24,000 digital marketers usually pile on Boston each Fall to get their INBOUND on. In normal circumstances, this in-person mega-conference, located near the HubSpot headquarters, is the go-to event for anyone who is serious about digital and inbound marketing. Ironmark Digital Marketing has represented at INBOUND since 2016.

This year, the conference was virtual which had its pros and cons. But a huge PRO was that the entire Ironmark digital marketing could attend. Each team member took great notes, and shared their favorite session in this compilation of trends and learnings.

So here they are, our team’s top picks of over 250 fantastic sessions:

Megan’s Pick: Advanced LinkedIn Ads

Presenter:  AJ Wilcox, B2Linked

Leveraging LinkedIn ads for your business or clients may come with a lot of trials and tribulations as you figure out the right approach to get the most bang for your buck. Seeing what works and what doesn’t is a long process, but we have the inside scoop from AJ Wilcox, a LinkedIn Advertising Consultant/Evangelist. 

It starts by discussing the best reason to use LinkedIn ads: the targeting. You are able to get specific with your audience by targeting job functions, as LinkedIn only understands about one-third of job titles. Creating the right targeting is pertinent to the success of your campaigns. 

Pro Tip: Disable audience expansion on all of your ads to make the most of your custom-built target audience. 

Lead generation forms are the way to go when starting out with LinkedIn ads, and they will get you a 10-15% higher conversion rate than sending users to a landing page - which makes sense, it’s less work for the users to do when you’re sending them your ads.

“This session was so interesting, and provided great tips for how to get the most bang for our clients’ buck!” 

-Megan, Digital Marketing Strategist

Juliet’s Pick: The End of Technical SEO: Google AI

Presenter: Dale Bertrand, Fire&Spark

As marketers, we know the goal of SEO is to build organic visibility that gets us in front of the right customer and accelerates their path to purchase. It’s time to transform our way of thinking. We need to stop thinking of Google as an algorithm and think of it like a human, because that’s what Google is doing for us. Google’s algorithms are changing, using actual humans for training data to make sure they’re providing the best information to consumers. Because Google is optimizing for humans and not search engines, we as marketers need to start doing the same if we want to beat the competition.

This is really what stuck out - SEO strategy needs a mission, meaning:

  • Go beyond keyword targeting.
  • Create content that connects to the audience.
  • Partner with like-minded individuals.
  • Outreach to promote mission, not content.
  • Do good in the world.

“This was an eye-opener, because it seems like we’re always drilling in how healthy the technical parts of the website are. We’re trying to ensure our H1’s make sense and match the keywords we’re aiming for. Understanding that Google is grading our website by how humans would search makes absolute sense! We NEED to optimize for humans, NOT the search engines. This was so helpful for moving forward with tactics for our clients”

-Juliet, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Chris’ Pick: Creating a World-Class Business YouTube Channel (and Actually Generating Leads)

Presenter: Zach Basner, IMPACT

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine, only surpassed by Google? It’s both a social platform for engagement and a search engine, which makes it the perfect platform to become a visual educator for your business and your clients. There was a survey conducted of over 20,000 responders, which concluded that 90% of consumers discovered a new product or brand while on YouTube. What a lead generation gold mine!

When leveraging YouTube in your marketing strategy you should be utilizing the CAM formula:

  • CREATE the RIGHT content.
  • ATTRACT the RIGHT viewer.
  • MOVE them from YouTube to conversion on your site.

Creating and keeping up with video content may seem like a difficult task, but these days, with all of the technology at our fingertips, video content is easy! It doesn’t always have to be lengthy and planned out (user generated content will do just as well in attracting prospects), but it is important to create as much content as possible! You only need to post one time a week to be favorable for the YouTube algorithm. 

“YouTube is so underrated by many of our clients and prospective clients - but the reality is that it’s the second largest search engine, and is a critical channel that needs to be included in every marketing strategy.”

-Chris McCready, Account Director, Ironmark

Reid’s Pick: Togetherness: Aligning Sales and Marketing to Accelerate Growth 

Presenter: Jeff Davis, JD2 Consulting

There are telltale signs that your marketing and sales teams are not aligned: poor quality leads, different goals, lack of tribal knowledge, and dysfunctional relationships between your two teams. To get your teams aligned, you need to focus on efficiency, not numbers. It’s true that 80% of marketing leads are wasted due to incohesion between your marketing and sales teams. Aligning your two teams to have one goal can be a long process, but once you’ve got your plan and everyone is sticking to it, you will see a boost in your overall results.

These are the seven steps to alignment transformation:

  1. Assess your misalignment.
  2. Quantify the impact of the misalignment 
  3. Create a growth model for marketing and sales revenue and aligned teams.
  4. Secure sponsorship from your CEO or the head of your business.
  5. Share your data and develop a single view of the buyer.
  6. Develop a process to build out an aligned lead-to-revenue process.
  7. Collaborate.

You must keep in mind that the customer experience is more important than ever before, and take that into consideration when building your alignment transformation plan.

“I liked this segment a lot, because it helped to elaborate not only on what can be done specifically in HubSpot to help a company succeed, but also provided insightful suggestions on how to improve general alignment between the two teams. This is going to be applicable to clients now and in the future.”

-Reid Broendel, Digital Marketing Account Coordinator, Ironmark


Lynne’s Pick: Critical Email Marketing Techniques to Crush the Competition 

Presenter: Jay Schwedelson, World Data

Crushing the competition through email marketing is more than a perfectly proofed and strategically sent email. Emails need to be eye-catching to your consumers, which can mean using misspelled subject lines, no preview text, and incorporating emojis (Yes I said it, misspelled subject lines). 

Inbox activity is currently up 22% since January of 2020. Because of the pandemic, people are spending more time in their inboxes (and online in general). To dive deeper into that number, since January, B2B open rates have increased by 16% and B2C open rates have increased by 25%.

“Email is still one of the greatest tools we have as marketers. Yet we seldom look and experiment with what’s working, especially during trying times like these. Jay Schedelson of World Data hit it out of the park with this fast-paced, jam-packed session that gave attendees 30+ actionable tips and tactics we can use in our email marketing today. And he followed up with a calendar of the best dates to send email for B2B and B2C.” 

-Lynne Kingsley, VP of Marketing and Strategic Services, Ironmark

Blake’s Pick: Maximizing Google Analytics 

Presenter: Karen Hopper, M+R

Let’s dive into how you can supercharge your audience insights using Google Analytics. Supercharging your audience insights is easy, and can be done using the segmentation of Google Analytics. It’s important to remember that segments are not buyer personas, but segments can help build personas and give you insights into what caused a certain behavior. The most useful segments are defined by behavior, or can help us understand why someone may have made a certain choice. Here are the different types of information you can create segments on:

  • Demographics.
  • Technology.
  • Behavior (events, sections, products).
  • Traffic sources (organic, email, direct).
  • E-commerce and purchase details.
  • Sequences.

You’ve now gathered insightful information, and may be wondering what to do with it. It’s time to develop a hypothesis - think 8th grade science class. In developing your hypothesis, think about why these differences are occurring through each demographic or different device. 

“As an analytical geek, the session gave me actionable insights to apply to my clients’ accounts, right then and there, for more accurate reporting to drive optimizations.”

-Blake Leppert, Digital Marketing Account Manager, Ironmark


Sam’s Pick: How to Build a Kick-Ass Lead Nurturing System in HubSpot

Presenter: Emily Morgan, HubSpot

Think of a workflow as a houseplant - it’s something you need to keep maintaining over time. Email workflows can be used to control what you want to send to people, and you have to make sure your workflows aren’t being “overwatered.” This means making sure that no one else is sending emails that are interfering with your strategically set-up email chains. That doesn’t mean you can’t connect multiple workflows - once one workflow is completed, it’s okay to have your lead nurtured by another. 

The most important piece of the workflow is your first email. It needs to be engaging and personalized to capture your readers’ attention, because people are more likely to see the value of what you're offering when the marketing and sales experience is unique to them. There are key moments for lead nurturing that begin with a first-time conversion or a blog subscription. You must define data points for categorization within your contacts by determining which property you will use to mark which category a contact fits into.

“Workflows are cool, because they’re a web of emails and triggers that will do the work for you if they’re set up properly. Lead nurturing is what brings in sales, and in a B2B space, bringing in sales is the ultimate goal. It all comes down to smart content and a smart strategy.”

-Samantha Philipson, Marketing Associate, Ironmark

As a team, we wanted to say thank you to HubSpot for transforming INBOUND into a virtual event and providing stellar sessions.

If you want to learn more of what we learned over the years about inbound marketing, or just need a digital marketing health check, contact our experts at Ironmark for a chat. We love all things digital marketing, and are always here to spread our learned knowledge!

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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