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October 20, 2023


5 min read

11 Takeaways From HubSpot’s INBOUND 2023 Conference

Beau Robinson
11 Takeaways From HubSpot’s INBOUND 2023 Conference

We had the pleasure of attending the 2023 HubSpot INBOUND Conference in Boston, MA on September 5-8. While sitting in on speaker sessions from some of the top experts in the marketing industry, we learned about current trends and what to look out for next.

Now that the BlueByrds have flown back to the nest with our clam chowder fully digested, we’ve packed some of our favorite takeaways from the conference and are delivering this priceless information to you FOR FREE!

A large theme of the conference was around change and how it can mean death for your company if you aren’t ready to adapt. That means, “this is how it’s always been done” won’t work for you anymore. So how should you start?

Gone are the days where prospects are just dollar signs and content is templated. And don’t get us started on how AI is changing the game. It’s so much more than just ChatGPT. Are there any drawbacks of AI?

Luckily for you, we have the answers! Considering 83% of CEOs see marketing as a driver of revenue, but only 23% believe marketing is actually delivering, you have some work to do. Here are our 11 key takeaways from the conference for you to use in your newly-refined marketing strategy!

Takeaway #1: Email unsubscribes are NOT a bad thing

We’ve all heard that email unsubscribes are evil and that if you see them in your email marketing reports, you’re doing something wrong. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. When people unsubscribe from your email list it is not the worst thing. In fact, there’s no evidence that unsubscribes negatively affect your sender status at all. So why do marketers fear them?

When people unsubscribe from your emails, this typically signifies their waning interest in the content you’re serving them. Many marketers perceive this as something negative. The truth is: unsubscribes actually play a crucial role in cleaning and optimizing your lists. By allowing disinterested recipients to opt out, you effectively streamline your audience to only include those who genuinely value your content, which boosts open and click rates in return. Plus, what’s the point of sending content to a person that doesn’t like it or engage with it anyway?

Takeaway #2: The customer journey has changed big time

During the keynote presentation, HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan dissected the modern-day customer journey, outlining the major changes and trends of how customers currently discover, consider, and buy new products. In the past, customers would actively search for products they were interested in. Nowadays, customers are finding products through social media before they even search for them. Did you know that 44% of buyers use social media as their primary source for discovering new products? Customers don’t want to search, they want to be social.

When it came to consideration, customers would spend their time clicking through websites to try and find the information they were looking for. This won’t work anymore, marketers! Customers want a 1:1 conversation to find out exactly what they need; they want to converse, not convert. And when you converse with them, customers expect you to deliver personal insights before they buy from you.

Takeaway #3: Organizations should implement a transparency statement and policy around using AI

One of your clients approaches you and asks how your organization uses generative AI. Are you prepared to answer this question? Do you even know how your organization is using certain tools? Do you have an AI-use policy that employees can easily reference? Is it on your website so potential customers can read through it as well?

Organizations should develop a transparency statement that explains how the organization uses generative AI tools. This transparency statement should serve as a beacon of clarity, illuminating security protocols, privacy principles, and usage standards that your employees, clients, and potential customers can easily reference and navigate. For example, does your organization use AI to generate images? Are they allowed to? Are employees allowed to publish anything that’s 100% AI-generated? Your transparency statement should be exactly that— transparent.

Takeaway #4: Marketers need to stop thinking that all buyers make well-thought-out decisions

During a debate about email marketing with Founder Jay Schwedelson, he stated that marketers tend to think their audiences make well-thought-out decisions. The truth is, most buyers are already grappling with complexities and pressures before they approach your company. Many times, these buyers are relying on decision-making shortcuts to solve their problem quickly and usually levitate toward automatic, distinctive responses that help them cruise on autopilot. And it’s not just the buyers— all humans do it!

Takeaway #5: Marketers do email BACKWARDS

Marketers spend so much time making the greatest email creative and content, spending 90% of our time INSIDE the email. But if no one opens the email, no one will even see what's inside. We should be spending more time on things that get people to open the email. For example, did you know that simply changing the “From name” on your emails could increase open rates? What about subject lines? Did you know that putting numbers as the first character can also increase open rates? We should be spending more time on these areas before spending all that time making the inside look pretty!

If you’re unsure if your subject line and preview text will capture your audience’s attention, we recommend implementing A/B testing in your email marketing initiatives. Most email marketing platforms like HubSpot and MailChimp enable you to use A/B testing. BlueByrd likes to perform A/B tests to figure out which set of subject lines and preview text receive the best open and click-through rates. In HubSpot, for example, you can set up a 25/25 test that sends Version A to 25% of your selected contacts/lists and Version B to another 25%. Once the specified test duration is up, the winning email with the best performance will be sent to the remaining 50%. If you’d like some assistance with your email marketing, BlueByrd is a certified HubSpot partner and is ready to help!

Takeaway #6: AI is coming, but you’re still marketing to humans

AI is great for efficiency and helping you get from step 0 to step 1, but it won’t help you stand out from your competitors. Some notable problems from the overreliance on AI include lack of creativity, inaccurate information, lookalike content, lack of personalization, and many others.

The lines between B2B and B2C are getting smaller and smaller, which means now is not the time for your content to sound like it’s coming from a robot. No matter what type of company you’re trying to reach, they’re human beings just like you that crave connection, personalization, and helpful content that resonates with them and their challenges.

Takeaway #7: Content shouldn’t be just about selling

PLOT TWIST! Your content shouldn’t be solely focused on the features of your product. Too often, companies focus too much on themselves and not enough on their customers. If you’re only talking about the features of your product, the question left in the minds of your audience is “so what?”

Companies should be focusing more on their customers’ pain points and challenges, and attempt to solve their problems. Your audience wants to be educated and helped, not sold to. They want valuable interaction, not a sales pitch. More importantly, they want a connection. You must refine your buyer personas down to the most minute details so you can get into the nitty gritty of who your customers really are and what they really need from you.

Takeaway #8: Customers are very close to making a purchasing decision before they even talk to you

The truth is, your potential customers’ first step isn’t to call you to learn more about your products or services anymore. In fact, most of the time, they know everything they need to know by the time they get around to contacting your sales team. If you’re waiting for your customers to come to you, you’ve already lost.

If you want to convert your potential customers, you need to go to them wherever they are and provide them with content that makes them stay. Stop gating all of your content on your website. Your customers want to research before they contact you, so make it easy on them. If you make research hard on your prospects, they’ll find a competitor that doesn’t.

Takeaway #9: Customers want a flexible buying experience

Once you’ve successfully got your prospects to contact you, you must make their buying experience simple, flexible, and easy. Consumers now want to go in and out of buying stages at their own pace. We are past the time of a strict buying process that follows some sort of cadence in a specific order that might look similar to: a form fill, then a discovery call, then a presentation with sales, then a demo, then another meeting on feedback before the sale is finally made.

84% of buyers believe that the buying experience is just as important as the product itself. And with 98% of buyers finding customer service frustrating, providing a seamless experience is a great way to separate yourself from the rest of the crowd. Some good ways to help your customers through their process include in-person chat with a human; automated chat; automated demos (short snippets); nurturing emails and newsletters; and easy-access CTAs for them to contact you when they’re ready.

Takeaway #10: More than ever, sales and marketing need to be aligned

The buyer’s journey is more complex, which means your sales and marketing teams have to be on the same page. Whether talking about sales outreach emails or marketing content in general, your teams need to be aligned with what content is going out, when it’s going out, and at which lifecycle stage that piece of content is being delivered.

Companies should implement a customer-led growth (CLG) strategy to put their buyer at the center of the sales process. I mean, it is all about the customer! With teams working together and using ideal customer profile (ICP) insights, sales can provide product guidance and a flexible process, and marketing can provide educational, nurturing, and engaging content. With all teams on the same page and holding a regular meeting cadence, you can build a marketing and sales revenue-driving machine that keeps producing quality leads.

Takeaway #11: Video is paving the way, and it’s getting easier for all marketers to use

You have no excuse to not use video as a marketing tactic anymore. Maybe before you were scared of the bright lights, complicated equipment, and the dollar signs that are associated with it. Now, it’s as inexpensive as ever and actually the preferred medium for your customers to consume information and content.

Surprising to most, your goal here should NOT be to go viral, especially for a B2B company. You can use videos to answer customer FAQs, scale support, and make a connection with your audience. There are times in which a video production company is completely necessary, but if you’re stretched thin with your budget, you can do some of it yourself, too!

There are many tools out there to assist you in transcribing your videos, adding captivating captions to your videos, cutting outside noise even in the loudest places, and correcting your eye contact if you’re reading a script. Don’t let fear hold you back. Start today!

The Final Chirp

INBOUND was a blast, but it was also a transformative experience that reshaped our perspective on marketing in the digital age. We’re excited to implement these lessons into our marketing strategies, adapt to the changing landscape, and continue hustling for our clients. If you’re interested in learning how BlueByrd can help your organization in any of these areas, we’d love to hear from you. We’ll even give you a free consultation— our treat.

Whether you choose to work with us or not, we always promise to provide value.

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