HubSpot Inbound 2018: Top Takeaways

HubSpot Inbound 2018 was a whirlwind of neon lights, celebrity speakers, and valuable digital marketing insights. Now that we’ve all had some time to digest the various sessions we attended, I’ve put together our biggest takeaways from HubSpot Inbound 2018:

Marketing and sales need to be better friends

marketing is such a good friend to sales

Across keynotes, breakout sessions, when speaking to vendors and other Inbound attendees, this was the biggest deal. Marketing and sales need to be better friends to one another. They need to care about one another and check-in regularly.

Organizations fail when the handoff between marketing and sales is broken. It’s the same old story, but it’s still true. Without good communication between the two sides, marketing will bring in the wrong leads and sales won’t follow up on what marketing thinks are good leads. Opportunities will get missed, and neither side will learn how to improve. You’ll be stuck in a bad lead rut and be perpetually mad at one another.

So here’s your homework.

Marketing teams:

Rely on sales to find out more about your customers and prospects. Sit in on sales calls. Interview sales reps. Get to know the sales side better.

Sales teams:

Report back to marketing on the leads you’re seeing. How is the lead quality? Right company, wrong title? Are there certain titles you need to see?

This type of communication between sales and marketing is more crucial than ever before. As ABM methodologies become the standard in digital marketing, the two departments are more intertwined than ever before.

Tech isn’t everything

Preppy Christian Bale from American Psycho doesn't care about the martech stack

Say it with me: you are not your tech stack. You are not beholden to it. It services you and your team.

I brought this up in my previous blog post around digital transformation in marketing inspired by Beth Comstock’s keynote. And it became a theme through a few other Inbound presentations.

No, we can’t let technology rule us. We rule the technology. And we need to be adaptable in our approach to adopting it.

We also need to seriously think about the way we’re adopting new tools. In the Q&A after Gray Mackenzie’s session “Sales Sequencing Secrets to Help You Close More Deals, Faster”, he made a great point. Too often, we have a problem and then we find a tool to fix the problem.

Instead, when we encounter a problem we should create a model for ourselves of what a perfect solution should look like. Then, we should go out and find the software that provides that specific solution we’re looking for. This helps eliminate us becoming pigeon-holed by the software we’ve chosen. We’re putting more thought into what we need, as opposed to being reactionary.

After all, I’m sure we have a lot of software in our tech stack that was purchased based on a reaction rather than actual need. Thinking about what we need first helps eliminate that going forward.

Not everything has a best practice—and that’s fine

ross is fine with not having digital marketing best practices

I’m sure everyone at Inbound wanted to walk away with a new checklist of best practices to use across their marketing campaigns. They wanted that “one weird trick” that could unlock untapped ROI.

The reality?

There is no best practice for something that requires a judgment call. At the end of so many sessions, people asked for a clearer guideline. Surely there has to be a principle they can easily apply to make everything simpler.

The most popular answer across the board was “it depends.” And we need to get used to that, and accept it.

What works for one website won’t work for another. What is successful in one PPC campaign will fail in another. There is no hard and fast rule to so much of the nitty gritty. And that’s OK.

What it means for marketers is that we need to be more proactive in testing our methods. We can’t assume we know best just because it worked once. We need to put our theory to the test. And even if it fails a second time, we need to ask ourselves why it failed. Maybe there isn’t a simple best practice we can follow, but we can create a rubric for ourselves based on what we’ve done in the past.

Unfortunately for us, there isn’t a single speaker at HubSpot Inbound who can give us the secret that will work exactly for our clients or industry. It’s up to us. That’s daunting and exciting. We get to make the rules as long as we actually move forward with the testing and implementation we want to do.

And that really is the biggest takeaway I had at HubSpot Inbound 2018:

You get nowhere without executing

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

well obviously marketing execution is important

Of course you can’t get better results from your takeaways if you don’t implement anything. It’s common sense. You need to move forward and do things to make progress.

But now let’s think about all of the ideas we’ve had that we put on hold for whatever reason. Is it still on hold? Did a new, shiny object catch your eye? And is that on hold now, too?

Getting the approval necessary to move forward with a new idea can be a pain. It can take time. But start with the ideas that don’t require approval. Move forward with that idea you had for testing a new strategy within an existing campaign. A/B test a landing page you’ve been wanting to test. Optimize for a certain keyword you have a hunch about.

The important part is just doing the work and not making excuses as to why it didn’t happen. We all fall into this trap. And after one week at HubSpot Inbound, it became clear that to get ahead, you need to act. You need to try new things. If you don’t, your competition will.

Harry Potter says that's a promise

Missing sales and marketing alignment or a testing methodology in your own inbound strategy? Reach out. We’d love to chat.