INBOUND 2018 has officially come to an end. It's hard to believe, isn't it? It was an amazing four days full of learning, networking and discovering innovative content, and we definitely can't wait to do it all over again next year. While the 21,000 marketing and sales professionals who attended offered their own valuable insights, there were four key recurring themes: the flywheel, video, better growth for all and conversational marketing. Here are the top takeaways from INBOUND 2018 and what they mean for the future of marketing and sales innovation.
1. From Marketing Funnel to Marketing Flywheel
We've talked about this concept before, but now we have hard evidence to support this transition. In his keynote, Brian Halligan officially "retired" the marketing funnel and proclaimed it to be the era of the marketing flywheel. When inbound marketing first emerged, it was a buyer-centric environment, so marketers and salespeople adopted an "always be helping" mindset. Instead of cramming their messages down prospects' throats, they worked to build trust and form genuine connections.
Now, ten years later, we've experienced another change in the environment — to one that is customer-centric. You see, with the marketing funnel, you devoted all of this time to grow relationships with your prospects, only to suddenly treat them as an afterthought once they became your customer. But, with trust in businesses at an all-time low and trust in customers at an all-time high, your business can no longer afford to continue with this mindset. So, as Brian Halligan announced last week, welcome to the reign of the marketing flywheel: a concept that applies equal investment to marketing, sales and service; and where your customers provide additional inputs through their invaluable referrals, recommendations and testimonials.
The Takeaway: In a flywheel world, your entire organization needs to be dedicated to delighting your customers into evangelists and advocates of your brand.
2. Not Just Professional Video, Personal Video
When used effectively, video content poses a huge opportunity as it can be used 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. While video has been here to stay for awhile now, much of the focus has been on professionally produced video. And yes, professional video remains important as B2B consumers grow tired of white papers and ebooks, and it becomes so easy to stream high quality from all of their devices, no matter where they are.
However, with the announcement of HubSpot Video, powered by Vidyard, personalized video has quickly grown into a new take on video content. Unlike professional videos, personal videos can be made right from a computer or cellphone for the purpose of better engaging with prospects, opportunities and customers. Your sales team can use this form of video to follow-up after an initial conversation or to explain sales proposals. Your account manage team can use personal videos to provide progress reports to clients or discuss a helpful new feature. Even your services team can use them to answer support questions or in a video-style knowledge base.
The Takeaway: These quick and easy videos create an exclusive experience for each person they're sent to, which humanizes your brand and assists in building those relationships. The best part? These personal videos require far less investment than your professionally produced ones, and they can still be just as effective.
3. Grow Better with the HubSpot Growth Suite
For us at New Breed, the biggest takeaway from this year's INBOUND conference was HubSpot's new ability to support their customer's growth from startup to enterprise. As an agency, we work with a variety of clients who have different needs for their marketing, sales and service teams. With the expansion of HubSpot's product offerings and capabilities for starter, professional and enterprise users, they can start on HubSpot, and stay on HubSpot, as they grow and evolve.
By enabling companies to stay on their existing platforms throughout their growth, HubSpot enables them to grow better, and easier. Expanding on an existing platform is much less of a hassle than going through a complete migration to something new. It also allows you to implement and maintain all of your best practices within the software. There's no fear that you'll invest time, energy and resources into creating the perfect database and platform for your organization — just to have it flushed away upon a platform migration.
The Takeaway: Gone is the misconception that HubSpot is only for small to medium-sized businesses. It's evolved into an all-in-one marketing, sales and service solution for companies of all sizes, which means you won't have to worry about a platform migration again.
4.Chatbots and Conversational Marketing
With HubSpot's acquisition of Motion.ai last year, they've been hard at work integrating the technology into their own platforms to make building a chatbot easier than ever - no programming required. While other chatbot technologies integrate with HubSpot, nothing beats the backend experience of a native chatbot. With HubSpot's Chatbot, you have extended functionalities that allow you to enter leads who engage with the chatbot into workflows and better map their responses into contact properties. This tool was built for HubSpot, by HubSpot, so it's a much more seamless add-on to your current marketing abilities.
However, conversational marketing encompasses far more than just chatbot interactions on your website. It's an approach to marketing that's more casual and human — almost like you're having a conversation with your leads rather than shouting marketing messages at them. Chatbots demonstrate that humans are relational beings, and therefore, want to chat with us; they just don't like how marketers typically try to engage with them. Rather than blasting email upon email to your prospects to encourage their next click, conversational marketing teaches us to send a more relatable follow-up that encourages a response or conversation.
The Takeaway: Our customers and leads are tired of being marketed to. Chatbots have taught us that humans just want to be talked to.