Insights From Learn Inbound That You Won't Want To Miss

After a little sabbatical from blogging due to exams, travel and relocating to Dublin - I am back writing again. Last week I attended Learn Inbound and I was blown away by the speakers and such a well run event. It was excellent to see such a high caliber marketing event being run here in Dublin and I am already looking forward to the next one already. A big shout out to Siobhan McGinty and co for having me and making 'Charlie the Unicorn' almost became a reality. Unicorns being a hot topic during the keynotes at Learn Inbound. Here are some of the key insights and Unicorn analogies explained.

Brian Dean - How To Create Content That Converts

Brian literally 'woo'ed the room when we walked on stage and continued to give a powerful presentation on conversion rates. Brian began by explaining that every website should have a clear purpose. For his, this is capturing people's email addresses. Brian came to learn that the only way he was going to achieve that goal was through popups. Despite hating popups, the Backlinko founder decided to give them a shot to increase conversion rates on his website and as a result, he saw a massive increase in conversions. Brian gave many exceptional insights and tips including the following:

Add a form to your about page

Brian's first insight was into the about page on, the reason being - it converts like crazy! The people that visit it are already interested in you and in Brian's experience, far more likely to hand you over their precious email address.

Give people what they want

Brian added that in order to improve conversions you have to give people what they want. When people give you their email address. They understand they will get a small practical piece of content. For example if your blog post about golfing than an e-book or even an online course about golfing is very appropriate.

How can I give someone reading this what they want?

Test fun AND upbeat CTA's

Brian reckons we should ditch the corporate voice in calls to action and instead have more fun less formal CTA's to grab attention and reduce anxiety. 


Make pop ups appear on exit

After making it clear that Brian was not a fan of pop ups he introduced his work around - a pop up that only appears as the user is exiting the page. Brian favours these types of pop ups since they do not interrupt or annoy the visitor.

An exit pop up on the Backlinko blog

An exit pop up on the Backlinko blog

Create a complimentary resource and CTA for each blog post

Where possible create complimentary content, that users can access only by providing their email address. Brian explained that hyper relevant resources to the blog you are writing are a much better idea than having a general resource that is not as relevant to the blog post. Brian added that using this strategy can improve conversion rates by 10-30%.

On a side note Brian warned that marketers should be cautious in copying their competitors when it comes to CTA's and popups as they may not know what they are doing (and he speaks from experience).

Stop copying your competitors - they don't know what they're doing either. 

Brian noted that it might not be feasible to create extra resources or content for the CTA on every blog so one should start adding them in with the content that gets the most traffic. He explained that checklists work particularly well. Giving the example of a golfing blog who would have a downloadable checklist of their tips that you can print off and bring to the golf course.

Use lead boxes rather than forms

Brian explained we should make the most of user behaviour and add a lead box instead of a sign up form at the end of each blog. People get turned off when they see they have to fill a long form but once people click a lead box and start the action they are more likely to finish it. Brian is not alone in his thoughts on lead boxes Ian Brodie boosted response by 59% switching from a regular opt in the use of lead boxes.


Joanna Lord - The Habits of High Growth Companies

Up next was Jonna Lord, who gave a fantastic presentation on the secrets of high growth companies. Beginning with some statistics Joanna hit the room with a stat that only one in ten start-ups survive. She proceeded to explain the what the typical successful, billion dollar, high growth company (unicorn) looks like.


She explained that often the co-founders have history together and they start the companies in San Francisco, New York and Los Angles (she also mentioned Dublin). Joanna also explained why everyone should care about growth.

We should care about growth not because we wanna be a 'unicorn' but because we wanna be a successful business.

The owner of Growth has changed over time

Joanna explained that the marketing department alone used to own growth but this has changed dramatically over time. While in the not so distant past product and marketing owned growth, it should now be owned by product, marketing and engineering. Joanna pointed out that no internal silos should exist as they go against growth. She shared an example of the growth team at LinkedIn. It consisted of four parts SEO (and optimisation), Onboarding (and activation), Network Growth and Communications.

The T Shaped Marketer

One of my favourite insights from Lord was her idea of the T shaped marketer who fosters growth and has one or two of the following skills; technical, analytical, creative, product, design theory, paid, inbound, CRO, content, statistics modelling, database SQL or physiology.


Pillars of High growth companies 

Joanna explained the pillars of high growth companies; Product, Team, Community and X-Factor explaining that it is hard to survive without having all four. She also stated the ways to grow your company, through acquisition, monetisation and retention explaining that monetisation is the quickest tactic. She then proceeded to share her favourite quote from Paul Graham.

Here’s a common way startups die. They make something moderately appealing and have decent initial growth. They raise their first round fairly easily because the founders seem smart and the idea sounds plausible. But because the product is only moderately appealing, growth is ok but not great. The founders convince themselves that hiring a bunch of people is the way to boost growth. Their investors agree. But (because the product is only moderately appealing) the growth never comes. Now they’re rapidly running out of runway. They hope further investment will save them. But because they have high expenses and slow growth, they’re now unappealing to investors. They’re unable to raise more, and the company dies.
-Paul Graham 

Creating moments of delight 

Lord also recommended creating moments of unscalable delight just like Simple did. They crafted unique packaging that although expensive really impressed their customers and a result made them promoters of their brand. Joanna also complimented Simple for telling people their pin was ridiculous when it was too easy to guess rather than using corporate language.

Airbnb was another brand Joanna praised for their innovation and creation of delightful content such as their travel magazine Pineapple.

Larry Kim - Hacking Rankbrain and Machine Learning

To finish off Learn Inbound, Larry Kim came back from the future to warn us all about Rankbrain the near future of Google's ranking algorithm. Larry spoke about strategies to survive SEO on judgment day. 


Adwords technology will soon arrive to search

A large part of Larry's argument of why we should all listen up and prepare for Rankbrain was that the technology was currently being used for ad targeting on Google Adwords and this same technology could also be used on Google Search.


How WordStream began

Kim also recalled the story of how he started his business Wordstream, which now manages over billion dollars of ad spend. 


Rankbrain Explained

Larry explains Rankbrain as a smarter version of Google search that will rank pages based on the habits of other searchers. In other words, Google will reward pages where the user clicks on a result and stays on that page rather than coming back to the search and choosing another result (explained in the diagram below).


Go After Unicorns not Donkeys

Larry's keynote also featured unicorns, making them a hot topic at Learn Inbound. In this instance, he was not referring to billion dollar companies but content that gains an above average amount of click through from Google. The donkey's in the graph below perform much worse than the unicorns - which is why Larry suggests going after the unicorns.



Kim also recommends that emotional headlines are used to increase click through rates. These headlines should play out 'the bearer of bad news', 'the hero/villain', 'the comedian' or 'the feel good friend'.


Until the next Learn Inbound

That is your round up from the fantastic speakers at this session of Learn Inbound. It was action packed, inspiring and provided lots of great take aways for marketers and business owners alike. I highly recommend attending the next Learn Inbound event.


Oh and did I mention, I also won a Fitbit - shout out to all those at iProspect for the wonderful competition. As always thanks for reading and if there is something you would like me to blog about in the future send me a tweet.