Mike was the 5th employee at HubSpot (which now has over 500 employees) and he currently serves as the CMO. Mike is an expert on inbound marketing, and he has built a scalable, inbound lead generation machine for HubSpot.
→ What is the product of HubSpot
→ How they grown the product of HubSpot
→ His expert in inbound marketing
→ What are the big categories of things that tackle for people that use HubSpot
→ His most underutilized features that nobody talks about
→ What are the components of HubSpot
→ His marketing, not just what HubSpot does for others
→ His weakest part of machinery right now
→ How important is a brand to an inbound strategy
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Mike Volpe with us. Mike, thanks so much for coming on the program.
Mike: Supersite Thanks for having me.
Bronson: Absolutely. Now, Mike, you were the fifth employee at HubSpot, which now has over 500 employees, and now you’re the C CMO of HubSpot. And so I want to do two different things today. First, I want to talk about the product of HubSpot, because this is a show for people trying to market. And so you have a perfect product that they’re going to want to be able to use and learn more about. But then kind of the last half of the interview, I want to focus on you and how you’ve actually grown the product of HubSpot. So let’s start with HubSpot itself, though. What is HubSpot?
Mike: Yes, I was we’re marketing software. So obviously, it’s you know, we’re talking to the great attacker communities. Everyone knows what SAS is and really explained things like that. But it’s marketing software and I think we’re pretty much one of the. Our uniqueness comes from two angles. One is that we’re inbound. And the whole notion of inbound is that customers are now in control and everyone is sick of being marketed to. Right. We all record shows on our DVR as we fast forward through the ads. We all use caller ID or don’t even have a phone or destiny or I don’t have a fly by cell phone. I don’t have a phone on my desk because I get cold calls all day. So we have ways of blocking out this interruptive marketing that we used to receive. And so what you need to be doing today as a marketer, as a growth hacker, trying to grow a company is how do you do more inbound marketing? And so one of the things that’s really unique about our software platform is that it’s very inbound marketing focused. The second thing is that it’s all in one. So as an alternative to HubSpot, you can hack together a bunch of different tools. We try to put all that stuff in one place, both to make it simpler, easier, faster, but also to make it more powerful.
Bronson: Yeah. So you mentioned, you know, all those tools that you guys kind of bring together under one roof. Do us a favor for our audience. Tell us kind of the big categories of things that you guys tackle for people that use HubSpot.
Mike: Yeah. So it is really it starts kind of at the top of the funnel and works its way all the way down to sort of the bottom. So we have tools for it. We have a full content management system. We’re launching our new one right now with, you know, fully responsive design and like the flexibility of something like WordPress. But the ease of use of, of something that, you know, a non coder would actually be able to interact with all of us normal humans, one of us marketers. So we have, you know, blogging content management. We have a full social media set for to do monitoring as well as interactions and track all of that search engine optimization tools to track keyword rank and identify good opportunities through to landing pages with AB testing and optimization features to a full, you know, contacts, database emails, workflows and scheduled emails and things like lead nurturing, customized lead scoring. You can link it into your CRM system, be it Salesforce or something else, through to a full set of analytics that not only track where where your website visitors are from, but also how many of those are becoming leads and which of the leads are becoming customers. So you can really do that sort of full lifecycle sort of analysis as well.
Bronson: Yeah. Which you guys are able to do because it’s so integrated, you couldn’t really do that with separate products doing those same roles. Is that right?
Mike: That’s right. It’s so hard right now to say, okay, well, how many new customers that I get from Twitter? And which ones were those? And how will those customers performed over time? What’s their lifetime value? And you can do all of that very easily within HubSpot, because, again, it’s all in one place. And and, you know, for the cases where maybe there’s a CRM functionality, we have a good integration there, but rather trying to hack together lots of different things. It just, it just makes all that integration work really simple. So you can get up and running fast and start doing stuff fast and also leverage the power of all that data across all the different platforms.
Bronson: Absolutely. You know, you mentioned so many categories of things that you’ve got to tackle. One, it’s almost unbelievable how much HubSpot does. I mean, it really is kind of staggering. But I’m wondering a typical customer for you guys, do they really get deep into HubSpot or are they just really using it as an email platform and maybe one other thing or using it? Are they really using that range of tools or do people really not, you know, get the benefit of the full experience? What’s been your experience there with that?
Mike: You know, I think the best customers this is true for anyone who’s trying to grow their best customers use every aspect of what you offer. Right. And the best, most successful of our customers use many, many different parts of our platform. But like all platform companies like, think about the things that you use that are sort of more of a platform, whether it’s a crown like Salesforce or something else. You know, you may only use a smaller portion of it, but if you get enough value from that portion, then it’s a great thing and there’s a good exchange there. But yeah, I mean, I think like all platform companies, you know, we’re obviously trying to get more people to sign up for HubSpot. So we’re also trying to you know, we start to do you think about customer marketing, I’ll get your customers to use more of your platform as well. And you know, I don’t think we were talking too much about that today, but that’s kind of another topic that maybe at some point in the series you would think about because that stuff is important to one. You got people on the top of the funnel. How do you keep them and how do you make the customers more value, you know, lower your churn rate, things like that?
Bronson: Oh, absolutely. And in my opinion, that’s all part of growth hacking, too. I mean, we’re not just customer acquisition. I mean, the whole funnel is exciting to this audience. I totally hear you. But you speak on so many topics that we’d have to have you on a few shows to really see all the all the conferences you speak and all the talks you go, and they all look so good. I didn’t even know where I want to take this today. You know, not to have you name competitors. That’s not my goal here. But is is this the really only fully integrated solution? Because, I mean, I honestly don’t know of any other ones that do all of these different things.
Mike: Yeah. I mean, I’m biased. You know, I Oracle’s blood runs through my veins because I’ve been a host fodder for so long. But, yeah, I don’t really see anything out there that that has both the breadth and the depth of the integration that we have. You know, that being said, I would say that the biggest competition that we would run into would be somebody trying to do something like take a social platform, like a Tweet, Decker or Hootsuite, and then try to integrate that with some sort of an analytics platform, like, you know, maybe like a Google Analytics or even maybe something more like an armature or something like that. Yeah. Along with some sort of like an email or maybe like an automation system, like an Eloqua or Marketo or Pardot or something like that, plus some sort of a content management like a WordPress or, you know, proposal Joomla, something like people are trying to some sort of a technology stack that looks somewhat like that and, and parts of those things are open source and free. Although our co-founder said, well, yeah, exactly. Our co-founder says, you know, free software is like it’s free, like puppies are free. Right. And you know, it’s like, oh, here’s a puppy, the puppies free. But, you know, you got to go to the vet. You’re going to take care of it. You got to buy food. And if I stop you to buy, you know, whatever. Yeah. And so there’s there’s that aspect to it. And then are some of those tools are actually also relatively expensive. So I think when you look at the overall value, we feel like it’s there. But HubSpot is definitely not one of those, you know, 20 or $50 a month products. It starts at a couple of hundred bucks a month and goes up from there. And there’s companies that spend a lot more than that with us, too.
Bronson: Well, let me ask you about that, because, you know, I’m around the startup crowd a lot, and HubSpot is a juggernaut. It does everything they could ever wanted to do. And yet so few startups, they’ll add up or they’ll say no to HubSpot, but they’ll say yes to ten other tools that cost more combined. Why is why do they make that decision? Because I see that decision to be made a lot. And it seems like it’s the mid-level business that really gets HubSpot because they don’t care about the budget as much. You know, why don’t startups.
Mike: Yeah, I would say so. I would say especially for underfunded or maybe there are low that exceed or below sort of funded startups. You’re absolutely right. For startups that have maybe done an eight round or a bigger round, I think we’re really successful with a lot of those. And I think but I think you’re right. I think for that that profile of startup people are very I think they they don’t see the value that they place on cash. Leaving their pocket is very, very different than the value that they place on their time. And I don’t know what the right equation there should be and how you should value that, but I would think if you put a price on your time and compared it to the amount of time and effort it gets to pack all that stuff together versus what you would have to pay for it. I think there I think it works out very, very favorably. But I think, again, a lot of people don’t necessarily make you make the evaluation that way. So I you know, I do I do think long, long term. And we’re very we were a startup ourselves where we still think of ourselves as a startup. You’re our co-founder. Dharmesh is an avid angel investor. He’s invested in my last count over 40 different startups. As an angel investor, he’s very passionate about the stuff he run the blog on startup. So he’s a big part of this community. We all feel like we’re a big part of this community. We would love to have a better solution for that specific type of company. And we did. And to be honest, we just don’t have the perfect thing yet because we know what people want is kind of 50 bucks a month and then they want it to do like all that stuff. And we just haven’t figured out a good way to make that customer profile really both successful and profitable for us. But it is something we think about a lot and it’s we have a few ideas down the road to get there. But you’re right, there’s it’s that particular segment is not the best segment for it yet. But I think it I think it could be I just think it’s the time value money that people put on their wallets.
Bronson: Absolutely. Because I’ve done it that way or have hacked together the ten products. It’s maddening. I mean, and it doesn’t really do what you needed to the end of the day, also, because the data is not talking to each other. And so that’s why I ask this, because I’ve done it the old way and I want to encourage people to consider HubSpot. If you’re watching this, even if it seems like it’s, you know, a little bit out of your price bracket or what you’re used to, if you factor in your time and you factor in all the tools you’re going to use anyway. I mean, I’ll give an example. My MailChimp calls for some of their projects are astronomical, and yet I didn’t factor that in on day one when I got their free trial.
Mike: Right? Right.
Bronson: It’s a growing audience, and now it’s just unbelievable. And we’re like, look, server cost less than MailChimp. I mean, but we just don’t think about it that way sometimes early on. So that’s all. I want to kind of go there for a minute in your intro video on the HubSpot homepage. I like it because you guys mentioned that you like it when people audibly gasp at something, it can do something it’s able to achieve. Right. Give me some examples of those kind of moments. What are some of the ways that data is integrated or some of the tools or or some of the things that when it does it, people are like, is this magic or is this real? What is this?
Mike: Yeah, there’s there’s lots of it’s those. And it’s usually those things are interesting. It’s usually those are like these little things. Right. And so I’ll I’ll give you one example. All right. If you’re using some sort of a social platform, you’re doing, you know, social media marketing, right? And you’re you’re pumping out a bunch of tweets and Facebook messages or whatever. The analytics that most of those platforms provide are the number of clicks that you’re getting on any one of those messages. That’s really cool. But we have the ability to tell you who. So if there’s somebody who’s in your database that you’ve been emailing and nurturing, doing those stuff for, and then you post a tweet from HubSpot and one of those people that’s in your database. So we’ve identified who they are, and it’s one of those people who clicks on your tweet. You can see the analytics for any individual social message, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever within HubSpot. And you can see like the faces of the people. You’re like, Oh, it was that person who clicked on, I guess. But then if you’re like trying to sell to someone and that’s like one of your hot leads, you’re like, Oh, they just clicked on my tweet. This is a really good time to call them or email them, or depending on how it all works, whatever. Right. And that data integrates back into the contacts database. So what if you want to trigger a nurturing campaign off of social interactions? What if you want to say, okay, well, here’s the segment of people that are highly socially interacting with my company, but they’re unlikely to purchase anything from me. But I want to do is send them some sort of promotion that they’ll share with their friends. All right. You know, I feel that sort of evangelist base, you can do things like that. So taking that’s one example of taking some of that social data and integrate it in with the contacts database and then giving you the power of that across email and other things. There’s there’s all sorts of stuff you can do. Maybe one other example would be we have a smart content module. And so if you want to not only nurture someone by email, an email, we typically usually segment and personalize to some degree, that’s a super smart thing to do. But most people today are not doing a job of personalizing their website and showing different content to different segments of their audience. What’s hard to do do that with HubSpot, right? So it’s like, okay, well I’ve got, you know, MailChimp or something set up and I’m sending this person, this type of email, this other person, something else, but then they’re all coming back to the same exact website for us. What you can say. Okay, well, for this segment of people, send them this email and then show them this on the on the website. Right? So you can tell your target people or things like that. And that’s again, using the contacts information with the content management system. So it’s that integration across things that’s sort of cool and it’s the little things like that that most marketers like, Wow, I thought only Amazon and Netflix could do stuff like that. And you’re like, no, like there’s tools available that let normal humans be able to do this stock.
Bronson: Now, that’s the way it feels. It feels like something that only Amazon should have if I can when I can make my funnel that efficient without a B testing, just like, yeah, beforehand going in knowing this is what I need to do, it is it’s it’s pretty amazing for sure. Let me ask you this. In your opinion, you know, you see the whole product, you know, every little bit and corner of it, what it can do and how it can work. What’s one of the most underutilized features that you think is just really great, that just nobody talks about, nobody cares about, but you think it’s awesome?
Mike: I know I’m a data guy in my my MBA is from MIT and so are analytics. I just think are really cool and I just love the ability to be able to dove in and know who became a customer. And if you’re e-commerce business, that’s typically actually not that hard. But because we have this integration with the CRM systems, if you’re an offline business, like for instance, at HubSpot, all of our sales go through humanity. So it’s relatively short sales process, usually six years or lot, but they go through a human and usually most companies just sort of lose touch there. And it’s sort of like, okay, well, I know I drove this many people in this many leads, but then they wanted to the CRM system, not really sure what happened after that right to run reports just in the crowd, but all the analytics that really show me like, okay, well you know this many of the leads from hubs from you know it’s pretty source maybe you know from SEO or this particular keyword became you know this many business became leads and this many of those became customers. It allows you to really hone in on the things that are not just generating leads, but are actually generating customers and then say, oh, well, that’s interesting. It seems like this type of a term for SEO is not is driving leads, but not driving customers. This other type of a term is driving customers. Maybe I should start blogging more about that second category of stuff than the first category, you know, things like that. They really sort of help you optimize your time because it’s that full funnel analytics and I just love mucking around in all the reports. Yeah.
Bronson: Now I think that’s a good. Praise full funnel because we all yeah, we are full funnel but if we don’t know what actually led to the person pulling on a credit card, we don’t have full funnel, you know. Yeah, we will talk about the.
Mike: Steps along the way if you want to say. Okay, well, for people who view this page or my website, how many of them became a customer for people? You know, how many that didn’t become a customer? What about this other page? You can you can read if you really want to dove in and do that stuff, you can you can program in custom things like, you know, track this is an event and tell me how many people became a customer or didn’t if they clicked on this video or they did this. Other things. There’s there’s lots of things like that. If you really want to geek out in this stuff, it gets pretty deep. But I would say just in general like the reports that for fundamental and expose what.
Bronson: Seems like I mean the more creative you are the more powerful you can make this set. I mean, if you really sit down, spend the time with it and get creative about how you’re matching of the data and what you’re looking for, it’s really about knowing your own business. And then you got to just provide what you need to to figure things out. If you’re creative enough. Let me talk to you a little bit about the growth of HubSpot now, because this has been an amazing story since you’ve been with HubSpot. The company, I believe, has grown from ten customers to 8500 customers. Is that right? That’s right. Yeah. And when you took over, when you were promoted to CMO, Halligan and Halligan, one of the co-founders, is that right?
Mike: That’s right. Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Bronson: He had a great quote about you. He said quote that you had built a scalable inbound lead generation machine for HubSpot. It was not a great quote to put on a business card. I don’t know what it is.
Bronson: So let me ask you this. A machine usually has many components kind of working together. So talk me through the machine that you built at HubSpot. What are the components? What do they do? Tell us about your own marketing now, not just what HubSpot does for others.
Mike: Sure. Yeah. And I actually think that the most interesting thing is, is all the stuff you’re talking about. So I haven’t yet found the machine. I keep walking around waiting to find this great dump in a bunch of diesel at the top and maybe some oil dripping. But he’s got a running, making a lot of noise. But I have found all these marketing people around the company, so I’ll tell you what I’ll tell you about what they do. Right. So, uh, overall, I’ve got the, the, the real early generation portion of the machine is what I’ll talk about, which is about probably, I don’t know at this point, probably about 25 people because the company grows about 500 with marketing, it’s about 50 total. So the lead generation portion, we have a top of the funnel team and we have a middle of the funnel team, the top of the Funnel Team, their job and all their goals and metrics around attracting new visitors to the website and getting those visitors to convert and just give us their contact information and then their job sort of ends and then it goes to the middle of the funnel team. And so the top of the Funnel Team has a lot of people that are creating content because content is an important part of inbound marketing. Well, yeah, we do. I mean, so much content and we spend a lot of time there. So blogging, ebooks, webinars, infographics, all that type of stuff. We’ve got that and we do it in all sorts of different topics and we publish about 60 blog articles a month. Well, we’re very active within social and there’s also a small SEO team to pursue sort of SEO kind of optimization team as part of that team. And then we also do in about 80% of our lead generation comes from all of that. About 20% of it comes from doing some paid and some co-marketing and that’s like a two person team. So we’re very heavily weighted to the inbound for the funnel. Those leads are lower cost and they also close at a higher rate. So their higher value in their lower cost. So we try to invest about three Kevin there and the whole theory behind that portion of the team is how do you become that publication that your target buyer persona wants to consume? So I always tell people, you don’t want to be interrupting the thing that people want to consume. You want to be the thing that people want to consume, right? So in a.
Bronson: Nutshell, right there.
Mike: I think it pretty much is. I really do. And what that means is that you put an ad next to someone else’s blog article where you can just be the blog article, and we’ve chosen to be the blog article. And our goal is for marketers. So for that, you know, typically mid-level marketer amidst those company, we want to be the best publication for them to learn about their job. And when you read our content, it has maybe links back to some product information or maybe occasionally like slightly reference some product stuff, but there’s a lot of that. It really has nothing to do with what our product does. We’re just trying to be the best publication for marketers, and it works really, really well. We today generate about 70 to 80000 leads per month.
Bronson: Wow. With their lead because that’s a huge number. What is.
Mike: That? Is it is someone that fills out a form on our site, but it’s a but it’s a new contact name and order database. Now, are all those qualified now? Do they all by now? Do I give them all of my sales team? Absolutely not. Right. But it’s a huge, huge volume is very, very large top of the funnel. Because we’ve been so good at building up that inbound portion. Our blog gets about 1.5 million uniques per month. We’ll do e-books that get 10 to 50000 downloads. We actually hold the world’s record, a Guinness world record for the world’s largest. They call that an online seminar? I would call it a webinar. We had over I think it was 12,000 live attendees. We had 30,000 people register. It was actually about a year ago on the day of the East Coast earthquake. So that’s what that portion of the team does. The other portion in the middle of the funnel team takes all those new names that we’re getting out of the day base and all of the ones that have been in there for a while but are still engaged with us and they do lead scoring. They decide which leads go to the sales team, which team which don’t. They do all over the nurturing. They do sort of our engagement throughout the sales process and then they work with the sales team to try to close as many of those customers as possible. Yeah, and that team is interesting because they’re actually aligned not by the activity that they’re doing, which way the top of the funnel works, but they’re actually aligned by different buyer personas. So we have a small business buyer, we have a mid-market buyer, we’ve been enterprise buyer, we have a nonprofit buyer. We have some other teams as well. Each one of those teams has one or two dedicated marketers whose job it is to really understand that buyer persona and have a customized sales and marketing process for that persona to go through. So the way you market to someone in or director of marketing ops and a 8000 person company in the Enterprise segment is very different than how you do it to a 50 person company right in the Small Business segment. So we do our sales and marketing differently through those the way we do that by having those dedicated middle of the funnel marketers.
Bronson: Yeah. Now that’s great insight into how the whole thing works. And I ask that question just because I’m personally curious, you know, and this is my chance to get an insight into how HubSpot grows itself. Now, this next question I only ask to you because you’re you’ve done well enough that it’s not a slight against you to ask. It is, what’s the what’s the weakest part of your machinery right now? And know, what is it that you’re like? I wish that was a little bit better and we need to put some more people on it. Think about it differently. Is there any weak spots or do you just feel like it’s kind of all cylinders go in right now?
Mike: I mean, you know, we grew 82% last year to 53 million in revenue. Things are going awesome. But oh yeah. I mean, we have a million problems. And I think that any good entrepreneur is always paranoid. Right. And if you’re not paranoid, you’re sort of b, you know, become a little bit more lazy and sort of, you know, sort of fall behind. And so, yeah, there’s a million things. I think any of the more traditional marketing things we’re actually not very good at. So I worked with PR to that category, even though I would say we get a lot of coverage. But the coverage we get is because of all the social and all the blogging that we’re doing, not because we’re good at doing PR, yet we’ve got a plan in place. We got some new folks working on it. I’m optimistic about it, but right now I think there’s some opportunities there. Uh, any of the more traditional just because we don’t do it at all, I don’t think we wouldn’t be very good at it. We’ve tried a trade show or two and we failed, partly because I think it’s much harder to make those successful. And I think, you know, we just haven’t we’re not that good at it. I also think that the the good and the bad about it about marketing is the top of my funnel was we were just talking about is is large it’s you know it’s a lot.
Bronson: Of big enough problem for your sales team.
Mike: I well that’s the thing and so you need to sort of weed that out. And we do a good job of not distracting the sales team with that because we use software to prioritize and score and do whatever. But it would be nice if the conversion rate were higher, right? So we sell, you know, there’s roughly hundreds of new some number mid good number of hundreds of new customers per month. But if we had a higher conversion rate, that would be fantastic. Now part of the value of inbound marketing is when you really care about a marketer. As a marketer is what’s the ratio of your customer acquisition cost to the lifetime value of a customer? Yeah. And I do think with inbound, your conversion rates actually probably go down, but your costs will go down and your lifetime value should actually hopefully go up as well because people are finding you not just you’re getting a better view. And so I do think that overall for the health of the business, it does improve things a lot, but you feel a little weird about it because the conversion rate kind of goes down because you’re just, you know, you’re throwing this gigantic net into the ocean and fish are just coming to it and swimming into it versus, you know, doing a lot of work to catch any one of that perfectly aligned individual fish. And so it’s just sort of a different process. So sometimes I sort of dream about how much higher conversion rate we as well be is about that we know which part of one of our programs to earn higher rate and there’s then there’s a ways to do that stuff. I think over the next couple of years we’ll hopefully make some progress there. But yeah, there’s we have a million problems. There’s lots of smart.
Bronson: People watching this or thinking they wish they had the problems of supply.
Mike: Right? Yeah, I do have like a country club problems, but right now. No, no.
Bronson: That’s good, though. That’s why I ask, because I really wanted to see how you see it as the CMO, you know, of this large thing.
Mike: If there weren’t more problems, challenges, it wouldn’t be fine and I wouldn’t be here. So yeah, that’s I mean, that’s it’s been six years, right? That’s a long and as long as there are works at any one company, that’s a long time. And you know, it’s because of stuff like that. But it still gets me out of bed in the morning.
Bronson: Yeah, you guys are so good at inbound. But you said yourself, you know, you don’t really focus on PR trade shows. What kind of a buzz so far the traditional stuff you’re not I wouldn’t say excellent outright and that’s okay because your business works like it works with inbound and you don’t need to make a trade show work to make the business successful like it’s irrelevant. Do you think that’s a good kind of marketing take away that you have to be insanely good at something and you can figure out the rest? Or does that only work with inbound? It only works if you’re really good at inbound, and that’s the one thing everybody needs to focus on. How do you kind of see the landscape? Could somebody be just really good at traditional stuff and make this thing work or is it not really?
Mike: I think it depends. I think the interesting thing is that, you know, like like when you think about starting a company, one of the things you usually want to tie into is, is can you tie into a part of a broader trend that will put a little wind at your back? Right. And I had a nice CEO that I used to work for. I told him I was like, look, I’ve been here for four years. It’s time for me to move on. I wanted something more entrepreneurial, and his one piece of advice was like, Go somewhere where you’re not pushing on a rope, right? It’s like it’s like you to be being pulled by the rope. You want it, you know, it’s just like you want this force coming from behind you. You want the market to be moving in your direction and helping. You know, the rising tide lifts all ships, whatever metaphor you want to use. Yeah. And when you’re trying to start a company, it’s what you want to do. I also think you want to do that with your marketing. And I do think that if you’re trying to be really good at cold calling or really good at trade shows are really going to direct mail, are really good at, you know, radio ads or something like that. The wind is in your face on those things. And I’m not going to say you can’t make the ROI work because you can make the ROI work and you can get very, very good at them. But I would always want to be someplace where the wind is at my back. And I think more and more people are making buying decisions by searching in search engines, asking their friends in social media, you know, reading blogs, consuming information in that type of way. And if that’s the way the. The world is moving. I think you’re probably smarter to go someplace where the wind is at your back as opposed to in your face. But there are companies that get really good at cold calling and make it work for their economics. And you know what? Good for them as long as they don’t have my number one in the list.
Bronson: That’s right. Now, that’s a great answer. And that’s what I was wondering. Let me ask you this. You know, you guys have kind of mastered email marketing for yourself and helping other people, you know, use your tool and do inbound themselves. What common mistakes or misconceptions do people have about their own inbound strategies? Because you see a company sign up every day and they’re going to begin their inbound strategy. They’re going to start. And today’s the day. What do they mess up on? So the people watching this don’t have to.
Mike: The biggest thing is just assuming that it’s going to be easy to not take a lot of work. Right. I mean, you know, and we’re talking about, you know, growth hackers and whatever here. And it’s it takes time and effort to write blog articles. It takes time. And after a game agent, social like this stuff is not free. We often talk about HubSpot as it’s like joining a gym. And when you join a gym, you’re paying this, you know, monthly membership fee and there’s all this stuff there. But if you never show up at the gym, you’re not going to get in any better shape. Right. And you can’t even call up and have the personal trainer, like, look the weights for you. Right. They can maybe motivate you and send you a text me like you’re coming to the gym, right? You’re going to be here. And I’m like, I’m going to be here. When you’re there, they get you pumped up. And and we have some services and consultants, consultant that can help you to do some things like that for you. But it’s, it’s what you need to show up and you need to actually put in some of the effort. And if you do, all the data says it will work for you, but you need to put in that effort. I think a lot of people sort of get started. Just assume that it’s something where they can set it and forget it or I don’t really necessarily know what they’re thinking, but the examples of when it tends not to work is it’s more about effort and time dedication than it really is about anything else. So don’t make that assumption. If you’re not ready to put in the investment you’d like, don’t become a customer, please. You know.
Bronson: That’s actually a good thing for the people watching this because we all know inbound works. I mean, I have people on the show all the time telling me most of my growth comes from inbound and we didn’t expect it or whatever. You know, I mean, it’s the common story here where I’m almost tempted to change, just like inbound TV or something, you know. But I mean, the thing is, is like even though we all know it works, it’s so hard to do that people drop out, which means it’s wide open for the ones who want to do it. Well, as much as we know it works, people are still looking to consume more content. They’re not sick of content. Yet no one on the Internet is saying, Hey, Internet, stop, no more content. I’m done. They’re saying, hey, more, their appetites are getting bigger. And so if no one’s filling it, it’s wide open for the businesses who want to show up at the gym and do the work, right?
Mike: That’s exactly right. There’s still a ton of opportunity out there. And you’re absolutely right. But it takes it takes signing up to do that work.
Bronson: Yeah. How important is a brand to an inbound strategy? Because I think about HubSpot and you’re also brand is stellar. I mean, I remember, you know, years back when I was first starting, I went to a meet up in Florida and there’s some guy there like HubSpot greatest thing ever, let me tell you about him. And I’m like, oh, me know the guy, you know.
Mike: What is his name? Burnie.
Bronson: You know, I don’t know his name.
Mike: He was a designer. I may. I may. So I may know him because he was a he was at our first event we ever through. I connect with him on Twitter. Originally, Bernie Borgia sees Bernie Bay on Twitter.
Bronson: Chats with his interior designer. No. Okay. I think we might be told that somebody did all right.
Mike: There was somebody else. It wasn’t good. So, yeah, I mean, you know, I mean, we have a brand today for sure. But what I would tell you is that the brand was built through inbound. I mean, when I started HubSpot, the entire website was blue. Like the week before I got there. They just changed it to orange and no one knew what HubSpot was. We got one lead per day, which was one of Dharmesh, his startup buddies from his blog on startups coming on to HubSpot and putting in their email address, requesting entry into our beta program. And now and that was and that was only just an email address launching beta, which basically I thought was free and that was all we had. And today things are very different than that. So what I would tell you is that I think a brand, knowing what your brand is, is important for inbound and sort of what your opinion is of the world and how you want to represent yourselves is important. But I think you don’t need to have built a brand to build on effectively because I think you can build your brand through doing inbound. And I think they were a great example of having done that.
Bronson: No, that’s great. I didn’t expect that. I was thinking it was Oh yeah, we built the brand and then we decided to inbound. But then once you said it like, Oh, that makes perfect sense. Of course it was one of the same activity.
Mike: The first thing I did when I got here was write a blog article.
Mike: I mean, you know, and started doing stuff like that. I started participating in marketing discussion forums and, you know, all kinds of stuff. So yeah, I mean, you know, our brand I think helps, but I think you can build a brand for inbound.
Bronson: Yeah, well, that’s great. You mentioned, you know, that was the first thing you did on day one. So let me ask you this. If you were in a startup right now in New Startup, let’s say they’re bootstrapped, they don’t have budget, they can’t spend money, they can’t do anything. And you’re the CMO, right? For whatever reason, you took the job. What do you spend your day doing? Because people are watching this in that kind of situation, but without your knowledge. So what should they be on day one?
Mike: You know, I made this presentation. I actually gave it at Atlassian. The guys make conference or whatever and Enduro, it’s probably already so, but they had this conference call a year or so back and I give a presentation about the ABCs of startup marketing. And in there I think one of the big pieces of advice that I had was started blogging, start doing inbound even before you have a product. And I think what’s cool now about sort of the whole lean startup movement and growth hacking and things like that, as people are starting to come around to this idea that you can build an audience before you know exactly what you’re selling to them because you should know who the buyer persona is and roughly what are the major problems that they have in their lives or their careers. And you can just have content and other types, other things, maybe some free tools or things like that that are appropriate for them, that they will love and enjoy and share with their friends. But it’s not doesn’t take the time and effort to create as much as like building a full fledged product. Right. And so the first thing that I would do would say, okay, well, we need to do some research who we’re selling to, and then we need to figure out what are their key problems. And then we just need to figure out how do we help them with those problems before we have the product ready to sell to them. And so to me, I think blogging is a big part of it. Maybe it’s videos, maybe podcasting depends on your audience and what type of content they prefer the most, but that’s what I would do. And then, lo and behold, three, six, nine months later, once you have a product to sell to them, you actually have their time, their attention, you know, their trust at the point at which you’re like, Hey, now I got this beta program or, you know, free trial or whatever it is, you can then launch that and you have them ready to go. It always frustrates me when some group of, you know, three or five developers, you know, corner me here somewhere in Boston or some event or wherever it is, and like, hey, we’re going to launch next week. How do we start doing some marketing? And I’m sort of like, okay, I can give you some advice, but you’re six months too late. Like you were doing this six months ago, you’d be like, Oh, how attempts do you have to launch to our 20,000 blog readers? And I do write a blog article about it, but like, it’s that simple, right? So yeah, so I think you can start a lot of this stuff earlier and that’s, that’s the type of things that I would think about now.
Bronson: That’s great. That’s great advice for people watching this because I’ve been watching this. They haven’t started building yet, but they can start blogging. You know, we’re going to people all over the spectrum here, so that’s awesome. Let me ask you a couple of questions about kind of the future of marketing the way you see it, because you’re kind of closer to the ads than most of us. So my guess is, you know, you can see in the future a little bit more clearer maybe what’s the next thing for inbound marketing? Because when I think about it from my vantage point, which isn’t that well, I think, okay, it’s blogging. We kind of got that figured out. It’s social. We kind of got that figured out. Like it’s all kind of known quantities. What’s next? Like, what’s the next inbound thing? Is there a next inbound thing or is it just we’re finding the ones we already have better and better?
Mike: I mean, I think, you know, the things we have will definitely get better. And there’ll be a lot of new tools out there, a lot of big I know a lot of things that I think well, but I would say that I think that the notion of personalization. I think he’s going to become more and more important to how you think about inbound. When I think about inbound, there’s one part of it that is about sort of like content and providing value. There’s another part of it that is about context and about the right content is going to work for the right person at the right time. And that person time aspect of it is about the context. So I’ll give you an example. So we made this this email that we use as part of a re-engagement series. So for teams that have come in download something from us, our sales people call them back a couple of times. If they’re unable to get in touch with them, they mark with the CRM in Salesforce as unable to contact that, then updates HubSpot, and then HubSpot sends an email that person from me, as I want it to be highly personalized. I want to not come from the sales rep and it has a video of me sort of jokingly running around avoiding a bunch of calls from sales reps. And so because we sell to marketers, so they’re they’re my people, right? Yeah. And, and we’re trying to reengage them. And that email has a 16% click through rate, which were a re-engagement email for our audience that is not engage with you is about, you know, 5 to 6 times higher than you could ever possibly expect, maybe almost ten times higher for someone. Right. So it’s a pretty high engaging email, but it’s again, it’s the right content in the right context. I got the same exact email was sent as a as on purpose, but it was a mistake to do it by an intern on one of our teams to a group of people that were leads that we weren’t trying to call because they weren’t a great fit for us. And this intern looked at the email, said, Wow, is it performing really well? Let me try to engage these people with his email sent it and the click rate was like 2% and I got a lot of replies. I’m like, What do you mean you’ve never called me? I’m not ignoring your calls, all this stuff, right? Because they were pissed off by it. So same exact content. So that’s why I take issue sometimes with the notion of content marketing. All the content is really important, is the form part of it, but you need to think about that context of like how you’re using that stuff. So I think getting smarter with how we think about inbound and respecting that context, how can you adapt your website to who’s visiting it? How can you better adapt email to who it’s going from? How can you use more information about people, their social engagement to your company, their website engagement with your company, all that stuff to really make that make that inbound connection better. And I think that we are a product launching some stuff and have done some things that help you sort of make those connections more, working on more things that we will launch that will help there too. But to me, it’s that area that’s sort of a big part of the forefront of inbound marketing.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. I love all the stuff you said about context that helps me so much. This has been an awesome interview and I have one last question for you, kind of a high level question. You can take in a lot of directions, but what’s the best advice that you can give to any startup that’s attempting to build their own inbound marketing machine? What advice would you have for them?
Mike: Oh, you know, I there’s other other questions like that that you asked, but I would say maybe the new piece of advice that we haven’t talked about yet today, I mentioned the term, but know your buyer persona.
Mike: And so really, really understand who your buyer is. Talk to lots of them. There’s lots of packs of things that people using, you know, combination of Mechanical Turk and Google voice numbers to talk to lots of people in a short amount of time, do that kind of stuff, really get to know your buyer persona because that will help drive your understanding of the content and the context of that relationship. And if you know your buyer persona really well, your you’ll be able to attract them more. And I’m lucky because our buyer is very much like me because I market to marketers. But I think there’s many cases where, you know, as a developer, a startup or entrepreneur or a growth hacker, you’re maybe have this idea for a product and it’s sort of like you, but you’re selling someone who’s a little bit different from you. You really need to understand who those people are, what makes them tick. And if you do that well, it will help you build a product, but it’ll also help you a ton. And your inbound marketing.
Bronson: Yeah. Great advice. Great interview. Thank you again, Mike, for taking the time and coming on the program.
Mike: Thanks for having me. This is exciting. Thank you.
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