Bringing together our marketing community to master the latest tips, tricks and tactics from our industry's thought leaders is what Experience Inbound marketing conference is all about.
This year, we flew in 12 of the best marketing speakers on the national circuit. The day started with Jay Acunzo, giving an amazing, high-energy keynote that set the tone for the day. Then, our speakers were turned loose to share their secrets on all things inbound marketing - covering all areas from email to SEO to content to analytics to video, and much more.
What were the top takeaways? Who better to ask than the pro marketers who attended the conference and invested their day in getting up to date on the latest in inbound marketing. We asked them one question:
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP MARKETING TAKEAWAYS FROM EXPERIENCE INBOUND '18?
Their contributions are, in a word, awesome! Whether you attended the event or not, go ahead and grab some new marketing tactics - compliments of our participants:
Digital Marketing Specialist
Dorner Mfg. Corp.
"It’s Important to pay more attention to the customer than the industry. They will show us the information we need to be successful."
Jay’s keynote session struck a chord with me because of the relevant nature of the content. In a marketing, advertising & sales industry where we are constantly bombarded with new fads and information, it’s important to remember that what we do & how successful we are is based on the customer and how they respond to our content.
Potential leads and customers will reflect if our techniques are either successful or if they fall flat. And most times, those failures become our strengths are they help inspire creativity and innovative ideas.
Jay pointed out how learning should be the goal instead of results being the goal. Whether you’re in marketing, advertising, sales or even a combination of all three- there will seldom ever be a final “end” to your efforts. We must constantly learn from trials, successes and failures to figure out what works best for us personally. As someone who does not like failure, this has been one of the greatest skills I have had to learn. To accept failure as the nature of this profession and acknowledge it as necessary in order to progress forward.
"Today’s consumers expect more. They don’t want to purchase right out of the gate, they want a closer connection with brands."
Tara’s breakout session really got to the heart of what social media truly functions as- a way to connect people. Having a one way conversation on social isn’t enough to drive sales or find leads anymore. Our new job as brands on social media is to connect with customers about what we are passionate about and to create empathy on a new digital landscape.
Being transparent with customers and creating a personalized experience for them will go a longer way that attempting to sell them a product over a media channel that isn’t necessarily meant to function in that way. Instead, focus on social listening and be mindful of what your customers are saying. How do customers consume content? How are they helping to micro influence your brand? And in what ways can we improve our brands to create a better customer experience?
Social media is an ever-evolving landscape that requires us as professionals to be mindful of how we are posting and interacting with our customer base online. Tara made an incredible metaphorical reference that really sums up our experience on this channel:
“Social media is like a fire. It can either be warm and inviting, helping you to flourish. Or it can be dangerous and completely demolishing to your efforts.”
Be mindful of social marketing. Don’t post for the sake of posting, don’t spend all your time looking at best practices, and most importantly- don’t forget to listen to your customer.
Info-Pro Lender Services
"Put together the right marketing stack to manage, analyze and report your data effectively and efficiently."
As someone who works for a small but growing company I have limited resources to assist me with managing all the data I have at my fingertips so I am always searching for new technologies that can help me analyze and report on all of this data. The amount of solutions Steve went over was quite impressive, to the point that I have over two pages of notes and solutions I am going to look into for my organization including SEMrush and Databox. These kinds of overviews are invaluable for someone that does not have a lot of time to search through the 7,000 plus martech solutions in the industry today to find the perfect ones to evaluate.
"Incorporate agile principles to improve campaign results."
As a company that follows some of the agile principles within our marketing department it was refreshing to hear some of the things Greg and Frank are doing at the Weidert Group that we are currently doing at my organization. In an ever-changing world it is important that us as marketers are not stuck to a specific plan that cannot adjust to things that are happening in the market or anywhere in general that might affect how we market and sell to prospects. Thanks to Greg and Frank I have two more books to add to my reading list in “Hacking Marketing” and “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”.
VP, Digital Marketing Director
"SEO Tip: Take your bottom 1/4-1/3 worst performing content on your website, combine anything novel from the junk page to the page that is working, unpublish the non-performing pages and 301 redirect."
As marketers we take all this content we create as "precious" and couldn't think of getting rid of any. Today Google and your users care more about quality, and you get rewarded with better organic SEO. It's anti-intuitive for a content marketer, but to an SEO expert it's just the fact.
Digital Sales and Marketing Manager
The E.W. Scripps Company
"Humans are visual by nature - Let’s not fight our DNA!"
After listening to this talk, our department will be implementing video for proposals, voicemails/signatures, and our overall marketing strategy immediately. We will be able to tell our full story, humanize our brand, and connect with the viewer more cognitively. Humans are visual by nature and as Jeff said “Let’s not fight our DNA!” – also, napuccinos are awesome!
Chief Marketing Officer
"Adjust the mobile keyboard that appears on website forms so the "@" and ".(com)" buttons appear on either side of the space bar."
Each year, I take my team to Experience Inbound so we can stay current and meet others practicing inbound marketing. Experience Inbound 2018 didn't disappoint. From content development to video integration, we walked away with new ideas that will help our brand in the coming months and years.
It was also great to learn simple things that can help conversions, like Justin Rondeau's suggestion to adjust the mobile keyboard that appears on website forms so the "@" and "." (com) buttons appear on either side of the space bar, making it easier for users to complete the form. Simple ideas that lead to more success; that's why I love Experience Inbound.
Assistant Global Marketing Manager
Johnson Health Tech North America
"What makes sense for one audience, doesn't always make sense for another"
As marketers, we always try to be cutting-edge and do whats new, fun, exciting - and ultimately will help us rise above our competition. However, I think it's so important to remember that what makes for one audience, doesn't always make sense for another. If the demographic I am trying to reach isn't on Snapchat, why am I using Snapchat?
"If you write great content, but no one is around to hear it, did it happen?"
Joanna Wiebe also provided great value to me as she made great points that made one think about their own content strategy, and how it could be improved and optimized for conversions. Joanna at one point made the statement, "if you write great content, but no one is around to hear it, did it happen?" A reference to "a sound in the woods", Wiebe did a great job of driving the point home that even if you have great content, your audience must first and foremost be interested in what you are providing, and it needs to be inducing the action that you hoped it would.
"Who cares what the experts say you ‘have to’ do – if it doesn’t work for you?!"
I’ve attended a lot of marketing conferences, some better than others, all promising to have the crème de la crème of best practices that I simply must take back to my company and implement. If only it worked that way every time! But right out of the gate, Experience Inbound challenged that expectation with Jay Acunzo’s keynote “Break the Wheel.” Jay put it best when he said, “who cares what the experts say you ‘have to’ do – if it doesn’t work for you?!”
It was like the clouds parted… I heard exactly what I needed to hear, at exactly the right time. I realized I have been stuck in this trap of constantly looking to others instead of thinking for myself. Leading the conference with Jay’s talk framed the rest of the day for me in perfect light.
Of course, after being so inspired by his keynote, I looked forward to attending Jay’s breakout session called “The Green Smoothie Problem.” And once again, I was completely overwhelmed with his ideas and realized so many applications I could apply in my daily work at WHR Group. It occurred to me that I’ve been approaching many of my projects from the wrong angle, but now I’m realigned and ready to attack future projects head on.
Creative Marketing Specialist
R&R Insurance Services, Inc.
There is a difference between “Best Practices” and “Best Practices for YOU” – general best practices are a good starting point, but they need to be adapted to your own business. This creates the mindset to find a unique solutions to the same problem.
- “Pay more attention to the customer than the industry, and they’ll pay more attention to us.”
- “Don’t focus on convincing skeptics, rather, rally the believers.”
- “Spend more time understanding your own environment and creating YOUR best practices.”
- “When we question conventional thinking, we create our own best practices.”
Discuss more about WHY your ideas should exist – not the idea itself”.
Diversity Director - Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA)
University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
"Transparency, authenticity and relevancy are vital to customer and prospective customer relationships."
From Tara Robertson, I relearned the importance of transparency, authenticity and relevancy to customers and prospective customers. Consumer experiences, good and bad, should be shared and the actions and results from companies should be told.
"Email messages may be ‘old school’, consumers are still reading them, if they are written correctly."
- John Thies; Email on Acid
Send Great Email: How to Truly Communicate, Captivate and Connect With Every Subscriber
I love all the tips about avoiding image design, correct number of characters and the consideration of text alternate. The real takeaway was my lack of consideration for those who are visibility impaired – I made quick and easy changes to my email messages and now they are quick, efficient and accessible to all because of John.
Online Marketing Specialist
Great copy conveys a ‘big idea’ and offers a solution to a problem.
70% of the buying decision is made before a potential customer makes any contact with a company. B2B (Business to Business) buyers prefer content that lays out a success formula and offers a solution to a problem.
To meet these challenges, effective copy should be constructed using the following steps:
- CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization).
The research phase will take the longest as you can never do enough research. Always lead with a problem and use hooks like ‘Align with Us’ or ‘The World is Wrong.’
Headlines offer a huge opportunity to grab a reader’s attention.
Consider citing one of the seven deadly sins and don’t be afraid to use classic clickbait tactics and first-person perspective.
Example: I Never Looked at Writing the Same After Applying These Marketing Strategies
Perception of Social is still that there is no ROI for it, it is just fluff and a world of crazy cat videos
- Reality is much different in that is it constant data being collected and transferred that provides huge upside and opportunities
- Social media is part of everyone's daily routine today so why would you not want to be where they are?
- In today's world our consumers expect more from us and we need to be willing to adapt to those expectations. 2018 and beyond in the social game is about connecting and providing empathy at a digital level. If I can provide that to someone through social they are much more likely to remember my company/brand and have that comfort with me.
- Connecting with someone on social is about being transparent, authentic and relevant to them. An A/C company is only relevant to a consumer when they need cool air, but if I have been able to be relevant and had a connection with someone in the past, you know that there is no doubt who they will turn to in their time of need.
- The ROI of social media is the fact that your business will still exist in 5 years PERIOD
- You have to be on social to continue to exist moving forward in the business world
- As business we need to stop talking and start listening, the biggest communication problem that we have is that we do not listen to understand, we are listening for the next time we can benefit ourselves
Intent + Hunger = Aspiration
Aspirational Anchors give us the reason to apply who we are to the context and that is what gives us the unfair advantage
We area continuously looking for best practices to work for us because they worked for others, but the missing piece is "US". Best practice are just a decent place to start and they work at best for average, but we don't just to just be average, so why are best practices what we strive for?
I related to this because it is true, that everything we here is well go look at the best practice, don't reinvent the wheel, someone has had this problem and found a solution for it before. What we don't realize is that there is that missing component, which is us as the marketer and the context of where we are trying to implement that best practice. What worked for you is not going to work identical in my space because of the variables that I need to deal with.
Most of that seems like it should be common sense, however it never seems to be that way in the eyes of the individuals who are requesting the task be completed
We are actually removing the "self" to adhere to best practices because they are general
- We are afraid to know the answers ourselves, we think that everyone else knows the answer to our specific problem
- We need to be become investigators for our own context and ask ourselves the right questions
Her & Himsel
Great ideas do not have a rule book; there are no best practices. Standing out means breaking the norm; defying convention.
We’ve all been in meetings where people cite the “best practices” and you want to vomit. ;) As a creative and a strategist, I love rally cries like Jay’s. He really brought it home with the Death Wish Coffee Company story. This coffee company has grown exponentially by doing things differently and selling more than just a product: they’ve given a sense of pride to hard working people who know how to get sh*t done. Best practices says “Death Wish” is a terrible name for coffee. Reality: it’s a great one.
"Tell good stories. Be human. Good content breeds good readers. Good readers buy what you’re selling."Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers / Airstory
KEYNOTE: Content That Converts: What if, Instead of “Educating,” You “Made Money”?
As marketers, that's what we're ultimately doing: selling. Selling lifestyle, product, knowledge, service. Tell good stories. Be human. Good content breeds good readers.
Engage people in real-time, both with human-to-human conversations and human-to-chatbot conversations.
We all have a toolbox of services that we use, but it’s always great to get a chance to look under another team’s hood and see what powers them. The most interesting to me was the chat bot tool, Drift.
Prior to this talk, I hadn’t seen much value for website chat bots for my clients. But hearing how the pop up chat has been working for Stream, I’m super interested to test the tool for certain clients.
"Machine learning – it's not just about the data – it's how we leverage it."Nick showcased how well automated assistants are going to be able to adapt on the fly to human feedback in a way that is insanely nuanced and impressive. The technology behind machine learning and artificial intelligence to positively impact our daily lives – and marketing is boundless. And it’s not just about the data – it’s how we leverage it.
Marketing and Content Specialist
McLoone Metal Graphics, Inc.
"Doing whatever is most common, the conventional wisdom, doesn’t guarantee that we’re doing what works best for us."
Holy cow! What a novel idea to be ok in not necessarily following best practices. We need to figure out our own way and review what our strategy is based on real data instead of assumptions or on what everyone else in our industry is doing.
"Continual improvement really means that the site is never “done”."My takeaway from this breakout session was reinforcing that continual improvement really means that the site is never “done” and that it is so important to involve everyone from every area in organization involved in setting the priority content review. Way to hammer home how important it is to use the right metrics and analytical tools as a regular part of continual improvement activities.
Analytics Team Lead | Strategist
Stellar Blue Technologies
We need to find out what is best for our clients on an individual basis and refrain from marketing without purpose.
My number takeaway was "Conventional Thinking vs. Thinking for yourself" This was really aspiring as I work with a wide range of clients in my line of work. This was a great reminder that we need to find out what is best for our clients on an individual basis and to refrain from marketing without purpose.
Marketing Communications Specialist
Nearly 90% of consumer messages on social media go unanswered.
This statistic is staggering because consumers expect their customer service questions via social to be answered within four hours. People expect the most from social in regards to customer care and when these simple inquiries go unanswered, what message are we sending to the consumer? (Hint: it’s a great way to let prospective customers know we don’t care…). So quite simply, listen to what your consumers are saying via social! It’s an easy way to cultivate that connection and provide great customer care.
It’s better to write one great blog post than three meh ones.Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers / Airstory
KEYNOTE: Content That Converts: What if, Instead of “Educating,” You “Made Money”?
A great blog post should start with a big idea, be edited for CRO before posting, and have a seamless CTA at the end. Planning and writing a blog post with these three ingredients takes time, but it’s better to actually spend the time necessary to write a well-crafted post rather than just cranking out one blog post a week because you “have” to. About 70% of the consumer buying process happens prior to conversing with the company; make that 70% matter and write what potential customers need to see!
Vice President, Online Marketing
Pay attention to your customers! Where they spend time; how they use your website and resources; what do they ultimately want; how to rally them; what makes their life easier.
The customer is, and always has been the number one priority but with all the marketing options, trends, etc. we as marketers can get distracted from our main objective. Yes, we need to answer the customers questions, encourage them to buy, but we also need to make sure we are supporting them at every stage of their buying journey, no matter how long or short that may be. We need to really dive down into what triggers our customer’s emotions. What do they ultimately want and how can we help them achieve that goal? Helping your customers first!
Think for yourself. Best practices are good and safe, but we need to go above and beyond best practices to become great!
Jay Acunzo was insightful, motivating, hilarious and so much more! It’s so easy to get to get focused in on a set of practices or processes that worked for someone else that we have to force ourselves to step outside of that box. Take care of the best practices but then really look at ALL options. Truly take the anything is possible mentality and try it out!
"70% of the buying decision is made before contacting the company."
The whole purpose of advertising is to make sales, yet marketers fall short on the last 30% of the decision-making process. Joanna’s talk outlined many of the mistakes that marketers make when writing and laid a foundation for creating better copy that produces real results and revenue. I’m excited to start using her frameworks and to see what kind of results they generate.
"Repeatable writing process: Research, Framework, Compose, CRO, CTA"
Writing is my least favorite part of being a marketer and usually is the thing I put off as long as possible. I always need to be in the 'right' mood to tackle any written projects. I've always said I envy great writers because I have this vision of them sitting down at their keyboard and the words just automatically begin flowing from their fingertips. Thanks to Joanna, I now have a repeatable process, used by professional copywriters, that I can use as my guide and not make the writing process feel so daunting. (Research, Framework, Compose, CRO, CTA)
Posts By Ghost
"Get rid of the dead weight content! Eliminate the cannibalization!"
We love the idea of thinking your website as an iceberg: keep the "above the water" value-driving content; improve or cut the rest of the dead weight. This is an excellent visual example and explanation for our clients during content audits. Robbie's ideas confirmed and reinforced our content audit strategy. Great presentation!
Focus on content as a way to drive-sales. Think like an "old school" copywriter.
Joanna's process of: Research, Framework, Compose, CRO, was so helpful! The idea of thinking of a blog post like a long-form sales page is powerful. So often it's easy to get lost in the idea of creating valuable, well-written, educational content, that we forget the purpose. Ultimately, content should include a CTA to drive sales. Joanna's presentation was a great reminder with some wonderful, practical suggestions.
Integrated Marketing Manager
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
Invest in the right tools to support your marketing strategy from research all the way through measurement & analysis.
The variety of marketing technology tools, how they work, tips, tricks and how Stream Creative is using them for their clients. In particular, SEMRush and the multiple uses the program has. We have already engaged in the program and have been able to review our internal plan and make website changes to increase overall site performance and content.
Agile Marketing Project Leader
National Insurance Services
(1) When we pay more attention to our customers than the industry, our customers pay more attention to us….
(2) When we make learning the goal, instead of results, we get better results!
Great way to start Experience Inbound with the fabulous keynote speaker Jay Acunzo. Great sense of humor, and so much information! Knowledge is Power and this was Powerful! Thank you Jay for your wonderful perspective!
"Do you have a browser tab problem? Get OneTab browser extension from Chrome."
From beginning to end, this session was full of information! Steve shared his insights on the best programs and applications to assist you in your marketing efforts. I left with a list of resources and tools that I am using now! One of my favorites was learning about the OneTab browser extension from Chrome… Game Changer… because yes I have a browser tab problem! Thank you Steve for such a great session!
What are your unfair advantages?
We encounter this on a daily basis, whether it’s trying to promote our clients’ products and services or our own. Taking those advantages and turning them into “emotional benefits” that a prospect can latch onto can help convert them to a customer. Don’t tell a prospect to try your product or service, tell them it’s good for them and why they should buy it from you. It was great to hear Jay bring this principle up and take it to another level.
People anchor to preconceived notions
The fear of change is tough one to overcome. This is something we encounter often. How many times have we heard “that won’t work in our industry” or “this is how it’s always been”? The unknown is scary for some. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe they’ve been burned before...whatever the case, preconceived notions can hinder progress. Easing someone’s mind by illustrating the potential benefits of change and then walking them down the path can be a difficult task. But, it can also produce a satisfied customer for years to come if done right.
So there you have it!
Do you have a favorite takeaway? Were you at Experience Inbound and have your own takeaways to share? Send them my way - this blog is open for your insights!
in our lab!
Ready to learn more? Check out last year's takeaways - they are all still 100% relevant- I guarantee it. :)