5 takeaways from INBOUND marketing 2015

The INBOUND marketing conference 2015 in 5 key points

HubSpot’s annual INBOUND marketing conference took place in Boston last month. Spread over four days, it attracted more than 14,000 marketeers to what is now the biggest marketing and sales conference in the world. Because SUE switched to HubSpot (the marketing automation platform) this year, I attended the conference too. Here are my top five takeaways.

1. Technological disruption of the marketing profession

These days, technology companies are disrupting every type of industry with new software. What Airbnb and Booking.com did to the hotel industry; what Google AdWords did to the advertising industry; is being done to the marketing industry by companies like HubSpot. HubSpot is a technology which helps you manage all aspects of the marketing funnel; from finding an audience, to getting visits, to identifying leads, to bringing in and nurturing customers. You just have to see all the technological upgrades they launched at the conference; creating beautiful pages easily with their new CMS, managing your paid media campaigns on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter together in the HubSpot environment, and much more.

If you know that Google and LinkedIn have invested in HubSpot, then you’ll know it’s well worth keeping an eye on. Google’s Ray Kurzweil once said: “Every industry is rapidly changing into a software industry.” I’m convinced that marketing technology will replace traditional marketing very soon. HubSpot, a relatively cheap and very powerful platform, might be the Google of marketing technology.

2. Integrating Marketing and Sales

A second big theme is sales. If I had to summarise HubSpot in one sentence, I’d call it technology that enables you to generate leads. HubSpot has made enormous strides this year in expanding its sales technology, and it’s looking extremely impressive.

Every agency is struggling with the correlation between campaigns and sales. They have the content marketing and conversion sorted out, but many struggle when they have to turn a lead into a sale. While at INBOUND, the CEO of Belgian agency, Dallas, got a HubSpot notification on his cell phone saying that they had a ‘hot lead’ who had read 3 blogposts that week, visited the pricing page of the agency and downloaded a whitepaper. His agency immediately sent the person a friendly e-mail, and they had a business meeting set up in no time. The system notifies you when someone is ready to buy, based on his or her behaviour on the website.

3. Content Marketing is Lead Nurturing

HubSpot attaches great importance to lead nurturing. Their goal is to ensure you that you excite customers through inbound marketing without pushing them. The definition of Lead Nurturing is: “The process of building relationships with prospects with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.”

I think this is a great definition. In HubSpot terms, the goal of content strategy is to earn a deal instead of enforcing it. Someone who is orientating will not respond to a purchase proposal. The goal should be to lead and help this person, then to try to convert him or her to the consideration stage, and only then to the decision stage. Everything to do with flows and automatic e-mails falls under lead nurturing. Content marketing is not about writing good content, but about educating someone step by step, making him curious and bringing him closer to your answers to his problems.

4. Technology versus Creativity

I have noticed that people aren’t yet using HubSpot in a really original or impactful way. Everyone copies everyone else with blogposts about how social media works, 5 tips for better landing pages, etc. Most inbound marketing agency websites are really bad, or built with those lame WordPress templates. There’s not one agency with a unique voice, producing surprising or creative content. This is typical for a technology in its early stages. The nerds and geeks are the first to embrace new technology, fascinated by its possibilities. Their creativity lies in getting the technology up and running. But now that interest in inbound marketing is growing, more agencies with classic creative skills will be forced to embrace marketing automation, and will get properly creative with it. I see this as a unique opportunity for SUE to get really innovative, and distinguish itself from other agencies. If you want a taste of SUE’s innovation, sign up for our weekly e-mail about behavioural design.

5. Inbound marketing is actually conversion

As well as the marketing automation software itself, HubSpot also sells the methodology of inbound marketing. I’m not completely convinced about this term. Inbound marketing is ultimately about ideas, strategies and tactics to boost conversions, generate leads and convert them into consumers. It doesn’t really matter whether you call it digital marketing, conversion marketing, marketing automation, campaigning or inbound marketing. Inbound marketing may be the term that’s rapidly gaining prominence, but you still have to explain it to 99% of your customers.

PS. If you want to master the art of influence yourself, join the Behavioural Design Academy now.

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