INBOUND took over Boston this week uniting 20,000+ marketers, sales leaders, execs and entrepreneurs hungry for the latest insights on how to accelerate business growth. Like a great piece of video content, it did an impressive job of educating, inspiring and touching the hearts of attendees through an artful blend of keynotes (Michelle Obama was omazing), comedians (Judd Apatow OMG), experts (Rand Fishkin, Trish Bertuzzi, maybe one or twenty more) and of course, savvy practitioners. With lots of news from the event host HubSpot, three core themes stood out as strong indicators of where the market is heading. And each of them have important implications for how we think about video and it’s expanding role in the customer experience.
1. Alignment and value creation throughout the entire customer lifecycle
During INBOUND, HubSpot announced major updates to its Sales Hub solution as well as a brand new Customer Hub product line, making it clear they’re placing big bets on helping businesses create more value throughout the entire customer experience. This continues to be a major theme amongst customer engagement technology giants as they expand their capabilities for acquiring and retaining customers while federating the back-end processes and data that manage the entire customer lifecycle. This comes at a time when customers are interacting with brands in entirely new ways while expecting immediate, personalized customer service that aligns with how they want to converse and consume information (think chat and video vs. email and phone). To thrive in this new era, businesses need to align their marketing, sales and customer service organizations to work together as a well-oiled machine in a way that makes it easy for customers to find the answers they’re looking for. And they need a well integrated technology stack to power it.
Social and video are two of the hottest topics in this conversation around customer experience (I’ll get to the social piece in the next section). By its very nature, video is often the best way to educate at each stage of the customer lifecycle and to connect with customers in a more personal way. Embracing video as part of your customer experience strategy is much more than adding explainers to your website; it’s using engaging and personalized content throughout every step of the customer journey to better connect, educate and support customers. It’s about empowering customer-facing teams to create, access and share rich video content as a natural part of how they do business. To support this trend, Vidyard announced expanded capabilities for its video messaging app, Vidyard GoVideo, that now enables anyone in marketing, sales or customer service to easily capture, share and track personalized videos in a way that’s seamlessly integrated with email, CRM, sales acceleration and customer service applications.
2. Customer engagement models are drastically changing
Email, phone, blogs and website forms aren’t going away anytime soon. But all the trends seem to suggest that businesses need to pay more attention to new ways of engaging with prospects and buyers. Customers are increasingly moving towards social media and real-time chat messaging as a way to interact with brands. Prior to INBOUND, HubSpot announced their acquisition of chatbot builder Motion AI, and this week they unveiled a free Conversations tool for powering multi-channel, one-to-one communications at scale. HubSpot also announced enhanced social tools as part of HubSpot Marketing Hub for interacting with audiences on Facebook and Instagram. It was also great to see a new integration with Terminus, a leader in Account-Based Marketing (ABM) technology, that enables marketers to serve customized digital ads to specific target accounts in an automated fashion. And not surprisingly, video was highlighted as another key channel/medium that businesses need to embrace to meet the shifting expectations of today’s buyers.
During his mainstage product keynote, HubSpot’s VP of Product, Christopher O’Donnell, spoke about the importance of having a strategy for video content creation as well as a platform for video hosting, distribution, optimization and analytics. He highlighted HubSpot’s expanded partner ecosystem in this space that includes the likes of Animoto, PowToon, Shakr and Vidyard GoVideo for content creation and of course Vidyard and others as integrated video platforms. The most important take-away was the need to have solutions for both content creation and distribution/analytics that integrate seamlessly with core marketing, sales and customer service tools to enable video to become a seamless part of customer engagement strategies.
3. The MarTech stack is more important than ever
With shifting customer expectations and so many new ways to engage with audiences, the concepts of a marketing technology (MarTech) stack and a strong partner ecosystem are more important than ever. For most businesses, no single solution standing on its own will offer the full range of capabilities to keep up with the changing market dynamics. In recognition of this, HubSpot announced rapid growth in their HubSpot Connect partner ecosystem as well as the addition of MarTech thought leader Scott Brinker as their new VP of Platform Ecosystem. As a member of the HubSpot Connect ecosystem, I applaud this move and am excited to see HubSpot putting an even greater strategic emphasis on growing their partner community and expanding their platform capabilities. Vidyard announced a similar strategy this week by unveiling its Vidyard GoVideo partner ecosystem in an effort to make video capture and sharing an integrated part of any business application.
From a video perspective, the opportunity here is to see platforms like Vidyard and apps like Vidyard GoVideo become even more closely integrated with marketing, sales and customer service workflows to help businesses realize the true promise of going video in a way that is tightly coupled with the apps they use every day.