Inbound 2020 Recap & 7 Ways to Generate Better Revenue Results Now
by Melanie, on 29 Sep 2020
If you know me even a little bit, I hope you know that I hate contributing to the noise. I always hope that there is value and very tangible value, rather than fluff, in what I share.
Last week we “attended” INBOUND 2020, HubSpot’s annual conference – and, man, have people been writing a lot about it! (and talking about it on videos and on podcasts)
No surprise that a conference that attracts many content marketers has had so many recaps, summaries, call-outs, shout-outs, hat-tips, etc.
So, I want to share what made the biggest impressions on me in as digestible a manner as possible, especially the things that we believe apply to early-stage and growth-stage companies.
Observations about 2020 & the Pandemic
Is everyone sick of hearing about Coronavirus? I know I am! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. In fact, not talking about it would be negligent. Why? Because it’s impacting everything right now.
Loss as a Lifestyle
One of the lines that really stuck with me was from Katya Andresen, SVP, Card Customer Experience at Capital One who said we’re all living with “loss as a lifestyle.” I found this a poignant and beautiful way to say that we’re all overwhelmed and stressed and taxed.
Because of this, our rational decision making, willingness to ask questions, be suspicious, or even to be curious, is diminished. We are more likely to go with the easy option, which tends to mean the one right in front of us.
So, make it as easy as possible for people to find you, for them to understand what you do, for them to contact you, and for them to buy from you. Make it easier than your competitors. If you make things hard or complex, you’re more likely to lose that business.
To thrive in the new normal, must provide an experience that matches the customers’ new normal, not the vendor’s old normal.”
(Source: HubSpot Keynote with Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah)
It also means that you need to stand out and be heard. Everyone, and I mean everyone (like, even my grandmother) has noticed a bombardment of “digital noise.” You need to overcome it to be heard, and you have to invest to play.
This might mean paying for ads, making real investments into technology, or spending lots of time on your organic reach. The one thing you can’t do is coast. Marketing cannot run on fumes. If you want marketing to work, you must put your money where your mouth is.
13.2% = anticipated growth in digital marketing spend (compared to 1.2% in traditional marketing) … Industries are evolving and understanding the importance of digital (Source: Ryan Burkett, Stratagon)
Relationships & Education are Key
Personalize, forge real connections, then sell. This is the rallying cry!
People do not want to be sold to right now. They didn’t really want it before, but especially not right now. They want connection and they want education. Tap into this!
One key piece of etiquette here – engage with your target’s content on social media before you send them an invitation to connect. You should do this a few times before you reach out in a one-on-one manner.
Then, make it sound like it’s really one-on-one. This means it probably does need to be one-on-one! Make reference to something they’ve shared or an interest you've noticed they have.
For the love of all that is good in this world, please do not send another generic outreach connection request or cold email. Please be human and acknowledge that, while you may call them a "target”, they are first and foremost a human, too.
We cannot look to what worked (or didn’t) at any other time than right now. One of the sessions that covered this topic best was led by John Schwedelson from Worlddata – who also rejoiced that email is finally cool again!
Here are some interesting stats that he shared:
- B2B open rates are UP 16% vs. January (B2C up 25%)
- Email newsletter open rates UP 19% vs. January
- Email sign-up open rates UP 40% vs. January
- People are consuming emails, so now is the time to experiment!
And, the thing is, the benchmark issue applies to more than just email. You can’t look at past years' data to decide what a normal conversion rate should be or to set goals. You might be able to look at last month, but even that might be problematic since end-of-summer seasonality is likely to impact what we’re seeing right now.
7 Ways to Generate Better Revenue Results Now
These are the key actions that we’re taking away from INBOUND and encouraging others to pursue:
1 / Make things as easy as possible for your customers.
Make sure your website loads quickly. Add live chat functionality to your website and potentially to social accounts as well.
Here are some interesting stats on live chat that Diana Zalaquett from HubSpot, shared:
- 82% of people would use live chat if it was available
- 62% of people expect live chat on mobile devices
- 9% (ONLY 9%!!!!) of companies provide real-time support to their customers
2 / Stop looking at things as “marketing” or “sales.”
Sure, you need to divide up responsibilities in a way that makes sense for your company and makes best use of your team’s talents. However, marketing should work hand-in-hand with sales, which should work hand-in-hand with customer success/support, which should work hand-in-hand with marketing.
If you want a nice visual for this, HubSpot’s flywheel graphic is spot on. Here it is for your reference:
Breaking down silos between departments has always been a management hot topic, and this is one of the best visuals I’ve seen for how these teams should work in concert. Best-in-class companies are adding a function that binds these groups together: Customer Experience (sometimes just called Customer).
See: The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer Maybe now is the right time to introduce this role at your company?
3 / Answer their questions without them having to dig for answers.
Become your customers' go-to resource for whatever it is that you do (loved Marcus Sheridan's concept of #TheyAskYouAnswer and suggestion of building a Learning Center on your website). This is true for your sales team as well as marketing. The term “content strategy” has traditionally been associated with marketing, but sales needs a content strategy as well, and companies tend to fail at this.
- 92% of B2B decision makers consume 5 to 8 pieces of content from the winning vendor.
4 / Redefine metrics for your sales team.
Because your prospective customers want an educational experience, personalization, and a real relationship with someone who cares more about them than closing the sale, review your sales team compensation plans.
Train your sales team on how to connect with people on LinkedIn, and give them some support in polishing their LinkedIn profile.
- 93% of decision-makers prefer to receive personalized communication from sales
- 77% of buyers don’t engage sellers without Insights (LinkedIn State of Sales Report)
- 62% of decision makers look for an informative LinkedIn profile before agreeing to speak with a sales rep.
5 / Take the plunge and start making videos.
There are many ways to do this: product videos, team interviews, low-tech “lives” on the social channel of your choice, thought leadership pieces (probably need more budget for that). Start. Making. Them.
They can be used on your website, on YouTube, in emails, and on social. Be strategic and pick one place to start using videos. Preferably start with the place that is most closely aligned with your target audience and business goals.
If your staff (or you) has been hesitant to try video before, as many people pointed out at INBOUND, one of the benefits of us all being on Zoom calls and Hangouts is that we’re getting much more comfortable being on camera than we were before – a nice silver lining!
- 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues at least weekly.
6 / Understand what your marketing budget should look like.
7 / Ensure your team has access to technology that provides relevant analytics.
While no system is 100% accurate or complete, there is so much data available – if you have the right system.
We recommend a combination of Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and – you guessed it – HubSpot.
This way, your marketing, sales, success, and customer team can all use one database to research with and report from.
Observations about HubSpot Itself
There is an even greater need for technology and automation at smaller businesses than large corporations.
HubSpot has been, and continues to be, our strongly preferred software solution for growing companies. As you grow and need larger – even enterprise scale – solutions, HubSpot will be there. You won’t be faced with data migrations or have to set up a Frankenstein tech stack. You will use more of their apps, yes, but the core functionality will remain the same – and it’s just getting better and better.
If you are interested in learning more about HubSpot and to find out if it’s the right fit for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We also provide support to companies who have already implemented HubSpot and need help tweaking it, managing it, and generally taking advantage of its amazing functionality. Feel free to email us at info at strategicpiece dot com.