Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

Register Here

Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.
Register Here
The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Strategy Playbook 2022

Take your inbound strategy to the next level

  • Master the 7 principles of highly effective inbound marketing
  • Dramatically improve your inbound sales
  • Get more buy-in at your company

HubSpot Outage During #INBOUND18 Is a Timely “Own Your Screw-up" Lesson

By Liz Moorehead

HubSpot Outage During #INBOUND18 Is a Timely “Own Your Screw-up" Lesson

"Own your mistakes. That’s a core tenet of the Customer Code that HubSpot announced on stage at INBOUND this week. We just didn’t know we’d have to put it to use so quickly," HubSpot COO JD Sherman wrote today in an article simply titled "We're Sorry."

That's because, in the early morning hours of September 6, some HubSpot Marketing Enterprise customers began experiencing serious issues within their portals -- live website pages were returning 404 errors, scheduled emails weren't sending, and running workflows were disabled, to name a few.

 Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

Shortly after 4:30 a.m. Eastern, HubSpot shared they were actively working to resolve the issue:

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 3.42.34 PM

By approximately 7 a.m. Eastern, they had fixed the underlying issue -- a bug in the configuration code -- but they were still working to restore the features and services that were not working for some of their Marketing Enterprise customers:

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 3.43.42 PM

In what some might consider a cruel twist of fate, this came on the heels of yesterday's inspiring #INBOUND18 keynote from HubSpot CTO and cofounder Dharmesh Shah, which unintentionally foreshadowed what was to come. 

Dharmesh Shah at #INBOUND18: "We all make mistakes."

During this year's #INBOUND18 keynote, Dharmesh sought to answer a simple question -- "How do you grow better?"

He found himself asking this question because, as he said in an article yesterday for

"Somewhere along the line growth shifted in our global discourse from an enabler to an end-goal. And when you make growth the end-all-be-all, you lose perspective.

You start to solve for your bottom line above all else, even, at times, at the expense of your customers.

It's not enough to grow. We have to grow better."

He told us yesterday during his keynote that one of the most important ways you can grow better as an organization is to "own your screw-ups."


"We all make mistakes. Just say sorry, be sorry, and make it better."

To drive home his case, he shared how, even though he's a lifelong vegetarian, he fell a little in love with Kentucky Fried Chicken when, early this year, they had to apologize for literally running out of chicken:

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 4.01.06 PM

From the HubSpot Customer Code

As JD Sherman admitted, the team at HubSpot didn't realize they were going to be in the position of having to practice what they preached less than 24 hours later.

How HubSpot "Owned" the Marketing Enterprise Outage

In addition to JD Sherman's direct apology on their blog, HubSpot sent out an email to their partners:


Not only did they explain what happened when and why, they did not dance around an apology or mince words when they explained they understood the impact of the incident:

"Any outage is bad, but an outage that affects a website — a company’s digital front door to the world — and key tools like workflows is worse.

For those affected, we are so sorry our mistake disrupted you and your client’s business."

They also continued to provide updates throughout the day, as services were restored.

What Can We Learn from This?

Though the timing of Dharmesh's keynote and the HubSpot Marketing Enterprise outage borders on comical, the reality is that we will all find ourselves -- either as collective organizations or as individual contributors -- in scenarios like this. 

That's why we've written extensively about how to handle mistakes in the past, and just recently an IMPACT Elite member started a discussion around marketing errors in the workplace due to their own recent incident.

We can't avoid ever making mistakes. But we do have full control over what happens when we do -- especially if those mistakes impact our customers. 

At some point, however, we stopped apologizing.

Instead of admitting we made a mistake, we would say something passive like, "we regret the error." Or we would communicate we were sorry for a screw-up causing big problems for others by saying "we apologize for any inconvenience this situation may have caused." 

We fell into the trap of relying on all of those canned responses that we, as customers, know are hollow and are designed to sound like an apology without actually taking any responsibility.

The good news is that our fear of apologizing is unfounded. And Dharmesh showed us through data during his keynote that customers will forgive us:

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 3.19.46 PM

There's no such thing as a well-timed mistake. Still, HubSpot rose to the occasion when they had a big fire to put out this morning.

They owned the screw-up.

They said sorry.

They were sorry.

They're making it better. 

If you're at #INBOUND18 stop by and see us at Club INBOUND, across from HubSpot HQ! 

Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.


Published on September 6, 2018

Recent Articles

Track These 5 Inbound Marketing Metrics to See Better Results
October 31, 2022 • 7 min read
Measuring the Invisible: How To Track Your 'Trust Index' [+ Template]
September 7, 2022 • 8 min read
Can HubSpot Help My Retail Business Grow?
July 31, 2022 • 4 min read
Get More Out of HubSpot Reporting With a Third-party Tool
July 9, 2022 • 5 min read
HubSpot Pricing: Your Guide to Everything HubSpot Costs for 2022
April 29, 2022 • 13 min read
4 Keys To An Effective HubSpot Strategy in 2022
April 22, 2022 • 6 min read
Using They Ask, You Answer in Customer Service
April 1, 2022 • 5 min read
Is The HubSpot Free CRM Actually Free?
February 18, 2022 • 6 min read
Ultimate List of HubSpot Pros and Cons
January 8, 2022 • 20 min read
How To Optimize Your Marketing Automation Workflows With HubSpot (Tips)
November 12, 2021 • 11 min read
Top 13 Inbound Marketing & HubSpot Solutions Partner Program Agencies for 2022
October 29, 2021 • 8 min read
HubSpot Sales Hub: 18 Things Every Sales Rep Should Know How to Do (+ Videos)
October 28, 2021 • 5 min read
INBOUND 2021 Recap: Takeaways, Speakers, and Lessons Learned
October 25, 2021 • 7 min read
Need a HubSpot Admin? Here’s How to Find and Hire the Right Candidate
October 22, 2021 • 5 min read
How to Get Sales Reps to Use the HubSpot CRM
October 18, 2021 • 4 min read
HubSpot and Data Privacy: How to Collect Contacts the Right Way
October 4, 2021 • 4 min read
INBOUND is Fast Approaching, Google Leads are Syncing, and Workflow Actions are Placeholding [Hubcast 275]
September 23, 2021 • 4 min read
How to Know When You’ve Outgrown HubSpot Sales Hub Starter
September 23, 2021 • 4 min read
How to Get the Most Out of Your 2-Week HubSpot Free Trial
September 13, 2021 • 5 min read
CMS Hub Starter, business unit add-on, and Stephanie does email validation on a giant database [Hubcast ep. 274]
August 27, 2021 • 3 min read
How much HubSpot do I need?
August 17, 2021 • 4 min read
New HubSpot CMS Hub Starter Tier Released for Growing Businesses
August 6, 2021 • 4 min read
HubSpot CRM review (updated for 2022)
July 27, 2021 • 8 min read
5 HubSpot Sales Hub Tips for Assignment Selling
July 23, 2021 • 7 min read
Custom email nurture reporting, a map hack, and are pop-up forms a thing of the past? [Hubcast 273]
July 22, 2021 • 3 min read