I felt overwhelmed — in a good way. Nearly 25,000 sales and marketing professionals from around the world and from every imaginable industry gathered at Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center for the annual INBOUND conference, and I was among them.
There were several compelling and downright inspirational keynote presentations and hundreds of educational sessions offered to those in attendance. As a content creator, I scoured the list for breakout sessions that might help me hone my craft and give insights into trends and the most effective ways to communicate with prospects and clients in an ever-changing marketing landscape. Here are just a few of my top content-related takeaways from INBOUND 2018.
Video for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
By now, we’ve all heard that video is the preferred method of communication for most people — at home and business. It can tell a story, demonstrate features, draw viewers in and even offer one-to-one communication.
New on the scene for HubSpot is the ability to host, create and manage video within the platform, making it possible to use video during each phase of the buyer’s journey. CTAs and forms can be inserted into videos to eliminate extra steps and eliminate “friction” (a major theme at INBOUND this year), and workflows can be triggered to continue nurturing leads.
Personalized video was also a major focus, especially for sales follow-up in the form of video voicemails. We’ve likely all felt the uncertainty of leaving voicemails for prospects, wondering if they received them and their levels of engagement. With video voicemails that are sent through email, you’ll stand out from the competition, and you can view analytics to see how the recipient engaged with your content.
More Video Insights
When you can’t meet in person, set up video meetings with prospects instead of phone calls. Showing faces humanizes your brand and earns you trust.
Use video in sales proposals. This is especially important if you’re sharing the vision of a partnership with someone who isn’t the ultimate decision maker. You can be certain that everything is communicated clearly rather than relying on your main point of contact to convey your message to the C-Suite.
Don’t feel like you need to be a Hollywood producer to create effective content. When sending personal communication, a simple web-cam or smartphone video comes across as more natural and can help build trust.
Bonus Tip: When sending personal videos, greet your recipient and hold up a piece of paper or whiteboard with his or her name on it. Then, make sure it appears as the preview image. Personalized video shows that you’ve made an effort to directly communicate with prospects rather than leaving them thinking you’ve simply copied and pasted a generic video into email.
Optimizing Blog Posts
Yes, video is definitely a major focus these days, but the written word still has its rightful place. If you’ve accumulated a vast blog content library, it can be difficult to come up with new topics.
Optimizing your blog content isn’t just a way to alleviate the pressure of filling in your content calendar with interesting topics; it can help drive traffic to your website and generate more qualified leads.
One presenter shared how she conducted a test and used optimized blogs for an entire month. That’s right, no “new-from-scratch” blogs were written for 30 days. Instead, older blogs were updated and refreshed to give them new life. Blogs were chosen based on high views and conversion rates, whether they had first-page rankings, and good keyword search volume. Others were chosen because they needed to be updated with new data or statistics.
The results? Organic traffic tripled and blog views increased more than 400% over the next year. Now, half of all the presenter’s blog posts are optimized, minimizing the strain of having to create entirely new content every time.
When optimizing, consider the following:
- Refresh the CTAs, links, images and any statistics.
- Review whether the voice or tone is still appropriate.
- Conduct research to determine whether higher volume keywords should be included.
- Republish the blog rather than just hitting “update.” This way it will appear with a new publish date and subscribers will be notified.
- Look at blogs with similar themes that could be merged to create long-form content. Blogs with 1,500–2,000 words are trending upward.
- Develop a distribution checklist to ensure your optimized blogs are being promoted in multiple channels.
Bonus Tip: In general, you probably want to wait about six months before optimizing a blog. Feel free to update the title and meta description. If you update the URL, be sure to use a redirect from the old link so as not to lose any existing traction and negatively impact SEO.
Creating Engaging Emails
Email remains a major lead generation tactic, and the most important element of any email is its subject line. It can determine whether your email ever gets opened.
How long should a subject line be? One presenter shared about a study indicating that a typical subject line contains seven words. However, using four words in a subject line got more people to open the email.
Additional email tips:
- While everyone is emphasizing personalization, this presenter suggested that personalizing an email with a recipient’s name didn’t necessarily improve engagement. Consumers have become more savvy and understand that it’s simply generated from a CRM. Everyone is doing it, so it doesn’t feel special. Still, when possible, including a recipient’s name should be considered a best practice
- As previously mentioned, using video compels people to open and view it. People are more willing to watch a two-minute video than read that same message in an email
- In general, refrain from using emojis in your subject line unless it’s highly relevant and isn’t overly used
- Use images in your emails to break up text
Bonus Tip: Don’t make every email a sales pitch. Be ok with sending “just because” emails that don’t ask for something. Perhaps send a happy birthday email, congratulate someone on a company milestone (e.g., significant anniversary, award, etc.), or acknowledge when a client has been with your company for a year.
What makes me feel good about a lot of the insights shared at INBOUND is that we’re already implementing many of those strategies here at our agency to help drive growth for clients. We’re always eager to step up our game, however, and hearing from industry thought leaders about new technologies and trends on the horizon helps us ensure we stay on track and can leverage those insights moving forward.
These takeaways are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on about all I gleaned from the sessions I attended at INBOUND, but we’ll spare you the ultimate long-form post and share some of those insights in future posts.