14 min read

INBOUND 2021 Recap with Julia Fellows

Did you miss INBOUND 2021? Never fear, we have you covered with this recap episode.


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Julia Fellows, TREW Account Manager, joined me to recap trending topics and hot sessions from INBOUND 2021, an annual marketing and sales conference hosted by HubSpot. The event was held virtually again this year, and the emphasis weighed heavily towards marketing best practices, with a lighter touch on new product announcements by HubSpot. 

Email marketing has been hugely important to fill the face-to-face void during these COVID days, so it's not a surprise that this was a hot INBOUND topic. Speaker Jay Schwedelson from Subjectline.com and Worldata shared insights into what's really working now. He talked about doing whatever you can to get your emails opened and specifically broke down two ways to improve open rates: personalize the sender name, and use special characters in the subject line. According to the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers report, e-newsletters are one of the top sources that technical buyers turn to for information. If your company is behind on communicating to your database, there has never been a more important time to add this into your marketing mix. 

Also popular were the ABM sessions, such as the AMA session by Terminus' Justin Keller. He emphasized the importance of sales and marketing alignment for ABM to gain traction, and encouraged companies new to ABM to start small with content and personalization.  

There was also buzz around RevOps, no doubt a focus since HubSpot's product announcements were largely tied to this topic. The idea is to make the customer's experience with your brand as streamlined and frictionless as possible, and to accomplish this you need organizational alignment, data and connected systems. HubSpot Co-Founder Darmesh Shah gave some powerful examples from his own car shopping experience to prove the point that customers expect consistency, but companies are siloed and struggle to deliver a consistent experience. 

While these are a few highlights, Julia shares even more during the episode. Also, look for a TREW Marketing blog post on HubSpot's new product announcements coming soon! 





Did you miss last week's inbound marketing conference? Never fear. We got your back. Today's guest will come on to share themes, hot topics and her favorite sessions. I also wanted to let you know that my book, Content Marketing, Engineered is now available in audiobook format, so go on to Amazon and check it out. There's also a Kindle and softback version as well. All right, let's do this.

Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.

Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend,, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll and meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action before we jump in. I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency. TREW Marketing TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com

And now on with our podcast. Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing Engineered Today. I'm joined by Julia Fellows. She's an account manager at TREW Marketing, and this will be her second or maybe third time to come on back.

Thanks for having me.

You're welcome. Well, I know I thought back to you when you're on the show last and was it our March LinkedIn Madness miniseries? By chance, it was.

And Spoiler alert. I've got some LinkedIn content for you today as well.

Of course you do. Well, those of you listening or watching miss that many series. I'll put a link to it in the show notes because it was a great series that was one of my favorite episodes or string of episodes in the whole year, I think. Well, I guess that's part of what we're about today, but the overarching purpose of today's episode is to recap HubSpot's 2021 inbound conference. I've attended this event for ten years, and when I first went there were maybe 1000 people and then at its crest 20,000, I want to say and then things went virtual and well, what was it like being virtual at Imbalance?


Well, so I have to admit, this is only my second year attending Inbound, and so I don't have a frame of reference. I have exclusively experienced inbound as a virtual conference platform.

How interesting. Yeah.

And I will definitely say that the user experience was improved from last year, so that was pretty awesome. But for the folks who don't know, Inbound is a marketing conference that's hosted by HubSpot every year that centralizes around the Inbound marketing methodology, which is a methodology that we follow TREW marketing as well. And I think that in general, they do a really great job of balancing it between HubSpot product news and releases and just kind of things that are relevant things that are important within the marketing industry and trends.

And it's a really great way to catch up and learn more about what's going on in your industry. And as the filmmaker said during his Spotlight presentation, you stop learning when you take your last breath. So you got to keep learning.

Absolutely. And the way marketing keeps moving so quickly, you told me to learn regardless of how many years we've been doing this. So it's a good reminder. Thank you. Absolutely. Was it Oprah speaking to? Yeah.

And I have to admit, I have to go back and watch her session because it was during dinner for me, but I was really excited. So I'm definitely going to be going back later this week to watch that one.

Yeah. So really interesting that there's this educational marketing conference, but they bring just a variety of speakers and have some leadership, inspirational topics as well as practical stuff for Remarketer people. Yeah.

They have some fun sessions, too. I didn't get to attend, but they have the Boston City Ballet did a stretching exercise break. No way stretching exercise.

That's why. Yeah.

I thought that was cool.

My stand up desk hasn't stood up yet today. So that's a good reminder. Yeah.

Well, I'm here on my exercise ball.

Good. Well, Julia, I'm dying to hear what was your very favorite session of the week. All right.

So I think my favorite session was email misbusted. What's really working now with Jay Schwilson? He is the founder and CEO of Subject Line, Dot com and World Data. Obviously, that email is a super hyper relevant topic in the pandemic. Email has gotten a lot more difficult for marketers and for individuals, it's a lot harder to consume email.


We'Ve noticed that TREW. Even some of our clients who have traditionally done really well with email are having lower open rates and lower clicks for rates. So I really wanted to learn about why we're not performing. And maybe if there were some myths that I was believing and practicing.

It'S getting noisy out there. Yeah.

And then, of course, Jay was a super engaging presenter, too. He was very animated and conversational, and I even got, like, an HBO show recommendation from this presentation. But, man, that guy must be tired at the end of every day because he had a lot of information to share and just exude some really great energy.

Okay. Well, don't leave me hanging. What were some of the big takeaways from it? All right.

Well, we're still going through a pandemic, and it really has changed the way that we email has really become the Wild West. Anything goes, whatever you can do to get your email open. And with regard to getting your email open, so who that from address is or I think it's friendly from Alias or whatever. And your subject line. Those are the two things that are going to get open. Obviously, click through is a whole nother story. And in his presentation, he was showing that there was a 40% increase or nearly 40% increase if you changed that friendly from address to instead of something like TREW marketing to a person.

So Julia at TREW Marketing or Wendy at TREW Marketing or Lee at TREW Marketing, that was much, much more likely in a B to B context to get opened.

That's a great find and something that's easy to implement. Yes. Exactly.

A lot of the myths that he kind of talked about during his presentation were things that traditionally we've been told. No, no, don't do that. Like don't use parentheses, don't use brackets, don't use asterisks. Don't use emojis. Don't make mistakes. But these are the kinds of things that make your email stand out against everybody else. You got to do whatever you can to stand out against the email above yours and the email below yours.

Okay. So Halloween is almost here, so it's okay to put spooky ghosts until everybody else is doing it and then stop. Yeah. Exactly. Wait. Did you say mistakes?

Could you clarify what you mean by that spell something just to get or what a good example would be in a consumer context if a company would have sent out an email to say, you almost missed this deal. Kind of a mistake, but not really a mistake.

Got you. Okay. Well, I do admit when somebody sends a second e newsletter with a correction, it makes me intrigued of what change?

I almost always.

Even if I don't care about the subject matter.

It'S like a car accident. People like to see other people's mistakes.

Yeah. There you go. I don't know. Yeah. What were some of the other hot topics that you came out?

Well, account based marketing was another big one this year. I saw a little bit last year, but I see even more this year. I think I probably attended four or five different AVM sessions, which was really good account based marketing. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's kind of a more personalized marketing experience. And I tried to find it earlier, but I saw a post on LinkedIn the other day that was talking about how in a business to consumer environment you're marketing to a person.

But in a BTB environment, you're still marketing to a person. You're just marketing to a person who represents a company. So that person still wants that personalized experience, too. There was a great ask me anything session with Justin Keller from Terminus. He gave some cool case studies on how they've implemented ABM, the key trend I was noticing throughout all the AVM sessions is the importance of alignment, especially between sales and marketing. But really within the whole company and account based marketing is there was even a debate session where two people were debating about account based marketing versus inbound marketing.

And to me, there was no obvious winner because inbound marketing can support account based marketing.

So they're not mutually exclusive ever. Exactly.

Because the goal is really just to start a relationship with someone. And this is where you can handpick different pieces of your content to send to a specific contact within your target company as your target account. And then HubSpot also has tools within I believe it's within their sales hub that can help you with account based marketing and show you what your targets are, and you can pick up people within that account and assign buyer roles. And definitely a good way to track those target accounts.

Yeah. Absolutely. And I was really excited. Hubspot added account scoring, so not just a score for an individual, but a score for the account, and that adds a lot richer data to a company that's practicing ABM. Yeah. Definitely. What else? All right.

Well, LinkedIn is still relevant. There were quite a few sessions last year that I attended about LinkedIn, obviously kind of in anticipation of our LinkedIn Merch Madness or LinkedIn Merch Marketing madness. And there were a couple of cool presenters that were at inbound last year that came and did a debate this year, which was really cool. It was a debate on LinkedIn ads versus organic content.


I think organic content still wins. But there are definitely some strategies it can be implemented with both. And, for example, you can take an organic piece of content that has performed really well and turn it into an ad and typically perform better than something that hasn't performed well.

Okay. Yeah. Is that because you get it in front of a larger audience by going exactly.

And then there was another great session where the folks at LinkedIn came in and really kind of gave you a step by step on strategy and different tips for running your LinkedIn ad campaign. So if you've never run ads before, that was a super great session to just give you the basics and they're really informative. We got a little more context about why they set it up the way that they did. So I thought that was super helpful in that session.

Did they give any peek into where the platform is going in 2022 by chance?

Not really. But that's okay.

Sure. Yeah.

One thing we've learned in general is that LinkedIn tends to copy some of the other social networks, but they're a little bit behind. They tested out that Stories type feature, and they're doing a little bit more with video, so I'm really interested to see where they go next.

Yeah. Good. What else did you find?

Another big one was customer education, which really is a pillar of the inbound methodology to begin with. That was the first session that I attended, and they discussed creating, like, learning platforms for your prospects and your buyers and your audience. And Tree was already doing this with our content writing engineered course, which Wendy will probably link to in the blog post and really one of the emphasis. One of the reasons that you would want to do something like this is that it empowers your customers and empowered customers are going to buy more.

And really, they're going to be those nice customers that you don't have to work real hard when you're working with them because you can teach them how to use your products and your services and how to optimize things. I think we're seeing a lot more of that. They used HubSpot Academy as a great example of that. So I'd like to see more organizations doing that good.

Yeah. Once upon a time, I was responsible for customer education at National Instruments. So that's near and near to my heart and the idea that your prospects moved in to becoming a customer and you want to make sure they're successful. And I love that there's integration here with one pulling marketing into that conversation post purchase of how we communicate with them. Because if you think about email workflow is just getting real practical for us, think about how great that is. Someone just purchases a software product. Now you have this whole customer success email workflow for that product, encouraging them to go look at the community forums or on demand training or whatever it is.

So it just makes sense. And I assume I guess a question for you on HubSpot CRM is all of that information then stored back on that contacts record when they participate in training. Is it an integration?

I guess that would depend on what kind of platform you use for your customer education itself.

In the HubSpot community that connects to make it all beautiful.

I would believe it.

Well, any other topics that come to mind? Yeah.

I've got one more for you. We're definitely seeing a rise in Rev Ops or revenue operations. I attended only one session, but there were at least three or four different sessions. It's not a new concept or a new way of doing business, but it's new to HubSpot. One of the sessions they were talking about how they had just established a Rev Ops team within HubSpot earlier this year. As we're getting more and more entangled with technology and just the world is becoming more complicated. The buyer's journey has become more complex, and it's more disparate.

And Rev Ops aims to streamline that in one of the sessions, which I don't even think was a Rev op session. But someone gave an example of buying a Volvo and how he had a I think it was Darmesh. He gave an experience of how he had bought a Volvo.


It was a great, streamlined experience buying it online. He didn't have to interact with another person at all. And then after he started, I know, right. It's great for introverts.


He gets a letter in the mail says, okay, it's time for you to pay for your new car, and it's a completely different system and platform from the one that he used to buy it. And then if he wants his account number, he has to go somewhere completely different to get that. And it's in a letter that they mailed him, which we all know that in the US they're having mail issues right now.


Robots organizations can help to streamline that experience. Of course, it's about the processes and the people and the technology and the data that goes into what that customer experience looks like. And as marketers, maybe we're not involved in the entire process, but it does make us think a lot more about how we can streamline that handoff from marketing to sales and then beyond.

Okay. Good. Very interesting as well. Yeah.

And the HubSpot actually has some. They came out with a new operations hub earlier this year, which I think maybe it was beta earlier this year. I'm not sure, but that is another tool that you can use with your Rev Ops. So I am excited to see more of that.

Well, speaking of new HubSpot tools, I assume there were some product announcements that happened during Inbound. There were a few.

Mostly there was more information about the app Hub and then some more customized and more expanded CRM capabilities, which I think a lot of people have been looking for.

Good. Well, I know we have blog posts coming soon that will go into this product announcements and details. So those of you listening or watching. Definitely. If you're not a subscriber of the TREW Marketing Blog Go subscribe and it'll hit your inbox when we post that blog post with detailed product announcements. Yeah. So, Julia, so if we look ahead next year, what are you hoping to see? What do you wish was in this year's inbound or just thinking ahead to next year? Yeah.

Well, I think for me personally, the biggest thing I'm hoping for is that we have it in person again. I feel like I've missed out on the experience a little bit the last two years.

It's a fun, fun conference. Yeah.

And I think that in person will encourage networking a little bit better. They have some great breakout sessions and chats you could sign up with or sign up for. But when you're not physically somewhere, it's easy to get distracted by other things, and it's easy to say I'll have a discussion with someone another time. So I'm hoping that he'll be in first again.

Oh, I'll have dinner instead of watch Oprah. Yeah, I can watch it later. It's recorded. Done that in person. Exactly.

I would have skipped dinner to watch Oprah in person.

Well, that's fair enough. I can't wait to go together next year.

Let's make a deck.

Yes. Cool. Well, thank you so much for sharing your inbound 2021 experience with us. I appreciate it. Yeah.

Thanks for inviting me, Wendy.

Thanks for joining me today on content marketing engineers, for show notes, including links to resources, visit TREWmarketing. Compodcast while there, you can subscribe to our blog and our newsletter and order a copy of my book. Content Marketing Engineer Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast. So please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me a review on your favorite podcast. Subscription Platform thanks and have a great day