Creating a thematic story around community-building
Launched in 2011, INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual event, attracting tens of thousands of people from around the world across marketing, sales, customer success, and revenue operations teams. HubSpot, like many organizations, was forced to pivot to virtual events in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.
In 2022, HubSpot delivered its first hybrid event, inviting INBOUND attendees to join the event in Boston — if they were comfortable doing so — or on INBOUND’s custom digital platform. After two long years spent craving in-person connections, HubSpot enthusiasts were met with an INBOUND event focused like never before on community-building.
At the same time — as a company that believes in the power of passionate brand advocates and is laser-focused on optimizing the customer experience — HubSpot is always looking for new ways to attract and engage more attendees to INBOUND.
“We intend to keep INBOUND going by delivering memorable experiences and curated, high-quality content for our attendees,” said Izzie Kirsch, INBOUND Marketing Manager at HubSpot.
Delivering a one-of-a-kind, community-oriented experience with Bizzabo
As the HubSpot team began ironing out the details for INBOUND 2022, they continued looking for tools to support their objective of building communities and engaging attendees at their marquee event.
“Connection was the major theme at INBOUND this year,” Perretta said. “We wanted it to be present in the programming, content, and overall attendee experience.”
While they were assembling their event tech portfolio, the HubSpot team needed to ensure that its online platform, app, and other products spoke to each other and that it was easy for attendees to connect.
“That’s why we were super excited to hear about Bizzabo’s wearable tech,” Perretta said, “which allowed attendees and exhibitors to seamlessly share contact information and connect by simply tapping their badges together.”
She added that Bizzabo and HubSpot have a longstanding partnership, which made working together even easier.
Leveraging the power of connection with Bizzabo’s SmartBadge™
“We integrated Bizzabo’s SmartBadge™ technology into our product so people could easily use that within the networking features we had built out,” Perretta said.
Thanks to the SmartBadge, attendees could easily tap badges together — instead of exchanging business cards — to connect digitally and automatically launch one-on-one conversations in the INBOUND event app. Not only did this provide a paperless way to network, but it also enabled participants to share details without needing to shake hands.
Another critical feature of the SmartBadge is an LED lighting device that event organizers can customize and use for multiple purposes. For example, at INBOUND, a badge would turn green when an attendee was registered for a specific sessionand red when they weren’t. Event organizers can also use this feature to designate defined groups (e.g., different ticket types) and even light up a room to engage and delight attendees. (More on this in a bit.)
The HubSpot team also accessed critical attendee behavior data with Bizzabo’s wearable event technology. For example, they collected active event data such as attendee check-ins and connections. The INBOUND team also used heatmapping powered by wearables to determine which sessions were best attended and see when attendees were onsite, among other things.
Providing functionality and support INBOUND can’t go without
With Bizzabo’s SmartBadge helping enhance the in-person experience, INBOUND 2022 delivered on its promise to provide a world-class experience for its attendees. Here are some ways Bizzabo helped the HubSpot team accomplish that goal.
1. Delighting attendees
First and foremost, Bizzabo’s SmartBadge gave 10,000 onsite attendees — out of a collective hybrid audience of 45,000 — a unique and unexpected way to network, which aligned with HubSpot’s community-building theme for INBOUND.
“People really cared about having access to more networking opportunities onsite,” Perretta said. “Bizzabo’s technology made it a seamless process for our attendees, which was really important to us.”
Thanks to Bizzabo, HubSpot helped generate more than 85,000 connections between the 89% of attendees who participated in contact exchanges; that’s an average of 10 connections per attendee.
“The badges let you say hi to people in a pretty fun way because everyone wants to try the new technology,” Kirsch explained, adding that attendees she talked to preferred this method to the traditional exchange of business cards. “It’s almost like an icebreaker, which is really helpful if you’re trying to make a little pitch to someone.”
Additionally, HubSpot used Bizzabo’s SmartBadge solution for light cues and to delight attendees. For example, right before former President Barack Obama took the stage for his keynote address, the badges lit up in a rainbow pattern, illuminating the room and impressing attendees who rushed to capture the moment with their smartphones. The badges illuminated similarly during comedian Jimmy O. Yang’s standup set.
2. Delighting sponsors
In her role, Kirsch works closely with the sponsorship team, helping onboard new sponsors for the conference each year. INBOUND attracts some of the biggest brands in marketing tech that interact with customers through interactive booths, workshops, and more.
Because Bizzabo helped sponsors “connect” via badge tapping instead of badge scanning, the sales process felt more natural — closer to networking than sales prospecting. By enabling sponsors to collect data quickly and accurately, Bizzabo delivered a ton of value to this audience, who could easily follow up with leads post-event.
“It’s a really big selling point to have attendee badge data and access it in real-time,” Kirsch explained. “In full transparency, it’s something I don’t think we can go without now that we’ve shown that this is possible.”
3. Finding a solutions-oriented partner in Bizzabo
“My favorite thing about Bizzabo is that the team proved to be a very solutions-focused partner when it mattered the most,” Perretta said.
As everyone who works in technology knows all too well, it’s only a matter of time before tech challenges crop up, and that’s exactly what happened during the first day of INBOUND. But the Bizzabo team “jumped on it right away.”
“They adjusted the process in the moment to keep things moving along,” Perretta said. “They also drew up a very detailed action plan for how we would improve operations the next day.”
And that plan worked out wonderfully.
“Day two was so smooth,” Perretta explained. “I think that wouldn’t have been possible without Bizzabo’s quick, solutions-minded onsite team.”
To ensure the experience was as good as it could be, the Bizzabo team produced reports filled with statistics and data each night. These reports were shared with the HubSpot team to highlight opportunities that day, such as where the team needed to pivot or increase staffing.
4. Keeping attendees engaged after the event
HubSpot’s customers are data-driven marketers. Bizzabo’s SmartBadge has helped HubSpot engage attendees post-event, which is critical because the team has already begun to prepare for INBOUND 2023.
“People have already started to register for 2023,” Kirsch said. “We’re only a few months out from the last INBOUND, but we literally plan for this event year-round.”
By collecting data passively and actively through the SmartBadge, the HubSpot team was able to create personalized reports (e.g., about sesions attended) and deliver them to more than 11,000 attendees.
Because of this incredible personalization, it comes as no surprise that these messages boasted a 64% open rate, 25.4% click rate, and 40% click-through rate and are proving to be a powerful engagement tool.
Future-proofing their event strategy with Bizzabo
Thanks to this year’s experience, HubSpot’s team was thrilled to work with Bizzabo’s technology and team.
Analyzing all the data the wearable tech generated, Kirsch and her colleagues learned a lot about how attendees chose to spend their time, which will inform their strategy for INBOUND 2023.
For example, HubSpot can leverage this data to ensure INBOUND has optimal staffing levels throughout the event and that event content aligns with what attendees are most interested in. Plus, some of the content at INBOUND was on the show floor, and the only way to measure engagement with this content was through passive badge tracking.
“Bizzabo’s wearable tech absolutely shapes what we’re going to do next year,” Kirsch said. “It’s hard to decide how to please all of the attendees. When you have the data and see people really like a particular session, it’s easy to do more of that.”
Bizzabo was flexible enough to integrate with additional technology partners in HubSpot’s technology stack. As a result, HubSpot could unlock even more value from the data it generated through the badge-to-badge technology.
“The data tells us that integrating features that allow for onsite networking into our event strategy is paramount,” Perretta concluded. “It’s going to be a big priority for us in the future.”
For more information on how Bizzabo can make your next event an unforgettable experience, request a demo of Bizzabo’s SmartBadge.