Our hands may still be cramping from taking so many notes during Inbound 2016—Hubspot’s annual 14,000+ inbound marketing conference—but we’d like to believe it was well worth it. We’ve distilled everything we learned down to nine key takeaways that every business owner should be following to be successful in 2017. Consider them our holiday gift to you.
1. Increase your connection between marketing and sales.
In 2006, your website augmented your sales team. In 2016, your sales team augments your website. All marketing initiatives have to be viewed through the perspective of sales (and vice versa) even more than they have been in the past. Sales and marketing shouldn’t just “know” each other. They should be meaningfully and specifically invested in another’s processes. Both should also be intimately familiar with the buyer’s journey and able to identify the gaps.
2. Be more mindful (than ever) of strategy.
Strategy is becoming increasingly important and the technology world becomes more cluttered with options. The costs of acquiring leads continues to increase, which means strategic marketing will offer the greatest return on investment with higher quality leads on a more predictable cycle.
3. Make the most of tools (before and better than your competitors).
Competition is fierce. Historically, people would compete for several feet of a store shelf. Now, they compete for millimeters of the infinite Internet. Knowing how to utilize all of the tools available gives us (as marketers) and you (as our client) the chance to stand out from the crowd and succeed in the ever-evolving marketplace.
4. Demand real results.
Growing interest in inbound marketing will make it difficult for prospects to identify (and avoid) inbound agencies that are inexperienced or claim to offer more than they can. Prospects will have to be more discerning and agencies with years of experience will have the upper-hand—as long as they can also show real results for specific industries.
5. Stop looking for your next writer. Start looking for your next videographer.
The supply of digital content is increasing by leaps and bounds, which is causing a surplus of written content on the web with which you have to constantly compete. More than just blogging, you have to adopt video, live video, and forms of content that haven’t even been invented yet as part of your repertoire. Eventually, every blog article published will be converted to audio. Learn to create videos that are engaging even without sound. Only the videos with the most interesting visual gets the almighty click to actually listen to it.
6. Don’t be afraid to boost. But don’t depend on it, either.
Social media marketing and strategy must be an essential component to your marketing mix. Opting out of social media isn’t an option anymore. A successful social media strategy builds campaigns, analyzes those that are doing well organically, and then boosts that exposure with paid ad dollars for maximum effectiveness.
7. Honor email. (Yes, still.)
Email is still a very viable medium of marketing, as long as it has context and provides value through thought leadership or premium offers. Opt for clean, consistent, and minimal emails. Keep subject lines captivating but never misleading.
8. Embrace “smart” technology.
Smart applications and bots will be the next really big thing. People are becoming more and more familiar with Siri, Amazon, and Google devices, and basically talking to—and relying on—hardware or software to have things accomplished. As this wave continues, knowing how to best utilize that technology to engage audiences will be critical.
9. Sell, but don’t be sales-y.
Delighting customers is a tenant of inbound marketing and it’s important to remember that it’s about them, not you. Make your customers advocates by providing them service and value that isn’t always branded to the gills.
Not feeling quite ready to implement these takeaways? That’s exactly why we’re here. Good thing we were the kind of kids who always listened in class. 😉