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Our Reflections on Inbound17

By John Hogg


B2B Inbound Marketing Inbound17

On Sunday, 24th September, Victoria and I had the great privilege of travelling to Inbound17 in Boston to what I genuinely believe to be one of the best and most fulfilling conferences I have ever attended. Travelling as guests of the irrepressible Steve (@SVaughanInbound) from HubSpot we set off not really knowing what to expect. Yes, you hear all the hyperbole about events and conferences such as Inbound and quite often, when you turn up, it is a bit of a damp squib and you’ve wasted a lot of your time and money finding this out. If only they had put some of the time and effort they put into selling tickets into the actual content is a common complaint.

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Not so, with Inbound17 however. Not so, when you attend a production of such scale and magnitude as Inbound17 and HubSpot is involved, and here’s why...

Let’s Break Out Some Stats ...

As a data-driven marketer, I think it would be remiss of me to begin any blog such as this without first looking at a few stats.

Inbound17 comprised...


21,600 Attendees


300 Keynotes
& Breakouts


143 Speakers

And for the two of us our journey involved:




Kilometres Walked







However, these weren’t the only stats we collected during our 4 day stay because when you have three young children at home and the grandparents are on duty there are a few other important stats to consider.




Whats App





Staying in touch and staying connected became a very important aspect of our journey and with a 5 hour time difference this led to all sorts of messages, emails, videos and pictures.

As much as we were enjoying our new Inbound family in Boston our own family at home still needed us too ...and this was the first time both of us had been away at the same time without them.

This was an important lesson in making sure you remember your roots, what you stand for and where you have come from - something I believe is also of vital importance for a successful Inbound Marketing Agency.

Into The Breech

On Day One (Monday) we headed off like two newbies to a UniversityHubSpot Partner Day - Inbound17 - Victoria Hogg.jpg Fresher Week — full of excitement yet pumped with anticipation over what we might find. Day one was the first time HubSpot had held a specific partner day during Inbound and this was a great opportunity for like-minded agencies to come together and form new connections. One thing we noticed very soon about the Inbound community was how collaborative and supportive the HubSpot family really is and how everyone works together and helps one another to grow and improve. Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive, the Inbound community realises that the stronger the Inbound community is, the quicker the message will spread and the market will expand. As a wise person once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

Partner Day also gave us the opportunity to have a sneak preview of all the new developments for the HubSpot app before they were announced to the conference the following day. 

Times They Are A Changin'

Some of the headline developments for HubSpot include enhanced Campaign Reporting to tie campaigns to traffic, leads and revenue. Numerous new integrations such as Shopify and the ability to sync products from within HubSpot to Shopify. The ability to build Facebook ads within the HubSpot app and not having to visit Facebook during the process. The possibility of using Smart Lists to run retargeting campaigns which update themselves automatically. And the ability to post directly to Instagram from the Social Media Publishing tool to name but a few.

And that wasn’t all...

The HubSpot COS has received an overhaul and is now the Professional Marketers' CMS with a doubling in speed, improved security, automatic SSL and 5x9’s up-time. HubSpot’s new ‘Collect’ tool will also allow users to enable a Chrome extension which will clip content, whether it is a page, a video, a PDF or a picture, and save it right back into your HubSpot app for your team to collaborate over, learn from or use within your own content. The all-new HubSpot ‘Conversations’ tool will also build upon HubSpot ‘Messages’ and take this one-channel chat tool to a new multi-channel collaboration tool which will collate messages all in one place from email, social media and chat

AI and the emergence of Chatbots allowing marketers to scale campaigns was discussed at length following HubSpot’s recent acquisition of “Motion ai”. Very soon HubSpot users will have the ability to build their own ChatBot within the HubSpot tool without any technical experience required.

HubSpot’s CRM has also received an over-haul with a whole host of developments and improvements to what is already a very accomplished CRM.

And lastly, HubSpot’s Sales tools have been aligned so that the sales suite matches the marketing suite. The new Sales Stack will now begin with a free tool known as Sales Starter followed by Sales Professional with a whole host of changes to improve the efficiency of the sales team and assist with better sales management.

The Big Difference

If I’m honest, one of the biggest developments and indeed the highlights of Inbound17, wasn’t actually a new tool or app, it is how I see HubSpot evolving.

This was really brought home during Brian (@bhalligan) and Dharmesh’s (@dharmesh) Keynote speeches on Tuesday afternoon. It may have been over 1.5 hours long but not one second was wasted. Not once did I look at my watch and feel it was a drag - it was full on, high-octane, passion from two very down-to-Earth men who came across so humble it made you feel you could take on the World and win. Shucks, I walked away thinking any one of us could achieve something as powerful and magical as HubSpot. Their talk was so inspiring and packed full of gold nuggets - and the gifts just kept on coming...

One of the biggest things I took away from Inbound was that HubSpot isn’t like any old software you purchase and that’s it. It is an evolving platform which is continually being invested in and developed - this is very a important point for an Inbound Agency and their Inbound clients.

HubSpot's evolution is very exciting and something which will make it truly stand out as THE all-in-one platform for growing your business.

We all know that Marketing alone can’t save the world and that for an organisation to grow it needs to know how to sell and also know how to deliver a first-class customer experience. The following chart from Brian’s keynote demonstrates this very clearly.

HubSpot's Mode of Attract Engage DelightWith all the recent advancements in HubSpot’s Marketing tool, the big improvements and re-alignment of the Sales Stack, this new approach will be rounded off by the introduction of HubSpot’s ‘CustomerHub’. Come 2018 and the launch of CustomerHub, HubSpot will be streets ahead, with a platform which can deal with Lead Gen through the Marketing stack, Revenue Gen through the Sales stack and Customer Experience through the Customer Hub.

At this point HubSpot will truly be THE all-in-one platform for growth. The HubSpot Growth Stack, as some call it, will be the most complete, user-friendly, and RoI focused way to grow your business.

This really resonated with me and was complete validation that HubSpot is the right tool for the job at hand. 
Credit: HubSpot Inbound17

Session Breakouts

Between Victoria and I, we attended 38 sessions and sat through around 60 hours of content gold. I have to say, if you want to immerse yourself in quality content, Inbound17, was the place to be. Going to all sorts of sessions on topics such as Website Throwdowns, Technical SEO, Content Hacks, Email Mastery, Retargeting and Facebook Lead Ads, you just couldn’t have asked for better. Without sounding too arrogant though, I think the biggest takeaway from these sessions was “validation”. Validation that we are on the right road and our strategy is correct, never mind the fact that with HubSpot in our corner we are at the cutting edge of where digital marketing is going at the moment.

Like everything in life, however, it is all about the journey, not the destination. This next video from Brian’s Keynote is quite simply a beautiful reminder of what that journey should involve. It isn’t just about the £€$, it’s how you grow and get there in a repeatable and scalable manner which counts. Remembering to stop and smell the flowers along the way is pretty important too!

Credit: HubSpot Inbound17

With validation that our strategy is correct and that we have the best tools at our disposal, we even found Inbound17 to be quite emotional. Not in an emotional, let’s sit down and cry sort of sense, but in a “Wow, we’re really onto something here. We’re on the right road and we’re part of such a great Inbound family as well.” The conference left me feeling sooooo excited - excited I felt I was going to burst with so many ideas on what we need to do next to take our agency forward to the next level and how we can also bring these new ideas and concepts to our clients as well. When I think about this I really feel like I need to sit (or lie) down in a dark room. It’s so close I can almost taste it!

It's The People That Matter

Another thing we picked up on at Inbound17 was the ever-present problem of finding the right people for your team.  It doesn't seem to matter if you're a two-person agency or a twenty person agency, finding people with the right attitude and competenices is difficult. A big takeaway for us is that commitment to your team - and they to you - is paramount.  You can build all the sexy processes you want, but if your team isn't solid and facing in the right direction then it isn't going to work. 

I have to be honest, at Enlighten IC we have struggled with recruitment in the past before we found our current team, and in one sense it was great to hear that we're not the only ones.  Perhaps finding the right people for an Inbound agency is an impossible task owing to the need for an open-mind and unwaivering commitment to the Inbound Methodology.  Hearing other agencies talking about how they recruit, nurture and train their staff really hit home and knowing that we need to build a strong team this year to service our new clients, a big element of our agency's strategy will be a commitment to building the Best Place To Work 

Not only will we continue to deliver top quality work whilst having fun in the process, we will dedicate time and effort to bring our staff in to share the vision and will invest in training them in the Inbound way. It is our belief that by committing to our staff (and their commitment to us in return), we will all be facing in the same direction and share the same vision, allowing us to continue to grow at such a breakneck pace.

DISCLAIMER: At this point I must stress that HubSpot is not a silver bullet. It is not a simple plug-and-play software which will guarantee results. HubSpot, whilst it is a software system, is more than that. Now, I’m not going to say it’s like a cult or some crazy-assed religion, but I do think it is more than simply software. HubSpot in my eyes is a way, it is a strategic concept, it is a philosophy, which at its core is supported by the most comprehensive (and growing!), user-friendly, all-in-one platform on the market.

HubSpot is an investment in your future - first and foremost HubSpot brings a thought process - a way of doing things - and second it is a software system which is designed to be an enabler and achieve the results you want your business to achieve. And like anything in life, you get out what you put in - it doesn’t do it for you - although enlightened agencies can ;-).

As an Inbound Marketing Agency, focused on the Professional Services and Technology Sectors, Enlighten IC has certainly done the hard yards for you and over the last year we have invested heavily in HubSpot and Inbound Marketing. The following qualifications only go to show how seriously we take this and how we have invested in making sure we build a robust Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales strategy.

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The biggest signal in this regard is the fact we eat our own lunch. We use Inbound Marketing ourselves to find new clients and in the last four months alone we have taken on two new staff to increase our capacity and cope with the ever-increasing demand for our services. And if things continue as they are, it won’t be too long before we need even more staff as we grow and scale Enlighten IC.

If you like what you hear, why not set up a free Inbound Marketing Assessment to find out more about the Inbound Way and see if it is a fit for your business?

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But What Does This All Mean, John?

In summing up, I think it is fair to assume that Inbound17 blew our minds.

We were exposed to such great thinking, great strategies and great tactics - but we were also exposed to great people, great community and in a sense a great Inbound family.

In any community or family, however, it is the strength of the connections which is the glue that holds it all together and if we bring it back to our own family and the many and varied communications between our young family and ourselves, it only goes to show that in this great big journey of life you really do have to go out and stretch yourself, find new ways to grow, and at the same time keep a real sense of self and belonging to ensure you will always be your authentic self!

If you like the sound of this and you would like to have a chat about how we use HubSpot at the heart of our approach to helping law firms and tech companies to grow, please get in touch for a quick chat about the goals you would like to achieve from your marketing.  Alternatively, why not have a read at our free guide, The Definitive Guide To Legal Services Marketing to find out more about our approach to law firm marketing.

Thanks Inbound. Thanks HubSpot. We hope to see you all again next year for Inbound18!

John Hogg Enlighten IC

John Hogg

John is managing director of Enlighten IC and has been involved in legal marketing and technology marketing for over 25 years. He is passionate about how an inbound approach to marketing can help firms to drive leads and grow their business.

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