Inbound Marketing Madness: Highlights from HubSpot’s Inbound 2014

HubSpotI don’t think I’ve ever taken off three days from work to attend a conference. But last week I did just that, heading down to Boston’s Seaport District for Inbound 2014.

Inbound is run by HubSpot, arguably the coolest company operating out of Greater Boston these days. HubSpot has been built on the notion that you land and retain customers not by selling to them, but by helping them. I’ve seen that first hand. Over the past few years, I’ve downloaded a couple dozen pieces from HubSpot (e.g. on creating great landing pages or writing better emails) that have helped me do my job better.

Since we’ve been considering using HubSpot at The Hired Pens, I thought it would be fun to check out Inbound. I’m glad I did. Here are a few takeaways from the sessions I attended (all summaries are paraphrased versions of the speakers’ words).

Melissa Abreu (HubSpot) on what content marketing is all about:
Content marketing is creating and sharing content to acquire and retain customers — it’s the backbone of inbound marketing. Before creating a piece of content, ask: Who’s your target audience? What are their biggest concerns? Does your offer solve those concerns? What are your goals for this content (e.g. more traffic, more leads)?

Jason Miller (LinkedIn) on creating relevant content:
The key to better marketing is relevance. By empathizing with your prospects and customers, you can create content that addresses their pain points. How do you know if you’re producing relevant content? You receive more referral traffic, increase social engagement and get higher-quality leads.

Rand Fishkin (Moz) on achieving content greatness:
Great content is: 1) unique (doesn’t appear elsewhere), 2) relevant (seen by search engines as on-topic and reflecting searchers’ intent), 3) helpful (resolves the searcher’s query in an efficient manner), 4) uniquely valuable (provides useful information that’s hard to find anywhere else).

Marcus Sheridan (The Sales Lion) on the role of the content marketer:
You must be tapped into your prospects’ needs. Focus on listening, teaching, helping, solving their problems — that’s content marketing. The end goal of content marketing is to engender more trust than anyone else in your space.

Chris Brogan (Owner Media Group) on the shortfalls of storytelling:
Storytelling isn’t enough anymore. It’s like worms with no fish hooks. You need content that helps customers do something purposeful. Equip your buyer to succeed in something. Solve problems, provide recipes, encourage them to take actions that make everyone’s lives better.

John Bonini (Impact Branding) on balancing quantity with quality:
I don’t believe in content saturation. You can’t just blog, tweet and put out e-books all the time. You have to commit to quantity and quality. That’s what inbound marketing is built upon. Focus on building a high-quality content strategy.

Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) on the importance of promoting your content:
You have to have the time and resources to promote the content you create. Twenty-seven million pieces of content are shared every day. If you don’t promote your content, there’s a high chance that no one will show up to see it.

Danny Sullivan (Marketing Land) on the right way to approach SEO:
Don’t get lost in doing the SEO tactics. Think about the users first. SEO’s purpose is to optimize content for human users. Try to earn links to your content because it’s good — not to get links for the sake of it. The more you do SEO just to do SEO, the less effective your SEO may be.

Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot co-founder) on creating leverage with inbound marketing:
Traditional marketing is an arms race for attention, and someone else is always willing to pay more than you. You need leverage — bigger results for less money — to drive growth. Inbound marketing gives you that leverage. You can’t outspend the giants, but you can out-think, out-teach and out-help them.

Did you attend Inbound 2014? Share your top takeaways below.

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