HubSpot’s annual INBOUND conference has grown to become a highlight of the digital and inbound marketing industry’s social calendar. Every year, marketers from across the world gather in Boston – the home of HubSpot – to share inspiration and innovation on the next evolution of marketing, sales and how to create an ever-better customer experience.
More than 21,000 professionals attended last year’s event to share insights, catch a first a glimpse of HubSpot’s newest products and strategies pre-launch, and to hear inspirational speakers from both inside and outside the marketing world.
Our MD, Craig Wiltshire and Chairman, Jonathan Wagstaffe were there last year and are excited to be headed back to Boston for this year’s event, which is happening from 4 – 7 September 2018. Even more exciting is that INBOUND 2018 is our first event as HubSpot Diamond Partners.
I caught up with Craig to chat about his thoughts pre-event, and what he’s most looking forward to about attending.
So, are there any speakers you’re keen to see?
I think Deepak Chopra, who’ll be a keynote speaker on the first day is one to watch, to take away some inspiration and insight. I’m also looking forward to seeing Shonda Grimes, who’ll be speaking on day three.
If you’ve not heard of her before, she’s an award-winning television producer, screenwriter and author. She’s also the brains behind some of TV’s most riveting and successful shows, like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder and Private Practice.
More on the HubSpot front, it’s always great hearing HubSpot’s co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah speak, along with HubSpot’s VP of Product, Christopher O’Donnell.
Any specific topics you’re expecting to see covered?
I think this year is going to be a year of exciting product announcements and releases. Often, you’ll attend an event and find that hints will be dropped about products to come, but afterwards, you find yourself waiting for months to see them released.
This year I’m expecting to see product announcements that imply immediate product access, or at the very least a much shorter turnaround time till users can access the products and features announced.
INBOUND is always inspiring. It’s not only the organised events that make it special, it’s also the fantastic mix of people you get to spend time with. I always come back brimming with new ideas for Struto and our clients. As the newest UK Diamond partners, I feel an added sense of anticipation and responsibility this year, to bring back something new that we can incorporate into our growth plans.
There you have it. I also sat down with Jonathan to ask him a few post-event questions.
Looking Back on INBOUND 2018: Key Takeaways and Thoughts
So, Jonathan, were there any new HubSpot developments that struck you during the event?
I’ve got to say, this year Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan did what I believe to be their most potent presentation yet. It highlighted HubSpot’s decision to move from the traditional funnel view of the customer journey to the flywheel approach. This demonstrates their strong feelings on how customer experience lies at the heart of successful marketing and sales. It was also awe-inspiring to see how rapidly HubSpot is experiencing growth and development.
What would you say were the most significant takeaways for you?
There were a few salient points I found struck me profoundly.
The first was the rapid evolution that HubSpot has undergone in the last twelve to eighteen months. In years past, you might hear them talk about their planned achievements for the year ahead, but no more specific than that. Fast forward to INBOUND 2018, and by September they’ve met goals they’d said, at the EMEA Partner Summit in spring of this year, that they’d only achieve by Christmas.
They’ve made tremendous changes in the last eighteen months, including moving from a point/product/marketing tool to a full-blown customer relationship management (CRM) platform. They’ve rewritten the marketing product and developed both sales and services products in full suites that run from basic to enterprise options.
It was also evident that much thought had gone into small businesses, and how they get started with HubSpot. By offering a free full-function CRM, and free versions of the marketing, sales and services tools, they’re making HubSpot accessible at a high-level of functionality for nothing. Contrary to popular belief, their free CRM isn’t just a cutdown offering; it’s a full-blown CRM with high-level tools to get businesses started.
Finally, the move from funnel to flywheel was once again reinforced, along with the pivotal importance of customer experience. In a world where your competitors are touting products that are increasingly similar and equal in quality to your own, it’s a stellar customer experience that ultimately seals the deal. I think the flywheel reinforces this very well, putting the customer at the centre of all digital marketing, sales and service activities, where they belong.
Can you tell me a bit more about the insights Struto can gather from the latter?
I think that there’s always room to ask how we can improve our customer experience. The move from the funnel to the flywheel highlights this for us. From initial chatbot interaction to how well we deliver our services, we need to be looking at ways to boost the quality of experience we offer to businesses working with us.
As an example, using chat boxes well means customer questions are answered in real-time so they don’t have to wait. It can also mean eliminating forms on contact pages. It’s all about removing points of friction in customer interaction and making the buyer’s journey as sleek, meaningful and positive as possible.
HubSpot themselves mentioned they'd removed forms on their contact pages, choosing instead to have a chat box, a book a meeting option and a listed telephone number. This approach is far more immediate for the customer and also puts them in control without having to leave their data.
And finally, were there any presentations that blew you away?
Scott Harrison, Charity:Water CEO
These events are always filled with excellent speakers and presentations, making it tough to single out just one. As I mentioned before, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah were incredibly strong this year and I enjoyed their presentation immensely. That said, from a non-marketing perspective, Scott Harrison’s presentation about how charity: water is bringing clean water to Africa was also a humbling and inspiring talk.
And there you have it. Our insights from INBOUND 2018.
If you want to know more about how the flywheel approach to digital marketing, sales and customer service could help your engagement and lead conversion, get in touch. We’d love to discuss it with you.