Take-Aways From the 2020 Inbound Marketing Conference

The team at DMA looks forward to attending the Inbound Conference each year to learn new strategies that will propel our company and our clients’ brands into future marketing endeavors with customers and consumers. This year’s Inbound Conference was especially captivating as we continue to experience such unusual circumstances in a pandemic, especially as marketers. Nevertheless, we left eager to execute and share what we learned to get your marketing juices flowing and considering the possibilities for your 2021 plan:

1. Inbound Marketing v. Outbound Marketing

There’s two types of marketing styles that attract audiences to brands. Although more are seeing the ROI on Inbound techniques, it’s always good to see the other side of the coin and see what both have to offer, remembering that a marketer’s style doesn’t need to be one or the other. If you’re not familiar with Outbound or Inbound marketing, this is the gist: Outbound marketing is the advertising of a product straight to your audience; where as Inbound marketing is a technique to draw audiences to your product by creating valuable content and experience tailored to your audience.  Here is a breakdown of Inbound v. Outbound:

Inbound Marketing:

    • Goal is to be a happy, helpful, humble human
    • This is based on storytelling
    • What you do with inbound: Educate people with valuable content to solve a problem for consumers
    • You’re playing the long game in terms of seeing big results
    • Attract, Engage, & Delight
    • Examples: blogs, social media campaigns, SEO, etc.
    • How marketer’s utilize Inbound: they create valuable content and experiences that audiences are actually interested via social media, SEO, blogs, etc.

Outbound Marketing:

    • Goal is to get the product in front of your target audience
    • What you do with outbound: you create content that is valuable; it’s not answering a problem, but it’s answering the problem that customers might not know they have
    • It’s about disruptions
    • It’s about immediate results
    • It allows you to target your audience strategically 
    • Examples: TV commercials, radio ads, trade shows, sales calls, etc.
    • How marketer’s utilize Outbound: they go directly to the audience to inform them of the brand, product, etc through public relations, promotions, sales, etc.

2. Gated vs. Ungated Content

There’s a new age of gated vs. ungated content when it comes to company websites, Here are some key takeaways we learned from Inbound when deciding whether or not to keep your content gated vs. ungated:

Gated Content

    • A website visit is only the first step in the customer journey and they need a clear next step for conversion
    • Gating content gives purpose to your traffic
    • Some content is meant to be gated, don’t throw away search volume – this ruins the rate at which you are capturing new visitors to the website.
    • After reading the blog – now what? Did they read and go away forever and are now lost because you didn’t have a clear next step for them behind a form? A recommended action here would be to include a Subscribe button at the end so there is an action item for the reader.
    • Gate the right content and your website visitors will reward you for it 
    • The thought process to keep in mind is to not create traffic just for the sake of traffic; deliver quality news to readers that will in turn drive traffic
    • An example of content that can be gated is access to c-suite, deep conversations, etc.

Ungated Content

    • You have the ability to share to a broader audience. People will then share the content, discuss the content in their network, social shares and social engagement 
    • The ability to go and meet your audience with the right content at the right time
    • Harder to track the journey in gated content – it’s about humans (not leads, buyers, consumers, etc.)
    • Only 5% of leads coming from marketing are high-quality
    • Why gate a sales tool or product? It would make it harder to inform a consumer who is ready to buy, so then why gate education tools?  Let them take this for free and when they are ready they will purchase something
    • Not the audiences fault that we are failing to increase the conversion rate so putting up the barriers to jump through hoops to prove their interest in us is the wrong approach
    • Once a lead fills out a form, it does not mean they are a high quality lead (i.e. everyone who downloaded a template is not necessarily ready to buy)
    • Social shares don’t create just empty traffic – focus on two humans making a connection

3. Critical Email Marketing Techniques to Crush the Competition 

Email marketing is pivotal for business success and connecting relationships between B2B and B2C marketing efforts, particularly while we continue to navigate the pandemic. Utilizing the correct email techniques can help grow your business, plain and simple. Email effectiveness and activity is at an all time high right now as we push through these unusual circumstances.

Following are a list of take-aways and applicable action items that we took away from the conference:

  • Email Marketing Stats:
    • Inbox activity is up 22% vs. January 2020
    • B2B open rates are up 16% vs. January 2020
    • B2C open rates are up 15% vs. January 2020
    • Email Newsletter open rates are up 19% vs. January 2020
    • Email sign-up open rates are up 40% vs. January 2020
  • The very first email you send to a lead is the most important one, because if they open the first one, your likelihood of staying relevant in someone’s inbox for them to open another email is 80% higher than if they never opened the first email.
  • A big variable in email marketing is choosing the days of the week to send your email communication. In the past Monday’s and Tuesday’s were frowned upon for sending emails. However, these two days have ended up being two of the most effective days for B2B emails based on current trends. Never emailed on a Monday or Tuesday before? This is the time to A/B test and see what works.
  • When it comes to discussing the pandemic in your email communications, HubSpot recommends the following:
    • It is okay and recommended to state COVID in the subject line.
    • For B2B, do not sugar coat the current situation and discuss the topic directly.
    • For B2C, recognize the pandemic in subtle ways and discuss the topic indirectly.

With the pandemic in full swing, many companies resorted to increasing their email communication, and it worked. At the end of Q3, the average number of emails sent increased drastically, resulting in a higher rate of contact conversion. For example, HubSpot found that: 

    • Adding the word “NEW “ in the subject line of an email lifts open rates 17-22% between B2C to B2B.
    • For B2C, increasing the number of emails sent yielded a 64% increase in response rate.
    • For B2B, increasing the number of emails sent yielded a 47% increase in response rate.
    • For B2C, HubSpot is experiencing 4x the touch points over a 2 week span.
    • For B2B, HubSpot is experiencing 2x the touch points over a 2 week span.

4. How to Use Your Website to Grow Your Business

Evolve your company website as the world evolves, and be prepared to make changes simultaneously so you don’t get left behind in technology, processes and culture shifts.  A few interesting facts we learned from HubSpot were:

  • Your product has a wide impact, so focus on how you can leverage your website to fuel growth. Expand your website’s impact on the customer journey by looking at these three critical ideas:
    • Attract – attract visitors and focus on converting this traffic.
    • Engage – engage by offering free educational resources and sales tools.
    • Delight – delight by providing a superior new customer onboarding process and creating a first class customer database.
  • 42% of marketers make impactful improvements to their website every year.
    • As a company, you should be continuously focused on either establishing, optimizing or expanding the various aspects of your company’s website. 
    • Learn to set a rhythm by hosting a quarterly meeting to re-evaluate your company’s goals and review what worked on the website and what didn’t.
  • Determine the focus. There are endless things to do on a website, so start by building a performance roadmap/framework for strategy moving forward. 
  • Always re-evaluate which format for your website forms work best. Are the current forms not effective or are you seeing a trend in decreased traffic conversion? Try switching out a form with an online chat box – there are always new ideas you can test versus growing defeated and staying stuck. Be innovative when it comes to your company website and never stop making updates, so you stay relevant in this ever-changing environment.

5. How To Bridge the Gap Between Blog Traffic & Success Metric Generation

There’s so much opportunity lying in wait in so many aspects of your business. Whether you have one or don’t, a blog is essential to not only communicating authentically with audiences and meeting their curiosity needs, but also to generate the traffic you really want.

Here are some key takeaways we gathered from this year’s Inbound event hosted by HubSpot:

  • Four steps to succeed with solutions to close the gap in your success metrics and blog traffic
    • Group similar posts together and tie each one to a similar action or CTA.
    • Data gathering and analysis: What are the topics that are thriving? How can you optimize the traffic you’ve garnered and more effectively funnel them through your metrics of success?
    • Create more content that you found suits your audience’s needs and wants.
    • Analyze, refine and repeat: What content has been leading to conversions? Why? Relay this information to your blog/SEO team and optimize from there.
  • Shifts you can make to closing the gap between your blog traffic and success metric generation
  • Increase low traffic; high converting posts: You want audiences that are eager and waiting for your next post, not the ones who could care less about your business. So, attract those high potential converters with content they want to see.
  • Turn your photos into traffic machines: SEO is more than just text in your blog. It’s also the tags you put in and how you name your photos. Currently, outside of blog content, consumers have been searching for images on: templates, guides, plans, and samples. 
  • Journey gaps > content gaps
    • Many are familiar with gaps in content strategy, but what’s most important is the gaps in your target audience’s journey. 
    • To close that gap, you must create content on the benefits of your product and do deeper dives into topics, attracting those high potential consumers. Overall, the big question that should be driving your content strategy should be: how do we drive our audiences down the funnel through our blog content? 
    • In the system of Attract → Delight → Engage, blogging fits into the Attract section, thus your content can’t stop there. You must attract your audience and lead them to the next logical step.
      • DMA Example: Influencer blog post → Fill out this form to download a resource on how to plan your influencer strategy → From the form, follow up with an email on how they can attend a Marketing Matters webinar on Influencer strategy and be able to ask questions.

We hope these key takeaways and tips will bring new light to your business strategy and executions. There is no better time to try something new or think outside the box than during these unusual times. Start testing out a few of these ideas to learn what works and what does not work for your business as you go into 2021. If you’re interested in learning more on marketing, join us for our Marketing Matter webinars or connect with us via info@dma-solutions.com for any and all help we can provide for your marketing needs.