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Our Top Takeaways from INBOUND19

Yvonne Hall
September 12, 2019

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If you are in digital marketing you may have heard of the INBOUND conference held in Boston each year. It is kind of a big deal in our industry. This year there were over 30,000 people at the Boston Convention Center attending 377 sessions during the 4-day conference. That's A LOT of info! Here are some of our team's biggest takeaways and tips from INBOUND19.

As a Platinum HubSpot Partner Agency, we were honored to send four team members to INBOUND this year including our CEO, Our Business Development Manager and two members of our Account Management team. Since we are a Platinum Agency Partner with HubSpot the four of us also attended Partner Day, a one-day event that is hosted the day before INBOUND officially kicks off and delivers content to help agencies grow better. This year, Partner Day was limited to Gold and above tiered agencies. HubSpot conferences never seem to disappoint. 

HubSpot Partner Day

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We won't bore you with the agency mumbo jumbo of tier levels changing (which was a shake up for many of us there) but there were some pretty amazing new offerings and launches that we thought you'd be interested in including:

  • Related Articles in Knowledge Base
  • Marketing Hub Starter changes

  • Social Post Boosting (in beta)

  • Native Lead Ad Creation in HubSpot (big deal for those that advertise on LinkedIn!)

You can also watch all of the updates at

Partner Day is a day that we look forward to each year because we get the opportunity to network with our peers, talk shop, and get a peak behind the HubSpot curtain before the public.

Since those of you that are reading this are likely not from a marketing agency, let's dive into the meat of the conference!

67955493_697516470674925_1610091440608754478_n(1)This was not my first INBOUND so I was prepared (or so I thought) for the overwhelming number of people and information. I'm an extravert (according to my Myers Briggs assessment) so networking and connecting isn't the overwhelming part. But my brain does get to a point where it feels like I'm drowning! Just looking at this picture can give you a very small idea of the sheer size of the conference. It was the largest INBOUND that HubSpot has ever thrown, growing by almost 20% over last year!

The HubSpot Founders' keynote is by far our team's most anticipated. It is always (since I have attended) a split session with Brian Halligan opening and Dharmesh Shah closing the time. We may actually have some Team Brian and Team Dharmesh conversations leading up to it -- and definitely after it! (Don't tell Brian, but I'm 100% Team Dharmesh!)

Brian Halligan's Keynote

In Brian Halligan's keynote last year he killed the funnel and gave us a flywheel. So honestly, we were a bit nervous waiting for his talk to start. It took us some time to really buy into the flywheel and get a better sense of what the flywheel is trying to accomplish as opposed to the funnel.


This year, he took us through a day in the life of him and his dog Romeo and in true Brian Halligan style, this year he killed something again -- the term Technology Disruptor. He said that Uber, Netflix and Chewy are not technology disruptors as many had described, but rather experience disruptors. The business culture they have created has changed how we live and how we experience the world. Because of their models, as consumers we now expect more for the money we spend. 

There was also an ah-ha moment in the middle for me when he said these business are hyper personalizing experiences, not with a personalization token, but by making us feel special and remembering what we like or what we've watched and serving up just what we want! He challenged us to do more super personalization in our own businesses to make each customer feel special. 

He wasn't done, he also killed B2B selling. Now before you roll your eyes (like we did immediately) - he explained that there really is no such thing as B2B selling because we don't sell to a company, we sell to A PERSON at that company, MIC DROP! 

Let that sink in. It was an immediate, huge shift for me.

Dharmesh Shah's Keynote

Dharmesh always pulls me in quickly with stories about his family. This year he warned us about fear through a story about how he overcame his fear of water through his son. His son helped him by walking him through a few thought processes -- it's just standing up in the pool, it's just dunking your head, it is just opening your eyes under water, it is just moving your arms and legs while you dunk your head and open your eyes under water. Before he knew it, Dharmesh had actually swam for the first time in his life. You're on notice, Michael Phelps.

But the business connection was really focused on diversifying. I was a bit lost for a few minutes on how this was going to connect. His point was that his son was looking at swimming and water from a different perspective AND that he explained it in a different way as well. And then my favorite slide popped up on the HUGE main stage screen (apologies for my bad photo taking skills on this one).different is better

Different is not just ok, it is better. Diversity and inclusion have been talked about a lot in my circles over the last year and I was on board from the beginning. But Dharmesh, as usual, brought a new aspect to this conversation for me. Diversity is better on a team and in a company because you can't solve/satisfy for what you don't know. So if everyone on the team is a male from MIT, you will only solve for what males at MIT need. This was a huge bright light for me because although he shared this in a business context of how we can be more, do more and solve more for our customers -- I also took the human societal aspect. We are better together. We need difference to grow. (See, I told you I'm 100% team Dharmesh!)


My favorite spotlight session was with Jennifer Garner and John Foraker -- I was an Alias watcher and a big fan ever since. My kids just know her as the "What's in your wallet?" lady. But John Foraker was a new name for me. I'm now a huge fan of his also. I was so impressed with the market position that he created for Annie's and how together they are now creating a similar disruption within WIC in order to up-level the baby food offerings available in grocery stores nationwide. Their passion was so apparent as they talked through their process of contacting each state to become approved. It also didn't hurt that Katie Couric was the interviewer for this session!



MIND THE GAP - The way we communicate has changed in the last decade, have you noticed? How do you talk with your family and friends? How irritated do you get when your mom starts typing a response via text, you see the bubble pop up...and nothing, she never hits send! (this happens multiple times a week with my own mom 😂). We live in an instant communication, instant gratification world. But much of the business world has not caught up. Check out this slide from Lisa Edwards and Remington Begg: mind the gap

The stats on this slide support the instant communication lifestyle we all live in. As a society we now prefer instant, one-on-one communication. We ask Google, Siri, and Alexa for instant answers -- and we get them. But only 36% of businesses have implemented a way for prospects and customers to gain this same instant scenario. We get it. It seems impersonal and honestly a daunting task! If you are reading this and you are saying, "ok, I'll just create one bot chatflow and add it to all our webpages," Remington says, "DON'T DO IT!" Remember, we like one-on-one communication. So a chatbot saying, 'Hi, we can't help right now, so please fill out this form' on every page will just irritate people. Try adding a Live Chat option first during office hours and assign people to be in charge of it (we connect ours to notify us in Slack). Then you can take the time to build out some responses to commonly asked questions (using your FAQs or Knowledge base) or sending them to key pages on your site with more details based on trigger words. 

GO MOBILE - We are all spending increasingly more time on our mobile devices these days (which is only going to increase with Apple announcing the iPhone 11 this week!), and that includes research for bigger purchases like cars, houses, and vacations. However, how many of us actually pull the trigger on those higher involvement purchases from our phones? Not many right. Usually what happens is people do their research on the go from their phones, and tell themselves, "I'll book that trip from my computer when I get home." Since the conversions happen on desktops, desktop ads are generally more expensive. However, with the buying decision being made on mobile, flipping our budgets to be more mobile heavy will provide more conversion bang with less dollars out of pocket. This disconnect between conversion rates and price might seem too good to be true, and thats because to some extent it is! The caveat here is that you won't be able to accurately measure how well your mobile ads are performing vs desktop ads or which device is truly giving you better ROI, but in theory putting more spend into your mobile ads should correlate with an overall increase in conversions across devices.

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INCREASE FORM CONVERSION THROUGH VIDEO -- This use of video (which we all know we need more of) is a brilliant way to increase form fills/conversion by humanizing the process. People want to know what they are REALLY signing up for if they fill out that form. Will they get access to something immediately? What and how many emails will they be sent? How long will they be on your email list, etc. Dustin shared details in this week's Monday Marketing Tip - INBOUND 19. But here is the video that Marcus Sheridan puts on his form fill page. Pretty brilliant right? And yet so simple!

69855765_2535440163346458_6830233319133675520_oWe also got the chance to meet up with several clients while in Boston (some of whom we had never met in person!). They were invigorated and ready to launch new ideas and initiatives as well! 

Were you in Boston with us? What were your favorite sessions? Did you bring any tips back with you that you are excited to launch? We can't wait to hear about them!


If you missed the conference and are feeling a little lackluster about your HubSpot usage, we'd be honored to take a look and provide advice and tips in a HubSpot Audit.

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