INBOUND 2017 has officially come to an end. It was an amazing four days full of learning, networking with awesome people and discovering innovative content. While the 21,000 marketing and sales professionals who attended offered their own valuable insights, there were three key recurring themes: video, artificial intelligence and Facebook. Here are the top takeaways from INBOUND 2017 and what they mean for the future of marketing and sales innovation.
Messaging Channels and Chatbot Technology
Messaging platforms are proving to be a promising emergent media channel for inbound marketers everywhere. Messaging technology will allow marketers to reach users where they’re already spending the majority their time. Facebook Messenger sees upwards of 70 million users every single day; we would all be crazy not to take advantage of this rising channel.
With chatbot technology, users can interact with your business at a high level without ever having to leave their chosen messaging platform. For some marketers, this might be a scary idea, but it shouldn't be. Nobody wants to be dragged out of their browsing session and taken to an outside website! It’s disruptive at worst and inconvenient at best. By allowing prospects to interact with your brand from the comfort of their favorite platform, you can enhance their user experience and consequently drive conversion.
Chatbots can provide the user with valuable information to help urge them down the sales funnel nearly instantly. Rather than searching around your site or waiting for a sales representative to get in contact with them, users can interact directly with your chatbot to receive essential information on the spot. By streamlining the buyer's journey using a chatbot, you'll be able to help your users quickly access the information they need within the platform they prefer.
Building a chatbot sounds like a daunting feat, but it doesn't have to be. With HubSpot’s recent acquisition of Motion.ai, building a chatbot is going to be easier than ever before — no programming required. Through the use of Motion.ai, HubSpot is already implementing chatbot technology on their Facebook page, and it’s pretty awesome. Even better, HubSpot is currently in the process of integrating Motion.ai technology into its marketing platform, so you too can create a personalized chatbot in the near future.
The takeaway: The chatbot train is here. All aboard.
B2B consumers are getting bored of white papers, e-books, templates and guides. It’s time to give them what they want: digestible, intriguing video content. As many marketers have begun to notice, there is an ever-increasing demand for video. Consumers can easily stream high quality video on any device, no matter where they are. With this increased accessibility to video content, it’s no surprise that users overwhelmingly prefer to consume media in this form.
This preference poses a huge problem for marketers: good video is costly and time consuming to produce. It also poses a huge opportunity: video content can be effectively leveraged at every stage of the funnel. Explainers and “how-to” videos make perfect top-of-funnel content, case studies and testimonial videos are perfect for your middle-of-funnel efforts, and demos or interactive live streams are great for the bottom of the funnel.
If you’re producing video, it’s essential to make sure you are following video production best practices. Don’t be afraid to outsource your video efforts if necessary. Paying to produce high quality video will be well worth the money, especially considering the current trends.
The takeaway: Video is an expense, but a worthwhile one — and it's getting easier to create.
Facebook and Lead Ads
B2B marketers often make the mistake of dismissing Facebook as a viable platform because they assume their target personas are spending their time on more business-oriented channels like LinkedIn or Google+. What they’re forgetting is that decision makers are people too. CEOs use Facebook to share photos of their pets, like memes and keep in touch with friends and family — just like everyone else does.
This may come as a shock to many, but Facebook is the preferred social platform for consumers worldwide, business decision makers included. The question is, how do we effectively transition a platform traditionally used for personal use and B2C conversions into a platform that can be effectively used for B2B conversion? Through Facebook Lead Ads, that’s how.
Facebook Lead Ads are here and they’re going to be revolutionary for B2B social media conversion. As normal, users are served your ad, which allows them to sign up for more info or request something from your business. But here’s where it gets exciting: Facebook has created a way to streamline the worst part about lead generation: filling out tedious forms.
When they click on your lead ad, users will be taken to a form that has been auto-filled with information from their Facebook profile — such as their name, number or email. From here, the user simply hits “submit” to complete the form and become your newest lead. With Lead Ads, users can convert on your form in less than two clicks. Of course, you can customize your Facebook Lead Ad and add fields as you’d like, but the essential contact information will be covered by Facebook, making the process a whole lot simpler for your new potential customer.
To make things even easier, you can now seamlessly integrate Facebook Lead Ads with your HubSpot portal. Once your prospect hits submit, their information is automatically imported into your HubSpot CRM. You can even build smart lists or set up a remarketing audience.
The takeaway: Your ads need a presence on Facebook, but you still need to generate leads. Now you can have both.
If you're ready to get started on using some of the new tactics highlighted here, or just feel ready to dive deep into inbound marketing like we did last week, start by reading our guide.