INBOUND 17 included over 20,000 attendees this year, and now draws experts from the fields of marketing, sales and customer experience.
That means this year’s conference included a wider range of speakers than ever before and exposed attendees to new disciplines that they will need to learn over the next 3-5 years.
HubSpot also announced the launch of the new Customer Hub, which will complement their existing Marketing and Sales products and allow data to be shared seamlessly throughout the entire inbound funnel.
Even if you could not make it, most of the speakers shared their materials after the conference so they could broadcast their expertise. We surveyed our community of inbound marketers to discover the best sessions from the three-day conference. Each one will have a link back to the presentation itself so you can learn more about the latest trends and popular personalities.
- Marketing Tactics
- Sales Tactics
Speaker: Viveka von Rosen
Why I Enjoyed It: The session was about:
- a better understanding of the relationship between current marketing and LinkedIn
- Publisher Strategies to create more and better content without creating more work for yourself,
- A blueprint to amplify the own content marketing presence
- Getting the ability to drive more traffic and business to YOUR own media platforms: blog, podcast, website and video channels.
Viveka was describing all of it in a really simple and funny way.
Speaker: Purna Virji
Why I Enjoyed It: The general lead generation framework spelled out by HubSpot for years of utilizing landing pages with forms is dying. Anyone who thinks differently is either working with a lagging target market or isn’t paying attention to the numbers.
With that said, it’s imperative that we as marketers continue to find better, more user-friendly ways to continue to build out databases with leads and Purna did an amazing job mapping that out with her session on how AI and chatbots can do just that.
Utilizing powerful industry data and figures (By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with a bot than their spouse!), Purna painted a clear picture of how marketers can utilize chatbots and their connections to digital personal assistants (like Alexa or Cortana) to better engage and convert leads in a general use-case standpoint as well as for replacing landing pages (“Consult with an expert” vs. “Fill out the form”).
She also did a great job listing out tools for marketers to utilize today to begin their build out of bots, taking her talk from conceptual to how-to.
Speaker: Patrick Shea
Why I Enjoyed It: The session unpacked the typically dense ABM playbook into action items. Those action items are persona knowledge, leveraging content and consistency. Shea gave an example of sending out nerf guns to prospects in his presentation. It really got me thinking about what I could be sending.
Speaker: Johnny Cupcakes
Why I Enjoyed It: Aside from being a really engaging/entertaining speaker, I found it really inspiring to see how Johnny built a memorable, experiential brand around his product and also expanded it into B2B revenue streams. As IMPACT aspires to be more than just an agency and venture into more live events, this session really hit home.
Speaker: Daniel Russell
Why I Enjoyed It: This was a fascinating session that covered all aspects of Reddit (rules, culture, search functionality, etc.) and how the community can be used as a potential treasure trove of content ideas as well as an excellent platform for getting content to go viral. Daniel Russell, Director of Go Fish Digital provided three case studies that showed unique tactics for creating content that generates buzz without explicitly plugging a brand.
The example that sticks out most in my mind was a marketing project Daniel’s company did for a diamond company. They contacted a guy who ran a popular subreddit where he crushed things with a hydraulic press and asked him if he would crush a massive diamond and link to the diamond provider in the description if they could supply it. The guy said yes. So, they sent him a diamond from their client and he linked to the company in the video’s description. It was an extremely popular video that garnered attention from thousands.
Gabriel Marketing Group
Why I Enjoyed It: Great insights into Reddit from a growth hacker’s perspective. The session helped me consider Reddit as an idea generation tool, but also as an idea qualifying one. In a world of marketing clutter, Redditors are notoriously vigilant of spam and promotional content. The Reddit culture is one of the last few places online, where an upvote actually means your idea or post was truly appreciated by someone on the other end. That is the true value of Reddit, and we intend to use it across the board.
Speaker: Leslie Ye
Why I Enjoyed It: This session discussed the evolution of SEO. Leslie shared things that worked and didn’t work for HubSpot and how the creation of pillar pages and topic clusters helps boost the authority of each of the pages within the cluster. I liked that this session had a good balance of theory, real-world examples and actionable takeaways. Plus, Leslie is a good presenter. She held our attention for the entire time — not an easy thing to do when you’re the last session of the day.
Speaker: Jeff White
Why I Enjoyed It: This was a close call with Matthew Barby’s session on SEO and Coschedule’s Gareth Moon on Content, but Jeff White’s presentation ‘Kill the PDF’ was err… killing it.
In a content-packed competitive environment, and with mobile views comprising half or more of your audience, the downloadable PDF (and the use of a classic landing page) may not be your best choice right now. Enter high quality, content-heavy hero pages. This focused on how to engage with leads right now, and how Pillar Pages are good for SEO. Great session – oh, and Jeff is a nice guy too.
Speaker: Larry Kim
Why I Enjoyed It: Larry Kim’s down-to-earth way of breaking down content strategy made his session enjoyable. Taking into consideration the way Google’s RankBrain AI algorithm is changing, Larry highlighted that good content is rewarded across the web regardless of the channel — and calls this “unicorn content.”
Kim said we need to identify this content, then build off of it, turning it into different formats (or, making “unicorn babies.”) This common-sense approach will help our teams be more agile and adaptable with content and reduce time spent on lengthy content plans.
5 Ways to Incorporate Programmatic into Your Marketing Stack
Speaker: Pete Kim
Ervin & Smith
Why I Enjoyed It: Pete Kim focused on both the methodology and the technology of programmatic advertising. After giving an overview of the basics, Pete offered some great recommendations on how to approach building a programmatic strategy. My thinking on who to target first has been completely flipped. The best, common sense takeaway: Start by retargeting people who have shown interest in your brand. Once these folks convert, use that list to develop a look-a-like audience of prospects.
Speaker: Adelyn Zhou
Why I Enjoyed It: Artificial intelligence has always fascinated and, truthfully, somewhat terrified me. Adelyn Zhou’s session on AI and Chatbots was engaging and informative. She was charismatic and intelligent and the content of the presentation was incredibly useful.
Zhou explained that while incredibly advanced, AI won’t be taking over the world just yet. The things that take humans months to learn still take years for AI. But Zhou shared her thoughts and suggestions on how to incorporate an AI strategy into your business goals using existing team members. Our team at Primitive Social plans to stay up to date on the latest technology trends and seeing how we can incorporate them into our own strategy.
Speaker: George Thomas
Why I Enjoyed It: George Thomas is known to be a fantastic and energetic speaker, straight to the point and with great advice. And this session, on this birthday, was no exception.
From all the takeaways from this session, these are the 4 we highlight:
- Create a video culture, embracing video marketing and how it can be done without a big production budget, but still making it professional: all you need is Content, Audio and Creativity!
- Execute ideas by selecting the best partners for the business. Don’t limit your creativity because you can’t execute internally
- select the best partners for your business
- How to better and more effectively qualify business leads. Simplify the process considering 4 things: Personas, Information (Scoring tips), Engagement, creating custom rules (with marketing automation)
Also, one of our favorite takeaways was to “BE A HERO”, not just for our family and friends, but also for our customers. This is a part of our agency’s culture – being there for our customers, achieving results together, working closely every step of the way: being the persons our client (want to) turn to for advice and help for their marketing and sales.
This concept of being a hero was so close to our hearts we decided to create some office art with our favorite quote from George: “Be someone’s superhero!”
Speaker: Rand Fishkin
Why I Enjoyed It: It was all about cultural conditioning and how it biases our actions. And if you think it was some socio-political rant that’s got nothing to do with marketers, think again. Much like cultural conditioning in society, our marketing mythology also has some deep-rooted beliefs of what works, what doesn’t, how to measure ROI and more. And all of these beliefs, when internalized, might be keeping us from achieving phenomenal success with our marketing.
My main takeaways were:
- Don’t just look at absolute data, look at the trends too. An ROI negative channel might have an upward trend and could turn profitable soon
- There are 16 (yes sixteen) spots that are up for grabs for SEOs and not just rank 1
- We should look at Quora, Linkedin, Youtube, Pinterest for building traffic when our site is new or has low traffic!
Speaker: Kipp Bodnar
Why I Enjoyed It: Messaging and chat bots were key themes running throughout INBOUND this year. This session provided such a great overview of their potential as they are fast becoming a required part of any great marketing strategy. Kipp covered some best practices, as well as pitfalls of getting started with messaging and bots, as well as how to evolve your go-to-market strategy to become real-time at scale. Really exciting to see what HubSpot has to offer in 2018 with regards chat bots too!
Speaker: Des Traynor
Andrew Chao Dongnam
Why I Enjoyed It: Having a recurring revenue model has become a huge trend for companies. They believe that it is the way to go in order to ensure recurring income for the future. Where recurring revenue models can go wrong is when a success is tracked based on the number of subscribers.
Retention and their involvement with your offering is what you should really look at. Make sure that your strategy involves education. Teach your customers how to interact with your product or service. Understand what success means to them and make that the driving force of retaining your customers.
Speaker: Bob Marsh
Why I Enjoyed It: Bob delivered a presentation that held value for a wide-ranging audience. He offered a framework for those without any sales management processes. And KPIs for those with a process but looking to improve. His suggested interview questions for top performers and middle performers was spot on.
Speaker: Chris Smith
Why I Enjoyed It: Chris dove in deeply in creating scripts for following up with leads from your website. He used many analogies and actually gave a code to go by. The session was based on his book, The Conversion Code. It’s Great Stuff!!
Speaker: Strother Gaines
Why I Enjoyed It: These days, many professional and personal events include networking within the agenda. No one teaches you how to be a great networker, which is why Strother Gaines’ session caught my eye.
He explained how to get the most out of said networking events and how to be true to your authentic self. A few takeaways that stood out was to simply be honest with others and acknowledge the awkwardness of networking events, don’t start the conversation with your work/title but instead reference the event, venue, or city, and know that compliments can go a long way.
Speaker: Melissa D’Arabian
Why I Enjoyed It: The most prominent session was on 7 strategies to add more time to your day. Many of the 7 were new to me and I felt like I could implement those immediately to help me in life.
Melissa was incredibly easy to follow and she was so upbeat that at the end of her session I was left wanting more.
Speaker: Billie Jean King and Selina Tobaccowala
Why I Enjoyed It: It was a great discussion by two women (really three if you include Jill Abramson) who are groundbreakers in their worlds of sports and technology. I love how they each see no obstacles and let their performance speak for themselves. Also, do not be afraid to take risks. Selina’s story about her Dad pushing her, both at Evite and now at Gixo, inspires me to take more risks in both my professional and personal life.
Speaker: Phil Pallen
Why I Enjoyed It: This session covered tips for creating an online brand. This session stood out as a front runner (from many awesome sessions) for a few reasons. One reason was the pure energy and passion Phil brought to the table. The man is passionate about his work, and wants to share as many tips as he can to help you start building your own brand. He did a wonderful job of telling a story, where he came from, how he got to where he is today, and how we can do the same things for our company. The irony here was being able to create our perfect brand by perfecting the art of storytelling to recreate an “In-person” experience.
Speaker: Brian Solis
Suma E P
Why I Enjoyed It: There are now many touch points of your brand that a customer can engage with. But how much thought has really gone into ensuring that the experience across all these touchpoints is exactly what you want the customer to have?
And in this era of short attention spans governed by battery life and wi-fi connectivity, and rapid switching of loyalties, should you be leaving this experience to chance? Or should you be designing it? And if you are going to design it, you’re going to need a brand experience guide, not just a brand style guide.
Combined with Katie Martell’s “Find an Enemy: How the Right Foe Can Motivate Your Buyers to Action”, I came back with a way to address brand challenges. Lots of food for thought!
Speaker: Piera Gelardi
Why I Enjoyed It: Piera talked about how to be courageous and take risks with creativity. She discussed how we all need to “be more us”. We did an activity where we decided who we are as individuals and discussed how to be more authentic. She also talked about how to make sure we have the right conditions for creativity. Overall, the keynote as inspiring, motivational and fun.
People Need to See Their Future at (Your Agency Here)
Speaker: Bob Ruffolo
Why I Enjoyed It: In this session, the numerous practical tips from a really experienced agency manager were particularly valuable to me.
Of course I have read about the one or the other excitation, such as e.g. conducting one-on-ones or defining one career path for every single person, but the implementation into practice is a completely different challenge. Good to have an agency like IMPACT as a role model! I definitely took a few specific tasks for the development of our corporate culture.
Why I Enjoyed It: Bob shared what he and their leadership team have learned in 6+ years of growing agency team, what the ups, downs, and ups have taught them. Great playbook for new agencies, and any professional services team, about using mission, vision, and values to build a powerful, high performance, sustainable business and culture.
Speaker: Marcus Sheridan
Why I Enjoyed It: As a service company it is incumbent upon Acadia to clearly explain the value we provide to clients. The use of video is a key element. Marcus shared that in the future 80% of content online to consumer will be video based. Right now it is only 5-10% is video. This is a space that is still untapped.
We are ALL MEDIA COMPANIES, and need to create amazing stories to engage clients. “If you don’t show it- it doesn’t exist.”
Speakers: Mike Liebermann, Mike Skeehan
Why I Enjoyed It: Here were my key takeaways (from the point of view of an agency):
- Invest in your own marketing
- Do not test campaigns with clients, test it first on your own agency
- Do not offer too many small retainers. Rule: Less means bigger (and better) clients!
- Charge more money for your inbound services because you added great value and benefits (It’s definitely worth the investment!)
Summaries of Specific Inbound 17 Sessions
I attended the conference myself, and wrote up summaries on 6 of my favorite sessions. All were related to inbound marketing or digital marketing agencies in one way or another. If you are looking for more in-depth coverage on the tactics of top digital marketers, you can check out these summaries.
How To Predict Inbound Marketing Results– Mike Lieberman
Turn Google Analytics Data Into Powerful Insights in 15 Minutes or Less– Gabe Wahhab
5 Steps to Cut The Crap And Seriously Scale Your Agency– Andrew Dymski
Creating High-Value Content in the Peak Content Age– Scott Meyer
The Invisible Giant That Mucks Up Our Marketing– Rand Fishkin
How To Create Product-Driven Growth– Kieran Flanagan
IMPACT also put together a summary of their 5 favorite speakers from INBOUND 17.
What was your favorite INBOUND 17 session? Let us know in the comments and we can send you the survey to be included in this post in the future!