As we are currently preparing to attend the 2021 HubSpot Inbound Conference, I thought it’d be a great time to reflect on my experience at last year’s conference.
What is HubSpot?
HubSpot is cloud-based software to help organize your marketing automation, sales efforts, and operational services.
My HubSpot Story
For my “day job”, I work in the sales and marketing department. I manage our internal databases with cloud-based software like HubSpot and NetSuite. Because of previous company acquisitions, we kept our data in many systems. For better productivity and visibility, we moved our data to a centralized Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM) in late 2018.
Previously, we used Salesforce in collaboration with Pardot Marketing software. When migrating from Salesforce to NetSuite, we needed a new marketing platform that could work better with NetSuite. We implemented HubSpot in late 2019 for our social media posts, advertising, email campaigns, website content, and customer prospecting.
We attended Hubspot’s Annual Inbound 2020 Conference to get better ideas of what modules we hadn’t explored just yet. Because of the lockdown of 2020, the entire conference went virtual. The Hubspot team pivoted wonderfully during very uncertain times and kept communication lines open.
2020, The Year of the Virtual Conferences
The virtual conference happened September 22nd and 23rd, 2020. Their digital conference platform HubSpot used was beyond my expectations. I’m not sure what provider they used, but it was a spectacular product. Their virtual conference platform was sleek, simple, but highly interactive.
When you “entered” the conference, you could design your own avatar. That avatar could then “travel” to different places. There were open spaces where you could converse with other attendees via video or live chat. You’d “visit” stages where simultaneous sessions happened you could join. It visually really felt like you were in an area with your peers. It was all so very well done.
HubSpot Inbound Conference
As with any conference, scheduling the agenda is one of the most important parts of the total experience – whether live or virtually. I found HubSpot did a wonderful job with:
- Not overwhelming us with too much content
- Not underwhelming us so that you got bored
- Not scheduling too many similar sessions at the same time
I could join sessions that talked about reporting, custom objects, automation, workflows, etc. I joined informative meetups about marketing and the various sales processes. I learned more about HubSpot products that we hadn’t tried out yet or haven’t really taken full advantage of yet. I heard more about practical social media strategies. They even had a timely session about our “new normal” and virtual events.
My favorite part about the conference was the buzz and excitement they kept generating throughout the day. They timed new enhancements and product offerings near the conference time which allowed them to have exciting announcements and well timed sessions that dove further into the new offerings.
They had an outstanding balance of presenters as well. We got to interact with the HubSpot Academy (e-learning) team that we feel like we know and love already because of many hours of training sessions since implementation. HubSpot’s Academy e-learning platform has a VAST amount of training materials that our team has used over the years. We all have our favorite trainers; Mine are Kyle Jeppson and Jorie Munroe, so of course, joining their sessions, I was nerdily fangirling from home!
The other big selling point to the conference was the special celebrity guests, which included Van Jones, Bob Iger, Jesse Williams, and John Legend.
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The conference didn’t come without its glitches, though. They offered different registrant ticket levels that allowed you to view certain aspects of the conference. With a free ticket, you could see certain spotlight sessions and attend networking events. Since those spotlight sessions were “free”, more than the usual amount of people attended. That resulted in a slower connection or speed of video for the more popular segments. This only happened maybe 2 or 3 times and HubSpot, mostly, was quick to acknowledge and resolve any issues.
“Black” (and Female) at Inbound
Representation mattered to HubSpot, and it showed. From special guests, to invited celebrities, and the many women-led and minority-led sessions and discussions – seeing people like me headline at this conference meant something to me. Because of the sensitive times we were openly discussing in 2020, it was a timely effort for HubSpot to bring representation to the forefront. Hotspot understood the assignment; They allowed the tough discussions to happen live during their conference, whether it made some people uncomfortable.
I did experience issues during the meetups. Meetups were where you could “jump” into a room and video chat with people interested in the same topics as you were. Some meetups had incentives, like gifts for joining the session. Others could be topic specific. One meetup I was interested in attending was “Black at Inbound”.
I assumed the “Black at Inbound” meetup would be that you’d just go into a virtual room and it’d be a group video discussion or chat-feed amongst various people. Instead, when I joined, a prerecorded message from the hosts loaded. When completed, it took me into random small group conversations. Some groups only included two people, so I definitely felt like a third week entering their conversation that was already in progress. Some “groups” I sat in alone for a long stretch of time.
I quickly went to Twitter to see if others were experiencing the same issue as I was during the meetups. I quickly found other ladies that were trying to join the “Black at Inbound” meetup but couldn’t get connected. We did what any independent women would do – we created our own meetup via zoom!
Meeting Anthea Thomas, Ndidiamaka Agu, and Nana Grace Kwapong at the conference was the highlight of my day and was the networking jolt I needed. Four women, from two different countries, 3 different US states, and various job titles that ranged from HubSpot Specialist to Media Relations to Visual Arts, could connect and converse over a topic we all understood, Marketing.
HubSpot Inbound Conference 2021
I’m excited to see what this year’s HubSpot INBOUND 2021 virtual conference has to bring us on OCTOBER 12-14, 2021!
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