Experience Disruptors And More From INBOUND 2019
INBOUND 2019, HubSpot’s annual conference, is a wrap! What an awesome event. When just over 26,000 marketers gather in an amazing city like Boston for a week, you can only expect a flood of great ideas and inspiration. This year was Noble Studios’ first time attending the conference, and as a new Hubspot Certified Agency Partner, we were excited to learn more about the creative ways the platform can be leveraged to fuel our clients’ growth through inbound marketing.
And, while we left INBOUND 19 with pages of notes and actionable new ideas, there were a few powerful concepts that extend well beyond inbound marketing and really highlight new trends and opportunities in marketing, the most potent of which is the importance of marketing innovation through experience disruption.
Marketing Innovation And Experience Disruptors
Hubspot Co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan presented on the idea of all-to-often-heard business buzzword: “disruption.” He gave a quick history of the word’s use as it relates to business and how disruption is normally attributed to new (and often groundbreaking) technology. A well-known example of this is Apple’s iPhone back in the early 2000s. As we near 2020, there’s more disruption happening than ever, but much of it is not driven by new technology, but rather by new approaches to making the customer experience better and removing friction. He gave Netflix and Carvana as two concrete examples of these coined “experience disruptors.” While they both leverage cutting-edge technology, it is really their innovative approach to making the entertainment and car buying experiences better than what we have all become accustomed to that has driven to their success and massive growth.
How Do Disruptive Experiences Affect Marketing Strategy?
Glad that you asked. Disruptive experiences affect marketing strategy in so many ways! First, there’s a strong argument that it’s time to replace the tried-and-true marketing funnel with the flywheel model. The funnel is linear and one-directional, which doesn’t represent the current complexity of the buyer’s journey.
A report cited at INBOUND shows that in 2019, B2C customers average 56 digital touchpoints per considered transaction. This includes visiting websites, reading reviews, searching for social proof, etc. That is not adequately represented in the funnel model. In addition, once a prospect becomes a customer, the marketing department’s job is nowhere near done. With important opportunities for upsells, retention and advocacy these are often your best sources of revenue growth, and yet we take them for granted in the current funnel model.
Finally, the funnel clearly represents the marketing channel and the sales channel, but largely ignores the customer channel. If we are to become experience disrupters, our customers and their experiences must be at the center of everything we do. This is one of the reasons that many of today’s most effective business leaders have a background in the hospitality industry, which has always been customer-centric.
What Are Disruptive Marketing Companies Doing Differently?
Brian gave the example of Atlassian, the company that owns Jira, Trello and several other outstanding productivity tools. If you were to look under the hood of their marketing department structure, strategy and tactics, they look much more like a B2C marketing department than a B2B marketing department. Rather than focusing on sales, they are focused on education and getting the prospect to want to work with them. By doing so, they’ve been able to increase the number of online customers acquired as well as the size of the deals brought in from their website. A few years ago, digital was seen as a channel to acquire small business clients and nurture larger prospects through the funnel. Currently, digital is bringing in million-dollar deals with no salesperson!
Personalization is the Key to Disruption
If we’re going to create disruptive experiences that make the buying process easier, faster and better for our customers, then we need to know more about them. Multiple speakers expressed that personas are no longer viable and instead promoted the idea of “micro personas,” also called “use cases” and “data clusters.” Their point was that we are all different people with unique needs and emotional triggers and that there is almost a bit of arrogance on the part of marketers to think that we can represent this in 2-3 generalized descriptions of the target audience. Instead, we should leverage the plethora of available data and work to create personas-of-one that can be leveraged for a digital experience crafted for each person. We couldn’t agree more and have been heavily focused on personalization strategies for the travel and tourism industry for the past two years.
The keys to effective personalization are data and automation. Brian reminded all of us that automation without data is simply spam. Simply stated, we need to learn more about our customers, use what data is available, and then provide enough value to our customers that they are willing to provide more information so that we can optimize their experience. But, we must honor their trust by keeping data secure and only using it for the purposes stated.
This may sound a bit overwhelming and like a lot of work, but one way that innovative organizations are creating the time for personalization and experience disruption is through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to supplement some of their daily activities. In many cases, this type of automation can create hours of white space each day for strategy and planning new programs.
Is your organization ready to become an experience disruptor? Learn how our digital marketing services can help your organization grow.