We just wrapped up one of the biggest conferences in digital marketing: HubSpot’s Inbound 2021. If you didn’t attend, there’s a lot to catch up on. The full conference was three days, jam-packed with sessions on all things marketing, sales, and everything in between. It’s impossible to list everything we learned in just one post. But if we had to sum it up in three simple bullet points, here are the main messages that caught our attention:
- It’s all about the customer.
- You’ve got to know your audience.
- Content and community go hand and hand.
With these three truths in mind, let’s recap some of the newest product updates, best sessions, and biggest takeaways from Inbound 2021.
HubSpot Product Announcements at Inbound
As always, Inbound 2021 kicked off with the HubSpot Spotlight, packed full of the latest improved product offerings from the CRM platform. Every update tied back to the central message of the conference: focusing on the customer and their success to meet business goals.
Watch the full HubSpot Spotlight here:
Don’t have time to watch the whole session? We’ve outlined the main highlights below:
Marketing Hub Sandboxes
As marketers, we’re always looking for and testing new ways to grow. HubSpot’s Sandboxes allow you to brainstorm new ideas, explore new features, test new workflows, all while not making any changes to your live site. Your changes are made in a “sandbox” copy of your site, that allows you to test anything you want, all in the background.
Sales Hub Payments
In an effort to make the customer experience more connected, HubSpot is launching the long-awaited payments feature. Instead of having to point customers to a different tool outside of your CRM, you can now collect payments directly within HubSpot. This feature streamlines the customer experience, creating a more seamless and delightful purchase process for both customers and internal teams. The feature is currently in beta, but you can sign up to get notified once it goes live.
Sales Hub Deal Splits
HubSpot is making forecasting easier for sales leaders with the deal splits feature. Now, if multiple reps are involved in one specific deal, revenue can be split to share percentages of a deal’s amount with up to five users. This feature can provide better insight into how well your reps are working together while helping to improve team collaboration right within HubSpot.
Operations Hub Enterprise
Providing a friction-free customer experience starts with internal alignment across departments. HubSpot launched Starter and Professional versions of its Ops Hub earlier this year, with a goal to provide Operations Teams with a more consistent and clear view of data and reporting across all business processes. Now, it’s expanding to Operations Hub Enterprise, which will include business intelligence features called data sets, and more robust data sync integration tools to provide consistent and accurate reporting.
Custom Behavior Events
You can now track custom behavioral events unique to your own business. Manually set goals based on specific elements that you create. For instance, track whether a user clicked a specific button, highlighted text, or scrolled to a certain amount on a page. Custom behavior events allow you to set real soft-level goals that gauge how engaged someone might be before they go on to convert. This allows you to look at campaign metrics and goals on a more holistic level and better analyze the key indicators of their success.
Custom Report Builder
Recognizing that data is everything in the business world, HubSpot introduced custom reports, giving more flexibility in analyzing objects and activities across the buyer’s journey. Create reports based on your own key performance indicators, and save them to your reports lists, a dashboard, or export them to a spreadsheet.
Top Inbound Sessions & Takeaways
So what else stood out? If you registered for Inbound but didn’t have time to attend, you have a whole on-demand library of content to catch up on. Here are some of our favorite sessions to help give you an idea of where to start.
With: Tony Verre
Take a deep dive into the evolution of SEO strategies and what best practices you can start implementing today to beat Google’s latest algorithm trends. Tony Verre, VP of eCommerce at the Integer Group walks you through this important lesson on user-centered SEO.
Key Takeaways: Keyword SEO is vanishing. The best SEO strategy prioritizes content that focuses on the user’s needs and how products or services can solve customer pain points. Equally important is providing the user with a fast intuitive experience to solve user challenges while reaching their goals.
Tony stresses the importance of creating solid and sound customer marketing personas. This should be the basis of any SEO strategy. From here, he teaches us how to create Search Need States, which is a method of mapping the needs, behaviors, and intent of consumers searching for a product or service. By understanding where they’re searching, how they’re searching, and what they are looking for, you’ll have a better chance of creating content that reaches customers with the right information.
With: Jay Schwedelson, Worldata
This is a must-attend session for anyone that does any kind of email marketing. You’ll leave with a whole toolbox of tricks that you can start implementing right away. Jay Schwedelson, the President and CEO of Worldata, uses data to back up every single one of the tips he recommends.
Key Takeaways: Jay stresses that true email marketing success comes from trying or testing a series of little things to come up with that secret sauce. We definitely recommend attending this session for yourself, but here’s a highlight of some of the must-try tactics:
Use personal names instead of brand names: Big brands are now using names instead of brands as the from address when sending out promotional emails. Data proves that this increases open rates anywhere from 27 to 38%. But take this with a grain of salt. Data also shows that it increases unsubscribe rates.
Use symbols in subject lines: Every time you send an email, you have to ask yourself, “What do I have to do to get my email opened before that other email that just went out at the same time.” This is where symbols in subject lines come in. Data shows that you can increase open rates anywhere between 18-27% by simply adding either parentheses, brackets, or asterisks.
Mistake emails get opened more than any other email: People love to delight in another person’s mistake. Let’s be honest, when you see an “Oops” subject line, doesn’t it make you want to open that email. Data proves it does. Subject lines with “Oops,” “Uhoh,” and “Yikes” increase open rates between 29-37%.
Comparison emails: Data shows that by simply adding in a “vs.” to a subject line, you can increase open rates anywhere between 21-22%.
Tracking open rates with iOS 15: This is a hot topic among marketers in general. With the introduction of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, many email marketers are scratching their hands, trying to develop new ways to report on the success of their email campaigns. Jay outlines a way to track estimated open rates accurately. It’s as simple as taking your database, dividing it into two groups: Apple Mail Users and Non-Apple Mail Users. Discount the Apple users, and you’ll have an accurate representation of your average email open rate. Sounds like a lot of work? He also suggests using the What’s My Open Rate free calculator, which does it all for you.
With: Tyler Lessard, Vidyard
Here’s a must-watch for those sales professionals looking to maximize their success with video. Tyler Lessard of Vidyard starts this session by proving the power video can have in the sales process:
- 72% of sellers report seeing higher response rates when using video.
- 48% of sellers reported shorter deal cycles.
- 53% of sales reps report higher close rates.
- 59% of reps report an increase in productivity.
Key Takeaways: When using video, think beyond prospecting. Videos can be even more impactful at other stages in the sales process. Consider these strategies:
- Sending a video before or after a meeting.
- Using video in other parts of the sales process where you can show, not tell.
- Level up and personalize sales proposals with video.
Tyler also ties in some insights for marketing teams who might be struggling with their own video marketing strategy. He stresses that you don’t have to be a robust and powerful marketing team to capitalize on the benefits of video. How can a small team create an efficient video marketing strategy?
First - Embrace video creation as a core competency of your marketing team. Not all video has to be outsourced. If you don’t have a video resource on your marketing team, you need one. And if you can’t afford to hire one, maybe it’s time to invest in educating your current team or educating yourself.
Second - Change your perspective on what video means. In today’s world, videos are an amazing way to communicate key messages to customers or prospects and show rather than tell. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. The majority of what you should be making as a team are thoughtful, educational videos that use simple visuals. This very authentic type of content often performs better than overly produced drone-style videos.
Sure, we all miss the in-person excitement of the Inbound experience. But perhaps one of the biggest benefits of having it be virtual is you have a whole library of content to sift through on your own time. Understanding this might be a little overwhelming, we recommend starting with some of the sessions listed above.
Finally, don’t miss out on next year’s Inbound experience. Bookmark this page to keep up to date on the latest conference announcements and news. And maybe we’ll see you (in-person) in 2022!