Oct 14, 2021

Inbound 2021 Is In The Books

By: Josh Dougherty


And just like that...another Inbound is in the books. For the second straight year, Hubspot’s annual conference was virtual, and once again they pulled off the all-digital format with flying colors. 

If you weren’t able to attend, this post will give you a quick rundown of the product updates, the trends, and takeaways from many of the A Brave New team.

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

The Product Updates

Each year, Hubspot uses Inbound to announce new product updates. This year was no different. You can check out the full rundown here. If you’d rather just catch the highlights, keep reading.

Payments & Portals Make The Customer Experience Even Better

The future of the internet is customer-centric. After our descent into a fully digital existence over the last 18 months of the pandemic we’ve all come to expect digital experiences to be seamless, easy, and worry free, even if they’re B2B.

The upcoming rollout of customer portals in Service Hub (currently in beta) will make it possible for customers to login and see the status of their tickets, easily navigate a knowledge base, and more. This increased level of transparency will create a better customer experience across the board.

Another huge convenience factor for customers is the roll-out of payments. Hubspot customers in the United States can now quote projects and accept payments from clients and customers in one simple and smooth workflow.

A Big Investment In Integration Is About To Drop

Earlier this year Hubspot released Operations Hub Starter and Operations Hub Pro. The whole goal of this Hub is to make it possible for Hubspot CRM to serve as a true database of record for an enterprise by increasing the number of ways it can integrate with other systems. Because after all, if you can’t connect all of your systems to your CRM, there’s no way to make it a database of record.

On November 1, they’re taking this to another level by releasing Operations Hub Enterprise. The biggest addition with this release will be the ability to create pre-built datasets that will speed up reporting. Ops Hub Enterprise will also have a built-in integration with Snowflake

Finally, A SandBox

With more data comes more complexity. If you’ve been working with Hubspot for any amount of time, you’ve probably felt the anxiety that comes with making a major update to lead scoring or the settings for an integration. Even if you’ve created a solid plan, tried to think through all the consequences of the change, and been intentional about all the changes you’ve made, there’s never been a way to test the consequences of the change before rolling it into production. 

Ultimately, you have to press the button, cross your fingers, and hope nothing breaks.

Oh, the stress. I almost started sweating while I was writing this.

Good news! This is no longer an issue. Enterprise customers will now have access to a sandbox portal that is a mirror of their production portal that will allow them to test changes before pushing them live. Three cheers. Seriously. Maybe four.

Topics I’m Still Thinking About

There were tons of topics to digest, think about, and explore. These are three of the items that I will be thinking about for A Brave New and our clients in the coming months.

1. Scaling Well

In the world of technology and startups, scaling is an obsession. Bigger is better. More is more. But, what if your company isn’t healthy enough to scale? Then you need to go back and take a second look, ensure your go-to-market strategy is solid, ensure that you have a product that meets a real need for your target, and ensure that the financial model works. Scaling without this foundation can lead to disastrous consequences. 

Shout out to Sam Jacobs for his lessons on building a startup the right way:

  • First evaluate the market size
  • Then develop a solid product
  • Next invest in marketing to drive awareness at scale
Only once all of this is in place should you invest in sales

2. The Age of Operations

With the explosion of data, the need to extract insights, and the imperative of connecting numerous data sources has given rise to the importance of multiple types of operations disciplines. Especially important are revenue ops and marketing ops.  

Revenue ops unifies all go-to-market functions in a company into one team: customer success, marketing, and sales. This ensures the customer’s needs are looked at holistically rather than in silos.

Marketing ops, on the other hand, ensures that the underlying infrastructure and data connections are in place to ensure that marketing campaigns can be personalized and customized at scale, systems communicate together effectively, and data is captured so that it can be effectively reported on. 

If you haven’t been thinking about the role of these disciplines in your organization, it’s time to get started.

3. Back To The Human Side Of Marketing, Especially In B2B

We all get overwhelmed by the rate of change in marketing. New technology every day. The conference encouraged us to take some time to step back and consider one simple fact. No matter the medium, marketers are focused on building connections with people. These people crave someone who listens, cares, and communicates in a transparent and authentic way. Internalizing this should cause us to pause, step back, and approach marketing (even in a B2B context) very differently:

  • We might put more effort into building feedback loops into our marketing programs
  • We might communicate with our B2B targets in a far more personal way
  • We might use direct response techniques to be transparent and tell people exactly why we’re reaching out to them
  • We might be obsessed with how to continue to build engagement and relationship with our customers far beyond acquisition
  • The list goes on

Team Takeaways

Inbound is a big deal for A Brave New. We try to send our entire team each year so that they can learn the latest about what’s going on at Hubspot, stay up-to-date on trends, and learn new tactics to bring back to our clients. Here are a few of their top takeaways from the week:

  • Phil Padilla - Art Director: “I was excited about some of the takeaways from the email mythbuster. Fake mistakes showcase the imperfect human side, and they also get results. Also, I thought the insight of changing email send names often was a brilliant way to get better engagement in crammed inboxes.”
  • Polly Yakovich - Co-Founder & CMO: ​​“I’m struck by the combo of B2B customers looking, operating, and responding much more like B2C customers which then frees us up mentally to treat them more like humans and resist the urge to be ‘professional, stuffy, and formal.’ Instead we can be engaging, direct, and do all the direct response stuff that really works.”
  • Jazmen Bearden - Account Coordinator: “My biggest takeaway so far was from the Spike Lee session. His outlook on chasing your dreams really got my wheels turning. The statement about choosing the people in your corner wisely really had an impact on my outlook for the future!”
  • Michelle Burk-Gomez - Account Director: “I was inspired by Spike Lee. You have to get rid of the negative in order to get to where you want to go!”
  • Brad Steinbacher - Copywriter: “This fact from behavioral science blew my mind: Rhyming statements are perceived as more truthful to people than non-rhyming ones. (WTF?)”
  • Sarah Lofgren - Copywriter: “There’s been a lot of conversation about the importance of building a more personal relationship with our clients. There’s huge value in having an intimate relationship with clients, understanding what they like, what they don’t, what they care about.” 
As we all reflected together on our team happy hour Thursday afternoon, conferences leave you tired from learning. It’s one of the best feelings. But having so many new ideas in your mind can leave you wondering where to start as you put them into practice. If you’re feeling the overwhelm creep in, don’t give into it, and take a bit of advice that Oprah gave in the closing keynote and ask yourself: “What is the next right thing for me to do?”

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