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17 Incredible Takeaways from Learn Inbound, July 2017

17 Incredible Takeaways from Learn Inbound, July 2017

July’s Learn Inbound Conference was held in The Academy, Dublin. It was the event’s tenth outing, which is a testament to the dedication and devotion that Mark Scully has for the inbound community. It’s no wonder the series is going from strength to strength. Wednesday’s conference was introduced by Barry Adams, who welcomed to the stage three growth and conversion experts in their respective fields; Cara Harshman, Angie Schottmuller & Kieran Flanagan.

Cara Harshman‏

Cara, a former content marketing manager at Optimizely, was the first speaker to take to the stage. Cara flew in from San Francisco, championing the message that it’s easier than we think to learn the fundamentals of website personalisation, and that once understood, we’ll realise that embracing it early will be a transformative and highly valuable exercise for any business.

Cara Harshman - Demystifying website personalisation

Key Takeaways:

  1. Personalisation experiences should be carefully crafted and measured. We should do it because it adds value and not just because it can be done. It’s not an easy or quick win, but with time and budget, it can and will add massively to your business.
  2. There are two building blocks to personalisation, the who (your audience) and the what (their experience).
  3. The Who: Your audience deserves unique experiences, so we should be moving away from a “one experience fits all approach”, which means we must understand the following:
    1. Demographics: Who is the visitor? Where are they from? What’s their industry, role, company size and even gender?
    2. Context: What is unique about the visitor right now? What channel did they arrive from? What campaign brought them here?
    3. Behaviour: What is the visitor doing? Have they downloaded a document? Have they viewed more than X pages?
  4. The What: Once you recognise who your customer is and their likely motivations, you’ll then need to craft the message you wish to show them, dubbed “the experience”. This part of the process is achieved by addressing the following:
    1. The location: Where on the page is the experience? Is it the H1? Above the fold? The mast image? Or a specific card?
    2. Content: What is the message? Is it relayed through text, image or video? Is it specific to their industry? Can you use tools like Clearbit or Demandbase to identify the user’s name and company? How about their job title, industry or even position?
    3. Measure: How is the campaign performing? To run these tests you must set a “control” as per basic CRO principles. Then you need to measure how the personalised items on the page and the page as a whole are performing against each other (multivariate testing) and the control.
  5. Whilst it’s important to run multiple tests and keep the pipeline of ideas full, it’s equally important to not try to do too much at once. That means we should keep the number of concurrent tests and specific audiences to a minimum, as content requirements will reach unnecessary levels and measurement will be overly complicated. Just select a number of key targets (companies/people) and group the rest by industry, country, etc.

Here are some examples of how Optimizely crafted a campaign which needed to reach execs from a number of different companies.



image of personalised website for Microsoft visitors to OptimizelyA version of Optimizely’s homepage personalised for visitors who work at Microsoft.




Optimizely webpage for users visiting from Target

A version of Optimizely’s homepage personalised for visitors who work at Target.


Airline Industry:


A version of Optimizely’s homepage personalized for visitors from the travel industry.

A version of Optimizely’s homepage personalised for visitors from the travel industry.



Angie Schottmuller

Angie began proceedings by recalling tough moments in life, like when she was struggling to complete a marathon, or had the sudden realisation during military training that she had a fear of heights. She argues that we consider our challenges to be things we need to address on our own, out of a false pretence that we are suffering alone. We should instead be seeking out people for guidance and support, people who can help us understand how to overcome difficult moments and indeed help each other over the line.

Angie Schottmuller - growth avengers uniting IT & marketing teams to kickass


Key Takeaways:

  1. Growth creates change and friction. We as growth marketers have regular ups and downs, which tend to correlate with performance peaks and troughs. Perspective in these times is critical, as it’s important that we can always see the bigger picture, remembering that growth is a result, not a strategy.
  2. “Never bring an opinion to a data fight”. There are ‘hippos’ and egos in every business. Hippos are typically higher paid employees with strong voices, who make emotive decisions due to a lack of knowledge on a given subject. It’s important that we know our hippos and how we handle them, in order to help them make decisions based on data. We must acknowledge their knowledge gap, by understanding the mission (why), goals (what) and tactics (how). We can then bring data to the fight (discussion) by adhering to the Hippo Principles: Be HUMBLE, INQUIRE, PILOT, PREPARE and be OBJECTIVE.
  3. Your biggest pain in life is your biggest growth opportunity. Find your pain and you will find your purpose.
  4. “Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities” – Tim Ferris. To overcome this time constraint, we must audit our time allocation against what’s most important. If growth is the priority, then seek out what will deliver the biggest wins (80/20).
  5. Business Goals = User Goals. You can fulfil your own goals only when you help your customer fulfil theirs. It’s the absolute key to conversion.
  6. To set KPIs, instead of an arbitrary figure being discussed, such as 20% performance increase or a three-second page load speed improvement, we should say what would be a poor result, and start from there. This allows us to set realistic objectives based on data. This can be mapped against a KPI expectations scale:
    • Exemplary: An incredible result, let’s do a case study!
    • Great: A significant boost in performance – everything seems to work well together
    • Good: Further boost in performance, surpassing our base expectations
    • Fair: Slight boost in performance, meeting our base expectations
    • Poor: Performance is less than current levels

You can find Angie on Twitter as @aschottmuller

Kieran Flanagan

Kieran was the last speaker to the stage. He’s in fact a former SEO here at Huskies (or Cybercom as it was then) and presently the VP of Marketing at Hubspot. It’s no secret that Kieran has earned a serious reputation in the industry over a number of years. Suffice to say, whenever he talks, the room listens.

Kieran Flanagan - Creating predictable growth by finding product channel fit

Kieran believes we should all take up boxing as a sport, so we can have something to hit on a regular basis. Inbound Marketing is a stressful business, and thus a punching bag has become an essential part of his toolkit. He believes that focusing just on product market fit isn’t enough, that it’s equally important to address the product channel fit, not only to determine how to to acquire user for a product, but also to make those people stick around and actually pay for it.


  1. Products are built to take advantage of specific channels, so the channel defines the rules. We can change our product, but not the channels we’re using. For example; to grow your product through paid marketing your product needs to have a ‘medium to wide’ value proposition, because you can’t set granular targeting constraints.
  2. When launching a product, there are three stages of “fit”:
    • Phase 1: Product/Market fit – Goal: Product retention flattens and NPS (Net Promoter Score) is positive
    • Phase 2: Product/Channel fit – Goal: Find 1-2 scalable and quality acquisition channels
    • Phase 3: MRR + NPS – Goal: Paying teams with high NPS
  3. Researching the right product-channel fit should begin during product development. To find the right channel to focus your efforts on, you should first define goals, generate ideas and measure them using ICE or PIE frameworks. Once you’re happy that you have found the right fit, you scale up.
  4. Don’t set targets for a new channel until you have enough data to build a reliable model. KPIs should always be based on previous campaign results. Even when this is done, acquisition efforts are hard to track.
  5. Product onboarding should introduce users to the value of your product in a short amount of time as possible. This is often described as the AHA moment, like when a person follows 20 people on Twitter and understands the value of the network, or when a person connects to 10 people in seven days on Facebook. The value of identifying these AHA moments, is that they can be prioritised as a growth hack, which will drive forward acquisition. How can we identify AHA moments? Well, we can ask people as Patreon did (via email) or we can segment users into cohorts to analyse the data to recognise patterns or ask the people who are closest to the friction (like customer care and sales teams).
  6. Creating an acquisition channel map can help prioritise acquisition channels for your product/service. Mapping each channel in a table as below, will help you decide which channels fit, based on scalability, predictability, ease of implementation and growth potential.
Channel Map to measure each each channel based on the parameters below to help you make better choices with your chips:

For more info: https://www.kieranflanagan.io/create-multi-million-dollar-acquisition-strategy/

When Kieran’s not attacking boxing bags, you can find him on Twitter as @Searchbrat, at Hubspot, speaking at numerous conferences, or on either of his two websites, KieranFlanagan.io and Searchbrat

You can catch the next Learn Inbound event at the Mansion House on November 1. It’s a full-day event boasting a ridiculous amount of industry leading speakers. The early bird tickets are on sale now at €199 a pop, it would be absolutely ludicrous to not go.

Next Event:

Time: 8:00am

Date: November 1st

Location: The Mansion House

Speakers: Aleyda Solis (Orainti), Oli Gardner (Unbounce), Annie Cushing (Outspoken Media), Purna Vurji (Microsoft), Mike Ramsey (Nifty Ventures), Wil Reynolds (Seer), Joanna Lord (ClassPass), Mike King (iPullRank), Lexi Mills (Marquis Communications) and Hannah Thorpe (White.net).

Event Page: https://learninbound.com/events/