Yesterday I attended the Inbound Marketing UK 2012 Conference in London.
If you haven’t heard the term “Inbound Marketing” before it’s basically about attracting customers to you rather than seeking them out directly. So using things like blogging, search optimisation and social media rather than direct mail, cold calling and paid advertising. Here’s the wikipedia definition if you’d like to know more.
I went with the intention of learning about the latest thinking so that I could bring those ideas back and scale them into practical solutions for small business. Here are the highlights.
The key theme of the day was “Stop Marketing, Start Engaging”
We started with David Meerman Scott who is an inspirational speaker and included a great case study: a hotel which includes lots of pages on their website about the local attractions and activities and as a result has achieved great Google rankings across a wide range of search terms. I loved this example as kind of content is easy to do for a business of any size – you just need to think about the things your target customers are looking for rather than just your own products and services. Here’s the hotel website. Take a look at the Tours section and the good but unobtrusive use of keywords. Warning: you may feel very tempted to book a holiday in Belize!
Paul Berney from the Mobile Marketing Association talked about the rising use of smartphones and the need for all businesses, especially those selling to consumers, to keep up with the pace of change. He showed a fascinating (and award winning) example of a mobile campaign which used GPS to entice shoppers away from competitors with time-limited discount offers.
OK, this was created by Saatchi and Saatchi so I dread to think of the budget, but no business of any size can afford to ignore the shift to mobile.
Frank Belzer spoke about how the age old arguments between sales and marketing are shifting (but not disappearing) in the age of content marketing. Less relevant for small business this one. Let’s face it, for many of us sales and marketing are the same person! But Frank is a great speaker and doesn’t take any nonsense from sales or marketing.
Then we had Alex Balfour who was head of New Media for the London 2012 Olympics. I was looking forward to this talk but in the end it was half an hour of mainly facts and figures – some of them surprising, but no real insights we could apply to smaller events. He did, however, show a montage video of great moments from the games which was inspiring and entertaining, if not totally relevant.
I was disappointed with the 2 Break-out sessions I attended. The first on Content and Content Marketing and the second on Landing Pages and Calls to Action. I was expecting interactive sessions and sharing ideas with lots of others in the room, but both were just a series of not very inspiring presentations and the timing went badly out on the first session so there wasn’t even time for questions.
Some of the other attendees I spoke to also felt that there was too much sales pitch from the event’s main sponsor, Hubspot, who are a marketing software company.
However, the final talk of the day was from Hubspot’s head of marketing, Mike Volpe, and he gave some really good insights into the way Hubspot themselves have used Content Marketing as their main source of leads and how they’ve grown the business.
One of the things he talked about was “Context” – adapting your content to your different website visitors. This came up in several of the sessions. Expect to hear a lot more about this. Amazon are the masters with their personalised recommendations but I came away with some good ideas that any small business can achieve without investing heavily in bespoke software – I’ll be exploring this more on the blog soon.
So overall, a good day. I’ve come back enthused with ideas and really excited about the future of content marketing.