This week I attended the INBOUND marketing event hosted by HubSpot in Boston, Massachusetts, which had a whopping 26,000+ attendees. Headliners included Elizabeth Gilbert, Janelle Monae, Katie Couric, and more. I attended speeches by Alexis Ohanian, Larry Kim, AJ Wilcox, and Sal Khan. I also spent plenty of time in the LinkedIn Lounge talking with attendees to get their feedback on the event. This three days of more than 250 speakers was designed to help bring marketers and the salespeople they work with in line to meet customer expectations — and that’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. The exchange of knowledge that takes place at this event is astounding, making it a top destination for marketers from across the country.
“I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking at HubSpot’s INBOUND five years in a row now on Facebook marketing,” says Mari Smith, Premier Facebook Marketing Expert & Top Social Media Thought Leader. “The conference truly gets better every year. I appreciated the team’s creative changes with trying out new stages this year, and all the nuances to make the overall experience exceptional for attendees, speakers and sponsors. I’m always heartened to see the amount of engagement online, too. And the generous feedback from attendees. I intentionally invested the full Monday-Friday so I could co host social events with Wave.video, record video content for HubSpot’s Academy, record a podcast interview with Andy Wang, and enjoy numerous sessions and keynotes myself this year.”
This huge event didn’t start out that way, however.
“When I began we decided to throw a user event for our customers,” says Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing at HubSpot. There were maybe a couple thousand people there, but there was one thing sort we noticed back then — it is sort of magical when people who are passionate about what they do get together to share ideas. So we stuck with it and every year it grew a little bit.”
“The speakers are what get people here. It’s the program, it’s what people expect to hear,” says Anderson. “We have had the great fortune to have speakers from Serena Williams to Michelle Obama to Chelsea Handler, and really great speakers from the industry. We’ve had business leaders, philosophers, and musicians all take the stage, but the message is always consistent, which is really the idea of growth and improvement and being true to the customers that you serve.” (see the full interview here)
One of the best places at any event like this is the LinkedIn Lounge, and LinkedIn spared no time or expense this year in ensuring attendees were able to derive serious value from the experience. It was a comfortable and welcoming place where you could get real advice from LinkedIn professionals to propel your business forward past its next challenge.Kieran Kesner for Hubspot
“We wanted to create a welcoming, organic environment to inspire people to come by to talk with us, to learn, and to think about how to grow professionally and how to grow their businesses,” says Kelly McEttrick Head of Adtech Channel Sales for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. “There are a couple of different engagements we set up to achieve that. First is the ‘Trusted Teammate’ area where there are plants, seating areas, and a bunch of experts here and we really welcome people to stop by and chat with us about their challenges and opportunities and we can talk to them about what business problems they are trying to solve. Then we have a bunch of sessions and engagements that really focus on practical tools, tips, and sessions on best practices on how to really leverage LinkedIn. Today we also have sessions about how to leverage LinkedIn through HubSpot and how together we can make businesses grow faster and in a more meaningful and powerful way. The third way is thought leadership — one of the bigger things that we want businesses to think about are the things we’ve seen across our platform that can really inspire that long-term growth.”
“This INBOUND environment is really exciting for us because we get to participate with so many INBOUND HubSpot customers as well as their partners as well as industry practitioners, and so the energy level is really high and it’s creating all these wonderful organic connections,” says Kaitlin Stich, Partner Marketing Lead for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.
“It’s such a human conference,” says McEttrick. “You can go to a lot of conferences and hear a lot of buzzwords and see a lot of emerging technologies and trends, but INBOUND is really about innovation through experiences. I’m always excited to come here because everyone is ready to learn and engage and you leave here with better relationships and better insights for your products. It really reflects in everyone’s attitude here.”
“Our integrations with HubSpot cross all our product spaces,” says McEttrick. “The ads side is our latest integration. It’s really about how do we meet the HubSpot customer where they are to grow their businesses through an integration with LinkedIn to accelerate their ads business with us. Now you can create Lead Gen ads directly from HubSpot, send those in to LinkedIn, and really close that sales and marketing loop.” (see the full interview here)
Networking events are great, but an event like this is where you go to meet people who do the same job you do across vastly different industries. It’s where you learn new tips and techniques as well as what is brand new or rolling out soon within your field. This gives you a chance to deepen both relationships and knowledge to propel your business forward.
Other attendees’ reactions to #INBOUND2019:
“[It was] an electric experience with great people, fun opportunities for networking and so much learning. That serendipitous meeting where you see a dear friend and meet new ones? That happens, too! Thank you for making me feel welcome as a speaker!” – Kathy Klotz-Guest of Keepingithuman.com
“I always look forward to going to INBOUND. The content is always relevant, no matter the stage in your career! I always leave with a tip or trick that is highly actionable. The speakers have always left me feeling inspired and it’s a great opportunity to network!” – Lauren Dennison, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, Paycor
“Think there was something more than brands being purposeful, it was a lot of people finding hope or the idea they needed at the Lowe’s point, most humiliating point in the career, or being humble enough to explore what they don’t know in an effort to understand groups of people they don’t yet currently. Very interesting. INBOUND also has done a nice job this year with Diversity of gender & race, and underrepresented communities as presenters—which is very noticeable. Maybe the most diverse industry conference line up I’ve seen yet. Not sure there’s a lot of difference in political opinions, but there’s always room to improve!” – Janessa Carder, Strategy Director at Isobar
“For Golden Spiral Marketing, INBOUND is where the tools we use everyday are contextualized and personalized. We gain insider knowledge and insights while also experiencing a belonging to a peer community bigger than ourselves.” – Angus Nelson, Director of Development at Golden Spiral Marketing
“I walked away from HubSpot INBOUND inspired, entertained an armed with action items that I can implement immediately at my company. As a marketer, it was amazing being immersed in content that directly speaks to what I do on a daily basis. It was my first time INBOUND and I for sure plan on returning.” – Dovid Rotshtein, Marketing Manager, 121eCommerce
“INBOUND is always a blast. Fresh perspective, new technology, innovative ideas, and meaningful content. I love coming here each year. It’s an electrical experience.
It energizes me and helps me bring new ideas to my clients.” – Sarah Tsai , Owner of Sarah Tsai ConsultingPhotos Courtesy of INBOUND