What a whirlwind it was! Mark, Tabitha, Erin, Aaron and I spent last week in Boston at the annual INBOUND conference by HubSpot. This is a solid four days of inspiration, ideas, new product announcements, networking, food truck lunch selections, and miles and miles of walking. We'd like to share with you some of the biggest takeaways and how you and put them into action for your business. As a quick overview, here are the biggest themes and takeaways:
- Video, video, video.
- 1 to 1 messaging for the win.
- Stop disrupting. Cause less friction.
- Customer service as part of your sales & marketing team
- Culture matters.
Use Video. Start Now. You Won't Regret it.
This probably isn't new news... but we all need more video in our marketing.
A lot of people get scared because they're used to video costing thousands upon thousands of dollars. It can. But it doesn't have to. Your potential customer has questions, what can you do to answer them in video format?
There are about a hundred ways to do this, from low production to high end. But seriously, you have to start somewhere.
Action Item #1: Get started with a simple video. Here are some steps you can follow
- If you have an iPhone X or better, your phone can handle the video quality. Try to get a tripod versus someone holding it.
- You'll need a microphone because the phone's mic will be too far from your face. This is the one we use here at 30 Degrees North for videos we produce.
- Make sure you have a decent background with lighting on the front of your face or overhead lighting.
- Have a plan for what you need to say in the video.
- Choose a person who won't freak out in front of the camera to do the talking. Some people just have a knack at it!
- Use a simple editing tools to add your logo and web address at the end if this version will be on YouTube. We have some suggestions in our blog about videos and how to edit them. If you're feeling fancy you can use some royalty free music along with the person talking.
2. Chat Bots and Live Chat - People Want 1 to 1 Messaging
Mark picked up on a quote in one of our sessions about AI that said:
"79% of people are willing to use messaging to talk to a business. 82% expect an immediate response. Only 36% of businesses use messaging. We need to listen to our customers and talk to our buyers and customers now. "
That means that people on your website right this minute have questions they'd like answered right now. If you don't have an option available to them, they're going to bounce off your site and keep looking until they find the company that has what they're looking for. Don't encourage visitors to leave.
Some people worry that they don't have people to staff the live chat questions. Find people. It's that important. In our office we allow it to bounce around to whomever is around. And when we're all out, we turn it off with a simple click.
Action Item #2: The HubSpot Freemium software allows you to use some levels of live chat and the chat bot. It's awesome when they work together. For some people they want to direct the visitor to sales or customer service, depending on their need. A bot is great at getting things started and then turning your visitor over to a live person who can give an answer. Give it a try. Seriously, what is there to lose other than leads from visitors your website?
We also have a blog about how artificial intelligence (like chatbots) can help you with sales and customer service, if you'd like to read more.
3. Stop Disrupting. Cause Less Friction.
Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot, gave a presentation about how life has really changed with the way people interact with companies, and the way they buy. Take the mattress industry as an example. Casper, Purple, Nectar and others like them have started to take over the mattress industry because people buying a new mattress know they're doing it risk-free, and in most cases for less money than going the traditional route. They don't have any thing to lose. (Catching this theme here?)
Action Item #3: So what can you do to take the friction out of your buying process and keep people around?
- Add a pricing page on your website. Make it easier for people to know what they should expect.
- Make it easier for people to talk to you. We already mentioned live chat. ☝️
- Reduce the amount of time it takes to give an answer. Time is friction. You have five minutes or less from the time someone interacts with you before you lose their attention.
- Reduce the risk that the customer by choosing you. Free returns, guarantees, etc.
4. Make Customer Service an Active Part of Your Sales & Marketing Team
Have you heard about the marketing flywheel? It replaces the sales funnel. And that's because there are several groups of people within an organization that are all surrounding the customer and their experience. You can read more about this in our blog: The Marketing Flywheel Model:Turning Customers into Business Drivers.
- Marketing -- supports by producing qualified leads and re-engaging existing customers
- Sales -- closes deals and makes the process easy
- Customer service -- addresses questions and solves problems after the product or service has been purchased. It's often this group that will have an impact on whether your customers refer, give a positive review online, or buy more products and services from your company.
5. Culture in Your Company Will Drive How You Sell
I attended several sessions that talked about your company culture. Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and general session speaker interviewed by Shark Tank's Damian John, spent quite a bit of time on how important it is, as the employers of our country, to stay focused on the family. That's right up our alley!
Ohanian encourages extended leave for new parents – men and women – so they can stay focused and bond with their new family members without worrying about whether they'll have a job. This is just one aspect of company culture that was addressed.
I also listened to several agency owners discuss the need for a core set of values and a direction that includes the employees as part of the culture building process. Culture is more than a company event now and then. It's your way of life at work.
Some agencies on the panel are highly focused on family like Alexis, others seek quality for all, some companies really have a focus on giving back in their communities.
Action Item #5: As a leader, define the values. If they're ambivalent they will inevitably develop on their own and may not be what you'd hoped for.
More Learning: Developer Day at the Inbound Office
As a business owner or department manager, write down your company or your team's values. Then discuss, share and do things that will help you show others that these things are important to you.
On top of all of this, Aaron spent a whole day with the HubSpot development team learning about the HubSpot content management system changes, improvements and upcoming features. He is our code ninja who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make our clients' websites work the way they should.
This was a great opportunity for him and Mark to meet and interact with the actual HubSpot CMS developers. They were able to give feedback and ask questions. Plus... Mark got to wear his new socks to the developer day event!
We wish everyone could go and breathe in the INBOUND experience for themselves, but for now we'll just have to leave you with our best ideas gleaned from the conference and a few fun photos!
If you have questions about how to do any of the things we learned about, please let us know. We're happy to schedule a time to talk!