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Hubspot Inbound Conference 2022

Day 1: Introduction to Hubspot Inbound 2022

The first day of the conference started with a discussion with Hubspot’s CEO, Yamini Rangan, Hubspot’s Chief Product Officer, Stephanie Cuthbertson, and Hubspot’s Co-Founder, Dharmesh Shah. They dived into several ways to rethink marketing, introduce us to new Hubspot products, and welcome us to the conference.

Rethink the Flywheel

Some of you may be familiar with Hubspot’s flywheel, designed to improve the customer experience and grow businesses. The flywheel is an alternative way of looking at the customer journey, recognizing your customer brand loyalty as an integral part of growth. Yamini took us through the flywheel with new considerations for each stage:

Attract

  • Use first-party data to reach your audience. This is the most precise and valuable data you have on your customers. Those who utilize their first-party data find a 20% increase in conversions.
  • Distribute your content in different ways. Assess the different ways you’re reaching your customers and brainstorm new ways you can reach them. 

Engage

  • Earn your customers’ open and click-through rates. Create compelling content and offer unique insights and data. Your customers have access to so much information these days, so you must ensure you’re providing them with content they can’t find anywhere else.
  • Bring context to the conversation. While you can provide unique content, you also want to provide context. How does it help? Why is that content relevant? What should they be doing?

Delight

  • Streamline your purchase process. Simply ask the critical questions you need for your customers to purchase your products or services. Any unnecessary steps can make the process more cumbersome and frustrate your customers. 
  • Provide your customers with options on how to purchase your products or services. Consider options like subscriptions, interest-free payment plans, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more.

The Disconnected Customer

A key takeaway found in Hubspot’s research is that their customers find one of the main issues in their business is that their data is disconnected. An average company can have up to 242 SaaS apps in its arsenal, with only 3% of companies data meeting basic quality standards. With that much data, companies find it challenging to combine that data into something meaningful or even cobble it together at all. With disconnected data, we leave ourselves open to a poor customer experience. Hubspot seeks to fix this with new products in their service line that aim to connect this data better and provide businesses with a more cohesive platform to solve this problem.

What’s New In Hubspot?

Marketing Campaigns

Hubspot has improved its marketing campaigns to allow for seamless and automatic attribution, allowing marketers to see what is and isn’t working in their ad campaigns. These improvements include providing the marketer with a command center connecting all the different ad campaigns into one seamless, omnichannel strategy. New features also allow you to dive deep into these strategies for more specific information.

Customer Journey Analytics

This new feature lets you view your customer touchpoints across a timeline, further connecting your customers with your campaigns. It allows you to see where customers continue their journey, where they drop off, and the different channels they’ve interacted with. In addition, this feature will enable marketers to assess which channels are working best and which aren’t. With this information, you can optimize your channels and improve your conversion rate.

Automated Renewals

Instead of manually pulling out a calendar and calculator to figure out when your customer renews their contract with you, you can set up automated renewals directly in Hubspot. For example, you can easily create your contracts in Hubspot with a start date and end date, which automatically calculates the contract for the end date and auto-populates other contract fields, streamlining the renewal process.

[Insert YouTube video]

Connect

Disconnection was a central talking point throughout the conference. Dharmesh introduced how Hubspot seeks to connect people through their new 

website connect.com. Users can set goals such as meeting new people, learning new skills, hiring for your team, and more. You can create your profile with whatever goal best suits you, link to your websites, fill out your information, and more. While it’s still in its infancy, we’re pretty sure there’ll be lots of new features and ways to interact and connect with other like-minded individuals!

 

Connect With Future Buyers

Allyson Hugley, LinkedIn’s Global Director of Customer Insights, took us through some of the most recent findings from The B2B Institute, LinkedIn’s B2B Marketing think tank, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, and LinkedIn’s unique economic graph. With these insights, we can make more informed decisions on how to engage future decision-makers in B2B companies and their current path to those decision-making roles.

The State of Current C-Level Executives

Current C-Level executives or decision makers in B2B businesses are in a volatile state post-pandemic. Hugley’s findings show that 72% of these executives have feared losing their roles. This has caused these executives to be more anticipatory in their decision-making skills and strategy building. They’re looking for potential issues in their organizations before they arise. So, how can this affect those selling to B2B C-Level executives? 

If B2B C-level executives are your ideal prospects, you need to provide them with unique content that addresses issues they’ve yet to identify. Another key theme throughout this conference is that we’re all experiencing content fatigue. We’re seeing hundreds of ads and content telling us about various products and services. Given the fear of these executives, your content has to cut through all of that noise and provide them with unique insights, data, and information that helps them overcome potential roadblocks in their organizations.

The Gen-Z Decision Maker

The average B2B business has 7 key decision makers that need to be convinced when purchasing products or services, more than ever before. This now requires those selling to B2B businesses to engage with multiple types of people at different life points, which increasingly includes Gen-Z individuals. In the next 2 years, Gen-Z individuals will make up 27% of the workplace. To engage those future decision makers, your company needs to be engaging them now. 

Hugley went on to discuss CEPs or Category Entry Points, which are the “cues that category buyers use to access their memories when faced with a buying situation.” Essentially, whenever an individual is about to make a purchase decision, they draw on their existing memories to do so, and when those memories don’t exist, that’s when a tool like Google comes into play. Regarding Gen-Z, while young, it’s imperative to view them as a critical part of the growth of your business over the next few years. They will be the individuals with a seat at the decision-making table, so you want to ensure that your brand serves as a CEP for them as early as possible. To do so, you need to be understanding of their learning agendas and content preferences, some of which Hugley outlines below.

Re-Evaluating Your Go-To-Market Strategy

Sangram Vajre of GTM Partners held the next talk I attended at Hubspot Inbound 2022. Vajre tackled one of the top issues any business has; identifying why and how their business isn’t growing. Business owners often point to one specific sector, “our sales aren’t working!” or “our marketing strategy isn’t working.” But rarely the issue lies within one particular department. Instead, what you’re likely dealing with is a go-to-market problem. Most businesses typically fall within what Vajre calls the 5-isms or 5 valleys of death that are causing your go-to-market strategy to fail:

To succeed, you need to reevaluate where you’re spending your energy, and depending on the size and scale of your business, you may be spending it in the wrong areas. When you synthesize your sales, marketing, customer service, and operations teams, you’ll be more equipped to understand where the shortfall is. With a talented RevOps team, they can assess where in your business you need to focus your time, money, and effort to achieve improved results. Once that has been identified and optimized, you’ll achieve improved NRR or Net Retention Rate, which according to Hubspot CEO Yamini Rangan, is “the number one metric for any SaaS company…by obsessing over revenue retention and solving for your customers, you can build a lasting business.” Below are some examples of successful companies using this same model to improve their go-to-market strategy and ultimately grow their business.

Day 2: At Hubspot Inbound Conference 2022

A Conversation with Viola Davis

On the morning of the second day at Inbound, the conference began with a conversation with none other than Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award-winning actor and philanthropist, Viola Davis! Her talk was titled “On Capital, Creativity and Community Care.” She touched on several topics, including her most recent film, The Woman King, her recent memoir Finding Me, and Juvee Productions, the new production company she founded with her husband, Julius Tennon. 

Throughout Davis’ talk, she touched on the various challenges she has faced as a dark-skinned Black woman in the entertainment and film space. Such challenges led her to start her production company that seeks to allow Black actors, directors, producers, and more to have a seat at the table and play a part in the decision-making of the films they produce – opportunities that she often found challenging to pursue. Paying it forward to rising stars leans into the idea of community care and the various ways we should be considering how we can pave the way for others after us to feel included and amplified in different spaces. Often at Online Optimism, we talk about Bettering Our Community, to do so, that starts with you!

The Ultimate Sales Machine

After some inspiring words from one of the world’s most talented actors, I went on to what Inbound calls their “Deep Dive Sessions.” These sessions are held by various industry leaders and are made (surprise, surprise) to dive deep into certain aspects of sales, marketing, and more. I sat down for a deep dive session with Amanda Holmes, CEO of Chet Holmes International, as she explained three ways businesses can begin doubling their sales. I found her deep dive session to be one of the most informative and engaging ones I attended during the entire conference!

Focus on the Pain Points

Content fatigue is rife right now in advertising. Everyone is bombarded with messaging telling them why someone else’s products or services are superior to what they already have. People also have the tools to research and find the products/services that work best for them anyway. So how do you make your content stand out from everyone else? Focus on your prospects’ pain points. Holmes went through an example from a luxury real estate client and how they used this strategy. Instead of them raving about how beautiful their luxury homes were, they instead focused on another unrelated pain point for that key prospect which you can see below:

The content piece was titled “Why Wealthy CEOs are at Risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes & Premature Death & What You Can Do About It.” While not directly related to real estate, you can see above how they went from this general problem affecting their potential prospects to solutions they can provide. By doing so, they saw their impact increase by over 3500%.

The Dream 100

Our prospecting often leads us to cast a wide net and hope for the best. Holmes’s approach gets us to rethink this approach and focus our marketing dollars and outreach energy on what she refers to as “The Dream 100.” These are 100 prospects that you deem to be the perfect potential clients for your business. Most businesses close deals with around 2% of the prospects they attract. When casting your net wide, you’re likely to attract clients with a wide range of budget options. While closing 2% of a wider pool may seem incredible to attract many clients, focusing your energy on the bigger spenders means you can close fewer deals with much higher revenue for your company. You can see an example below of how this method works out:

In the above example, Option B shows how by focusing on your Dream 100, not only do they bring in higher revenue, but because you’re focusing on a smaller audience, you’re also spending less on marketing.

Social Selling

Anyone in sales or business development can relate to the idea that selling your products or services can often come across as pushy. Trying to mitigate that feeling can be challenging, especially with the pressure of hitting your quotas. That being said, there are several ways to keep in contact with your prospects more organically and genuinely.

The Signature Selfie

Let’s say you’re at a networking event and made a great connection, but you want to make sure you catch up with them in an authentic and non-pushy way. Pull out the signature selfie! Ask your prospect if they’d like to do something fun – spoiler; most people do. Take a selfie with them and ask if you can text it to them. That’s all it is! You’ve now got their direct number, and you’ve had a fun candid moment that they’ll likely remember, too; it’s a win-win!

Keeping Contact on Social

We often go straight to LinkedIn to interact with people we meet in a business setting, but who’s to say that the person you just met actually spends any time there? There are so many other social networks that people are using and spending their time on. Connect with those people on their networks and engage with them organically and genuinely. Who knows, some months down the road when they’re considering your products or services, they’ll remember that lovely comment you left on their Instagram picture of their Thanksgiving meal and reach out!

Tips to Optimize Your Pillar Pages

After a quick lunch break, I headed to the next deep dive session. This time Hubspot’s own George B. Thomas took us through several tips for improving your pillar page strategy.

1. Start your pillar page with more broad content surrounding the particular topic and get more granular as you go down the page. Remember, your user may not have even been aware of what they’re researching until now. So your page should go from awareness content down to decision-making content.

2. Use Google for keyword research. For example, let’s say your keyword is “TikTok marketing”. Head to Google and type “TikTok marketing a…” Google will then fill out the rest of the search query with keywords people have been searching. As you can see, some keywords include “TikTok Marketing Agency”, “TikTok Marketing Advantages,” and more. For additional ideas, go through the alphabet to find many potential keyword ideas and queries people are interested in.

3. Include a table of contents on your pillar page. Pillar pages typically touch on many content pieces. People want to find what they’re looking for. Include a table of contents to decrease your bounce rate, increase time on site and improve user experience.

4. Break up the page with images, videos, and borders. Reading one piece of flat text isn’t how people consume content anymore. It’s also not as engaging to read one extensive article; breaking up that text and giving the reader some space to understand and retain your content is essential. Recently the impact of video has been immense, with people preferring to watch or listen to videos than read thousands of words of text. Take a couple of topics from your pillar pages and turn them into an engaging video.

Navigating Marketing Around Search & Social Algorithms

One of the questions I’m constantly asked when talking to potential new clients is, “how do you navigate the digital marketing world as algorithms continue to change?” It’s a very valid question and sometimes can be tough to answer as algorithms change often. I was very excited to join Neil Patel’s talk on how to navigate this ever-growing issue. Patel goes through each major social and search platform, providing the number 1 takes his team has researched to get around the algorithms and increase your reach.

YouTube

Youtube’s algorithm wants to see users watching videos within the first 24 hours they’re posted. When you post a video onto Youtube, utilize all the social networks you can, including emails, SMS blasts, and push notifications, to get as many people as possible viewing it. 

Youtube’s algorithm prioritizes videos that receive a large number of views in the first 24 hours.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s algorithm skews favorably towards content that receives as many comments as possible. According to Omni Core Agency, only 1% of LinkedIn users create and share content. However, while creating and sharing is great, people need to engage; specifically, they need to comment on your posts. Tag other users, ask provocative questions, and engage in conversations. These are ways to encourage commenting. 

Posts that receive more comments are perceived more favorably by LinkedIn’s algorithm.

TikTok

TikTok is similar to LinkedIn; they favor people commenting on your posts. For example, Patel found that one of his videos went viral after someone commented underneath and sparked an engaging conversation between multiple different users. Similarly, with LinkedIn, by being provocative about the topics and ways you discuss them, you can encourage more people to comment.

Posts that receive more comments are perceived more favorably by TikTok’s algorithm.

Instagram

Studies have shown that 80% of users prefer live content over reading a blog post; however, fewer and fewer Instagram users are utilizing the live feature. Instagram’s algorithm favors live content from its users. Patel recommends creating live content at least twice weekly to improve page performance.

Instagram’s algorithm favors live content as people prefer to digest this over written content.

Facebook

With the rise of TikTok, IG Reels, and YouTube Shorts, it might be surprising to hear that Facebook favors long-form content in their algorithms, especially video content. In Patel’s study of 939 company pages, they found that long-form video content performed better by over 81%.

Facebook’s algorithm favors long-form video content above all.

Google

While your typical SEO strategies are a great starting point to rising through Google’s search rankings, another aspect that Google Prioritizes; is brand queries. When people search for specific brands, Google deems those brands to be more trustworthy at producing relevant and accurate content. Try creating free tools, certifications, whitepapers, and other types of content that people will search your brand name directly for. 

Google deems brand queries more valuable as brands are less likely to share false information.

Day 3: Final Day At Hubspot Inbound Conference 2022

What We Owe Creators

At the start of day 3, Kudzi Chikumbu, Global Head of Creator Marketing at TikTok, and TJ Adeshola, Head of Global Content Partnerships at Twitter, spoke. Their conversation centered around content creators’ impact on culture and how we should recognize their contributions to society today. My main takeaways from this conversation were:

  • As content consumers, we need to be more vigilant about the content creators that drive conversations and inspire joy on social media. We can all recall at least 5 trends and viral videos we’ve seen on social media in the past few months. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in scrolling that we forget to ask ourselves who started this trend and what kind of recognition we will give them. Trends and viral videos often get lost in the mass amount of content we see each day, ensuring we attribute trends and viral content to the original owner is key in acknowledging their contribution. 
  • Participating in digital communities helps to build, grow and foster culture too. However, the conversations in those communities need to be authentic and genuine. These broader communities can also breed micro-communities where individuals discuss more niche topics. As a marketer, it’s important to understand and research those digital communities and how to engage with them authentically when building out campaigns aimed at them. To quote Adeshola, “users are requiring accountability,” so when you build out campaigns aimed at a specific audience but you haven’t done the research about them, the communities and discussions they’re having online, they’ll let you know about it so make sure you are being authentic to their interests. 
  • Diversity in content creation is critical in more ways than one. Users want to see people like themselves in the content they consume. In that regard, including content creators in your marketing is key in encompassing a wide variety of people to say positive things about your company. User-generated content is a great way to include content creators in your strategy, but it’s essential to include them from many different backgrounds. Additionally, as discussed, being authentic in digital communities is important, and sometimes, you may not have people on your team who engage authentically in those conversations. Building a diverse team helps to bridge this gap and allows your marketing to be diverse so you can authentically engage with your audience.

Black @ Inbound

One of my favorite parts of Inbound 2022 was the Black @ Inbound space at the conference. Black @ Inbound is a community space that allows Black professionals to connect and support each other. I joined the Black @ Inbound meetup, where we discussed the importance of having ERGs or Employee Resource Groups in your organization, starting them, and continuing to grow them. Here at Online Optimism, we have several ERGs or what we like to call affinity groups. These groups are important in giving employees a safe space to interact with people from similar backgrounds. I met many incredible people and received a jam-packed swag bag that included Viola Davis’ new book, Finding Me! Black @ Inbound isn’t reserved just for Hubspotters; if you’re a Black professional interested in connecting with others, you can join the community here.

A Conversation with 44

Last but not least, Inbound 2022 was closed out by none other than the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. Moderated by Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan, Obama discussed the many ways the community helped to pave the way for his successes, how we can build such paths for one another, and his gift to the Queen of an iPod filled with her favorite show tunes!

Unfortunately, while I could not attend the entire talk, one thing Obama discussed stood out and stuck with me that relates closely to what we’re now calling “cancel culture.” We’ve become so fixated on making sure that everyone uses the right vernacular when discussing sensitive topics, and when someone uses the wrong vernacular, we’re quick to dismiss them and then label them as ignorant. But how can we build on communities and foster new relationships if we’re unwilling to overcome each other’s learning curves? By accepting and being willing to work with people despite their errors and differences, Obama worked to lead the USA even when faced with people that had vastly opposing opinions. 

Conclusion

I had a wonderful time at Inbound 2022 and learned so much, which is apparent by the length of this blog post! I met amazing people and have so many new ideas and a fresh perspective on my personal growth and the future of this industry. I would recommend anybody to attend the conference next year!

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