For the first time ever, I’m at INBOUND, an annual conference put together by the folks at Hubspot. Here are all (and I do mean ALL) my notes from the conference.
If you’re checking this while the conference is still happening, please check back soon for more updates. You can also follow me on Twitter (@kcclaveria) for more real-time updates.
You can skip to the appropriate section here:
Day 1 – September 8
Keynote: Seth Godin
Legendary marketing author Seth Godin opened the conference and was welcomed by a very enthusiastic, standing-room only audience. His talk didn’t specifically talk about inbound marketing tactics. Instead, he touched on some high-level topics related to how marketers approach their day-to-day jobs.
Here are some top takeaways from his electrifying speech:
- Take responsibility at work instead of waiting for authority. Do the work that most people wouldn’t take on. “People who get responsibility take responsibility,” he told the crowd.
- Embrace risks. “Reassurance is futile,” Seth told the crowd, encouraging people to do work that may or may not work. Stop seeking confirmation that something will work before you go do it.
- Don’t forget the “why.” Marketers get caught up putting their ducks in a row, but we should remember why we’re doing something. What are you really trying to achieve?
- Question your assumptions. The story you’re telling yourself—what you think you can do, what you think your weaknesses are, etc.— are all invented, according to Seth. “You already have what you need to get to the next level,” he told the crowd.
Overall, I thought it was a great way of opening the conference. He use used humor to make his points, and he inspired the crowd to aim higher and to do good work.
Keynote: Brené Brown
Brené’s brilliant talk explored the power of vulnerability. According to Brené, vulnerabilty is the the only path to your dreams. She defines vulnerability as “the willingness to show up and be seen when you have no control over the outcome.” She told us to:
- Choose courage over comfort. Know that if you live a brave life, you will get your ass kicked. You wil fail and get hurt. Dare greatly.
- Be honest about what failure really feels like. Create a culture where people talk openly about failure.
- Recognize when you’re “emotionally snared.” Be aware of your emotions and challenge the stories you make about yourself and your situation.
- Learn how to use vulnerability to turn failure into learnings.
Disrupting Digital Business – Ray Wang
Ray shared the 5 steps organizations need to take in order to disrupt digital business:
Some of his interesting points include the following:
- The future of big data models is built on insights.
- Companies need to bring together content, network and technology together. Be vertically integrated. That’s the key to winning.
- Customer experience is dead because people want personalized experiences. It’s all about choose-your-own-adventure journeys.
The top 10 social media advertising hacks of all time! – Larry Kim (Wordstream)
Larry Kim’s session is easily the highlight of my day 2. He provided some specific, very actionable tops on how to KILL it on Facebook and Twitter ads.
First, he made the case for social media ads, in case you need convincing:
- People are on Facebook. No surprise there.
- Facebook organic reach is plummeting.
- Most of the content you produce goes nowhere. A hard pill to swallow, but very true.
- SEO sucks for branding.
- Search ads are great…but they’re also expensive.
There are two things that social ads do well, according to Larry:
- Content amplification, helping ensure that people actually consume the content you produce.
- It has a way to convert traffic to your site.
Finally, here are Larry’s 10 hacks on how to get more from your social media advertising program:
10. Work on your quality score.
- People with high quality scores are rewarded with better placement and discounts.
- Every increase of 1% in post engagement will decrease your cost per engagement by 5%.
- To begin the process of increasing your quality score, Larry recommends: 1.) tweeting more often, and then 2.) figure out your best posts and amplify them. (You can download your Twitter analytics data and identify your bet posts—your “unicorns.”)
- Establish a minimum threshold of engagement. Meaning, set a benchmark for yourself (for Larry, that’s 15%) and aim to be higher every time.
9. Turn a low engagement post into a high engagement post. You can do this by narrowing your targeting sufficiently. For instance, doing geo-targeting so you’re only targeting people within a 1-mile radius is a good way of focusing your ads.
8. Increase the commercial intent (chance of people buying your stuff) using “in-market segments.” Essentially, what Larry is referring to here is using behavioral segmentation to be more targeted in your ads.
7. Use demographic targeting to further increase the commercial intent of your audience. For instance, instead of targeting everyone from a certain country, limit it by a few miles around a certain place. Provided you’ve thought about which demographic you really need to reach, this is a great idea.
6. Leverage the power of remarketing. Facebook now has customer website audiences while Twitter has tailoredd website audience, so make sure you use of these features. Essentially, remarketing allows you to advertise to people who have already visited your website by embedding a pixel on your site.
5. Do super remarketing. This is essentially a combination of the last 3 tips. Combine remarking with demographic filtering and behavioral targeting (plus high engagement content) to get more engagement, a higher quality score and (eventually) a higher ROI.
When it comes to social media remarketing, Larry says you should consider pushing hard offers—so things like register, sign up and download. This tip makes sense to me given that with this approach, you’re advertising to a group that already knows you.
4. Use custom audiences, which enables you to upload a list of emails, phone numbers or (in Twitter’s case) Twitter IDs. This allows you to advertise to a highly targeted group. This approach is a big deal, according to Larry. It allows marketers to target people based on their identity (phone numbers and emails), not just based on their potential intent.
Use call buttons on Facebook. Half a billion of Facebook users and 80% of Twitter users are using these platforms via mobile only.
And according to Larry, calls to businesses are 3x worth more than clicks to websites. Using call buttons is essentially like paying click per leads instead of click per clicks.
2. Take advantage of the snowball effect. When you advertise (using most, if not all, of Larry’s tips), you gain new fans and likes as you advertise. Eventually, this leads to a snowball effect where you’ll see even more engagement in the future.
1. Get free clicks. Ok, this one isn’t technically a hack. Larry’s point here is that when promoted tweets or Facebook ads are shared or re-tweeted, the clicks that those shares get don’t count towards your costs. So this essentially comes back to tip #1: make sure your ad content is engaging to begin with and you might see some free clicks along the way.
For a more in-depth look at Larry’s session, check out his slideshare below.
Larry’s session is my fave session from day 2, so I definitely recommend following him on Twitter for more awesome tips like the ones he shared here.
The Power Of Data, The Importance Of Moments And The Future Of Storytelling – Robert Michael Murray
“Data is telling stories,” Robert said in this session. Tapping into his previous experience as part of National Geographic‘s social media team, Robert shared his thoughts on how to use data from various sources (fitness trackers, smart appliances, phones, etc.) in order to find compelling stories to tell. He encouraged marketers to tap into their online community of fans to help them find stories.
Here’s a look at the main points he made during the session:
Read Robert’s Medium post on the power of moments for more info about his session.
Using Analytics To Create (Stellar) Content – Jeremy Goldman
Jeremy says using analytics is key to making sure you’re able to use content to move people along the funnel. Yes, it matters.
Tools that are proprietary to you:
- Lead Forensics – a reverse IP lookup to better understand your audience
- Hubspot – A tool that lets you use analytics to create personas in your campaigns.
- Think hyper global, act hyperlocal. You want to be very targeted.
- Create Hubspot lists to get IP data, export geo data. Create content and that’s very relevant.
- Googe Analytics – Look at which pages are winning with SEO.
- See what’s working and build more pieces around it. Look at your SEO traffic, not just your overall traffic.
- Look at age demographics.
- Evaluate your Twitter redirect links to see which tweets are linking to your website.
Two different types of content: Zig and Zag
- Zig copies, might build upon something. It’s easier to Zig. For example, when someone writes a list of social media fails.
- Zag takes notice of topic’s popularity but intentionally goes i a different direction in every other way. Zag has a higher chance of failing and a higher chance of succeeding big time. (You hit home runs with a Zag,” says Jeremy.)
Other sources of data (not proprietary to you):
- Google Trends – Create your own widgets. For example, with multiple locales.
- YouTube Trends
- Twitter curator – hard to get access to. Might be available if you’re a developer.
- Visible tweets
- Radurls – for when Google Trends isn’t real time enough
- Feedly – to keep track of RSS feeds and for a way to look for a quick “Zig” content.
- Facebook trends – i.e. the “Trending” ticker on Facebook.
- Bing Trends – A quiz every week. A way of finding interesting content topics.
- Job Trends (specifically Indeed.com)
- Yelp Trends – Trends for what people are looking for in your city.
Don’t always go for something that everyone is already talking about. Look for long tail opportunities. Use a tool like the Google keyword planning tool to find out how much competition you have for certain topics.
Other tips on how to use analytics to create amazing content:
- Don’t overthink it. Jump on a topic as soon as possible. “Approvals generally don’t make things better.”
- Limit your time. Give yourself 20 to 30 minutes, and whatever you can do by that time, post it.
- Be relevant to your audience. Don’t write about Lindsay Lohan unless it’s relevant to your audience. Start with your audience and work backwards.
- Don’t plagiarize. Ever. Give credit where credit is due. Cite where your ideas came from. Link back to things. Let people know that you’ve linked back to them. It’s not just about content development—it’s also about content marketing.
How to Get the Most Out of Slideshare for Business
- It has a global audience—over 70 million users
- 70% of traffic that go to Slideshare come from direct search and are looking for expert, long-tail content
How people are using Slideshare:
- Thought leadership
- Product awareness
- Lead generation
How to create great content for Slideshare:
- Start by looking at the Slideshare home page. Editors pick the best content and promote them on the home page. See what others are sharing to get ideas for content.
- Put audience first. What can they learn from your content?
- Focus your content. Turn content that already exists and turn them into visual Slideshares to give them new life. Think of Slideshare as a supplement to existing content.
- Stand out by doing the following:
- Create a great cover slide.
- Use a title that is descriptive and enticing.
- Optimize your content so it’s more discoverable in search queries.
- Check out SlideShare analytics to improve your content strategy.
- Have a distribution plan. Embed it on web pages and share it on social. SlideShares are designed for social. Distribution is key.
- Increase your vitality:
- Include a CTA—for instance to another SlideShare or to your website.
- Engage with your audience.
- Resurface your SlideShares.
- Make sure your content is understood without live presentation. Add any additional context so that your content can be understood by an online audience.
Getting leads through SlideShare:
- Upload your content.
- Create your lead form.
- Preview your lead form and publish. (SlideShare is integrated with LinkedIn’s auto-fill.)
- Review your leads. Connect it to Hubspot (or whatever CRM system you have).
- Post it via LinkedIn publishing.
- Consider a LinkedIn sponsored post.
- Use the LinkedIn lead accelerator.
Lead gen best practices on SlideShare:
- Create specialized content
- Engage and inform first. (Don’t surface the lead form right away.)
- Promote to relevant audience.
- Experiment to optimize.
With SlideShare’s new lead forms, Hubspot saw some great results:
Forget Hacks: An Actual Growth Playbook for Content – Anum Hussain
Anum is senior growth marketer for Sidekick by Hubspot, a company that is neither B2B and B2c. Instead, it’s B2C2B. Sidekick is not promoting itself to businesses. They’re promoting to individuals—for free.
How B2C2B works:
4 core principles that Sidekick uses:
- Commit to a highly experimental process.
- Seek excellence.
- Allow data to inform intelligent decisions.
- Use technology to drive success at scale.
Commit to a highly experimental process.
- Avoid blindly following best practices and focus instead on uncovering what works best for your own audience.
The example that Anum used is LinkedIn Pulse. The hypothesis was LinkedIn Pulse could give Sidekick 200+ activated users. This was the strategy:
Unfortunately, this didn’t work and republishing 10 posts on LinkedIn only resulted to 17 new users (although thousands of views). The point: Just because everyone’s talking about a new tool or medium doesn’t mean you’re supposed to use it too.
Don’t focus on just vanity metrics like number of subscribers. Instead, you want metrics like engaged, active subscribers. Consider purging your list and “churning” people who are no longer engaged with your content.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in vanity metrics. Focus on meaningful metrics that drive growth.
After creating search-optimized guides, Sidekick saw some awesome numbers. But after digging deeper, they found that although organic traffic was increasing, it was not completely attributed to their site pages.
After analyzing data, Sidekick was able to make a revised SEO strategy. Key insight: “The more links to related content we had across our site, the better we ranked.” When it comes to SEO, think topic over keywords.
The point: Don’t just look at data. Dig in, analyze it and generate insight to propel your growth.
Scale with technology.
Anum shared Sidekick’s subscriber strategy. The point is that they use automation and personalization technologies in order to optimize their subscribers’ experience and keep them more engaged. Uncover what growth levers can supercharge your growth.
Anum already wrote a blog post about this presentation, and you can access it on her website.
Becoming a Customer-Obsessed CMO – Victor Milligan
“There has been a transfer in power.” Customers transcend industry. We’re now in the age of the customer.
The revenue performance of companies that are customer-obsessed are 4 to 5 times higher than companies that aren’t.
Loyalty structures are changing, but customers are individuals and are dynamic.
The solution is to increase customer affinity through participation.
Becoming a customer-obsessed is a complex game. When experiences don’t match the promise, things break. Companies need:
- Processes – how the work gets done
- Culture – a behavior, a set of norms/instincts. Takes long to establish because people hate change.
- Investment management
- Operating model
3 years ago, we didn’t have CX professionals that can influence business decisions. The age of the customer is putting the focus on customer experience.
Culture needs to see customer-centricity as a key strategy.
The challenge for marketers: unlocking data while protecting privacy. When companies suffer data breach, the issue is usually the CMO’s domain.
The CMO and the CIO working together. The shared BT agenda:
Most companies are “non-empathetic.” They don’t really know what customers want or feel.
Here’s a good study that shows that customer-centric companies generate higher revenue:
Better Customer Experience Correlates With Higher Revenue Growth In Most Industries
Beyond Email: Why Your Most Valuable Community Is On Twitter
Email marketing has problems but it’s not dead. Even Twitter SMB loves email. But marketers should be sending emails to those that are most engaged.
Why go beyond email with Twitter?
Your next best loyal customer is on the platform already. You just need to start a conversation with them.
Twitter boils down to 3 things: public, timely and conversational.
Let your customers truly opt-it. Spell out why people should be following you. Followers who see your Twitter campaigns have more positive opinions and greater willingness to purchase compared to non-followers.
Have more rich conversations.
Promoted tweets with rich media have:
- 313% more engagement
- 52% more retweets
Don’t talk at your customers. Talk with them.
Contrary to popular belief, Twitter doesn’t take too much time. Don’t go after volume.
Why Twitter and who’s using it?
- Twitter users “over-index” on many industry verticals.
- Twitter users are basically your advocates.
Use custom audiences and lookalike audiences for better targeting.
Connect with customers based on what they want. Use one of these targeting options:
- Keyword targeting
- Follower targeting
- Behavior targeting
- Persona targeting
- Event targeting
Check out your audience insights to learn more about your followers. Use these insights to create better Twitter ads.
How to do this:
- Start with a follower campaign.
- Answer customer service-type questions.
- Use Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming up.
- Crate sales offers.
- Tweet research, announcements and news.
- Surprise and delight. Denny’s example.
Power the Bottom of the Funnel with Sales Enablement – Debbie Farese
2/3 of a buyer’s research is completed before reaching out to sales.
Sales enablement’s mission is to create tools and content based on the buyer’s journey to increase lead-to-customer conversation rate. Helping support sales people when they’re engaging with buyers.
- Understand your buyer personas.
- Have a really good idea of how your funnel looks like. Get a full picture and definitions for each stage of your funnel.
What should you do to put sales enablement in action?
- Start by understanding the buyer’s journey.
Tips & tricks on how to use sales enablement:
- Prioritize leads and help reps leverage triggering events. A triggering event surfaces pain. Teach reps how to recognize them.
- For example, when a marketer changes job, that’s a very big triggering event.
- Lead with customer pain points in your pitch deck. Stop leading with logo slides. Give buyers something they can relate to.
- Create a diagnostic checklist for reps’ to use in exploratory meetings. Create a guide for reps to use to surface a prospect’s pain points.
- Optimize BOFU (bottom of the funnel) offers for keywords comparison shoppers use. 78% of business software buyers begin their evaluation with a web search.
- Monitor social media for conversations with buyers. 1 in 3 US buyers are influenced by social media in their purchases.
- Develop a community of customer advocates to help tell your story for you (and close deals). Customers are key in your BOFU toolkit for referrals, references, case studies, product reviews and social media responses.
- Make it a two-way relationships. Think of incentives (not monetary) for advocates. For example, give customers early access to beta products. Make it a symbiotic relationships.
Measuring the success of sales enablement:
- Lead-to-customer conversion rate. No metric is perfect, but use this metric as your north star.
- Sales rep and manager feedback. The best way to know how you’re doing is to ask them to tell you to your face. e.g A quarterly satisfaction survey with sales. How do you think we did this quarter? What worked this quarter?
Hungry For Better Content: What The Mighty Hamburger Can Teach Us About Repurposing & Personalizing With Modular Content – Lee Odden
The natural intersection of SEO and PR is content. – @LeeOdden
Content isn’t the king, it’s the kingdom.
Content demand can be overwhelming.
Over 50% of marketers say producing content consistently is a top challenge. Other challenges: finding the right talent to create great content. (Recommended read: http://tprk.us/30cmtactics)
The solution to the high demand for content? Content repurposing!
Typical approaches to repurposing content:
- Sharing short pieces to entice customers
Most repurposing is for the convenient of the marketer. Find the balance between efficiency and giving customers what they want.
Modular content: planning, creating and repurposing component pieces of information and media organized by topic, keyword, customer focus and type.
Modular repurposing schema:
To begin, you need customer insight. Learn about your customers’ pain points, what they care about.
Start with themed tips and quotes.
Create similar (but not the same) pieces of content.
Get into the habit of collecting your sources in one database (e.g. Excel sheet). Record facts, tips, case studies, in one repository. These are your “ingredients” (using the hamburger metaphor).
What kind of content burgers do your customers want?
Start with customers, not content: Look into the preferences of your customers. What type of content do they like to consume?
Don’t try to sell to people with every piece of content. Also, always make it clear what they could do next.
You want to become the answer.
What do your customers care about:
- identify core concepts important to answering customer questions during the buying experience.
- Create and curate content around those ideas: text, images, audio, video relevant to your target audience
- use content snippets as ingredient for content marketing and repurposing
Optimize the customer journey:
Modular content grid: Organize content snippets by keyword. Cite your sources, especially influencers. Use the insight of people outside your organization.
Create templates for repurposing.
When working with influencers:
- Send them suggested tweets.
- Ask them to share the content at the same time.
Content repurposing tips:
- Big to small. Take something awesome and deconstruct it.
- Example: An ebook about social media marketing. Blog posts about LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Small to big. Themed news curation.
- Curate articles (via Evernote, for example) so it’s easier later to create content.
- Curation examples: BuzzSumo and viralnewschart
- Small to big: nuggets. Use research reports/stats, etc. in other content like other blog posts, presentations, etc.
- Explode interviews. Serialize things like interviews with influencers. Repurpose your interviews via slideshares and other types of content.
- Thought leadership:
- Identify a key trend your customers care about.
- Poll industry influencers for their insights and their predictions.
- Add your own insights as well.
- Customer insight – identify key customer segments, develop profiles/personas and the questions they have at early, middle and late stages of the buying process.
- Modular imagination – think about small to big and big to small modular content for efficiency, SEO and ability to personalize for specific target audiences.
- Add the bacon – Connect with influencers to capture ingredient content (quotes, tips, stats and examples) to add some POP to your repurposed content.
Free resource from Lee: optimized workflow at http://tprk.us/ozwflow
Optimizing The Past: How To Get More Traffic & Leads From “Old” Blog Content – Pamela Vaughan
Through its own attribution report tool, Hubspot found that a majority of traffic it gets to its blog go to old blog posts.
- We should find a way to convert the high traffic posts better.
- We should search optimize high-converting posts.
- Goal is to generate more leads from high traffic (old) blog posts)
- First try: pick the offer based on relevancy. Very hit and miss. The reason: not based on data.
- Second try: Optimize based on the keywords people used to find the post. This worked!! This increased conversion rate by 240%.
How to optimize for keywords:
- Identify top-viewed posts.
- Identify which keywords people are using tto find those posts/which keywords they rank fo.
- Incorporate those same exact keywords into the CTAs used in the post.
- Create new offers where existing offers aren’t relevant.
Use text-based CTA using the exact keywords that people used to find the content. Also, Hubspot added an image CTA (again, using the keywords that people use) and a slide-in CTA.
Search Engine Optimization: Goal is to get more traffic for high converting posts.
- Identify posts with “page 1 potential.”
- Update post.
- Search optimize the post. On page optimization. Do basic SEO.
- Update it for conversion.
- Republish as new. Change the date.
Google rewards freshness. “We’re building off the existing search authority the post has already accrued, New visits lead to more social shares and inbound links.”
Updating old blog posts is more scalable than guest blogging.
It fills a new slot on your editorial calendar.
It enhances the quality of content on the blog overall.
Historical content refresh isn’t for everyone. It’s meant for mature blogs.
- You need to generate significant traffic from organic search.
- You need a critical mass of blog subscribers and social media followers.
- You need a sizable repository of old posts worth updating.
Historical optimization should be a piece of your blogging strategy, not your whole blogging strategy.
More info: http://bit.ly/historical-optimization
Daniel Pink – keynote
Daniel Pink closed #INBOUND15 with an energetic and informative talk on how to become better at sales. Since everyone now is sort of in sales (even if you don’t have “sales” in your job title, Daniel’s talk was very useful.
He shared 3 principles—backed by research—about sales today:
- Attunement. You need to see the situation from your buyer’s perspective. You have to be attuned to what they want.
- Bouyancy. Learn how to deal with failure and rejection. Don’t take failure or rejection personally.
- Clarity. Be able to curate information and make sense of it.
The new reality of sales, according to Daniel Pink.
3 tips on how to be better at sales (+1 bonus):
- Don’t try to become a strong extrovert. Instead, just be more like yourself. Ambiverts (those who aren’t too introverted or too extroverted) tend to sell more.
- Use interrogative self-talk. Instead of telling yourself, “I can do this,” ask yourself, “Can I do this? How?” This approach has been shown to be more effective.
- Give people an off-ramp. In other words, make it easy for them to say yes.
- Learn Pixar’s approach to storytelling. It’s more compelling than just ratting off what your company is all about.
Daniel Pink’s example:
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