10 TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM INBOUND 2021

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Every year, HubSpot brings together thought leaders from across multiple sectors to deliver talks around the future of sales, marketing, and business during their INBOUND event.An insight into a day at Subcon - The UK’s premier subcontract manufacturing supply chain show.

The talks are always packed full of incredible insights with the occasional celebrity popping up to share their experiences. This year was no different, with headliners including Oprah, and the legendary director Spike Lee.

With so much information on offer, it can be tough to get through it all to find the value. So to help you out, here are my Top 10 takeaways from INBOUND 2021, for engineering and manufacturing companies.

 

SESSION: HubSpot Spotlight
SPEAKERS: Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot Co-founder and CTO; Brian Halligan, HubSpot  Co-founder and Executive Chairman; Yamini Rangan, HubSpot CEO

Every INBOUND, HubSpot’s leadership team holds a spotlight session where they reflect on the year, talk about the future, and reveal a few key product updates.

While there were some exciting announcements — such as in-HubSpot payment management, customer portals, and sandboxes for developers — this year, my key takeaway from the spotlight is the coming shift in focus businesses will face. 

Welcome to the age of the customer

HubSpot has always been customer-centric, but this year CEO Yamini Rangan was keen to double down, pushing a renewed focus on buyer empowerment. 

We are in a new age of sales; one powered by the abundance of information. In order for businesses to survive the age of the customer, they will need to shift their focus to be on buyer empowerment rather than sales enablement.

For engineering and manufacturing, this will be a stark shift. Gone are the days of hiding prices, or forcing clunky sales and service processes. Businesses that thrive in the coming years will be those making it easy for prospects and leads to self-serve and have control of their personal buying journey.

SESSION: No more cookie cutter marketing
SPEAKER: Alex Moore, Stratagon Inc.

If you’re not already aware, Google has announced that they will be killing off third-party cookie tracking in Chrome by the end of 2023, following browsers Safari and Firefox.

In reality, there will be huge implications for marketing across all industries, as it will impact things like PPC and retargeting, as retargeting ads rely on third-party cookie tracking.

In his talk, Alex Moore of Stratagon Inc. offered strategies to make sure businesses are prepared for any fallout.

Say hello to email!

The death of the third-party cookie will force businesses to move their focus on first party data — data that is collected directly from your audience, rather than offered up by third-parties.

These owned lists of self-qualifying contacts have always been the gold standard, but now they will be even more so.

This is where marketing email comes in. Marketing emails that contacts have actively opted into will be a huge differential for engineering and manufacturing businesses. 

The important thing will be how firms approach email marketing campaigns. That doesn’t mean spamming with cold emails will be acceptable. And it doesn’t mean you can send a half-arsed newsletter a couple of times a year and scoff when you don’t get any clicks through to the website.

The email strategies that will make a difference will not be focused on selling. They will not be focused on pushing products. The ones that succeed will be focused on delivering education and value to opted-in contacts over a long term. 

 

SESSION: The Right Way to Scale: Building a Theory of Business
SPEAKER: Sam Jacobs, Founder and CEO, Pavillion

There was a lot to unpack in Sam Jacobs’ talk about building a theory of business, but there was one particular stand out point that I believe many manufacturing and engineering companies need to hear, whether they like it or not — and I suspect many will not!

Sales people do not generate interest, marketing does

Sam had a lot to say about the importance of assessing market size and investing in a great product before doing anything else. The truth is, many businesses jump straight from product to sales and miss the most crucial part: generating interest.

It might not sit right at first. It might even be a little controversial. But it’s an important statement to make, as many businesses will overspend on employing more sales teams to make sales, but cut back on marketing. 

Here’s the thing: Sales does not generate interest, marketing does. Sales can turn demand into money, but they do not generate demand or interest — nor should they be expected to.

According to Sam, successful businesses need to have a distinct order of operations: Market size > Product > Marketing > Sales. Without investing in marketing, businesses can never build interest and in the absence of interest, sales have no leads to work on, and no deals to close.

 

SESSION: Trusted Content: 7 Steps to Becoming the Most Trusted Voice in Your Space
SPEAKER: Marcus Sheridan, Author

We are huge fans of Marcus Sheridan here at FINALLY. His book “They Ask, You Answer”, is a huge part of our strategy, and it’s one we encourage our clients to follow, too.

In his INBOUND talk, he reiterates some of the main points in his best-seller, but there was one in particular that really struck me that I know we — and likely the majority of businesses — struggle with.

Be detached from outcome and unbiased with your content

When it comes to content, we all want to shout from the rooftops about how great our company is. It’s natural that you’d think “people want to know we’re great, so let’s tell them we’re great”.

The trouble is, that’s not how people work. People are skeptical. 

Unless you have already earned someone’s trust, they are going to read your 700 words about how great your components are with a pinch of salt. Let’s face it, of course you would say they’re great, they’re your components! 

Marcus encourages businesses to detach themselves from their content. Instead of promoting your components over and over in a thousand different ways, be unbiased with your content. Compare the best components for a specific job, even if that means highlighting your competitors.

Most businesses won’t do it because they wrongly believe talking about competitors will drive customers away — as if Google doesn’t list them right by your business anyway! — but talking positively about your competitors can build trust, and can ultimately result in more leads and sales.

 

SESSION: Using Behavioural Science to Improve Customer Success
SPEAKER: Andrea Belk Olson, Behavioral Scientist, Pragmadik

There’s a whole lot to be said about employing behavioural science when it comes to your business strategy. On the face of it, it might seem an odd one for engineering and manufacturing, but the industry revolves around people and relationships. 

Understanding people can only help you improve your ability to communicate with them.

With this in mind, Andrea Belk Olson spoke on various cognitive biases in humans, and the most intriguing was loss aversion — the idea that the pain of losing is twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining.

The idea of losing something — be it financial, physical, or some other kind of loss — is a huge driving force behind people’s decision making. So when it comes to your messaging, instead of focusing on what people will gain, focus on what they will lose if they don’t purchase your products.

 

SESSION: Killer SEO Strategies Through Product Design Methodology
SPEAKER: ​​Tony Verre, VP eCommerce, The Integer Group

SEO is going through big changes, but according to Tony Verre, these changes have been in the pipeline for a long time. Google has been hinting at the refocus of SEO for many years, with restrictions around keyword reporting, and planning tools getting stricter with each algorithm update.

To get ahead of the changes and future-proof their SEO, engineering and manufacturing firms need to change their approach. Instead of keywords, the future lies in user-centricity, a core principle that has been adopted by design teams for decades. 

Future SEO strategies should focus on pain points, answering and solving real queries with expert, trusted content.

 

SESSION: Purpose-Driven SEO: A Modern SEO Strategy That Any Brand Can Deploy In 2022
SPEAKER: Dale Bertrand, President, Fire&Spark

Keeping to the SEO theme, Dale Bertrand took the user-centricity focus a step further with a talk on purpose-driven SEO.

There are a lot of SEO tactics and it’s important to not spread yourself and your resources too thin, as this can result in a lot being done which fails to achieve anything. Purpose-driven SEO helps you get better results by focusing your resources and attention on what your audience really cares about.

 

SESSION: Email Myths Busted! What’s really working now!
SPEAKER: Jay Schwedelson, President and CEO, Worldata; Founder SubjectLine.com

If you’re not into email marketing, chances are you haven’t heard of Jay Schwedelson. He is a fountain of useful information and up-to-date data surrounding email, and email marketing.

In his myth busting session there were loads of incredible points — unfortunately too many to list in this one article. Here are my Top 3:

1. Your subject line, links and content aren’t getting you filtered

Despite being disproved countless times, there is a prevailing thought that using specific words in your subject lines or too many links in your content will lead your email straight to the spam folder.

It won’t!

Spam filters are more advanced than they were 15 years ago when this was barely true. The truth is, your email isn’t getting you filtered, your sender IP address is. If you’re using a shared email service with a shared sender IP address, you're at the mercy of the spam filter. Consider switching your email service provider, or paying for a dedicated sending IP.

 

 2. Embrace the…

It might seem ridiculous, but including three ellipses at the end of a subject line triggers something in people that encourages them to open the email.

In fact, the data shows this small thing can increase open rates by 31% in B2B!

The ellipses speak to something more, something unknown, something intriguing. By adding them to the end of a subject line you can spark curiosity and make your email irresistible.

 

3. Your from address matters more than you think

For many, the “From” address — the “who sent this email” bit in your inbox — is an afterthought. It’s time to make it a forethought. Because in B2B, friendly “From” addresses that match the topic of the subject line offering can increase open rates by 34%.

In practice, instead of sending everything from “Your company name” consider “Your company name | Department”. The reason this works is that it stops your contact receiving multiple emails from the same “person”, meaning you can send multiple emails in one day without fear of overwhelming or frustrating your contacts.

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INBOUND was a huge event, and I’m sure there are tons of insights yet to be unearthed from the talks we haven’t yet had a chance to watch. 

It seems to me that the prevailing thought that ran throughout a great deal of the talks was that the future of business — particularly when it comes to digital sales, marketing, and growth — is grounded in customer-centricity. 

To succeed in the digital space over the next few years, engineering and manufacturing companies will need to shift their focus from products to people.

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