INBOUND 2019: 7 Important Takeaways from the Conference

In case you hadn’t heard about it, every year since 2012 HubSpot has hosted INBOUND, an interactive, educational conference for users, partners, and industry professionals that takes place in Boston, MA. This year, INBOUND played host to around 26,000 attendees and featured some big names on it’s keynote speaker list (we’re talking Elizabeth Gilbert, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Janelle Monae, Alexis Ohanian, Katie Couric, and more). Also this year – I was there!

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I was fortunate enough to attend INBOUND 2019, along with our CEO Saher, from September 3-6. The conference was an awesome experience, and there was so much to learn and bring back to Edmonton (which might explain why it’s taken me so long to write this update).

In addition to hearing from all the great keynote speakers, I got to attend a bunch of really informative breakout sessions on everything from reporting, to podcasts, to e-commerce, and more. And of course, I made sure to be there to hear HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah speak about what’s new in the world of INBOUND and what’s coming to HubSpot in the near future.

Plus, I got the special opportunity to tour the HubSpot headquarters with our channel rep Dylan! I even found a new slogan for Flawless while I was there.

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What are the most important takeaways from INBOUND 2019

There was sooooo much to learn at INBOUND, it’s hard to boil everything down a couple of points, but I’m going to try. While I’d love to spend the whole article talking about the amazing speeches from the keynote speakers, I know most of you are looking for a more practical INBOUND 2019 recap. So let’s go for that.

I wasn’t able to attend every breakout session (even though I wished I could), but from the ones I was at, I’ve put together a summary list of the 7 most important things I learned at INBOUND. Keep reading to learn them for yourself.

1.     There’s a New Breed of Disruptor – and You Need to Be One

The first point comes straight from Brian Halligan’s talk – and it’s one of the best in the whole list.

When we think about what it means to be a disruptor, we often think about the tech. But disrupting the game isn’t about the tech or the products or the business anymore. It’s not about what you sell – it’s about how you sell it. Just being a plain old disruptor isn’t going to cut it anymore if you want to stand out from the competition. You have to be an Experience Disruptor.


What is an experience disruptor you might ask? An experience disruptor is someone who changes not the what their business is, but the way their customers experience (get it?) the purchase and use of their product/solution. According to Halligan, experience disruptors have 5 key adaptations:

  • They focus on experience-market fit instead of product-market fit
  • They offer a frictionless sale instead of a friction-filled negotiation
  • Their solutions are personalized instead of anonymous
  • They sell through their customers instead of to them
  • They’re business model busters instead of business model followers

2.     HubSpot is Answering Your Requests


Christopher O’Donnell, SVP of Product for HubSpot, was present to share what the latest and greatest upcoming product releases and updates from HubSpot will be. Now, some years, this presentation features a huge announcement (Service Hub anyone?), but this year was a little different.

This year at INBOUND, HubSpot’s announcements were a little more subdued – but a lot more personal. Instead of announcing a bunch of brand new fancy features, they decided to answer user requests. Yep – HubSpot took to the Community, found the top-requested/upvoted features and ideas, and made them happen. Some are still “coming soon,” others are in Beta, and some are already released.

Some of the best ones:

  • Contact De-Duplication Tool
  • Merge Workflows Ability
  • App Marketplace
  • Adaptive Page Testing (up to 5 variations)
  • Facebook Messenger Integration for Conversations
  • Attribution Reporting (more on that later)
  • Ads and Emails added to the Free Version

You can read about more of them on HubSpot’s product release blog

3.     Reporting on Every Stage of Buyer’s Journey is Critical

On of the breakout sessions I was able to attend was Reporting in HubSpot: Force, Friction, and the Flywheel hosted by HubSpot’s own Ari Plaut and Alex Girard. Their key message was that it was critical to find places to add force to your flywheel to speed it up and find places of friction that were slowing it down and remove them. The way you do this? Reporting on every stage of the buyer’s journey.

From Attract to Engage to Delight, each stage has an idea report that works best for discovering and eliminating friction.

In the Attract stage, it’s the basic Traffic Analytics report. But don’t just glance at sessions by source and leave it at that. Dig deeper into each page of your site and analyze bounce rates, time on page, etc. to gain a better understanding of what’s attracting sessions and leads on your site.

In the Engage stage it’s the brand new up-and-coming Attribution Reporting. I won’t talk about that here, because there’s a whole number for it coming up.

giphy-2-11In the Delight stage have a look at your Tickets and Feedback reports. You can report on how long it takes your team to respond to tickets, who’s answering them, what category they fall into, and more. Plus, if you have Service Hub pro, you 100% should be conducting NPS survey’s to search out the force and friction.

4.     Doing E-Commerce? Use the RFM Framework

We all know how big e-commerce is these days. So when I saw that there was a presentation happening on e-commerce best practices, I knew I had to attend. This one was (once again) put on by some of HubSpot’s own Daria Marmer and Andrew Smeallie.

Related: 5-Point Checklist for E-Commerce SEO

The key takeaway from this presentation was that the RFM framework for e-commerce is the one to go for. In the RFM framework, you make e-commerce marketing and sales decisions based on 3 different pieces of information about your buyer.

Those 3 are:

  • Recency (when was their last purchase?)
  • Frequency (how often do they purchase?)
  • Monetary (how much money do they spend?)

Then, you can look into how to how to increase each of those metrics. In terms of recency, you should consider how you can get more new customers to make a first purchase, based on metrics from previous ones. 

5.     Podcasting is the New Marketing

On of my favourite breakout sessions of the conference was Sam Balter’s “The Future of Branded Content is Podcasting.”

Podcasts are insanely popular these days. In fact, Google has recently started including podcasts in its search results, with the goal of doubling (yes, doubling) podcast listening worldwide. The issue is, there are over 700,000 different podcasts out there.


So how do you create one that not only stands out, but helps you convert? That’s what this breakout session covered. In general, podcasting successfully requires a lot of well thought-out planning. You need to plan, in this order:

  • Your Show
    • Start off with the simple question: what makes my story unique and why should be listener care about it?
    • Your content needs to not only inform people, but encourage them to think differently.
  • Your Seasons
    • You have to plan out your seasons (or at least your upcoming season) before you start producing.
    • Choose a topic for the season as it’s generally more successful than just making sporadic episodes.
  • Your Episodes
    • Once you choose a topic for the season, you should pre-plan each of the episodes in the season.
    • You should also plan out the general structure of your episodes, to ensure listeners get a sense of consistency when listening to your show.
  • Your Promo
    • The last thing to plan out it promo.
    • Do some research on your listener (or target listener) and figure out what times and places their likely to be listening.
    • Then, create a marketing plan to go along with that.

6.     Get Ready for Attribution Reporting

One of the product announcements from HubSpot that kept getting brought up during various breakout sessions was attribution reporting. This is still a “coming soon” feature, with the beta version coming to Enterprise users in November, but it’s a feature we’re pretty excited about here at Flawless because we know how critical reporting is to successful sales and marketing

Attribution reporting will allow you to produce reports in HubSpot that show the true value of marketing activities. You can show how your ad campaign contributed X dollar amount to the company because of the number of leads it generated that ended up becoming customers. With a few different models for divvying up attribution, you can ensure the right credit is going to right places.

Get ready marketing teams – it’s time to prove just how valuable you are!


7.     The New Key to Success? Relax

Ok, I had to include one point from a keynote speaker. This one comes from Elizabeth Gilbert (bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love), who was the opening speaker for the conference. Her talk was all about the keys to living a successful life and living a happy creative life.

She noted there was one thing she found in common among the most successful, happy people she knew, but that it something no one ever talked about when they talked about success: being relaxed.

giphy-6The most powerful person in the room, according to Gilbert, is the most relaxed. Because they’re able to notice things that everyone else misses. When you consciously work towards being more relaxed and in control, you’ll find that not only are you happier, but you’ll likely be more successful as well.

Learning More from INBOUND 2019

Looking for more great insights and expertise from the conference? We’re taking everything we learned and applying it to all of our upcoming events. You can check out everything that’s coming up on our events page right here.