5 Quick Takeaways from Hubspot's 2018 INBOUND Conference

Steve Peele and I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the annual INBOUND conference hosted by HubSpot in Boston last week. Like most attendees, it was a busy week of networking, learning, navigating conference rooms and hearing about some new approaches and tech from some of the best around in the marketing and growth space. The knowledge and thoughts don’t do anyone much good if they’re just percolating in my brain, so I thought I’d take a few minutes and share my top 5 takeaways.

1. It’s not Dreamforce.

But it doesn’t want to be. As a longtime HubSpot user, this was my first INBOUND conference, so it was super exciting to see and compare this event to past marketing-focused events I’ve been to. I’ve attended and presented at Dreamforce multiple times, and the Salesforce event’s scale is much bigger than Inbound. But, INBOUND does a fantastic job at being much more conscious of not focusing all content around its products. It focuses many of the sessions on techniques, processes and how to deploy the best tools to support your marketing mission (although obviously HubSpot is the centerpoint of much of this). I really enjoyed HubSpot’s “medium”-sized conference feel and choice of interesting sessions and brilliant presenters.

2. Away with the funnel! In with the Flywheel.

The co-founders of HubSpot—CEO Brian Halligan and CTO Dharmesh Shah—are a lively bunch and fun to watch. Halligan himself is a Grateful Dead and Phish fan, which makes me an incredibly happy person. He mixed both of the bands into his presentation. The two focused their energetic talks on the concept of customer experience and how now, more than ever, it empowers current customers to create new customers for organizations. The flywheel (make sure to check it out in details) reinvents the funnel into a constant wheel of customer satisfaction to attract >engage >delight and fits so nicely into how we approach growth. Cheers to Flywheels and funnels!

3. Is that friction in your funnel or are you just happy to see me?

Everyone at the conference seemed to be talking about friction. Friction is a “sticking” point where prospects or potential customers drop off or out of the funnel (flywheel) because of confusion. A lot of times this can be inadvertently created by the companies trying to lure those very customers in.

For example, if a customer lands on the pricing page but the pricing isn’t articulated well, that creates friction in the buying process and hinders the customer buying experience for both B2C and B2B.

Friction’s awareness has increased dramatically the past few years because there have been companies that have disrupted entire industries because they have been able to remove friction from the buying process and allow potential customers to get what they need, when they need it. Think Amazon, Netflix, AirBnB, Lyft. To the contrary, I’m sure you can name several companies with LOTS of friction. (Certain utilities or government organizations come to mind.) We prioritize evaluating friction for all of our customers and LOVE the fact that it played such a prominent part throughout INBOUND.

4. HubSpot is doubling down on Enterprise and Customer Service Growth.

HubSpot is truly putting the wheels in motion to be a “hub” for all growth customer and service engagements. There were several new product announcements made at INBOUND this year and some of the biggest are enhanced Enterprise capabilities with better analytics (thank the big guy above) and a new sales hub features including playbooks. They’ve also launched the service hub, which started allowing companies to launch a service portal in HubSpot and HubSpot Video, which includes “video hosting, in-video calls-to-action and forms, a simple video creation tool, and more.” There are many good things at HubSpot, so we were excited to not only see them playing catch-up in some areas, but also introducing some exciting new features to experiment and grow with.

5. Boston is a great city.

I had been to Boston once before, but my second time around I was really able to appreciate what it had to offer. Steve and I were able to wander about several local coffee shops, bars, breweries and restaurants. It goes without saying, the history there is incredible and the city itself is incredibly clean, but can be tough to navigate. Taking a Lyft or Uber is the way to go. I fell in love with Boston (and INBOUND) and will be back!

My 2 pennies, if you have the opportunity to go to INBOUND, JUMP ON IT. It’s a great conference that brings you together with like-mind marketing and growth-oriented people. Even if you can’t make every session, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to other marketers about their own techniques, challenges and ideas for solving problems. We’ll be sharing some of our tips, tricks and takeaways to our clients in the coming month, and we’re pumped to roll out some of the new features. INBOUND is one of the premier marketing conferences, no doubt. We’ll see you next year!

Dave Paprocki