Highlights from Inbound Marketing 2012

Highlights from Inbound Marketing 2012

In a rare example of being let out of the office for good behaviour, I spent a day last week at the Inbound Marketing conference in London. Organised by the good folks at StrangeIM and sponsored by both Hubspot and HootSuite, it brought together a range of speakers from across the inbound marketing spectrum (both UK and US).

The top-line? Overall, it was a pretty good event with notable star turns from David Meerman Scott, Frank Belzer and Mike Volpe among others. While I’m not going to try to pack the whole event into a single post, I thought I’d summarise some of my key takeouts from the day.

David Meerman Scott was a force of energy and a great presenter (I guess he gets quite a bit of practice). He is, of course, a massive advocate for inbound marketing. David outlined how the world of marketing has moved on from one where brands used to buy, beg or bug people to get attention to one where we’re all publishers (or at least where we can be publishers if we choose). He focused on fear as the key obstacle to moving forward – fear of the unknown, of doing things differently despite the fact that many companies are already achieving impressive results.

David then focused on the need for real-time, accurate data. He described how the marketers of the future would be more plugged in (in the way that bond traders are today). And he took us through how this would enable a real-time mindset, allowing businesses to use speed and agility to get ahead of the competition (and the news cycle).

Hubspot’s Diana Urban then did a bit of a product tour which, for me and a number of others, was too much of a straight product punt. Maybe if I was a Hubspot user I would have found it more interesting but having been around the likes of Eloqua and Marketo for some time, it was neither that impressive or informative. (Just goes to show that even the most savvy of businesses can misjudge their approach now and then.)

Paul Berney, CMO of the Mobile Marketing Association then took us through the latest developments in mobile with some cracking examples. He highlighted how social and mobile effectively meant ‘the end of lying’ which, while maybe over-stated, does bring home the need to be open and authentic in your communications. He was refreshingly real world about whether today’s brands all need native apps – some can benefit but not all (or at least not yet). 

Paul focused his message around the need for today’s marketers to think in terms of instant, real-time content and experiences that recognise the context of the customer at any given time. And he left us with a plea to give serious thought to what should happen next after customers engage with us on the move.

Frank Belzer treated us to an uncompromising presentation around how to successfully engage with salespeople. He began with a stark assessment of salespeople’s abilities (70% suck) and questioned whether any lead was ever very well qualified. He talked about how, today, most customers know more than salespeople before they ever engage. As Frank put it, the last thing they need is more information. 

What they are looking for is a human connection, a conversation focused around their business and their challenges. In this scenario, content should be around helping sales to have a better conversation that leaves the customer with more to think about. He also gave us the best sound bite of the day: If content is king, context is god.

I was in two minds as to which of the afternoon’s tracks to follow. Despite the fact that I think I have an in-depth understanding of content marketing, I figured I could always learn more and opted for the Content and Content Marketing track. Big mistake. What we got was examples of a range of online promotions and gimmicks rather than ways of developing long-term engagement. This was followed by a bit of a ramble through what works in blogging. The only saving grace was Emma Rudeck, from Strange IM who at least gave a bit of a basic primer in the tiny amount of time left by her over-running predecessors.

The final turn came from Mike Volpe of Hubspot who, for me, redeemed the earlier misjudged demo with a great presentation and some killer stats. He talked about the need to be the thing people are interested in, about how your content must stack up with the best in the market (either free or paid for), and how today’s brands must grow their authority. 

Mike gave some interesting Hubspot stats. Their customer acquisition cost : lifetime value ratio is 1:4. But compared to the norm, their cost per lead (CPL) is 60% lower and their conversion rate is 3x higher. And 70% of their leads come from old blog posts.

He talked about how they are structured and the fact that they measure their progress against targets daily. It means they can react fast if they’re dropping below where they need to be. In fact, he showed how Hubspot are getting close to the kind of real-time approach that David Meerman Scott talked about at the start of the day.

Overall, it was a great day with plenty of food for thought. The hit-rate of great insight to filler was pretty impressive (especially if we gloss past the content marketing track). Certainly, if they decide to run an Inbound Marketing 2013, they can count on a ticket sale from me.

Next stop: The International Content Marketing Summit on 28th November.