INBOUND18: Talking Heads, Flywheels, Friction & Other Unusual Words

What do you get when you combine 24,000 marketers with Deepak Chopra, A-Rod and 120 sessions focused on teaching professionals how to “grow better”?

You get a lot of unusual words masked as valuable insights from INBOUND 2018.

In our fourth consecutive escape to Boston for HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference, our team was proud to represent our recent Platinum Partner status and intrigued to see what HubSpot had in mind for its eclectic collection of speakers and sessions. It’s been three days since the close of the event, and while a lot of knowledge and inspiration was gleaned, the consensus from attendees across the web seems to be aligned with our overall feeling: INBOUND18 was good. The keynotes were underwhelming, Dharmesh needs to do stand-up, consumers have all the power and the weirder the buzzwords, the better.

Here are the most powerful takeaways we gleaned from this year’s conference.

Takeaway #1: There’s No Excuse Not to Use Video Marketing

Video marketing was a hot topic this year—and to my surprise, many of the video sessions were skewed toward beginners. Recognizing that the video giants are Facebook and YouTube, presenters outlined the five types of videos to create for these platforms with a few tips and tricks for ensuring high performance.

The five types of video and why you should use them:

  • How-to videos build authority by positioning your company as the subject-matter expert
  • FAQ videos drive sales by answering common questions, objections and assumptions
  • Product- or service-centered videos improve SEO rankings by improving time on site
  • What we’re best fit for videos lead to better leads by weeding out non-qualified prospects
  • Bio videos can increase website traffic when embedded in your employees’ email signatures

As far as the optimal length of video goes, there were a few different ideas thrown around, but the one that resonated best with our approach was shared by Antoine Dupont, who said, “Videos should be as long as they need to be but as short as they can.” In other words, there’s no magic number. As long as the content is necessary, viewers will stay engaged, which is a nice segue for the APP method.

The APP method is a structuring style for video marketing that engages the viewer right from the start. How many times have you started to watch a video because the title seemed relevant to your search, but it fell flat or was rendered irrelevant 30 seconds in? The APP style lets you help prospects avoid making that mistake by providing a framework for the first 30 seconds of your video.

The APP Method:

  • Agree: “Would you agree that using social media for B2B marketing can be tricky?”
  • Promise: “What if I told you that it’s not that complicated?”
  • Preview: “In this video I’m going to teach you three ways to simplify the process.”

This framework instantly aligns the presenter with the viewer, then intrigues them with a promise and builds trust by clearly explaining how they plan to deliver on that promise in the video. It sets you, the video marketer, and the viewer up for a successful experience.

More tips for beginner video marketers:

  • 80%+ of videos are watched on mute, so your video should have captions or on-screen text
  • YouTube and Facebook create captions for free that you can easily edit for accuracy
  • Rule of thumb: filming one minute of video will result in one hour of editing
  • Great lighting comes from having one lamp in front of a face and another on each side
  • For talking head videos, position the head in the upper left quadrant to make room for text

Takeaway #2: The Consumer Experience Must be Frictionless

In his presentation, Dharmesh Shah, CTO and Co-founder of HubSpot and underground comedian (seriously, he had non-stop jokes), emphasized the importance of eliminating any and all friction from your sales cycle and business model to provide the most optimal experience for clients. And he wasn’t just talking about making sure your processes are buttoned up; he meant removing anything or anyone that could potentially get in the way of someone’s ability to say yes or say no to a company.

He compared brick and mortar stores—which force consumers to get in their cars, sit in traffic, find parking, interact with other humans, seek out the products they want and so forth—to online retailers like Amazon that create a frictionless, easy path to purchase. He encouraged everyone to look at their business and start shifting client-facing touchpoints to self-serve models where possible. For example, if your company provides reports for clients on a monthly basis, you should shift to a document sharing platform that lets you automatically upload the reports for viewing instead of manually emailing them over.

Another tip, which skews counterintuitive at first, is making it easy for people to cancel your service. Dharmesh explained the psychological impact that terms and hard-to-find cancellation buttons can have on a consumer’s will to buy. When it seems impossible or difficult to cancel, a consumer’s mind begins to wonder what the company has to hide. But a retail site with a big “CANCEL ORDER” button upfront puts consumers at ease knowing the company must not have any doubts that you’ll be satisfied.

Takeaway #3: You Can’t Overlook These Platform Integrations in 2018

Of course, INBOUND wouldn’t be INBOUND without a showroom brimming with innovation. We made our way to nearly every booth, eager to learn how other platforms can make our lives and our clients’ jobs easier. Here’s a snapshot of the platforms we’re currently testing and perfecting in the Sagefrog Lab:

  • Atomic Reach is a content intelligence platform built to help marketers and agencies generate more leads, conversions and sales from their content.
  • Sigstr is an email signature marketing platform that allows you to standardize brand consistency and drive marketing ROI with every employee email sent.
  • Vidyard is an online video platform for business that allows you to increase leads, accelerate your pipeline and delight your customers.
  • Wistia is a simple software for creating, managing and sharing videos for business.
  • Databox is a business analytics platform built to help you understand what’s going on with your business, with KPIs, cloud services, spreadsheets and a database all in one place.
  • Seventh Sense is a precision email system that analyzes your existing data to determine the optimal send times and more.
  • Drift is the leading conversational marketing platform that helps companies turn traffic into leads through live chat and automation.
  • Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat and webinars.

Some more complex than others, these platforms represent the very near future of inbound marketing. Look out for our verdict as our team continues to test, analyze, optimize and perfect the use of these platforms throughout the remainder of the year.

Takeaway #4: The Death of the Funnel and Rise of the Flywheel

In a very bold statement by Co-founder of HubSpot Brian Halligan, the marketing and sales funnel as we know it is dead—and in its place, has come the flywheel. His rationale? The funnel, though it has served many marketing and sales professionals well, is linear. Its focus and energy is on marketing and sales, followed by the customer. In the funnel, the customer is an output, a hopeful afterthought even.

But the flywheel is focused on the customer first. It places the customer in the center of a circular process that’s consistently nurtured by marketing, sales and service. It puts the customer at the center of every touchpoint using the customer’s momentum to power more targeted marketing, drive more qualified leads and sales, and finally, encourage a delighted consumer experience through service. It’s a shift that makes so much sense when we think about the customer-centric state of the world.

There have been dozens of funnel-versus-flywheel posts written following Brian’s declaration, but here’s one that really describes the differences best and gives visual representation to make the case.

Have you been considering HubSpot but don’t know how to get started?

HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads and close customers. HubSpot has the tools to implement your inbound marketing efforts and Sagefrog has the expertise to guide and perfect your practices. As a HubSpot Platinum Agency Partner, Sagefrog trains and offers ongoing support for the following HubSpot marketing and sales tools:

  • Dashboard Customization
  • CRM Implementation & Management
  • Workflow Setup & Execution
  • List Development & Lead Scoring
  • Landing Page & CTA Development
  • Blog Setup & Posting
  • Social Media Posting & Monitoring
  • File Management & Reporting
  • Email Template Creation & Execution

Let us know if we can help you with getting started or figuring out if HubSpot is the right decision for your type of business or industry. Chances are we’ve worked with a company of your size and type and can provide you with a relevant case study about how HubSpot might work for you.

Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.