HubSpot INBOUND 2018 – Recap and Review

Katie Schieder
Katie Schieder Director of Inbound Marketing & Content

What Happened at HubSpot Inbound 2018?

Inbound is HubSpot’s annual digital marketing conference. The goal is to bring industry professionals together “to learn, get inspired, and grow better together.” The conference is geared towards sales and marketing professionals, business owners, and agencies. Attendees are able to attend sessions with speakers like Michelle Obama and Alex Rodriguez, discuss industry trends, and learn about product advancements and updates.

Here is a quick recap:

  • The funnel is dead.
  • The flywheel is replacing the funnel.
  • The Professional tier has new features, including video and custom reporting.
  • HubSpot is making it easier for businesses to scale within the system.
  • The Enterprise suite just got better.

In my opinion these five bullet points are the key takeaways from yesterday’s keynote and product announcement. Let’s dive into more detail.

The Keynote

The highlight of the Inbound conference is the keynote, delivered by HubSpot’s founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. It’s a time to talk about new technology, new ideas, and new ways of conquering the digital world. Essentially, it’s a lot of “new,” and who doesn’t like that? This year they choose to focus more on the ever-evolving concepts that shape inbound, and less on actual product announcements. That’s not to say there were no exciting product announcements, just that they came much later in the presentation.

Funnel vs. Flywheel

Halligan announced that the concept of the funnel is outdated and introduced the flywheel (see image below.) This is fine. In my opinion, the flywheel is not radically different than the funnel and it looks very similar to the customer hub graphic displayed at Inbound 2017. I personally think that the funnel is an easier concept to grasp for clients when talking about things like the customer journey, mapping content, etc. Just my opinion.


Halligan also touched on the idea that companies with less friction are more successful. What does he mean by this? Companies that allow customers more autonomy are more likely to succeed. He gave the example of how mattresses are sold. Going to a store to buy a mattress involves traveling from your home to the store, testing mattresses at the store, speaking with a sales representative, probably buying a mattress, then traveling back home and waiting for the delivery. The client is experiencing a lot of friction or additional effort. New companies like Casper, Purple, or Helix allow you to go online, select the mattress you want, check out, then try it out for 100 days to see if you like it. This experience feels effortless. There is considerably less friction. You could do it in less than 10 minutes from the comfort of your own home.

So to circle back to the point of the more friction, less friction analogy – people want more autonomy in their buying process. HubSpot helps marketers grant this wish with the help of AI, chatbots, automated workflows, and a few new features baked into the Professional and Enterprise plans.

The Product Announcement

The product announcement is my favorite part of the Inbound conference. Halligan and Shah can promote this event as an inbound experience with the goal of growing and cultivating their holistic digital marketing methodology, but I think we all know it’s really an event to get people excited about their product and announce updates to the system.

So, what do we have to look forward to in 2019?

More Features and New Features

If you are unfamiliar with HubSpot’s pricing plans, they are as follows:

  • Free
  • Starter
  • Professional
  • Enterprise

Free is the newest addition to HubSpot. It allows users to dip their toes into the world of marketing automation with features like contact management, forms, emails, live chat, chatbots, social ads, and reporting.

The Free plan includes what most of the old Starter plan offered. So to fix this, they added features to the Starter plan that were previously only available to Professional users. As you can see, things are snowballing quickly. We’re stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Luckily, HubSpot understood that they couldn’t just keep shifting more features to lower tiers and expect Professional and Enterprise users to continue to pay a premium. Their solution was to create new features for Professional and Enterprise users.

HubSpot Professional

The developers at HubSpot gifted Professional users with two truly robust features: video and custom reporting.

Professional users can now create, host, share, manage, and report back on video within the HubSpot system. This includes one-on-one videos and screenshares. You will also be able to place HubSpot forms in videos and control metadata.

Professional users will also be able to create custom reports within HubSpot. This was previously only offered to Enterprise users or as an add-on.

HubSpot Enterprise

This is the elite HubSpot tier, built for large businesses and corporations. HubSpot, although a seasoned marketing automation veteran, has not been around as long as companies like SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics. For this reason, HubSpot has received the reputation of being a great tool for startup, small, and medium-sized businesses. This is true (and continues to be true), but with the updates made in 2018 and the ones to come in 2019, HubSpot is poised to become one of the leading all-in-one sales and marketing systems for large businesses/corporations.

In 2017, HubSpot took the first step toward becoming a solution for large businesses when they unveiled their CRM. It integrated all the information marketers were gathering from their website, emails, workflows, CTAs, forms, social, etc., and added it to the contact profiles within the CRM.

In early 2018, HubSpot launched the Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, and Service Hub. This summer they also released the Conversations tool. A combined live chat, chatbot. Read about it here.

At Inbound 2018, HubSpot announced the Grow Suite. This gives teams the ability to grow within the platform, maintain and share data, and better serve the customer. Whether your team is expanding in the sales, marketing, or customer service department, the grow suite can scale with your evolving needs. The grow suite is available for Starter, Professional, and Enterprise Users.

This is a big deal for large companies. It allows large, international companies to share information, stay connected, and provide the best customer experience possible. How?

  • Teams – break users into up to 50 teams. Allow users to work within the team and share information across the entire system. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures accurate, up-to-date information.
  • Playbooks – create step-by-step guides for your team to use when interacting with customers and help structure the conversations. You can also create example playbooks that demonstrate successful customer interactions for training new employees.
  • Call Transcripts – record calls within HubSpot. The call will live in the customer profile and can be reviewed or referenced at any time.
  • Send Frequency Cap – stop sending too many emails. Identify how many emails can be sent within a specific timeframe.
  • Automatic Calculations – don’t just automate for your client, automate for your employees too. HubSpot will now do calculations such as sales commission within the system. HubSpot will also allow for more than two currencies in the system and will calculate exchange rates. This will make accounting very happy.

These features and more (content partitioning, single sign-on, content access restrictions, Facebook messenger tools, email throttling and prioritization, eSignature, quote approvals, quota management, and more are all listed on the site as coming soon) are great reasons to considering buying or upgrading your HubSpot account.

Act Now!

HubSpot will increase prices for each plan on November 1. If you are considering marketing automation or want to talk about a more robust strategy for 2019 contact Arc, a certified HubSpot Agency Partner, to talk about what works best for your goals and budget.