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6 of the Best Sessions from Hubspot's Inbound16 Conference

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 19, 2016 5:13:54 PM / by Ryan Gunn

The Best of Boston

Last month, a team from Boyle Public Affairs travelled to Boston for the world's largest content marketing conference, Hubspot’s "Inbound 2016."  There, we joined over 19,000 other enthusiastic marketers to learn the latest in inbound technologies and methodologies and to be entertained by speakers such as Alec Baldwin, Serena Williams, Anna Kendrick and The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah.

These were comedic or inspirational reprieves during days that were otherwise filled with over 300 breakout sessions, covering topics from digital marketing and analytics to management and global business trends. Racing from session to session, our team of five tried to "divide and conquer" to learn as much as possible! The following are some of our favorite sessions and tips that we hope can help your business.

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Kellie: 10 Human Behavior Hacks That Will Change the Way You Create Email  

Nevermind the hackneyed word “hack,” Nancy Harhut of the Wilde Agency shared numerous tips, based on universal tendencies, preferences, and fears, to increase email opens, reads, clicks, and conversions. Below are a few examples:

  • Brains are stimulated by novel and new things -- so include eye magnet words in subject lines, like, “secret,” “free,” “alert,” and the recipient’s name;
  • Everyone loves to jump on bandwagons – so use social proofs phrases like “Your peers’ favorite” and “Top in your industry” in the body copy;
  • No one wants to miss out – so incorporate negative stimulants like “Don’t pay more” and “Things you shouldn’t do”; and
  • Scarcity can be a great motivator – so imply urgency or exclusivity in your copy to encourage faster responses.

Harhut also recommended some nuts-and-bolts email tips, including: keep the subject line to 35 characters (for visibility on mobile devices); use odd numbers below 10 for lists, e.g., “7 Mistakes You’ll Regret”; don’t spell out numbers; use questions or numbered lists in subject lines; and hijack holidays – even if you have to make them up (“National Hire an Inbound Marketing Firm Day,” anyone?)


Ryan: Secrets to Advanced Social Media Advertising 

The hardest thing about social media -- especially the 300lb gorilla that is Facebook -- is that organic reach for brands is slowly but surely dying. A new algorithm recently reduced pages' reach by an average of 42%. Michael Reynolds of SpinWeb stressed the importance of finding other ways for brands to reach people on social media. It’s time to start taking social media seriously as an advertising platform. And based on the powerful demographic targeting tools social platforms offer to advertisers, it may be the most powerful advertising platform out there.  

Here are two particularly interesting features on Facebook: 

  • Custom Audiences – You are familiar with Personas, right? Well, Facebook will let you load demographic targeting information into their advertising platform and save them, just like personas. Create a custom audience for each of your personas so they are only a click away when creating ads.
  • Lead Ads – Similar to landing pages, but Lead Ads never take users away from their feeds. Best of all, the form automatically populates information from users’ profiles, which means a huge increase in mobile submissions where people often abandon forms because it’s hard to type on phones. Lead Ads can result in 4-5x higher conversion rates than standard landing pages.

But marketers shouldn’t abandon their inbound principles just because they are using social for advertising. Use ads to promote content that will bring leads further down the funnel.


Heather: Today is the Prototype for Tomorrow: Design Thinking, Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon

Heather inbound-148755-edited.pngAccording to Leon Segal of Innovationship (and designer of the Palm Pilot), when we look at the industrial world, almost every object was thought out and designed by someone -- whether it’s a vast public transportation system or something on the micro-level like a door hinge. Someone had that thought, initiated the construction of that design, and propelled it into reality. Leon suggests that there are three pillars of design thinking: empathy, creativity, and collaboration.

  • Empathy: Innovation and design should start and end with people, and making their lives easier and better.
  • Creativity: Creativity is the key which drives critical thinking, as in the old joke: “Q: How many designers does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Does it have to be a light bulb?” Here we see that the problem is not the lightbulb, but the darkness.
  • Collaboration: Finally, team collaboration is essential to the production of innovative designs. It’s important to keep in mind that the finished product does not belong to you personally, but to the end users.

Leon’s most poignant quote: “When designers look at the world, they see an opportunity to design it better.”

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Arjun: Evolve Your Content Strategy with HubSpot and How to Suck at SEO and Drive your Business into the Ground

Both of these sessions were led by Matthew Barby, who reminded us marketers (who are too often mired in the paradigm of exact SEO best practices,) that content is created for human consumption. Content creators should keep this fact close to heart as they decide whether or not to input the same “target keyword” into their blog for the 10th time. Google understands the problem of overloading content with the same target keywords, and is reformatting GoogleBot to detect topics through keyword clustering rather than through specific keywords. Google is also getting much better at determining searcher intent. Broadly, there are three types of searches:

  • Informational search - a query that covers a certain broad topic. The searcher just wants information and doesn’t care where it comes from as long as it is legitimate and correct.
  • Navigational search - a query that is made with the specific intent of finding one brand. For example, a searcher may enter “youtube” into the search bar rather than typing out the url.
  • Transactional search - a query that carries the intent of eventually making a transaction. Amazon has done a great job of developing their search bar to match queries to exact products.

Dissecting searcher intent will help identify keyword clusters to target, e.g., "social media marketing," "social media strategies" "social media for businesses," etc. Instead of inundating the audience with the exact same keyword, think about trying to own a keyword cluster by writing a series of blog posts and introducing a few versions of your targeting keywords in each post. 

Read more about SEO and Website optimization on my blog post here


Jim: How to Convince Anyone of Anything (Almost) Every Time

“Step by Step: How to Make a Great Pitch” offered tips for anyone who has anything to sell. 

  • Use a hook, either tell a story or ask a question. The power of storytelling is well documented but questions are powerful, too, because if and when you get to know your audiences, then it is easier to get them engaged mentally. Just giving a statistic is not as powerful. You need to get across why you care about the product or service and what difference it will make in solving the buyer’s problems.
  • Feel and deal directly with the identified problem: if you don’t convince clients that you understand their problem, then they won’t care about your solution.
  • Make clear your solution: What is it that you bring that is unique? What way is it going to help the potential customers? What will happen to their lives, their businesses and their work once they use your solution? It’s not a coincidence that travel agents show pictures of people enjoying themselves on a beach, not dealing with a bad flight or delayed food order.
  • Create trust in your business: Convince targets that what you are building is not only a good solution, but a great investment. Give them facts and figures, and share examples of how it worked for others.
  • Round out the conversation with a call to action. Make sure to invite and suggest the next step for your audience to take. Whatever you say last, is what people will keep in their minds.

Additional tip: Crafting the perfect pitch is a lifelong learning experience. Sharpen it, get feedback and always be ready to make further changes and improvements.

Topics: Content, Media Relations, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing

Ryan Gunn

Written by Ryan Gunn