Last week, 5,300 marketers descended on Boston for Inbound13 – HubSpot’s annual four-day extravaganza designed to further the momentum of the Inbound Marketing movement. And what a movement it is as the cavernous spaces of the Hynes Convention Center – all 267,000 square feet of it – was not enough to accommodate all who arrived to absorb Inbound methodology. The growth in attendance – last year’s head count was around 3,000 – and the keynoters who graced the stage – most notably Seth Godin, Arianna Huffington and Nate Silver – signaled just how much momentum is building in the Inbound space.
I’ve been attending Inbound events for the last four years and witnessed a discernible shift from a focus on the tools and tactics – the raw execution of Inbound – to more of a balanced approach to Inbound that relies on its practitioners to embrace a new mindset for how they attract new customers and deliver for their companies, or in the case of Inbound marketing service providers – their clients. There was general agreement that change was underfoot and Marcus Sheridan provided good insight on this in a great post earlier this week. (Full disclosure: I am the VP of Business Development at The Sales Lion and we are a Gold HubSpot Partner – but I would freely share his content regardless of where I worked!)
The new mindset or movement, or as HubSpot lays it out in the screen shot below – the new methodology – is driven by a greater focus on the holistic Inbound process and less on the tools.
This doesn’t mean that the tools are less important now and it was obvious that this wasn’t the case based on the new functionality HubSpot rolled out at Inbound13 (more on that below). What crystallized the movement’s essence for me was the framework for delivering Inbound results that is prevalent in everything HubSpot does. This framework has value for both HubSpot users and non-users alike because it lays out the Inbound process in a way marketers can use to ensure they’re covering all essential steps in their inbound execution. HubSpot’s focus is to make it easier for marketers by including all the tools and reporting in one application.
I like to show potential clients this framework because it clearly demonstrates that there is a definitive process to the successful execution of inbound marketing. This also helps in setting realistic expectations for both the resource investment and the timing of the return on investment, which are respectively, significant and not immediate.
A whole bunch of new tools and functionality were introduced last week but one in particular stood out because it will have huge impact on one of the key requirements to successful inbound marketing – relevancy of content. HubSpot introduced their new Content Optimization System (COS – as opposed to a Content Management System – CMS). The look and feel of what users can create when their site lives on the new COS is more WordPress-like which addresses a common complaint about design limitations from current users. But the real juice is in the new COS’s ability to serve up variable content based on who’s visiting the site. By segmenting visitors to your site into categories, you can use Smart Content to serve up an experience that is more tailored to the visitor’s needs. Below is a simple example of this experience from my visit to HubSpot’s site today:
The two red arrows show that HubSpot is using data from a previously completed landing page form and the fact that I am a current user of the software. This is a pretty basic example but it demonstrates the functionality. What will this type of experience be like for your visitors if you increase the amount of relevant content they see with each visit? It does require the creation of additional content to serve up to your various segments, but the payoff should be found in more efficient movement through the four stages of the Inbound Methodology.
Does your company utilize an Inbound methodology like the one HubSpot promotes? Are you finding success with this methodology? Does your company embrace Inbound and the commitment necessary for success?
I’d love to hear from you on this!