How HubSpot’s INBOUND Paved the Way for Marketing & Colloboration in a Post-COVID World
by Logan Armstrong, on Nov. 10, 2020
Since 2012, HubSpot’s INBOUND Conference has attracted big-name speakers, such as Michelle Obama, Gary Vaynerchuk, Issa Rae and countless others. Last year’s event was the largest ever, bringing over 26,000 attendees to Boston to see the best of what the marketing world had to offer.
However, like everything else this year, INBOUND 2020 was a little different. There were no packed crowds squeezing through doorways for front-row seats, nor long lines brimming with anticipation for the upcoming speaker — but certainly not due to a lack of interest.
As with pretty much every significant professional event that was planned for the year, INBOUND 2020 was shifted to the one venue that could allow all the proper COVID-19 precautions: the internet. Over two days, more than 70,000 global attendees logged in to their tailored selections out of more than 200 live sessions, ranging from social media tactics, lessons on SEO optimization, crafting the perfect email subject line and any other facet of inbound marketing you can think of.
Of course, the online version of the event had no precedent. So how did it go?
Overall, pretty darn well if you ask us. First things first, taking INBOUND online meant that the price of a ticket dropped dramatically, meaning our whole team could attend, rather than just the one or two of us who would normally go. That meant more ground was covered and more learning and professional development took place for all of us over the two days of sessions.
Holding the event online meant there were no sessions too full to attend, and they could be viewed on-demand after being held live. Along with the accessibility of watching, presenters also were able to engage with the audience in real-time through a live chat and Q&A. Unlike in-person sessions where question-askers are picked at random, fellow audience members could upvote the questions they wanted answered most, providing more value and relevance for everyone in attendance. Aside from a few slight technical issues — which should probably be expected for an event of this magnitude — the online sessions went off without a hitch.
Of course, among the main draws of in-person events is the opportunity to network, but not all was lost online. Interspersed between informational sessions, participants had the opportunity to join “meetup” sessions with the sole purpose of taking a break from packing their brains with info and meeting fellow inbound-minded marketers. The sessions were even segmented demographically, featuring “Black at Inbound,” “Networking for Awkward People” and “Future CMOs” meetups to name a few.
The Future of INBOUND (and events in general)
As we hopefully venture toward a post-COVID world, it’s hard to say how things will look in one, two or five years. Even after a vaccine is widely available, there’s a good chance that there will be artifacts that 2020 leaves on the world. Will working from home become the norm? Maybe. Are in-person conferences a thing of the past? Who knows. It’s possible that COVID didn’t truly change the route of the world, but only accelerated it towards the digital landscape we’ve all been living in for the past eight months.
No matter what the future holds, HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020 became a proof of concept that not only is it possible to hold massive events online, but that they can be even better, in some ways, compared to the tried and true convention center.