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Key Takeaways from HubSpot INBOUND 2020

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We couldn’t be there in person, so HubSpot transformed INBOUND 2020 into a virtual event

  • Marketers are engaging consumers in different ways.
  • Company culture must evolve to tackle the new ways that employees must interact.
  • Inbound marketing content that resonates with prospects and customers isn’t necessarily about you.

This year has forced us to reimagine industry events. Their allure was often the destination and the opportunity to network with peers and experts. Technology stepped up and moved virtual events into the realm of our new normal. It’s possible to catch keynote speakers live, but you can also shift time and watch events unfold when it suits you.

So, here we are – not that long after the culmination of HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020. It was a potent mix of energizing speakers ranging from HubSpot’s co-founders to entertainer John Legend. Maybe, though, it’s like heading to an all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s so much to take in. What’s good?

We’ll share our top takeaways.

The theme that simmered to the top

Throughout the event, there was a singular topic that acted as the connecting thread. A global pandemic has altered the way consumers want marketers to engage them. This offers both challenges and opportunities for inbound marketers and how these organizations structure themselves to meet these new challenges.

It was a message we heard from the start as HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan’s keynote address observed that technology isn’t just changing the way marketers connect with consumers. It is transforming the context.

Technology has emerged as the most efficient way to, “Thrive in the New Normal. Some of The INBOUND 2020 content is behind a paywall, but you can watch this keynote on YouTube. Allot about 47 minutes to take in this exceptionally produced video conversation.

Plugging in company culture

A dialog being heard more often revolves around how technology can help – or harm – company culture’s evolution. COVID-19 forced shutdowns for many marketing organizations that thrived on foundational collaboration between employees and the networking connections they made with clients.

The observation by several HubSpot virtual discussions is that remote and virtual staff are here to stay. How, then, do companies change to match and support this new way of working? What happens to the industry as a whole when the most sought-after companies and the brightest minds are no longer anchored by geography?

Adobe Chief Product Officer and INBOUND 2020 participant Scott Belsky adds to this dialog by observing that the divisive nature of these times amplified by technology can be harnessed and used. Diversity can create innovation. It’s okay to act, look, or think differently to see marketing opportunity outliers that will ultimately gravitate to the center.

Examining the role and relevance of content

Storytelling in all its forms is at the core of inbound marketing. What did INBOUND 2020 participants see happening in this area?

There was a universal agreement that inbound marketing content has to find a more visceral connection. “Usefulness” and “relevance” were words that often bubbled up in conversations. The pandemic has shifted public behavior and has also impacted cognitive bias. More than ever, marketing messages are being judged by reciprocity.

What does this mean? Prospects still want to know how you can help, but they’re even more interested to know why you want to do it. Breakout speaker Lou Cimaglia noted that this approach has to get baked into the overall user experience. He believes that it’s supported by three pillars:

  1. Educate
  2. Advocate
  3. Reciprocate

Cimaglia challenged those during his breakout to make user experience decisions throughout the marketing process, making it easier for prospects to feel valued, understood, and respected.

This can mean investing in content that isn’t about you. A key question to ask is, “What do my prospects or customers want to learn?” It’s a relationship-builder, but it also underscores reciprocity.

Further tweaks to the marketing flywheel

You’re likely already familiar with the marketing flywheel model if you’re interested in what went down at HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020 event. It ditches the concept of a funnel that moves prospects toward a destination. Instead, a flywheel approach puts customers at the center and acknowledges that they – not you – are in charge of the destination.

AdRoll’s Senior Director of Growth, Julie Zhou, led a discussion about how this approach helped her organization look beyond the limited capacity of an acquisition funnel and focus on establishing relationships with customers who are attached to what’s happening inside the company. When you move to the idea of treating everyone like they already are a customer, you can reallocate internal resources and allow customers to join the journey on their own schedule.

According to Zhou, this approach revved up content production by 10X over two quarters. It resulted in a 300% increase in the number of new blog visitors. This saw organic search traffic increase 50%, with a spend potential increase of 100%. The content wasn’t about AdRoll. It shared helpful information and resources about industry trends and avoided promoting the company’s products or features.

Is it worth the investment?

It’s possible to find bits and pieces of INBOUND 2020 scattered online. HubSpot has made it easy to find – for a fee – with all access to an on-demand library of the 2020 sessions. Consider paying for a content pass if what you’ve read here so far piqued your interest. Inbound marketing must continue to rethink how it meets customers and joins them on the buyer’s journey. It was completely virtual this year, so opportunities for in-person networking and interaction were lost. The value was captured, and we believe it’s worth the investment.

We’ve already begun to inject what we’ve learned from INBOUND 2020 into our own content generation for clients. Read more tasty stories about content marketing.

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