your community, from the first time they are researching your industry (marketing attraction), as they discover the value your solution provides (sales engagement), through onboarding and your ongoing relationship (customer success).

 

ATTRACTION

During the attraction phase, you must be active where your existing & prospective clients spend their time gathering information, because consumers want as little friction as possible while looking for solutions. Present information in a way that is easy to find, and share it where they are already searching.

Depending on your industry, the ways in which people discover solutions may be on different platforms. If you’re a global SaaS, they may ask their network on LinkedIn for tech recommendations, before continuing their research on Google or industry-specific publications. If you’re a local AC Repair company, they may search Google or Nextdoor for a reliable provider. If you’re a university trying to increase your MBA admissions, your first touch point may be a branded commercial on Spotify or Pandora before providing more detailed info on your website.

Tactic #1: Research Attraction Opportunities

Let’s pretend you’re running your own digital marketing agency in Miami, here are some tricks to get your Miami SEO Strategy started:

  • Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Start by asking them:
    • How do you look for professional service providers?
    • How did you find us?
  • Begin a search on Google. Ex: ‘Digital Marketing Agency Miami’
  • As you type your search, you’ll see Google populate a drop-down; 5-10 additional, relevant keywords that people are also searching
  • Add these keywords to Google’s Keyword Planner tool in Google Ads
  • Collect traffic & competitive data
    • Some of the longer keywords you found in the Google drop-down may have fewer searches, but less competition as well. These are the opportunities you want to build around.
  • Take a deeper dive into these keywords and start browsing the top organic listings for these searches.
    • Click through to the websites and see which pages you arrive on.
      • Is it good content? Can you do it better?
    • If you can do it better, and deliver valuable information to your market, create a high-quality piece of content that can be repurposed across platforms (ex: Blog, Social Media Video, QA on Quora).

  • Pro Tip: Google likes checklists and easily readable content; these content pieces may even help you jump the ranks and get listed above the organic website results.
  • Aggressive Tip: Optimize your directory & marketplace listings i.e. Amazon, Pinterest, or Clutch (see how they help us rank for keywords like Miami SEO Agency)

Once you’ve researched a content marketing strategy, it’s time to encourage engagement by creating content that delights your prospects from the first time they are introduced to your brand.

 

ENGAGE

You’ve successfully attracted potential clients to your content (could be your blog, personal LinkedIn page, Quora, YouTube). Now it’s your responsibility to deliver value. This may be a downloadable checklist of industry best practices, a free trial, or an expert answer to a question everyone is struggling to understand.

Approach this as an opportunity to provide tremendous amounts of value, and stay top of mind as a provider of the right solution for their problem. Marcus Sheridan, The Pool Guy, shared one great example from Inbound:

His prospects always asked pricing for different types of pools. He discovered this as an opportunity to own the conversation, his competitors all shy away from pricing online. While he doesn’t ever say ‘here is exactly how much your pool will cost’, he shares a detailed analysis of price ranges and the factors that may increase/decrease your investment. This has developed into an incredible lead generation tool, Google loves sending people to this page. Additionally, this builds trust with his prospects; they see he is forthcoming with answers to questions that many other companies won’t discuss.

I like this because it goes head first into a topic that his competitors were afraid to publicly discuss. Here’s a blog we published helping clients considering web redesigns if the investment is truly the best option their business. This is the type of delightful experience recommended to build trust, and attract better clients, more frequently.

Tactic #2: Own the Right Conversation in the Right Place

People do business with people they trust; build trust by providing answers to tough questions in the place where your prospects are searching for answers. Next time you’re in a sales conversation, pay close attention to:

  • Topics that make your prospects nervous
  • Topics that make you nervous
  • What clients say about your competitors
  • Repeat questions & objections

Use these topics as inspiration for your content. Where should this content live? Going back to the digital marketing agency example, ask current clients:

  • Where did you find us?
  • How do you prefer learning about new business trends?
    • Google, LinkedIn, Podcasts, Friends & Network, Magazines, etc.?
  • How have we helped your business?
  • What’s the biggest problem we’ve helped you solve?

Using these conversations as guidance to develop your next piece of content will build trust, own search rankings on Google (SEO), and close more deals faster. By asking open-ended questions, and actively listening to your clients, you’ll uncover valuable insights to apply to your content marketing & distribution strategy.

 

DELIGHT

You’ve attracted prospects to your content. It lived where they look for answers to their problems, so they begin to think of you as a trustworthy source of information. You’ve closed the deal because your solution solves their problem. How can you retain them long-term and encourage them to share your mutual success with their colleagues? Continue providing delightful experiences at every touch point: marketing attraction, sales engagement, customer success.

Using Inbound Conference as an example. After attracting and engaging me to the conference, they worked hard to ensure I had a delightful experience; and here I am sharing my experience with my network. Here are some ways they did this, allowing me to dedicate my time & energy to speakers and networking:

  • Mobile App
    • Connect with Attendees
    • Discover Speakers & Topics
    • Schedule My Day
    • Plan Travel
    • Know Where to Store Luggage
  • Perks
    • Dedicated Work Spaces
    • Food Trucks
    • Massages
    • Great Wifi

Above all, these variables are in addition to the main reason I attended the event: absorb great content from industry leaders and network with industry peers. Making a bit of an assumption here — I bet the app and event perks have evolved as a result of user feedback they capture during & after the event each year.

Learning from this experience and other speakers all week, here are some actionable tips:

Tactic #3: Setup Clear Internal Feedback Loops

Align Sales, Marketing, Customer Success to Provide Delightful Experiences.

  • External Factors:
    • Listen to challenges clients face as they start working with you, identify trends.
    • Support client transition from old solution to your solution through:
      • Documentation + Checklists
      • Dedicated Support
    • Send client satisfaction surveys, analyze feedback, implement into processes
    • Understand which clients are NOT a good fit, it’s okay to say ‘no’ (if it’s a bad fit, it’s better for you in the long run to say ‘no’)
  • Internal Factors:
    • Set up systems for sales, marketing and client success teams to collaborate
      • Weekly or monthly team reviews: pipeline + new business
      • Automated feedback loop with marketing campaigns, CRM & project management tools.
    • Update sales & marketing messaging to manage expectations

 

WHAT ELSE?

Inbound 2018 was all about delight, learning, and inspiration. I walked away with fresh strategies & tactics to help our clients improve their digital marketing campaigns. It was great networking and brainstorming through challenges with industry peers and practitioners. The cherry on top was being surrounded by and listening to speakers I admire: Scott Harrison (charity: water), Payal Kadakia (ClassPass), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Julie Rice (SoulCycle & WeWork), Rand Fishkin (Moz & SparkToro).