Imagine you’re 5 years old and it’s Christmas Eve. The fire is crackling, the tree is lit and you know Santa comes tomorrow with all of your presents. That was what INBOUND 2017 felt like for me. HubSpot was a big orange Santa and my presents were the sessions, new features and knowledge base I was about to gain. Not only was it my first time to Inbound, but it was my first time to Boston, so just like Christmas Eve when I was a kid, I couldn’t sleep before I left our Dallas Inbound Marketing team. I was so excited.
I spent the week absorbing as much information and insights as I could to bring back and apply to the work we are doing for our clients. Here are two of my favorite sessions from INBOUND, as well as a few takeaways if you plan on making the trip yourself next year.
1. How You Can Win in the New, Ad Powered, Video Driven, Ever Evolving World of Social Media
I loved this session because it lived up to its name. Think Creative Group speakers, Ali Parmelee and Darma Barson and HubSpot’s, Daria Marmer had a great session on how marketers can leverage social media at every point in the funnel. While my role as a Client Success Manager, a fancy way to say Account Manager, is not necessarily involved in the weeds of social media, we certainly need to understand how we can utilize the ever-changing platforms with our campaign strategies. The team mostly focused on paid advertisements, which confirmed my suspicion that in order to give your inbound marketing strategy a leg up, you need paid ads. It’s a sure way to bring in lead generation and get your KPIs up to speed.
One tidbit of knowledge I took away from this session was the reaffirmation that Facebook paid ads are indeed working for B2B. This was great to hear because the majority of our clients are B2B and I’ve heard mixed opinions whether or not Facebook works for B2B. The speakers confirmed that by setting up Facebook advertisements with a custom audience and retargeting using videos, gated content, webinars, demos, etc. you can get high engagement while bringing in the leads!
While overall I was very pleased with everything I learned from this session, low budget paid advertising has some hurdles to overcome. It was said that to be most effective paid ads need a minimum monthly budget of $2,500. This doesn't mean that lower budgets won't work, but that we live in a world where the internet is crowded and so smaller budgets will need to get more creative in their content and targeting.
Regardless, I found this session incredibly informative and helpful!
2. Here’s Why You Don’t Rank in Google
I don’t know about you, but ranking in Google is HARD and as the speaker of this session, Matthew Barby, said, “SEO is tough. If it were easy, everyone would be ranking number 1.” This session was really great though because while SEO is challenging, confusing and constantly evolving, there are key components that we need to understand in order to even have the chance to rank well in Google. They are as follows:
- We all want to be friends with Google’s crawlers, but the key to their hearts is making it easy for them to discover our content. Matthew gave us an example that they conducted at HubSpot, which demonstrates the importance of adapting your content so that Google can easily pick it up. He explained that on Wikipedia every page is formatted the same and they are often the “snippet” that pops up when you search a question. This intrigued HubSpot, so they tried to build the widget or module that essentially was the featured snippet. So when Google crawls, it can easily digest the content to pick up. HubSpot saw a 10% increase in owned featured snippets within 24 hours. This had nothing to do with rank, just the right content.
- Indexing relates to relevancy. The best way to explain indexing is through the example Matthew provided with PandaDoc. PandaDoc did not have an “authoritative issue”, but they had a relevancy problem. No one was searching on Google for “document signing tools.” What they were searching for included tools and resources that people needed in order to create the document that gets signed. So what did they do? They created an entry point into their website by creating a resource for every type of document and made it a template for people to download. The result? They started ranking for hundreds of business topics without focusing time on link building campaigns.
- Last but not least we have ranking and in order to rank you need authority. It isn’t just enough to build great content, you need great authoritative content. And, we’ve heard over and over again to utilize backlinks, but it goes beyond just inserting them into your content. You have to really look at the content and find the opportunities that make sense to add backlinks versus just throwing them out there. One example, is HubSpot had a section on their blogs that linked to the author’s social media accounts. Well, this was wasted space and was an opportunity for HubSpot to display the author’s favorite “feature” which, in turn, helped build HubSpot’s own authority. There’s no exact science to backlinks, but there should be thought and effort behind their integration into your content.
Tips for INBOUND Success
If you’re interested in attending INBOUND 2018, which I highly recommend, you may want to check out some of my tips below before you attend:
- Make sure the session is relevant to your role — There were a few times when I was signing up for sessions that I (admittedly) briefly glossed over the description. Unfortunately, a couple of the sessions I attended seemed like they would be for an “Account Manager” role based on their title, and were really for sales or another team member. So, tip #1? Make sure you read the descriptions!
- Make sure the session is relevant to your skill level — Again, this comes down to the description. A few sessions I attended, one particularly on HubSpot integrations, was way past my “coding” expertise. While I’m sure the developers in the room were salivating at the information, I was having a difficult time understanding what the speakers were saying. This actually might be an opportunity for HubSpot to display the suggested skill level when signing up for sessions, but if they don’t do this next year, make sure to thoroughly read those descriptions!
- Plan Ahead — One thing my team did before we left was prep for INBOUND. We created a Google Sheet with all our team members names along with the sessions we were attending. Then, we also had a folder that housed all of our notes so later we could share these with those that did not attend the conference. This was great for two reasons. First, it made signing up for sessions very easy, and trust me, you want to sign up beforehand so you’re not stuck worried that you may not get into the ones you want. Second, we were able to see each other's sessions and make sure we weren’t overlapping so that we really got the most out of the conference as a team.
- Bring comfy shoes! — INBOUND is held at a huge conference center. Please, do yourself a favor and wear comfortable shoes.
- Relax and enjoy! — This is a great time to briefly pause on work and recenter with your love for marketing! Take advantage of this and try to soak up every piece of knowledge you can.