Everyone knows that HubSpot's annual Inbound event is the crown jewel of inbound marketing events and conferences. With fantastic speakers and lots of great events, there's no better place to gather the latest insights into marketing trends and new ideas.
This year's Boston-based event is set to host some not-to-miss speakers (Michelle Obama! *squeal*) and the president and co-founder of Pixar, Dr. Ed Catmull, along with HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.
This year our managing director Craig and our marketing director Jonathan are heading off to Boston to represent Struto at the event. We interviewed them before they left, and caught up with them when they returned. Here's what they had to say about Inbound 2017.
On the Road to Inbound 2017
So, you're both going to be heading off to Inbound 2017 tomorrow. Anything you're really excited about regarding this event?
Craig: Well I've been attending Inbound since 2012, so I've seen quite a few events over the years. They're always good for combining a balanced blend of educational content, entertainment and inspirational thinking, which I always look forward to experiencing.
Jonathan: I'm looking forward to quite a few things actually, including the chance to get in some networking and catching up with our industry fellows, see what the competition is up to and seizing the opportunity to take in some inspirational insights from thought leaders. You never leave an Inbound event without being challenged in your thought processes and ideas.
Another opportunity Inbound events always afford you is the chance to see how far the industry has come, spot new niches developing and to see where your business's strengths may lie so you can make strategic decisions about where your business might be moving.
You were both at last year's event. What do you think HubSpot will need to do to top last year?
Craig: Honestly, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to top last year's event. Unfortunately, the Inbound 2016 conference took place right in the middle of the unmitigated disaster that was Trump's election process. As a democrat state, the mood in Boston was understandably bleak, which definitely could be felt by those visiting. So, I think this year will certainly be more positive.
Jonathan: These events are always great, but I think to top last year's event HubSpot will need to make some exciting new announcements relating to their tech. Another challenge they'll have to face head-on is balancing their events and speakers to cater for both veteran attendees such as Craig and myself, while still catering to the thousands attending who are new to inbound marketing.
What new trends and topics do you predict might make an appearance? Anything you're hoping to see covered?
Craig: I think account-based marketing (ABM), artificial intelligence (AI) and video will be some of the key items covered this year. The ABM should be interesting, as ABM is often traditionally associated with a more out-based marketing approach, while HubSpot has always stuck to what I'd call very "inboundsy" messaging. I think they'll spin the ABM piece with an inbound touch, but I'm keen to see if their software tools will be shaped and tweaked to facilitate ABM more efficiently.
Jonathan: I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot of the tech developments like machine learning and AI. I'm also keen to see how far sales enablement has come since last year, and the latest thinking on that.
Which speakers are you most looking forward to seeing and why?
Craig: Definitely Michelle Obama, without question. Pixar's Ed Catmull is another interesting choice for me. One of the speakers I am very interested in seeing is Bozoma Saint John, Uber's Chief Brand Officer. Uber's taken a couple of nasty PR knocks over the last while, and it'll be worth hearing what she has to say and how they're finding their way through it.
Jonathan: Unquestionably Michelle Obama, and of course guys like Marcus Sheridan and Paul Roetzer, are always worth listening to. Brené Brown is good to listen to as well, and I see Google is also speaking at a couple of events. They never fail to present something worth listening to and taking note of.
A large part of attending the inbound conference is about networking and doing reconnaissance. It’s about catching up with other leaders in the industry and taking in the newest trends and latest best practice. Inbound is the place where you learn what’s hot and happening in the inbound and digital marketing world and apply that to your product/services/solutions.
Craig already has six consecutive Inbound conferences under his belt and has always walked away from them with a stronger vision for the Struto brand and how we can differentiate from the “competition” while still offering competitive and innovative services.
Both Jonathan and Craig expressed interest in taking in speakers like Pixar’s Dr Ed Catmull, Paul Roetzer, Marcus Sheridan, Brenѐ Brown and Michelle Obama.
We were in constant contact with them about what they were enjoying and what value they were getting. For one thing, Craig got to meet up with HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah, and we’re absolutely thrilled to hear what came out of that talk!
Of the speakers that blew our guys away, standouts mentioned were:
· PR20/20’s Paul Roetzer on his talk about “Hacking Inbound”.
· Opening speaker Brenѐ Brown, who set the tone for the entire conference.
· Rand Fishkin’s talk on “The Invisible Giant (that mucks up our marketing)”.
· Square2Marketing’s Mike Lieberman on “How to Predict Inbound Marketing and Sales Results”.
· Michelle Obama and her inspirational address.
· Uber’s chief branding officer, Bozoma Saint-John, whose sass and savvy captivated the entire room.
Craig also mentioned of his time in Boston, that:
"The conference is always a perfect balance of educational and inspirational, and while you might not always get what you wanted, you still leave with something valuable."
The biggest HubSpot highlight
While the guest-speaker talks are exciting and insightful, the bulk of inbound marketing agencies and attendees are mostly excited to learn what HubSpot has in store, and will be unveiling, during their segment of the conference.
And the HubSpot crew didn’t disappoint. With one eye firmly fixed on the future (bots, AI, Shopify integration), and another tracking the pulse of what marketing and sales require (better engagement with leads through an integrated chat feature called “conversations”), HubSpot’s new product features have us excited for what’s ahead in the new year.
As a bonus, HubSpot’s Sales Pro toolkit gets an update that rolls out as early as November! Here’s what the HubSpot team had to say at their new product feature talk:
Great news for sales teams
1. HubSpot Sales Professional – Update due November 2017
· Utilise machine learning to uncover the best leads, and create more accurate lead scoring.
· Better automation and management tools mean more accurate data capture for client and lead’s information.
· New productivity tools mean smarter work done faster. Save time (and money) with meetings, templates, sequences and deep inbox integration. (link to Sales Pro page).
2. HubSpot leaps into the future with Motion.ai - Out in 2018
· AI-powered bots are at the helm to help with your market messaging with HubSpot’s acquisition of Motion AI.
3. Conversations in HubSpot – Out in 2018
· A handy feature available for HubSpot Free CRM.
· Store messages in a central place where you can view, manage and reply quickly and easily.
· Automation helps you manage conversations more granularly.
· Pull in discussions from every messaging channel and bring in any team member who can help to solve queries and address customer issues.
4. HubSpot Customer Hub – Out in 2018
· The customer hub is HubSpot’s way of addressing customer service in an inbound marketing mind-frame.
· Built on top of the new Conversations feature, everyday chats can be escalated into a case that’s easy to manage.
· Evolve from just addressing ticketed issues, to fully helping customers quickly and efficiently through improved knowledge centre tools.
Even more exciting news for marketing
One of the most exciting prospects for me as a digital marketer and content specialist was HubSpot’s new-look marketing tools. My palms are positively sweaty at the idea of finally getting Shopify integration and Instagram access through the portal. Here are some other goodies coming our way content-heads:
Research is now so much more convenient, and curating good content will be a cinch with HubSpot collect which allows you to snip research around the web and collect and collate them in HubSpot. You’re also able to now move drafts from Google Docs into your HS platform with relative ease.
HubSpot’s segmentation goes even more granular to target ads on Facebook, meaning we’ll be able to convert more leads through formats such as Facebook Leads Ads.
Now eCommerce stores can easily sync product and sales data to HubSpot, meaning that you could use your analytics, workflow emails and various other HubSpot tools to track and measure within the platform.
Instagram for HubSpot
Finally, Instagram joins HubSpot’s lists of social media platforms, alongside Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can schedule Instagram posts along with your other social platforms and, also get mobile reminders to publish your content. Content Strategy Your marketing team will get more traffic with less content … wait, what? Yes, with HubSpot’s new approach to content and SEO, finally we’ll be able to leverage principles of 80/20 analysis to your content strategy.
There’s no use doing all the hard work and not being able to report back on all the progress made, goals reached and KPI’s achieved. HubSpot’s new reporting engine promises to link all your efforts and channels back to traffic, leads and revenue streams.
There’s a lot we’ve learnt from this year’s Inbound event, and we’ll share more on this in the weeks to come. For now, though, we’ve got our fingers poised to click as soon as these HubSpot features reach Beta status, and will follow up with a review if, and when available.