INBOUND 2015 is wrapped up, and the team is back together in Raleigh.
Brian Onorio and Jennifer Hoverstad spent an exhausting 4 days in Boston trying to answer the age old question: What’s next?
HubSpot, the company behind INBOUND, certainly pitched its fair share of new gadgets and gizmos that solidify its platform as an industry leader, and for good reason. To be honest, there was a lot of kool aid drinking in the 14,000 strong audience.
What we did was filter the hype down to our list of 10 things that we found as valuable takeaways, in no particular order:
1. Experimentation Is Key In Regards To Inbound Marketing
“Set it and forget it” is not a strategy, rather a recipe for missed opportunity. Experimentation is key to continually building ROI instead of initially finding it and letting it erode. It’s precisely why we prescribe to the Kaizen model for SEO process testing. Although SEO is only one tactic in a digital marketing strategy, it lends itself to continuous testing to find the right mix of cost and benefit. Any digital project is full of risk, both to an agency and its client. Experimentation helps reduce and mitigate risk for both parties.
2. Direct Mail vs. Junk Mail Is A Matter Of Perspective
HubSpot co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, preached “market unto others they way you would have them market unto you.”
For print marketers, they may design what they believe is the world’s best piece of direct mail. But, when they go home and your company has sent them what you believe to be the best piece of direct mail, suddenly, it’s junk mail.
The same concept can be applied to anything a business creates or makes available to the public. While the business may see it as valuable – the customer can see it as a waste.
So how do we reconcile this? Businesses – get to know your customers! Understand how they want to learn and the best way to communicate with them. Conduct appropriate research to understand what your customers want, so there’s no perception of low value.
The value of marketing materials is not up to those that make them – it’s up to the consumer.
3. Storytelling Is Necessary
Every company, organization, and non-profit has a mission. That mission is typically full of inside baseball terms that resonate with board rooms and donors but rarely have much momentum outside of those circles. Humans are emotional buyers. Selling facts without a story or a product without resonating with purpose is ineffective in a sales paradigm where the buyer has an infinite supply of freely available knowledge. Recreating your mission with your audience in mind helps to deliver emotion through a particular non-emotive medium such as print or digital. And it’s not as hard as you think. You may simply need a dose of outside-the-box thinking.
4. Stop Focusing on E-mail and Move to Twitter
Have you stopped to think about how many e-mails you receive every day? Easily over 50, 100, 150?
Is your business sending e-mails? Congratulations, you’re now competing with time and inbox space among the masses.
Instead, move the conversation to Twitter. Rather than pushing information, begin to interact! Twitter allows you to reach a valuable audience and gain insight from that audience.
People are taking more action on Twitter. #INBOUND15 pic.twitter.com/mS86FpzxrG
— Twitter Business (@TwitterBusiness) September 10, 2015
Twitter allows you to have rich conversations through a variety of interactions including pictures, videos, and real-time engagement.
Turn your list of subscribers into followers, and you’ll find that your followers will evolve into your advocates!
5. Can Facebook Overtake YouTube?
In short, yes, and it likely won’t be too far off.
In fact, Facebook is becoming such a dominant player that it is already 10 times larger than the biggest TV channel on the planet (ESPN). We’re seeing the transformation of consumable video by the day. How we consume video-based content will look much different in 5 and 10 years than what we’re seeing today.
6. Facebook’s Pay-To-Play Scheme Is Both Maddening and Necessary
Facebook Page administrators likely have seen a troubling trend. Organic impressions of content has taken a nosedive to 6% organic reach. But, it makes sense and here’s why:
- People have more content, more friends, and more pages
- There’s anywhere between 1,500 – 15,000 potential stories at any one moment
- Facebook uses 100,000+ algorithm weights to determine post visibility
- Facebook chooses around 300 to display
- Content is affected by user interaction
Without these controls in place, we’d have a very busy news feed. For people like me, I’d rather see more than less. But that’s partially because we manage several Facebook presences!
Facebook is encouraging paid placements and fortunately, it’s a reasonable expense although somewhat complicated to master.
The top reasons why people will shout “Facebook ads don’t work”:
- User error with unclear message and confusing landing pages
- Target audiences too wide
- Posts are overly promotional
- Using only “boost” methods
- Promoting posts without clear ROI objectives
7. Video Streaming Is The New Real Reality TV
Reality TV is dying on the vine with a few holdouts still in place: Big Brother, The Bachelor, and Survivor to name a few. But, any person, with a bit of brain, knows that these are highly produced to derive the outcome desired.
Enter the streaming video revolution. Applications like Periscope and Blab.im are the video answer to podcasting which has seen a major resurgence. O3 is already using both of these mediums in house as an additional way to communicate with our audiences. Is a streaming video strategy for you? Let’s chat and find out.
8. Your LinkedIn Profile Is About More Than Recruitment
So many of us start out on LinkedIn to find the next employment opportunity, but we fail to use the site to its full value when we think it’s only a digital resume.
Try Googling yourself. See your LinkedIn profile pop up in the search results? Now you know what your customer sees when he/she is vetting you.
Write your LinkedIn profile so your customer gets to know you. If you’re in sales, be cautious to elaborate on the sales quotas you “crush” every month. Why? Because the next time you reach out to your customer, he/she may think they are just a number with a commission check attached.
Use the profile as an opportunity to build value and rapport with clients – it’s free!
9. The Billable Hour Is Dead
We’ve long known that the old attorney model for the billable hour is dead. It’s why O3 has a flat agency hourly that supports each of our projects. There’s no need to pay $400 per hour for a senior level person taking 2 hours to complete a task and $100 per hour for a junior person who takes 10 hours to complete a task. In this model, the consumer pays for the burden of inefficiency. Although we hawkishly track hours in our agency, we do so for typically internal purposes so we discover our own inefficiencies without burdening our clients with them.
10. Always Remember the Evolution of the Music Industry since the 90’s
First, we had compact discs. They took up a ridiculous amount of space on bookshelves. We could buy them through monthly CD clubs so they shipped directly to our house 10 at a time! We could play them on a bulky stereo system or on a portable device. CDs were the coolest thing ever! Right? Wrong…
Along comes Napster. Finally! We can listen to free music on our computer devices without having to buy the compact discs. We had to download the music, which took up a lot of computer space, but that’s ok, because we could always purchase an external hard drive. Oh, wait…you say free music is illegal?
Cue Apple’s iTunes as a response to the stolen music crisis. Finally! We could download our music, while properly paying for it, and play it on small portable devices held in our hand or wrapped on our bicep. Nothing could be better than iTunes! Until…
Why are we downloading any of this? Spotify raised the bar to streaming music. For a cool $10 a month, you have access to a mega library of music that, in the 90’s, would have could thousands of dollars to acquire on CD.
So, what’s next? That’s what you have to ask. Be the one to raise the bar. If you don’t have the answer to what’s next, then be part of the crowd that joins new technology at its early stages. If you don’t stay relevant, you’ll simply become a memory.