Last week, the team at OverGo Studio packed their bags and boarded a 6am Monday morning flight to Boston, Massachusetts for HubSpot’s annual marketing conference known as Inbound. Inbound is quickly becoming THE marketing conference to attend each year. This year, HubSpot announced Inbound is the fastest growing conference of its kind. I believe it, too. The conference’s attendance doubled in size from 2013 to 2014, growing from 5,000 attendees to 10,000!

If you weren’t able to attend the conference this year, or are just looking for a recap of the 4-day event, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve braved the crowds, the questionable food truck food, and the smelly airline flights to bring you the Top Five Marketing Tips from Inbound 2014.

1. Don’t just start a blog – build it!

It’s becoming common knowledge that you need a blog for your business in order to build your audience and start generating leads. If you’ve already started a blog for your business, what was that process like? Did you thoroughly research your target audience?

The business blogging experts at HubSpot recommend extensive research on your target audience, including real-world interviews with members of your target audience. Use that research to craft the tone and style of your blog.

Ultimately, the goal of your blog should be to build a base of subscribers. Not traffic, and not leads. Having a good subscriber base is critical to a blog’s initial growth, and will account for the majority of your traffic to each post.

2. Growth hacking for fun and profit.

A lot of sessions at Inbound this year put a big emphasis on growth hacking, or the process of analyzing the results of your marketing efforts and optimizing the most effective tactics.

Growth hacking isn’t necessarily a new term, but it reached a tipping point this year with at least one session each day devoted to this build-by-the-numbers approach. The god-father of growth hacking, Sean Ellis, gave a presentation at the conference where he outlined the 5-step, repeatable growth-hacking process:

  1. Develop ideas – what areas can you test? What treatments can you apply? What are the desired results of the those treatments?

  2. Prioritize – after you have all your potential testing ideas, prioritize them and focus on the ideas that are going to help you reach your goals.

  3. Test – implement your treatments and run your tests.

  4. Analyze – measure the results of your tests and determine if they were successful. Success of your tests depends on your business’s goals and the statistical significance you set for your tests.

  5. Optimize – If your ideas was a success, implement it. More importantly, if it wasn’t a success, make sure you understand why. Failure is more valuable (and happens more frequently) than success in the world of growth hacking.

3, Creating content isn’t enough. You need to promote it.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know it’s important to create content that solves problems and offers helpful information in order to attract leads and customers. Creating content is only half the battle, though. It’s very easy to fall into a habit using up all your time and resources creating killer content, and then sitting back on your haunches. This set it and forget it approach may have been effective at some point, but now the internet bigger than ever, and your audience is spread out across a wide range of social networks and services.

That’s why you need to have a strategy for promoting your content once you publish it. I sat in on a presentation given by members of the marketing team at HubSpot, and they filled us in on their best content promotion strategies:

  • Before you do anything, set goals. Figure out what the purpose of the content is, and what results you want to see out of it.

  • Create a launch plan with specific timelines for picking promotional channels and creating promotional assets. Start this process at least three weeks out from the launch of your content.

Promotional channels can include social media, blogging, guest blogging, email, or advertising on social media sites.

4. Use HubSpot CRM to get sales and marketing on the same page.

HubSpot’s big product keynote at the conference announced the launch of the new HubSpot CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) software, like Salesforce, helps salespeople keep track of leads and customers, and helps sales managers hit goals and keep sales teams on track.

HubSpot’s CRM is a very big deal because it integrates seamlessly with HubSpot’s existing marketing software. This means that, using HubSpot, leads generated by a marketing campaign can be entered directly into the sales team’s CRM.

Sales teams will be able to see the behaviors and actions of the leads – which pages were visited, emails opened, content downloaded – to help provide context to the sales conversation.

If any of those leads become customers, those closed customers are fed right back into HubSpot’s marketing software, allowing the marketing team to see accurate results from their efforts.

5. Speak to your tribe – don’t worry about alienating outsiders.

This final tip is, to me, one of the most important concepts to grasp in today’s marketing environment. It’s so intrinsic to what inbound marketing is trying to achieve that it really shouldn’t be a “concept to grasp.”

Humans are tribal people. We live, work, and play in groups, and we work tirelessly to defend our groups and protect their unity. This is an evolutionary fact that’s as old as our species. When we talk about inbound marketing, we’re essentially talking about building a tribe – a group of people who have similar goals and challenges, and brought together by you.

Being a member of your tribe needs to be special. Your tribe members need to get a sense of value and worth out of being in your tribe. Your tribe probably has its own culture, unique jargon, and common knowledge. You need to tap into that culture in order to create a sense of community in your audience. It will strengthen the bonds between people in your tribe.

You can’t be afraid to alienate outsiders by doing this. Outsiders who see your uniquely targeted content will either find a way to get in or quickly realize what they’re seeing is not for them.

You have to think of your brand like butter. If you spread it too thin, there will be nothing there and you won’t be able to taste it. The more concentrated and focused your messaging is, the stronger it will be.