INBOUND 2017 – Recap and Review
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HubSpot recently held their annual INBOUND conference in Boston. The conference typically gets a lot of buzz for two reasons – high profile speakers and new product announcements.
Since I attend the conference from the comfort of my home office, I am able to catch a few presentations and keep an eye on the live feed while working. But a few particularly presentations grabbed my attention. Last year, HubSpot announced they were making further investments in content creation tools and unveiled their free plan. This year was equally, if not more, exciting.
If you didn’t watch the livestream or didn’t follow my live tweets of the keynote and product announcement – here is a quick recap.
Cofounders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah stuck to a theme for the keynote and new product announcement: How can you disrupt your industry by delighting your customers?
Well, apparently the answer was by providing a new suite of products that would delight HubSpot customers and help them to better nurture and delight their customers in return.
HubSpot Sales Professional
HubSpot upgraded their CRM in an effort to compete with industry giants such as SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamic, and Oracle.
This is an upgrade that I believe HubSpot has desperately needed for quite some time. This upgrade (assuming it works seamlessly, is unrestricted, and is as smooth as the demo) will complete the puzzle. Customers who have been using compatible CRM’s, or manually syncing to incompatible CRM’s, will now have another option, a hopefully better option. Because really, what is the sense in having data in two systems when you can keep it clean in one? By incorporating a more robust CRM into the HubSpot platform, you will never again worry about whether the data in your CRM or in your marketing automation system is up to date.
HubSpot describes their CRM as “the all-in-one sales toolkit to supercharge your sales engine.” According to HubSpot, you will be able to:
- Organize prospect and customer details using robust automation and management tools.
- Save the sales team time and help them work smarter with productivity tools like meetings, templates, sequences, and a deep inbox integration.
- Leverage the power of machine learning to surface the best leads to your sales team with predictive lead scoring.
(I think this feature will be the most appealing to sales professionals, and possibly the primary reason to try HubSpot’s CRM.)
This new and improved functionality will be available as of November 11, 2017.
Be warned: on November 11 this feature will go live and HubSpot has made it very clear that prices will increase. If you are considering becoming a HubSpot customer and find this new feature appealing, buy before November 11 and be grandfathered in with today’s pricing.
New Products Coming in 2018
HubSpot put some serious thought and common sense into this feature.
Think about this – as a consumer, do you always want to call the support number or fill out a form? No. You want the ability to contact a company on your terms, whether that be via form fill, chat, or Facebook Messenger. So why don’t you give your customers the same option?
“Conversations is a shared inbox that helps you and your team have better one-to-one conversations with your customers.”
What can Conversations do?
- Stores messages from prospects and customers in a single, central place so you and your team can view, manage, and reply with ease.
- Conversations seamlessly pulls in messages from every channel, and allows you to bring any member of your team into a thread. Sales, marketing, and customer support will never miss a message.
- Conversations is connected to the rest of HubSpot CRM Free, giving you context on every contact so you and your sales team always have the full picture.
- Automation rules and bots help manage conversations at scale, routing incoming messages and taking care of simple tasks.
The Customer Hub
What is The Customer Hub? “HubSpot’s new Customer Hub enables the inbound way of doing customer service. You’ll make customers happier, keep them longer, and grow your business faster.”
But what does this really mean? It means you will be able to use and share all known information about a customer or company. This will help you better manage and delight customers.
Tell me more!
- The Customer Hub is built on top of Conversations. This makes it easy to escalate an everyday chat into a case that can be managed.
- Truly understand your customers with feedback and insights tools that you can deploy across Conversations, email, and more.
- Go from frantically “solving tickets” to actually helping your customers – quickly and efficiently. Serve them even better with sophisticated knowledge center tools.
Growth Strategy Reimagined
HubSpot realized that customers didn’t just want a system that allowed them to manage and market to leads – they wanted a system that would help them develop a plan to get more leads and convert those leads into customers.
In 2018, HubSpot Marketing will roll out a new set of tools to help you attract and engage with more of the right people.
- Content Strategy: A new, modern approach to content and SEO that helps marketers get more traffic with less content.
- Campaign Reporting: A powerful new reporting engine that helps you tie even the broadest marketing campaigns directly to traffic, leads, and revenue.
- Facebook Ads: Use HubSpot’s granular segmentation tools to target ads on Facebook. Easily convert more people with new formats like Facebook Lead Ads.
- Instagram for HubSpot: Tee up posts and get mobile reminders to publish your content on Instagram. Coming soon to beta.
- Native Shopify Integration: Seamlessly sync product and sales data to HubSpot. Benefit from HubSpot’s analytics, workflows, email, and more. This tool is currently in beta.
- HubSpot Collect: Turn your ideas into quality content. Clip research from around the web, and push drafts from Google Docs into HubSpot in one-click.
HubSpot is Growing!
In an effort to become a more open, friendly, compatible platform, HubSpot doubled their integration partners the week prior to Inbound. Here are two that I thought were particularly exciting.
HubSpot conducted exhaustive research on how people prefer to communicate with companies, and they believe the future of marketing is messaging. And with bots, powered by AI, you can have one-on-one conversations with everyone at scale. HubSpot’s acquisition of Motion.ai will enable businesses to better engage, convert, close, and delight their customers across all channels.
What does Terminus do? According to HubSpot, “Terminus will engage the decision-makers and influencers at your target accounts. No contact data required. Terminus finds the people in those companies and serves them targeted ads across web, mobile, video, and social channels.”
Thoughts on INBOUND 2017
INBOUND 2017 unveiled a wealth of tools and products. It’s clear they are working to remain the industry leader in marketing automation as well as change the way people look at marketing automation tools. It’s no longer good enough to have workflows, dynamic content, social listening, and a contact database. You must always be using this information to learn and delight. HubSpot has raised the bar, and platforms still struggling to perfect email and incorporate social capabilities are officially inadequate.
I think the new, robust CRM is definitely a step in the right direction for HubSpot, and I can’t wait to try it out in November. The lack of a true CRM was probably one of the few limitations I saw in the system. By incorporating a powerful CRM, HubSpot will likely become the obvious choice for companies looking to seamlessly incorporate sales and marketing efforts.
I will also be eager to try the Conversations tool and The Customer Hub, both coming out in 2018. The Conversations tool seems like one of the most common sense tools in the suite. It is applicable to small marketing departments as well as large teams.
The Customer Hub is very interesting. The ability to create case studies and have a native knowledge base with reporting and feedback collection means marketers will need fewer tools and have fewer reasons to log out of the HubSpot platform. I assume this information will also be available for the sales team to view (depending on permissions) and could provide valuable insight into customer delight, retention, and future lead generation.
HubSpot also made a great decision in adding these tools to the free version of the HubSpot CRM.
If you would like to watch the INBOUND 2017 product announcement, you can find it here.
If you would like more information about HubSpot, the new products, or marketing automation in general, we are happy to help. Click here for a list of our HubSpot Consulting Services.