4 Ways Inbound Marketing is Changing in 2018

Author's avatar Agencies UPDATED Dec 8, 2017 PUBLISHED Dec 7, 2017 10 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    One day, not so long ago, INBOUND was simply an inbound marketing conference where marketers would gather to share their latest strategies.

    The 2017 version of the conference proved that day has long passed. INBOUND 17 organized over 20,000 attendees into a 3-day whirlwind of digital marketing, customer experience and pop culture.

    HubSpot has continued to aggressively grow the conference as it goes beyond marketing and sales software. This year, HubSpot added a customer success product and a platform ecosystem, similar to Salesforce.

    Tickets aren’t cheap, and although it is hard to replicate the experience of being there in person, we wanted to share some of the ways that agency leaders will be changing their strategies in 2018 based on what they learned. So, we polled the HubSpot partner community to discover the tactics that agency leaders will use in 2018 and beyond. We tried to include links to the specific presentations, when possible.


    1. Lesson: Facebook Ads can be used alongside inbound

    Carrie Koos
    Jaxzen Marketing Strategies

    “As a B2B agency, it’s easy to look at a lot of the digital marketing trends and shrug them off as another trend that ‘doesn’t apply to B2B.’ We’ve seen that with Facebook advertising.

    Initially, everyone thought, if you’re a consumer brand, you advertise on Facebook because it’s a personal platform. If you’re B2B, you advertise on LinkedIn because that’s where the professionals are. But then, we stopped and thought about ourselves as not just marketers, but also humans, and we realized, we want to grow as professionals even if we’re on Facebook after work, other people probably do too. The pursuit of professional development and improving our companies isn’t time bound to 9-5. And B2B agencies started seeing the incredible opportunity with Facebook advertising.

    In Kipp Bodnar’s session on The Future of Marketing Automation, he discussed the power of bots, what you need to make a good bot, and the importance of messaging and conversation in conversions. I will say, initially, it’s hard to imagine how B2B companies will really benefit from a Facebook Messenger bot. ‘That doesn’t apply to B2B,’ I find myself thinking again.

    But then I’m reminded by Kipp, and again in Mimi An’s session on Demystifying AI—you can either surf it or sit in the sand. As an agency, we want to always be looking for ways to help our clients. That means finding new, creative ways to drive growth, instead of always relying on the traditional inbound marketing methods. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, with marketing trends following suit. If we don’t accept the changes, we’ll be left behind.

    Moving forward, before we dismiss anything as not right for B2B or just a buzzwordy topic, we will dig in and see how this strategy, approach, or product could benefit us as an agency as well as our clients.”


    Teresa Grammatke

    “I loved Larry Kim’s session on Facebook and Twitter content promotion hacks. He has just a unique perspective, and we are going to implement many of his tips right away, both for our internal marketing and for our clients. Focusing our ad spend on our unicorns makes a lot of sense!”


    Gabriel Marguglio
    Nextiny Marketing

    “We are going to invest more on Facebook. That means:

    • Continue to integrate Facebook Ads and tools to generate, nurture and close more and better leads for our B2C and B2B customers.
    • Use Messenger to keep encouraging real conversations with prospects and start using bots to direct them to the right place or the right person when they are ready.

    We just hired a new social media manager a couple of months ago and will be hiring 2 more people by the end of 2017 to continue to make social and video grow in 2018.”


    2. Lesson: Inbound is more technical than ever before

    Danielle Russell
    Builder Funnel

    “In a session about HubSpot’s Year of Radical Thinking, HubSpot’s VP of Marketing discussed emerging technology and how to use it for your company. She discussed podcasts, off-site publishing, Messenger, and more.

    My biggest takeaway was that with off-site publishing, you are reaching nearly an entirely new audience who has never heard of you before. And in the case for mobile users, the vast majority of people use apps rather than a browser, so those searching for content are more likely to use an off-site publishing app like Medium rather than searching on Safari or Google Chrome. This alters an entire content marketing and SEO plan in order to be found and considered a thought leader on a new platform.


    Eric PrattEric Pratt
    Revenue River

    “I’m planning to double down on our commitment to learning the best of breed technologies that help us solve for our clients. I’m going to invest heavily into building lasting relationships with the brightest minds in software development so I can learn where they’re going and stay in front of technology advancements.”


    Amber CallanAmber Callan
    Leap Clixx

    “During the breakout session “5 Copywriting Secrets, Backed by Psychology, That Tripled HubSpot Sales Revenue“, Scott Tousley, a Senior Growth Manager at Hubspot taught us several ways to improve our writing to improve click-through rates and sales! Here are three quick tips Scott gave us that we’ll be utilizing, especially in our email copy:

    • Take advantage of the Zeigernik Effect that says people get uncomfortable with a feeling of incompleteness. (Think about it: It’s why companies like Netflix are so popular! You feel like you have to finish that TV show.)In our copywriting, we want to be sure that we get our readers started with giving away the ending to a piece of content in a more general, exciting manner in an email. Then we can let them continue to our blog to get the complete story!
    • The fear of missing out is a powerful motivator! So in our writing, we want to encourage action by applying urgency to the scenario and try to incorporate loss aversion (what will happen if they don’t interact or read the follow-up article).
    • The Von Restorff effect says that when there are multiple stimuli, the one that is unique will stand out. For example, if you had 100 blue circles and one red circle, people are more likely to remember that one red circle. So in our copywriting, we understand that people get a lot of junk sent to their emails. If our emails include something funny or a unique style, they will be remembered.”


    Katie Hyrkas

    “In our business, we will work towards making better landing pages, by designing the framework and function for the site before the design and aesthetics. I learned about this concept at the Everyday Behavioral Science session.”


    Johan VandecasteeleJohan Vandecasteele

    “Inbound has become more complex the last years.

    Digital marketing has become more complex.

    There is certainly no single playbook on marketing now, if there ever was one.

    As more companies engage in content and channels become crowded, new channels emerge (Messenger) or re-emerge (website chat). AI and ABM are trending, SEO is always changing and advertising, like Facebook Ads, is alive and ready to be combined with inbound tactics.”


    Jen Lombardi
    Kiwi Creative

    “We went to a couple sessions by HubSpot employees about the new SEO trend of pillar pages/topic clusters. We are in the process of redoing our own services pages in this style and will be introducing the concept to our clients in the near future. Because, hey, if it’s good enough for HubSpot, it’s good enough for us!”


    3. Lesson: Agencies need to coach team members, not manage them

    Rob SteffensRob Steffens

    “We will be investing heavily in our team. We spoke to many different agencies and agency owners, via breakout sessions or after-hours sessions. We need to have an entire team of ‘A’ players in order to reach our growth goals. In conjunction with having that ‘A’ team, we need to have the right people in the right seats. Investing our time and effort to properly train our team and work on ‘Coaching’ them rather than ‘Managing’ them.”


    Andi GrahamAndi Graham
    Big Sea

    “We are going to retrain all of our account managers and executives, starting immediately. Drew McLellan’s presentation on Partner Day reinforced a lot of the pain we’ve been feeling lately. Our AEs simply aren’t delivering the experience that we want our clients to enjoy.

    We have already identified in-house and external training opportunities, established more clear expectations for growing their client accounts and established parameters for how to include business development in their day-to-day. The AEs are our clients’ inside partner, so they need to be both trusted and respected in that role.”


    Tara Gearhart
    tMedia Consulting

    “My biggest takeaway this year came from Kit Pang’s presentation in “Listening“. First, he had only 2 slides: a Welcome and Thank You. He then reminded us that as a culture we don’t reward or highlight good listening (ie there is no award for being the BEST listener in the world) I think it’s a skill we all know we should work on, but his breakdown reminded me how easy and impactful the act of listening is.

    Listening=Learn, Earn, Return
    Earn=Respect and trust from people
    Return=Knowledge, advice, time, and attention”


    4. Lesson: Customer experience will become a bigger part of marketing

    Allison Plante
    Falls Digital

    “After INBOUND 17, our agency will be focusing on enhancing the customer experience for all our clients. We hope to offer our clients a deeper dive into the insights of their customers beyond standard personas. In order to be disruptive in today’s business world, brands must go out of their way to create unique, memorable customer experiences. Although we have been testing this idea, the session ‘Your Brand’s Future Depends on Creating Smart, Connected Customer Experiences‘ helped solidify our direction in 2018.”


    What Databox Is Doing Differently After INBOUND 17

    Since we built the Databox Partner Program specifically to make digital marketing agencies more successful, we were in the audience and listening too. We also met with lots of our partners and agencies who aren’t yet using us. Here are the things we’re doubling down on in 2018:

    • Easier ways to analyze Facebook Ads: Clearly, lots of agencies are expanding their use of Facebook ads. This wasn’t news to us, since many agencies have told us that the Facebook Ads interface is clunky.  So, we recently released a Query Builder that allows our customers to pull any metric from Facebook Ads and our Report Designer allows them to visualize data in the ways that make most sense to them. Going forward, we’ll be working with our partners to build more templates for monitoring different types of Facebook Ad Campaigns.
    • Building out our connector ecosystem more: Agencies are using more tools than ever to deliver their inbound, PPC, SEO and social services. We already have over 50+ integrations to popular sales and marketing systems. But, we’ll continue to roll out more.
    • More in-depth educational content: After conversations with hundreds of digital agencies, we have heard over and over again that there is a lack of in-depth, technical training for most marketing services. We’ll be partnering with our agency and technology partners and many other experts to write more long-form content this year on the Databox blog.

    What was your top lesson learned from INBOUND 17? Let us know in the comments.

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    Tamara Omerovic

    Tamara is Content Editorial Manager at Databox. She is an SEO aficionado, a coffee addict, and a huge museum lover! When she's not working or writing, she enjoys visiting an art gallery, drinking her 5th coffee with her friends, or playing video games.

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