The Evolution of Inbound Marketing. Takeaways From INBOUND16

Written by Alex Embling

Nov 21 2016

evolution of inbound marketing

By examining HubSpot’s latest features, we can learn more about how inbound marketing and sales are evolving. Here’s what we learned from the INBOUND 16 product launch.

How is Inbound Evolving?

Every year at their INBOUND event, HubSpot announce a range of new features and products designed to improve inbound marketing and sales processes.


By looking at exactly what HubSpot have been working on and the features they’re prioritising, we can learn more about how inbound marketing and sales are evolving. Below, we look at some of the products announced at INBOUND 16, and explore key considerations that upcoming inbound strategies should make.


Please note, this is not a full list of HubSpot product announcements - there’s much more to inbound than what’s listed here.

A growth stack mindset is important

Growing results and scaling a business takes a lot of alignment, and a lot of preparation. Closed-loop integration and alignment of all your sales and marketing tools; from your website, to your CRM, to social channels, reporting and more, lets you see exactly how sales and marketing are progressing across all areas. Without that, it’s increasingly difficult to pinpoint successes, or identify areas for improvement.

growth stack.png

Driving growth takes a connected set of tools, which we call a growth stack. The latest updates in HubSpot put everything you need to grow into a single set of tools that are already deeply integrated, right out of the box. - HubSpot

HubSpot already enables a deep level of integration and connectivity to its users. But with the latest additions, we’ve seen a push on prioritising more seamless sales and marketing integration, for enhanced growth.


2016 product releases supporting this include:


  • HubSpot Marketing Free. Just like the free HubSpot Sales CRM, Marketing Free is a starting point for those new to HubSpot. At a top level, it is a basic lead capture, contact storage and analysis tool allows users to capture, track, and convert leads with features such as contact forms, conversion popups, lead flow tools, lead tracking and analytics. (note, current HubSpot users can also use the features available in Marketing Free, but will have added functionality).
  • LinkedIn Sales Nav Integration. Integration goes further than connecting your marketing automation platform with your CRM. For full closed-loop sales and marketing, in an ideal world, every tool in your tech-stack should integrate. As our Head of Inbound Sales predicted a few months ago, HubSpot CRM will soon integrate with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, providing a more complete picture of lead context and allowing sales to better monitor their social selling efforts.
  • Facebook Ads Integration. In 2015, HubSpot first announced a paid ads add-on, allowing HubSpot users to manage and monitor LinkedIn and AdWords paid ad campaigns within the platform. This year, integration with Facebook ads has been added to the stack.

Now is the time to start using real-time chat

Advice for modern marketers. Live in social. You’re not B2B marketers, you’re H2H marketers - human to human. Humans live in Snapchat, Instagram. If you’re not marketing to social, you might as well be marketing in a trashcan. - Brian Halligan

Buyers today expect today’s marketers and salespeople to be there to answer their questions and help them the instant questions arise. Most other services in our lives, from TV to Uber are now on-demand. Why not contact with a sales-rep?


As we saw in the 2016 State of Inbound report, chat and messenger apps are a growing priority to add to the marketing mix. HubSpot have recognised this need to be actively helpful - in real-time, on the environments your buyers use with the release of on site messages. This CRM integrated feature gives the option to enable live chat on HubSpot user’s websites, meaning sales reps can easily answer visitors questions.


Essentially sales is becoming even more human; building real connections with buyers by helping at the exact right moment.

Topic hubs (or topic clusters) are the way to build authority

The way we search is changing. Buyers are increasingly searching for longer-tailed topics, which means marketers need to adapt beyond a keyword based approach.


We’ve previously explored the idea of building a content strategy around the umbrella of a key hub topic (such as ‘inbound marketing’ or ‘inbound’) then forming clusters of related content and campaigns around that topic, and subtopics. Having a linked hub of related content then helps to boost your authority on that topic in search.


HubSpot recognise this - the upcoming release of their Content Strategy tool is designed to make the topic hub, or topic cluster planning process simple and easier to map:

content hub.png

Other content strategy and creation tools on the horizon include:

  • The Collect Browser Add On. With this add on, HubSpot users will be able to clip and collate a range of content they find on the web in one place. Shared with their team, this collected content can be used as an easily accessible resource for new content ideas.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) within the HubSpot Blog tool. Many Google searches on mobile now show a small lightning bolt symbol and ‘AMP’ (Accelerated Mobile Page) next to an article. This means blog content will be instantly loaded -  with no wait time. As of 2017, HubSpot blog tool users will be able to benefit from this feature.

Marketing/ Sales Alignment Has Never Been More Important

If sales if the future of Marketing, marketing is the future of Sales. Successful marketers know that the two departments need to align, share data and co-operate for strategies to be successful.

The most successful growth teams work together, across marketing & sales. - HubSpot

To enable that, HubSpot have released a few additional tools to enhance marketing/sales alignment in 2017:

  • Projects. ‘Projects’ is designed to improve HubSpot uses productivity and efficiency by outlining tasklists, and providing work management. tools This allows for sales and marketing collaboration on everything from tasks to tactics.
  • Collaboration. Collaboration has been enhanced throughout HubSpot, with @ mention notifications in a range of areas, from the CRM, to content drafts.

Becoming More Human

Inbound is constantly evolving to become more buyer-centric, better aligned, more helpful and above all - more human. If your strategies really put the buyer first, and your organisation prioritises transparent alignment between your teams, you’ll be on track to succeed.

B2B Marketing Zone