If you were to describe Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s keynote at INBOUND16 in one word, what would that be? For us, the word was ‘futuristic’. While Brian started off with how the customers’ buying process has changed and will change in the next few years, Dharmesh gave us a glimpse of how technology will change to cater to these demands in the future. And their keynote address was a look at how all of these changes will affect us and our businesses.
You can of course take a look at Dharmesh and Brian’s INBOUND16 keynote. But what we’ll do here is put together some of the most important pieces of information that they shared. So the next time you are thinking about fundamental changes to your growth plans, you know exactly which aspects to focus on.
Ready? Let’s go!
Brian’s bit was all about some great insights from his research on how customers buy products, and how that’s changed from 2006 to 2016.
Today we live inside social media, or as Brian calls it, ‘Zuckerberg’s world’. It’s like our favorite coffee shop where we spend a great part of our day. So of course, that is where all your marketing should be concentrated. If you are not interacting with your customers there, you might as well be not doing any marketing at all.
When we started off, inbound marketing was all about creating great content that offers value to your readers. It was about the width of your brain and not the width of your wallet. But in 2016, and in the coming years, content marketing is going to be about the width of your brain times the size of your wallet. It’s still about offering great value, and then taking it out to a great number of people.
Video is a more competent mode of connecting with your audience now. We all know there’s more chance of your content being consumed if it’s in the form of a video. And now there’s more proof with the launch of Facebook Live and Instagram stories. So in 2017 and in the near future, video marketing will be the name of the game.
Brian analyzed a lot of sales, tracking them from the point where people think out buying till the time they actually make the purchase. And he did not find a single successful sale where the process had started with a cold call. Picking up the phone and talking to strangers just does not work anymore. And if you are still spending time and resources on it, it’s time to stop.
Your marketing and sales teams are what helps your prospect decide upon your product/service right? Yes, but they are not the only ones. A significant part of the buying decision is influenced by your existing customers and what they have to say about you. Whether you have new customers or not depends upon how you treat your current customers. And that makes it all the more important to constantly deliver value.
Dharmesh’s part of the keynote was all about technology, and how our interaction with technology is going to be the major determinant of how we grow our business.
The HEO Factor
Today, search is everywhere. It’s in your pocket, in your car, and in your ear (with the Apple ear pods). Google, Facebook, and Amazon combined, know everything about you. And all of that builds the engagement graph of what people are looking at and how much they like it, share it, engage with it. So the way to win at SEO is going to be via maximizing the users’ engagement and enjoyment.
It’s All about the Apps
When the mobile came into prominence and the internet expanded, people thought all the action is going to be in the web browser. But that was not to be. As Dharmesh hummed, “It’s all about the apps…’bout the apps…not browsers.” And outpacing all others are the messaging apps. They are personal and immediate, and used in both private and professional life.
So how does that effect marketers? If the majority of your audience interactions is on messaging apps, marketers have to go inbound, without fail. There is no more ‘buying a list’ and then sending everyone the same generic email. You have to connect and build trust with your audience. Inbound will not be an option, but rather mandatory.
Chatbots are going to be the next big wave in technology. The thing that would set them apart is the ability of the software to naturally converse with us. They would be able to intuitively understand what we mean in any given context, and offer up easy, one-click ways to complete a lot of different actions. Achieving complex tasks will be as easy as asking a question to the chatbots.
The chatbots are possible in large part due to AI and machine learning. And while marketing tasks like lead scoring and automation will definitely improve with machine learning, there are other interesting use cases as well. Machine learning will lead to better matching of prospects and sales people. Analyzing data would help connect the prospect to a sales guy who has the best chance of closing the sale. And that’s just one scenario. Machine learning is obviously going to change how people buy, and consequently transform how we sell.
So yes, this is where marketing is headed, atleast in the near future. Time to buckle up and get our plans straight.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our INBOUND16 coverage with some great session recaps and highlights.
Image credit: All images not bearing the Niswey logo are screen grabs from the keynote video posted by HubSpot.