Hubspot: The marketing empire

By Jesse

Photo by Glassdoor

Let’s talk about HubSpot’s business model, what they’ve done right and what kinds of things any digital marketer can take away from it.

What HubSpot actually sells is a marketing automation tool but the reason they became so successful is because they didn’t just stop there. We all know that if you want to sell something to someone, you have to make sure you’re living that potential reality for the customer to see. For example, I can’t think of a single makeup store I’ve been to where the employees didn’t have a full face of makeup on (I can almost guarantee it’s in their dress code), and even when I worked in retail at Reebok we had to be fully dressed in branded clothing, like a living mannequin to show off the stock.

HubSpot pushes their platform using their platform, and they do this really well, by using what they’ve termed an “inbound” strategy. This is the idea that potential customers don’t want to be interrupted by ads or harassed by salespeople. They want to be helped. They want solutions to whatever problem they’re having and if you present YOURSELF as that solution in a convincing and trustworthy way, then you’ve basically made that decision for them.

The reason why HubSpot is so successful is because they’ve taken that strategy and not only based their marketing software around this, but they’re also the frontrunners for it. You can see this if you search for basically anything marketing-related – there’s a really good chance there is a weirdly specific HubSpot listicle on the first page of Google with themselves being conveniently placed as solution number 3 to 5 out of 20.

This works well for them is because they’ve noticed that marketing behaviour evolves and they’ve identified what would work for them at that stage.

To break down what this looked like over the years:

  • In the 90s, we were looking at more of a word-of-mouth approach to marketing. Here is where the customer was always right, because if you told them otherwise they’d tell their friends about how rude you are, and they’d tell their friends, and there wasn’t much you could do to stop it.
  • The early 2000s is when search engines picked up and people started using them as primary methods of information discovery. If you were using SEO, you were winning.
  • In the 2010s with the explosion of social media we see a lot of what Nicole spoke about in our webinar, where people are using social media platforms as search engines. We’ve also come to the point where people have a lot of ad fatigue and brands are needing to move toward humanising themselves, rather than hard selling.

Consumers don’t like to be told what to think nowadays, they like being given the space to make their own decisions.

This is where HubSpot’s model comes in. If you’ve ever done any courses on HubSpot Academy, HubSpot’s online learning platform, you’ll know that their favourite way to describe inbound marketing is to approach the customer with the right information at the right time on the right platform, giving them the power to become promoters for your brand because of the great experience and knowledge you’ve given them. This good experience being that you came up with a solution to their problem when they’d barely even asked, while also giving them the tools to understand more about what they’re asking about.

So what are they doing right?

Besides everything I’ve already mentioned, there are a few key areas where HubSpot does marketing really well.

The blog

Like I mentioned above, HubSpot has an extensive blog – they’ve definitely taken the idea of presenting themselves as an expert in their field as a selling point and run with it.

In their blog posts, they use a few methods which they suggest in their online courses as well:

  • They have a library of free e-books available for download, and they often plug these in the middle and at the bottom of their blog posts, BUT you have to fill in a lead capture form before you can access them. They then have the e-book automatically download via your browser, but also send a follow up email with another link to the same e-book, as well as some other useful links. This accomplishes a few things at once:
    • It gives you an easy place to find the e-book again, in case you lose it on your computer.
    • It gives you a taste of what a HubSpot email looks like, so you recognise the branding when you receive your first marketing email – because of course you’ve now been added to a contact list.
    • And then it tries to get you back onto the HubSpot site by providing links to content they think would be helpful to you. I’m also very sure they have different email templates for whichever e-book you download, so that wherever they link you to is as relevant as possible.
  • Everything is extremely SEO-optimised
    • They’ve done keyword research for each of their blog posts, and you can see the strategic placement of these words.
    • The blog posts also have so many links, both internal and external, which obviously pushes up their ranking even more.
    • They also have a detailed tagging system with sub-tags to further segment the information.
    • All of this makes sure they rank really well with search engines, and, as a consumer, if you keep seeing this one company as having answers to all your marketing related questions, you’re going to start trusting them.

Within these blog posts they’ll also advertise their webinars frequently, which they seem to be running quite often. This brings me to my next point:

HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy is HubSpot’s online course platform. They offer the option to take either certifications, where you come out with a certificate that can be put on your CV or LinkedIn profile, or courses, where you “just” gain the knowledge.

They have quite a few categories:

  • Marketing, sales, service, web design, web development, and data privacy.

A few of the courses are HubSpot-focused, which teach you how to use HubSpot as a platform, but most of the courses contain general information about marketing and selling your business, but they always come back to how easily HubSpot can do this for you. Why do they do this? All of their courses are free, and it’s one of the best ways of selling themselves to a massive audience.

This is yet another marketing tool for them, because when you’re doing a course you’re wanting to gain the knowledge, but obviously you want to put it on your CV and LinkedIn profile too. It’s then on display for other people to see, and click on, and potentially buy into themselves.

Support and customer experience

The last special mention I’d like to make about what HubSpot is doing that works really well is their support and customer experience.

If you ever need assistance with anything HubSpot-related, you’re able to quickly and easily get in touch with someone via their chatbot or email or even video call, and it’s all coordinated really well. Having this kind of experience as both a customer and a potential customer shows that this system works smoothly, and once again builds a lot of trust in a company. This sells their product effectively because any interaction you have with support is coordinated using HubSpot, so you know the systems work, and it also reiterates the idea that they’ll be available at basically any time of the day to help you out, should you become a customer.

The HubSpot platform doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s definitely not the kind of platform we’d need here at Pomegranite. Some people might not like HubSpot at all, but I think we can agree that their marketing strategy is strong, and works really well for them. The company has grown exponentially since it was founded, and I think each of us could learn a couple of things from how they’ve positioned themselves.

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