14,000 marketers, over 250 speakers, 4 days, Inbound 2015 was crazy. You can get a little taste of what I mean from the above picture. HubSpot, like their annual conference has grown exponentially every years. In 2013 there was a mere 5,000 marketers. This was my first time to Inbound, so it was all new to me.
I’d like to share with you my 7 takeaways from the conference:
1) Inbound is huge
Before this year’s conference, I had no idea just how huge Inbound, not just the conference but the practice, is getting.
There is a good and a not as good side to this.
The good side is that one of the biggest struggles with inbound marketing is convincing people that it works. Now that Inbound is as big as it is, there is no shortage of case studies to show that it’s an effective strategy.
The not as good side is that the more inbound marketers there are, the harder it will be for inbound marketers to differentiate themselves. If everybody’s doing inbound marketing, why should someone hire you to do inbound marketing? Inbound marketers will have to put more thought into what makes them different, now more than ever.
2) The distance between being an Inbound fan and pioneer is great
A lot of people at the conference that I spoke to are still trying to figure out how to make inbound marketing work for them. Then there were some attendees and speakers that I saw that seemed to be masters of all things inbound marketing, and could probably build a successful inbound company in their sleep.
Just learning the lingo and doing lip service isn’t enough to see results. Inbound marketing, like anything takes time and practice. Inbound marketing is deep and wide, make sure you aren’t pigeon holing yourself into one discipline, but get a comprehensive sense of what Inbound entails.
3) There’s always room to improve
Some of the speakers either hinted that there is more to good marketing than HubSpot, or outright said it. In one session I went to, the speaker showed us flaws in a HubSpot landing page! It’s not that HubSpot stinks, but no matter where we are, we all have room to improve.
4) SEO and content marketing are becoming very hard to distinguish
As Google gets better at putting the most useful information in front of searchers, SEO seems to be turning into an aspect of good content marketing. Link building is starting to look more like content promotion and keyword optimization looks more like writing specific and informative articles that are helpful and relevant to your buyer personas. SEO is still just as important as ever, it is just becoming more integrated into other disciplines.
Check out this slide from Bill King & Tyler Richer’s session “The Changing Face of SEO in 2015”
5) Content marketing is so hot right now
If content marketing was in the title of a session, you can bet it filled up quick. During one time slot, I tried to get into 5 different sessions, all about content marketing, but to no avail. It seems that content marketing is a big priority for a lot of companies, and there are a lot people who are looking for ways to get better.
And for good reason: “3X as many leads are generated from content Marketing vs. traditional marketing” – Jeane Hopkins in her session “Outsourcing Vs. Insourcing – Best Bang For Your Inbound Buck”
6) Sales and marketing still need work getting aligned
As Marcus Sheridan points out in his recap post, marketers far outnumbered salespeople at Inbound. Inbound marketing still hasn’t made its way into sales like it needs to. For companies to be successful, there needs to be buy in from the whole company.
7) Learning is funner with people
The reality is, you could get online and learn most of the concepts, statistics, and best practices that you would at any conference. The thing that makes Inbound worth it is the people. Being with thousands of other marketers and talking with them about their successes and struggles was one of the best things about Inbound.
Are you in the Atlanta area? If so, join into some more group learning in October at HUG Atlanta as we talk about Inbound 2015 and how to use what we learned to grow our businesses. Details are coming soon.
In conclusion, this image from Dr. Carmen Simon’s presentation is quite awesome:
Want to get more insights into Inbound 2015? Check out these posts:
7 Honest Observations of HubSpot’s Inbound 2015 Conference #Inbound15 by Marcus Sheridan
5 Shocking Stats I Learned At Inbound 2015 by Margot da Cunha
If you want to see notes from the sessions and speaker slides, go to the INBOUND15 group on Inbound.org.