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Inbound 2022 - Standing Out And Connecting With Fatigued Audiences

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HubSpot's annual Inbound conference was in full swing as a hybrid event earlier this month in Boston. The attendance was split, with about 10,000 in person, although most attendees remained virtual as they have for the last two years. As the usual fanfare and polished vendor booths garnered excitement and hot-off-the-press feature releases were unveiled, the overall messaging and attendee vibe was slightly unexpected.

First, the fun stuff: conference swag was highly creative this year, and vendors and attendee groups were sporting wacky matching outfits, tracksuits, and capes to stand out—something we haven't seen in years prior. There were also a lot of vendors that hosted games, or off-site happy hours to increase engagement with show attendees.

group pic matching outfits

And the overall message was clear. HubSpot presenters and vendors were unanimous: marketers are having trouble cutting through the clutter and connecting with target audiences, with sales cycles slowing down dramatically. It was a little surprising to hear HubSpot confirming this. But it's universal. Audiences are tired of all the content they've been fed over the last few years, and many conference tips focused on what you can do—or at least try -- to stand out.

Inbound22 Breakdown #1

You can catch our webinar recording with a detailed recap of the newly announced HubSpot features, as well as the overall themes from the Keynote speech by CEO Yamini Rangan HERE

inbound22 summary

Want to read up on the new features or hear directly from HubSpot CPO Stephanie Cuthbertson? Checkout

Inbound22 Breakdown #2

And below is a recap of some of our favorite sales and marketing HubSpot sessions:

Email Marketing Tips: Do This, Not That with email guru Jay Schwedelson
What's Next: The Seller Free Economy with IMPACT's Marcus Sheridan
LinkedIn's Connecting with Future Buyers: Winning Mindshare to Grow Market Share 
The Future of Customer Privacy with Google 
Take Your Webinars From Boring to Buzz-Worthy  

Inbound Session: Email Marketing Tips: Do This, Not That

Jay Schwedelson, Founder of and President/CEO Worldata Group, is a crowd favorite. His wealth of experience stems from his companies' research into millions of subject lines and open rates. He also provides a steady flow of email tips on LinkedIn and has presented at Inbound before to packed-out sessions. 

Jay's main advice is things are constantly changing, and he offered a list of what is working well on B2B email right now:

  • Animated gifs - B2B has 34% more opens based on the last 60 days.
  • Emojis on subject lines are still hot!
  • People will celebrate anything! Using celebration days is getting solid clicks.

email tips_2

Jay gave the above B2C examples but said this tactic works just as well in B2B, with "celebration-related" emails generating a 21% higher open rate than regular emails. 

Further email tactics performing well include:

  • Additional offers pique strong interest in emails confirming downloads/signups.
  • Subject lines with varieties of "a 2023 outlook." 
  • Subject line words performing well: checklist/list, free guide/report, watch now (vs. webinar or download), tomorrow, free, truth, actual, best sellers, the most popular download/report.

Jay's General Marketing Tips:

  • email tips_3Be Like Bachelor in Paradise with your landing pages!
    The producers of this show take all the losers from Bachelor and put them on an island with no computers, phones, or generally anything to do, so they will basically end up "hooking up".
    Create landing pages that do not offer anything other than a click to your offer or whatever action you want them to take—and nothing else. No nav bar at the top. No social media links at the bottom. Just the action CTA button. 
  • Stop sending emails at the hour - they get lost in the "crowd". Schedule emails to send at 2:07 pm, etc.
  • Test your emails with a cleared cache and in incognito mode for the best audit on email open time. Email redirects taking longer than 3 seconds have a 37% abandon rate.
    Jay further noted that getting that coveted first email open to a new recipient increases the chances of their email server continuing to serve your email to their inbox and not their spam filter by 85%.
  • Do not just target emails based on persona lists. The top performing segments on B2B right now include: Subscribers, Abandon Carts, Products Viewed, BDay, and VIP-related.
  • Landing pages with testimonials above the CTA get more clicks.

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Inbound Session: What's Next: The "Seller Free Economy" And the Future of Sales & Marketing As We Know It

Another crowd favorite, Marcus Sheridan, Author/Speaker/Partner of IMPACT, gave an overview of current buyer trends and how you can connect with them. Marcus also had an excellent session at Inbound 2020 on the type of content that converts - you can read our recap HERE.

Top Buyer Trends include :

1) Studies show that buyers are now 80% through the sales process before they actually talk to a sales person (Google)

2) 33% of all buyers (and 44% of millennials) would prefer to have a "seller-free" sales experience - for millennials, this is even higher (Gartner)

3) 75% of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face (McKinsey & Company)

Marcus' advice in light of the above, and based on his own experience in growing his pool installation business during the height of the 2008 recession:

  • Be willing to talk about what others do not in your space
  • Be willing to show what others do not in your space
  • Be willing to sell in a way others are not in your space

Marcus also gives tips your sales team can incorporate based on today's self-service trends:

seller free economy_1


Marcus says it is a missed opportunity if you do not give website visitors the ability to schedule time with your sales team without having to talk to anyone. (More on this in our post Using HubSpot Meeting Links to Create Calendar Magic). 

Marcus gives one outstanding example in B2C, where an appliance store takes things one step further on self-scheduling with incredible results. They offer a "Get Started" option on their website that takes buyers to the below page and provides options for which salesperson they want to schedule an appointment with. The store claims its closing rate is 62% higher, and average revenue is easily double than in situations where a buyer is randomly assigned a salesperson.

seller free economy_2


Marcus encourages marketers to give visitors the ability to make decisions by "guiding" them virtually to a conclusion. Opportunities for lead capture can evolve in this process. To build, start with the typical questions buyers ask your salespeople. Then have them "choose their own adventure" and answer a series of questions that will eventually lead them to a CTA. 


Marcus says that although it can be difficult, particularly in very competitive industries or niches, you should give visitors, at a minimum, a price range for your product or service. He claims this tactic can be a huge differentiator in your space. 

Inbound Session: LinkedIn's - Connecting with Future Buyers: Winning Mindshare to Grow Market Share

Allyson Hughley, LinkedIn's Global Director of Customer Insights, hit the main stage discussing the research LinkedIn has done into sparking interest and resonating your brand through content.

Being a Navigating Partner  

Allyson started by sharing that 72% of executives are concerned about losing their position in the next year; which makes sense that 81% of B2B C-Suite decision makers crave thought leadership that offers provocative ideas that challenge their assumptions over content that validates current thinking. Decision makers are looking for content that helps them see around new corners, tackle new problems, and help them think differently.

linkedin session_1

Staying Top of Mind 

Allyson went on to talk about the importance of memory triggers–how things like situational context helps keep brands top of mind, which is critical to retaining existing and growing future buyers. She also pointed out that B2B decisions typically involve 6-7 people, which is a lot of people you need to convince to think of you (and remember you) as a viable option and authority.

linkedin session_2

The Challenge of Gen Z    

Allyson concluded with research into Gen Z workers, who are expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.  

Allyson pointed out that Gen Z moves around WAY more than other generations, so staying in touch with them will be harder. 

linkedin session_4

She also discussed Gen Z's general makeup compared to other generations, including:

  • They research goods/services far more than others heading into sales conversations
  • They are naturally more technical
  • Have a higher aptitude for social awareness
  • View companies more holistically, creating a need for greater consistency across your messages
  • Rely heavily on employee and customer reviews  

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You Focus On Leads and Deals.


Inbound Session: The Future of Customer Privacy with Google

Parish Aggarwal, Google's Head of Ads Measurement and Privacy, led a presentation to talk about how marketers will need to change with evolving privacy regulations and restrictions.

Impacts on Digital Advertising  

Parish explained that 3rd party cookie restrictions mean you will not be able to do cross-site tracking, and you will have to rely on consent. This situation will lead to data gaps that will affect three critical areas:

1) Measurement 

Proving your effectiveness as a marketer will be at risk as you won't be able to measure how successful digital advertising is, and trackable conversions will diminish. 

2) Audience lists

Third-party data use will no longer be available for audience personalization. And first-party data will become more scarce because of the requirement for consent.

3) Automated bidding

Downstream bidding will be impacted because upstream measurement will not be available.

What Google is Doing to Help

Google is investing in:

  • First-party data tools
  • Modeling, Machine Learning, Automation, and more long-term privacy-preserving technologies such as Privacy Sandbox

How To Cultivate Privacy-safe Growth

Parish outlined three areas to focus on for privacy-safe growth.

1) Build a First-party Data Foundation 

First-party data is the data you collect directly from customers through your website or direct engagement. It is the data in your CRM, financial systems, and cost of goods or sales margin data. To create personalized experiences for customers and prospects in the future, a foundation is critical.

privacy and google_2

Many marketers know that first-party data is important, but few are doing anything to stitch data together. Parish recommended using Google's Tag Manager, where you can collect first-party data and get more observable conversions. He noted that with HubSpot's Marketing Hub, the Sitewide Tagging option lets you integrate with Google Tag Manager on all of your HubSpot-hosted pages. 

2) Measure data accurately

To sustainably collect more relevant data, Parish suggests investing in multiple technologies, increasing your modeling, and being ready to adapt. Tactically he suggested investing in:

Enhanced conversions for web
Consent mode
Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

3) Automation 

Parish said first-party data + automation = a 27% conversion increase when combined with non-last-click attribution. He talked about Google's Customer Match, a privacy-first audience solution that lets you reach and re-engage existing customers.

privacy and google_3

Customer Match uses hashed customer data to reach specific audiences across Google platforms, yielding a 2x higher click-through and 76% higher conversion rates. Parish claimed Customer Match is the privacy-first solution for a cookieless future.

Although privacy restrictions are still evolving, Parish concluded his session by saying you need to prepare to future-proof your business and take advantage of early data capture to optimize ahead of others.

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Inbound Session: Take Your Webinars From Boring to Buzz-Worthy

Cvent duo Alyssa Peltier (Sr. Manager of Market Insights) and Emily Dick (Director of Demand Generation) shared webinar tips, starting with the point we had heard several times at this year's Inbound: people are content and webinar fatigued. You really have to try new things and focus on your audience like never before to stand out.  

Put Your Audience First

The Cvent duo reminded us of some webinar basics that are all the more important now:

  • Have you clearly defined your audience?
  • Have you clarified the value prop in your messaging about the webinar?
  • Have you made it easy for people to sign up and remember to log in on the day?
  • Is the value prop real, or is it a one-hour sales pitch?
  • Is the webinar format relevant to the audience? 
  • Does the format match the topic? The listener experience for an educational forum should be different from a laid-back Q&A.  

Start With a Plan and Use Good Tools 

Avoid overcomplicated platforms, practice before going live, and ensure the platform you use can do what you need to do (show video, share graphics, etc.).

Use Graphics, Videos, and Music

Some suggested ways to engage:

  • Webinar intros
  • Countdown video concepts
  • Pre-record where possible all product demos
  • Intro/outro music for the beginning and end of the webinar and speaker intros

Interact with Your Audience

  • Ask questions
  • Conduct polls
  • Use chat
  • Hold a contest

Repurpose Your Content

  • Post webinar recording on your website as on-demand content
  • Post recording on YouTube
  • Create a highlight reel
  • Create mini-clips from the recording 10-60 seconds for social
  • Create gifs from the webinar recording and embed them in post-webinar emails
  • Transcribe recording for blog content

Newly Announced HubSpot Features at Inbound22

Our co-founder Kelsey Galarza held a webinar last week giving a deep dive into the newly announced features as HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs can use them. For each feature, you'll learn:

  • What it is
  • What it does
  • Why should you care?
  • What are the gotchas?
  • How do you get/find them

Download the recording to catch her tips and start using the latest and greatest HubSpot tools!

inbound22 summary