Will HubSpot 3 and #Inbound12 Mark a New Era in the Inbound Marketing Movement?

by Marcus Sheridan

When it comes to the phrase “Inbound Marketing,” there are generally two camps of people—the group that thinks it’s just another marketing buzzword that will eventually fade into the digital sunset and then the group that truly believes it’s the future of marketing as we know it.

After having spent the last three days in Boston at HubSpot’s annual conference (#Inbound12), I’d venture to say that inbound marketing may very well be at the cusp of mainstream, although there is still one big problem, which I’ll address shortly.

The Growth of Inbound

But before I talk about the biggest issue with HubSpot and Inbound Marketing going forward, let me just mention a few things about the conference itself.

I attended the first HubSpot conference 3 years ago. There were a few hundred customers and it felt pretty cool—but not awesome.

Again, I was there last year and about 1000 HubSpot users showed up. At the time, I remember thinking that there was definitely growth but the company and the software still didn’t seem ready for  the “big time.”

Fast forward to 2012. Over 2800 HubSpotters showed up to participate in the conference.

And this year, between Cindy Lauper rocking the house (the lady still has it, I was shocked) and the 60+ educational sessions, the vibe and atmosphere were nothing less than awesome.

Furthermore, over 400 HS “partners” (Value Added Resellers) attended as well, with incredible marketing firms like PR 20/20 and Kuno Creative standing as the software company’s biggest advocates.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Because of some serious investors like Google throwing a whole bunch of money at the company, HubSpot has exploded in terms of number of employees and therefore capabilities in general.

Knowing that they had hired slurs of developers to improve their marketing software, I was curious leading up to this conference to see what the results of all the new talent would be.

The results, for those of you that don’t know, is now being called “HubSpot 3,” and to be blatantly honest, is pretty dang impressive.

Make no doubt, HubSpot got a lot better and they did it fast.

For example, here are a few of the improvements:

  • A new email platform that crushes it. (I would be very surprised if HubSpot customers continue to use a different email platform like an AWeber, MailChimp or Infusionsoft because of the abilities of this enhanced feature.)
  • A new lead contact form that is not only a lead/customer “timeline” (similar to Facebook), but tells you almost EVERYTHING about that particular leads behavior. (Very awesome)
  • A new social publishing platform that allows users to publish their content across all social media channels in a buffer-style (delayed) format.
  • New call-to-action button creators that are not only incredibly customizable, but allow for “Smart CTAs” (the button will change based on what the viewer has seen before on that page, similar to what Amazon does).
  • The launch of HubSpot Academy, which addresses HubSpot’s notorious “TMI” (too much information) problem and centralizes all their training, videos, and tutorials to enhance the user experience.

If you’d like to see more about the new features, you can read HubSpot’s take on it here, but suffice to say they’ve not been kicking their feet up in the office over the last year.

The One BIG Problem that Remains

No doubt, there are still improvements to be made with the HubSpot software and I’m not about to say they’ve got the perfect system. But without going into too many details here, I’ve seen nothing on the market that compares to offer the mass of tools and capabilities like HS.

That being said, I still have one major concern:

HubSpot messaging

In other words, despite all they’ve done, most people, organizations and marketers have no idea what HubSpot is.

For example, everyone in the world of marketing knows Salesforce is a CRM solution.

Most people know that Constant Contact is an email solution.

But few can come close to describing what HubSpot actually does.

And why is this? My take is simple—

They’re a victim of too much inbound marketing.

Yes, I did say too much.

In other words, they’ve done so well at producing content and tools like blog articles, free eBooks, and Marketing Grader that they forgot to mention in that process what exactly it is that they do.

It is for this exact reason so many people think they’re an “information company”…or an “SEO company”…or a “marketing agency” and on and on.

But few understand that HubSpot is a marketing software company that does awesome stuff.

And if the company itself is going to hit a tipping point, this has got to change.

Their message needs to be clearer, cleaner, and more concise.

And it needs to be spoken in the language of the common-man, not the geeky marketer.

Just last night I discussed this issue extensively with Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot’s co-founder, and he agreed with my assessment. He also said they were working hard to fix this messaging problem moving forward so as to allow maximum growth for the product, and movement, in the coming years.

Going Forward

So is HubSpot and Inbound Marketing about to embark on a new era?  I’d venture to say they’re getting closer, no doubt, as all the signs are pointing skyward.

And with a little shift in their product messaging, they may just become a household name.

But time will tell, and I’ll certainly be watching.

Your Turn

If you attended the Inbound Conference this week, what were your thoughts? What impact do you feel the launch of HubSpot 3 will have on the company?

And finally, do you agree that HubSpot’s messaging is flawed and how would you recommend improving it?

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Yoffie August 30, 2012 at 11:25 am

My problem with HubSpot3 is that it is rolling out to new customers before existing ones (like me).

Existing customers have been HubSpot’s evangelists and growth engine. This rollout harms the goodwill HubSpot has built with customers and is backasswards.

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Dharmesh Shah August 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Jon: You are right.

This is unfortunate. But, the reality is that the changes to the software are so BIG (which is mostly a good thing), that there’s some migration involved for existing customers. We are putting a lot of horsepower behind getting this migration done quickly, smoothly and successfully.

We wish there were a way to make the upgrade for existing customers automatic — and in many cases it will be, but we’re playing it conservatively to ensure that existing customers have a positive experience.

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Jon Yoffie August 31, 2012 at 1:25 am

Dharmesh, I appreciate the response, but it remains disconcerting to me that I would get a lesser product than a new customer. At minimum, I would expect a hard timeline for transitioning existing customers. I haven’t had this experience with other software of SaaS applications.

Remember, to me, it’s about my business and my clients’, not yours.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Yeah, I can understand how that would bother you Jon. Hopefully you’ll be live soon bud. And good luck with all your inbound marketing going forward!

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Matthew Stock August 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Not sure if I agree with you there chief. This may the first (other than those podcasts I finally started to listen to).

I just logged into Hubspot’s website to post another blog (our 99th I might add). There was a pic of some chick hugging a laptop (kinda weird) with the words “Marketing software. Easy. Integrated. Powerful.” (not so weird) next to it.

“I’m not a smart man, but I do not what MARKETING SOFTWARE is Jenny….”

See you at #cmworld !

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Matthew Stock August 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Oops…mean to say “I’m not a smart man, but I do KNOW what MARKETING SOFTWARE is Jenny…”

Like I was saying…I’m not so smart.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm

What’s marketing software? ;-)

See ya goof ball,

Marcus

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Mark Stephens August 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I would like to see them improve the CMS which is still clunky to use.

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Dharmesh Shah August 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm

The blogging application and the CMS are next one the list for a massive update.

HubSpot3 was the biggest update we’ve had in HubSpot’s history. I personally would have loved to have addressed the CMS in this update, but we didn’t get there. We’re on it though. Cool things coming — stay tuned.

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Mark Stephens August 31, 2012 at 1:59 am

We have always felt it was an ‘adequate’ CMS tided to some really awesome tools.. It is slightly frustrating to use – for example in page properties, the description boxes on pages are difficult to resize, the save button disappears from the screen , could easily have a character count (so that you know when you reach the recommended limits).

So an update would be awesome.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Yep, the CMS and blogging platform are the missing links to making HubSpot pretty stinking invincible.

Appreciate you stopping by Mark!

Marcus

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Mark Stephens August 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hubspot is certainly an emotive tool. Every day I use it I get at least one moment of ‘wow that is so cool’ and another of ‘that really sucks’…. I wonder if the Hubspot team are using their own CMS?

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Dharmesh Shah September 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Yes, we do use our own CMS for HubSpot.com (and our own blogging application for the HubSpot blog).

We’re hoping to dramatically increase the ratio of the wows to “that sucks” moments. We feel some of those same pains too. I personally also use the CMS and blogging app from HubSpot to power OnStartups.com — so I experience some of the same frustrations first-hand.

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Mark Stephens September 1, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Always good to eat your own dogfood… What are the top 3 complaints/enhancement requests on the CMS (or would it be worth asking that question generally)?

There are also a lot of ‘small wins’ which would be worthwhile… As an example in the page properties page you have several fields with recommend sizes (like meta description) where a size count would be very helpful.

Look forward to lots of wows. Fundamentally if I did not believe in the potential I would not be on the platform, so all comments intended as positive/constructive.

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Jason Moreau August 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Dharmesh,

If the new CMS comes close to this I’ll be wicked psyched:

http://www.lightcms.com/

BTW, congrats to you and your team on the new release.

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Ranae Mogensen August 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hi Marcus,

I have to start off by saying that I attended your session at Hubspot yesterday and it was (using your word) AWESOME! Obviously, you are an incredibly enthusiastic speaker but what I enjoyed about you the most is your ability to speak to the common man (or woman!) in terminology that we all get. Like you said “Consumer Language.” I left your talk feeling very uplifted about my abilities. To be completely honest, I am not a geeky marketer and up until this week, I really don’t even think I understood what the term “inbound marketing” meant–and I’ve been using Hubspot for a year and a half!

So, that leads me to your Hubspot question. If I’ve been using Hubspot for a year and a half and was still feeling a bit foggy when my friends ask me about what I “do”, then yes, I’d have to agree with you that Hubspot could refine its message (or maybe it’s the Inbound Marketing message that’s foggy?). I am however, ALL IN, when it comes to Hubspot’s innovative new system. I am totally pumped to create amazing content for my company and to push it all out using one system!

Ranae

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Wow Ranae, this was so KIND! Thank you :-)

And it’s thrilling to see you so excited to grow your business in such a forward-thinking manner.

Keep rocking!

Marcus

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Jordan J. Caron August 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Marcus,

Well said. Someone from Hubspot contacted me last year. I knew of them but not about them.

After their pitch I was clear on what they did. But still their messaging wasn’t.

It brings me back to your exercise for a business identity. One of the best books on this very subject is Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s one I refer back to often to make sure my communication is simple!

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Good stuff Jordan. Made to Stick is a classic, no doubt man.

We’ve got to keep it simple!

Always appreciate you stopping by,

Marcus

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Ryan Aspy August 31, 2012 at 12:41 am

I wasn’t at Inbound. However, after reading this I look forward to learning about the changes. Although I take exception to your geeky marketer comment. Mainly because I resemble that remark.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Yeah, they’re pretty amazing.In fact, we should be able to give them all a look at CMW. See you then brother.

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Kathleen Booth August 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

Marcus,

I think you hit the nail on the head! I too was at #Inbound12 (and enjoyed finally meeting you at the VAR reception) and was just blown away by the new release. It is really a game changer for small companies, which are our bread and butter as an agency. There is simply no other product on the market that puts this kind of power in their hands for the price point that HubSpot hits. The only limiting factors are time and knowledge (time to blog and produce premium content and the knowledge to be able to use HubSpot to its fullest potential).

As a VAR (partner), I came away super energized about both my own ability to market my services using HubSpot and the potential to just blow my clients’ marketing efforts out of the water with this new tool.

Having said all of this, I do agree a bit with Jon about new customers getting the product first. I totally get what Dharmesh said about migration taking time, but the one real sticking point is for VARs like myself. At the risk of sounding selfish, I should say I think VARs should be first in line to get the new product. After all, we are the ones that have to sell it, and it is pretty hard to sell something you haven’t used yourself!

Really looking forward to getting HubSpot3 and crushing it!

- Kathleen Booth (@Quintain)

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Hey Kathleen!!! Soooo great meeting you too! :-)

And boy was I impressed with how quickly your agency has gotten momentum. That’s really great!

Appreciate all your points and hopefully you’ll be fully updated soon to do you thing ;-)

Marcus

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Bruce Bates August 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

Well this is quiet the topic. Lets see – what do i think the problem is. I think the problem is honestly not that most people have no idea what hubspot is, but rather that hubspot has terrible PR. The truth is every time I see hubspot I see a debate about whether inbound marketing is the way of the future, and every time I see a debate about inbound marketing I hear about hubspot. I literally mean EVERY time also. I never see anyone talk about inbound marketing and NOT mention hubspot. Perhaps this is what hubspot wants but really what it makes me say is “I don’t need any given website on the net to achieve success – least of all one trying to promote a an old method of marketing under a new term”.

For some (most) people any content marketing is synonymous with inbound marketing – and at that point it just becomes a hype word for an old practice. People have been making blog posts for years to sell products, people have been doing article marketing for years to sell products, people have been creating video to sell products for years – to those people inbound marketing is just someone putting a useless blanket term around what is already called content marketing (both online and offline). Now as I said above everywhere you see the word inbound marketing you see hubspot and what us marketers realize is “inbound marketing” is nothing more than a word that was branded by some company that we don’t need to associate ourselves with.

I am a content marketer not an inbound marketer – why? Because I could care less what happens over at hubspot. It has absolutely no effect on my ability to market. For most marketers I know – inbound marketing just leaves a bad flavor in our mouths.

Imagine it like this, every time someone heard the word “blogging” they assumed that meant wordpress.com. Sooner or later you would want zero association with the word “blogging”. Perhaps you’ll call it journal writing instead, or maybe you will use the full term weblog, but sooner or later if every person that heard the word blogging thought you were talking about wordpress.com you would stop using the word, as you don’t want your blog associated with wordpress.com.

This all equates to public relations. Hubspot needs to make it so there website and this term “inbound marketing” are not synonymous and they need to show people they are not just trying to be elitists coning a new word for an old term.

Just my two cents.

[Also this is a personal pet peeve with a LOT of websites online - but software is something that you download and run locally (phone, computer, tablet, what-ever). Anything you use over the internet without downloading locally is a web service NOT software. I am fairly sure I can't download hubspot - but I would be interested in learning if I can download it.]

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I appreciate you passion Bruce. It’s pretty cool bud.

But here’s what’s funny— You know how you’re annoyed by the phrase “inbound marketing?”

Well there is another group of “marketing professionals” that are just as annoyed with the phrase “content marketing.”

So which is why?

There is a little chicken/egg thing going on here.

Ultimately though, like Lee said, are we learning the right principles and applying them to our business?

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Bruce Bates August 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Marcus I love how you handle my replies, anyone else on any other blog would get defensive and argumentative – yet you handle me like a true gentleman – you have real class and true character and its shows in all you do.

I do actually understand your point, but for me internet marketing is not new by any means – granted its not old but then again neither is television advertising if we are comparing it to the fact businesses have existed for tens of thousands of years. I have been online for nearly 25 years (though only marketing for around 15) and its been called content marketing since day one – and content marketing also existed before the internet.

Check out a vintage content marketing ad that existed 100 years before the internet. http://pinterest.com/pin/442197257131946657/

But like I say the real problem that I have is not that we are redefining content marketing as inbound marketing – its that the term inbound marketing is exclusively used by people who use hubspot and the majority of people who don’t use hubspot are just left scratching their head. It actually took me reading dozens of your other posts – and finally it became clear in this post I always new what inbound marketing and used it daily. So I wasted countless hours trying to learn something I already understood.

:)

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Dharmesh Shah August 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Bruce: Thanks for the detailed, thoughtful comment.

I think I understand some of your concerns. A few quick thoughts to further the conversation:

1. HubSpot doesn’t “own” the term inbound marketing. Many other companies (including other marketing software companies) use it. We just happen to be more prolific — but others are catching up.

2. We’re big fans of content marketing — and we think it’s an important piece of inbound marketing. In fact, the most important piece. But, content marketing does not usually cover things like conversion (taking the visitors you pull in through content and converting them to leads and customers). Inbound marketing is the entire collection of activities you’d use to get customers. Everything from content to pull people in, and context to pull people “through”.

3. The common term for software that is now delivered as a service is SaaS (software as a service). I’m not a big fan of acronyms and those outside the software industry likely don’t know (or need to know) what SaaS is. So, we just use the term “software” (it just happens to be delivered as a service). But, don’t feel that strongly about this one. To each their own.

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Lee Kirkby August 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

Interesting assessment Marcus. Since you are one of the early pioneers working with Hubspot to create something for your company I find your understanding really useful.

I am not new to Hubspot but certainly find at times they can be a bit frustrating to deal with simply because they do so much and publish so much. I have had to learn to filter their material to try to learn what I need to learn to use the ideas in my work on our marketing and then let the other material go.

One of the keys is to remember this is a very new company working with a lot of people (customers) who are pretty new at what we are doing. If there wasn’t some confusion on message and focus at times I would think they are just trying to stand pat. That is definitely not something Hubspot as a company does.

I was not able to be at Inbound12, but I certainly like what I hear and will try to make my plans to be at the next one.

As for Hubspot3. I am an old customer who has been lucky enough to get most of Hubspot3 early as I participate in the beta program and we are part of the early release group. Being part of the beta is well worth the effort and brings lots of new and better processes. From what I see of Hubspot3 in the end it will be worth the transition time it takes and I applaud Hubspot for being cautious in not launching to everyone at once and then having a whole bunch of people with broken systems. I can understand those that are not at the front of the line but most of us will have to wait for some of the new tools to get to our portals.

During the beta process I got pieces of the new capabilities at a time, and some did not work and needed to be refined (part of what you accept if you work in beta), but when I checked my dashboard the morning of the announcement, it was mostly there and so far it has worked flawlessly. Now I just have to work through the learning curve to apply the new stuff.

I don’t really care if people understand what I am doing with Hubspot. Whether it redefines marketing or just helps move it forward doesn’t really matter to me.

My purpose in using Hubspot is to improve my business’s marketing and results and provide better value to my clients. That’s why people buy this tool.

Again thanks for the insight.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Lee, some tremendous points, especially the last one, which I think encapsulates the true “Bottom Line.”

HubSpot is meant to improve our business and out bottom line.

That’s it, pure and simple.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Mike Ewing August 31, 2012 at 10:53 am

Great write up Marcus. I particularly agree with your assessment of HubSpot messaging. HubSpot has so many tools that it becomes difficult to paraphrase exactly what we do in a sufficient way. I think we are getting close in “Marketing software. Easy. Integrated. Powerful.”, but are not quite there.

As a consultant for 2 years at HubSpot, I believe that the another way to explain HubSpot is that it is software to enable marketers to execute Marketing Campaigns with an integrated all-in-one solution.

Too many people think of inbound marketing as simply “content marketing” or blogging or social media. Content marketing is just one piece of effective marketing campaigns. A true marketing campaign should look something like this:

1. Create a targeted offer to an identified persona (eBook, consultation, webinar, etc.)
2. Create Landing Page and Call to Action buttons to advertise the offer on/off site.
3. Automate a series of personalized follow up emails specific to the offer to engage and move leads further down funnel
4. Send existing contacts the new offer with email marketing
5. Attract new visitors and re-engage existing visitors with content marketing targeting relevant keyword phrases
6. Use social media to promote content and offers to generate more traffic and leads
7. Measure and test each of the above with analytics

Sure you can add more steps (like PPC, direct mail, etc.) but the point is that HubSpot allows you to do and measure all of these things in one place.

Campaign marketing is the best way to do marketing, whether you are using HubSpot or not. HubSpot just makes it easier to execute.

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Bruce Bates August 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Mike in your attempt to explain why inbound marketing is not content marketing you just furthered my belief and understanding of what this “inbound marketing” nonsense really is…. just another word for content marketing.

1. Creating a targeted offer is content marketing
2. Creating a landing page/call to action is content marketing
3. Setting up auto responders/automated followups is content marketing
4. Typing up and sending out emails is content marketing
5. Content marketing is content marketing (go figure)
6. Using web 2.0 to promote content also generates content and is content marketing
7. Okay marketing analysis is not content marketing but it is part of every type of marketing that exists both online and offline to add this to content marketing and call it “inbound marketing” is kind of silly to me.

Hubspot allows people to do all this in one place…. so does google+ (probably better at it than any 20 websites), apsense, IMFaceplate, or just about any web 2.0 website that is geared towards marketing – yet they don’t run around trying to redefine old marketing methods with a new word.

Your finally summary I completely agree with and that’s my point, hubspot although they call it inbound marketing – is nothing more or less than dozens of other sites that exist who don’t use the term. The more I learn the more I seem to think inbound marketing is just a banded term for content marketing used by a specific company – hubspot.

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Bruce, I do understand what you’re saying. Frankly, I think the problem is that marketing online is still pretty darn new. And because it’s new, it gets put into many different boxes depending on who you talk to. There is search marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, outbound marketing, and on and on and on.

I get the premise behind inbound—it’s the opposite of outbound.

But I also get the premise behind content marketing.

They both work and I don’t feel the fact that they are similar (or the same maybe) is a bad thing.

Ultimately, what I think matters is the principles of marketing success that businesses need to understand in this new age.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan August 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Great points Mike and I think you speak for many people. I also think it can be tough to compare any of these marketing “types” because there isn’t necessarily a standard definition.

For example, some folks think content marketing is just blogging. Others see it as integrating SEO, CTAs, email, etc, etc, etc. (You know the deal.)

Same with social media. Some folks think blogging and content marketing fall under social. Others don’t.

Alas. ;-)

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Mike Ewing August 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Thanks for your comments, passion and experience with marketing Bruce. I’m sure I could learn a few things from ya! I can see your frustration with constantly hearing Inbound Marketing associated with HubSpot. I too did learn of Inbound Marketing from HubSpot.

I agree that Inbound Marketing is closely related to Content Marketing. The term inbound marketing has transformed some in meaning since it’s inception, but the principle behind it is the same. Drive traffic, leads and customers to websites by creating content that people will attracted to (much like content marketing).

The big difference where HubSpot is concerned is as Marcus mentioned, moving away from outbound or distraction based advertising and instead focused on inbound or attraction based marketing. That is the real difference between inbound and content marketing. Inbound is content marketing with a twist… focused on attraction based (blog, social, organic, etc.) instead of distraction based (tv, radio, magazine, ppc, etc).

Although it is true that you can do a lot of things with software and applications like Google+, Hootsuite, iContact, you can’t do all marketing tasks within them. That is where HubSpot is unique. We have tools for keywords, SEO performance and optimization, analytics, landing pages, call to actions, blogging, email marketing, lead nurturing, contact management/segmentation/tracking, social media publishing/scheduling, and a lot more.

Ultimately HubSpot is marketing software meant to enable marketers to manage, execute, measure and improve marketing campaigns in one place. It can absolutely be done, but can also be a real pain trying to string together multiple apps and software pieces to effectively manage, execute and measure campaigns.

It is still up to the user to make the attraction based content and offers – with the direction of our consultants, account managers, online education and awesome partners like Marcus if needed.

Take a look at our software to see more about us if you haven’t already (we’ve changed a lot in the past months with HubSpot 3) http://www.hubspot.com/products/

- mike

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Becca@Plumbers Geelong September 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

That is an awesome post. You have really layed out your points in great detail. Very easy to follow with good content. We should take get hold of this post, read and impliment the points outlined.

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Lana September 1, 2012 at 11:07 am

Hi Marcus,
I am still working on the re launch of our website. I have been looking at a email solution and was considering AWeber or Mailchimp. I was leaning towards AWeber, but now am thinking maybe Hubspot could be my all in one solution with the new Hubspot3. I would like to find out more about the email platform. Maybe I have been having a hard time deciding because I was waiting for this?
I will go look at the Hubspot site, but would appreciate any feedback you might share from being at the conference.

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Marcus Sheridan September 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hi Lana, and thanks for the email.

The best bet to help you likely will be via a phone call. My email is marcus1@thesaleslion.com . Shoot me your contact info and I’ll be able to give you a call.

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Patrick Allmond September 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I am not the least bit worried about HS taking over an Infusionsoft users, esp. the power users. IS can adapt to the readers behavior and alter the message they get based on their interests. I can do the soup to nuts marketing, lead nurturing, and sales completion. I’ve been through some Hubspot demos and, to me, they are still a beginner tool – not a power tool. At least for what I need and the type of people I’m trying to target. Good company doing good things. Just not for me right now.

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Marcus Sheridan September 3, 2012 at 8:31 am

Good points Patrick. For the very robust email needs with funneling, Infusionsoft seems like a great choice. But I think for someone looking for standard email needs, HS might attract some of the customers they simply weren’t getting before.

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Owen Blevins September 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Marcus, great post as always. I too was pumped to hear about all the changes coming from HS. In fact, at the conference while Dharmesh and Brian were on stage telling us about the exciting changes coming to HS3, I went to my HS login (on my android tablet that has full HS functionality :-) ) and looked at the new features and pricing page.

With that said, I was disappointed to see that there is still tiered pricing with restrictions on functionality based on what level one chooses. Because of that, I have a challenge. I am about to make a decision regarding my renewal for a third year as a customer of HS. It appears to me that HS is having a difficult time generating revenue with small customers. The attention appears to be focused on larger professional and enterprise customers. “Basic” customers (I’ve never really liked the implication of the category name), don’t get any of the following:
Integration with their existing website
CRM integration (Salesforce, etc)
Lead nurturing
Custom lead scoring
HubSpot API for custom integrations
Advanced landing pages with A/B testing
Behavior-driven content & communication

I have a professional package but still don’t get access to the following really game changing features that let me be like Amazon:
Advanced landing pages with A/B testing
Behavior-driven content & communication

Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the box but in another world, let’s say Microsoft Office Suite, even though I’m a single user, I get access to ALL the features that a company the size of HS or Cisco would have with MS Word, Excel, Outlook, etc. I don’t have reduced functionality just because I’m a smaller or perhaps “less profitable” customer. I’m sure some pretty bright minds at HS have looked at the possible pricing scenarios and spent time with numerous focus group to test these features and price points and either can’t make it work OR perhaps can’t find a way to make it work… yet?

My concern is this; a “basic” or smaller “Professional” user might be starting to question whether they can live without HS… It’s getting pretty darned expensive to pay for the traffic, contacts and leads for smaller users. I’m almost afraid to drive too much traffic to the website because I’ll be charged for it. In the end, is HS responsible for getting traffic to my website or is my content? That would be an interesting question for Rand Fishkin. If it is my content then why does HS feel as though it should charge me for it?

Right now I can’t live without MS Outlook, MS Word, Excel and the rest of the Office Suite because Microsoft has given me the same functionality that large corporate users have – mail merge – multi-user editing – macros – pivot tables, etc. Microsoft allows me to to the same intricate things that all other large businesses do with their software.

Someone @ HS needs to trade jobs with me for a week and see how much time and effort goes in to our inbound marketing efforts (some weeks they might see how little work goes into it!). At the same time I’d like to have a better understanding of HS’s pricing strategy as it now exists. Please explain why smaller users have reduced functionality and a clunky CMS that infuriates many users. How do you make money hosting a basic customer with an in-house CMS and build and maintain their website for $200 a month? I just can’t get my head around that decision/strategy. Just because I’m a smaller company doesn’t mean that I don’t need the advanced tools that enterprise customers have access to. I have the same needs of enterprise customers but I don’t have the budget to spend. I remember both Dharmesh and Brian telling the audience at HUGS 2010 that they were driven to build HS to support small to mid-sized businesses so that they could compete with the captains of industry. There are now pricing schedules for businesses with 3 MILLION contacts. One might see why my perception might be that we’re not feeling the love we used to? While I’d be the first to say that perception is not always reality, it still appears that a shift or migration to larger customers is occurring. Am I saying that HS has changed their business strategy? I really don’t know and frankly it shouldn’t matter IF everyone has a seat at the table, both large and small…

As small business owners, we’re constantly spinning several plates. Most of us don’t have the luxury of a marketing department or support staff to handle the odds and ends plus we need to go out and sell something to pay for all these expenses. HS, please don’t forget who got you where you are today…

I don’t presume to speak for anyone else other than myself so please forgive my selfish post.

My final question is this: Will my beloved HS become a product that our company can’t live without? I sure hope so… and soon.

Thanks for the platform Marcus and Rock on…

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Anton Koekemoer September 5, 2012 at 4:49 am

Hi Marcus and Owen

Yes – The hype made around the new hubspot3 has been seen in the social media circles and blogsphere. Interesting times – And new functions in the products interface. Will be sure to keep an eye on them and monitor the feedback from users.

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Marcus Sheridan September 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

Yep, sure thing Anton. As you develop your thoughts on the new product, I’d love to hear them.

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Jared Broussard September 5, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Marcus-
Full Disclosure, I am a HUGE Hubspotter. Love just about everything that is Hubspot. I am a relatively new VAR, but have grown my agency to 13 Hubspot portals in less than 9 months. My background is in traditional advertising sales. One of the number rules of sales is to speak their language, not yours. Hubspot has some really sharp people. I just think they would benefit from a little bit of the “Marcus Sheridan” approach of really speaking the language of the consumer. In my opinion, there needs to be more people who can speak the language that the business owner understands. The tool,that is Hubspot, will sell itself, once the customer is comfortable with the process of Inbound Marketing. But, the comfort level of the consumer is where the breakdown currently stands, because the language that is being spoken by many (not all) Hubspot Sales Executives may be a bit too “GEEKY”. And there may be way too much that is lost in translation. Bottom line, there needs to be more people, like Marcus Sheridan, who understand both the GEEK side and the sales side. And that my friend is a hard balance to find.

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Marcus Sheridan September 7, 2012 at 8:57 am

Jared, let me first say AWESOME job in getting so many portals in such a small period of time. You appear to really be doing some things right my man, so great job and I look forward to seeing how much you’re able to crush it going forward.

Regarding HubSpot’s language, yes, I agree there needs to somehow be an influx of “average Joe’s” so as to mix up the vernacular. As to how that can happen, that I’m not sure of.

Time will tell I guess. ;-)

Great seeing you man,

Marcus

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Douglas Burdett September 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Marcus, it was great to finally meet you at Inbound 2012 after having read your eBook. I attended your VAR session and, as I expected, you were a house on fire! I couldn’t help but notice that you’re like a younger, more polite version of R. Lee Ermey. Don’t go changing, brother!

It’s funny how you talk about HubSpot’s perception problem, but that’s EXACTLY what happened with me. About a year ago I had been downloading a lot of their content and, having indicated that I worked for a marketing agency, they called after a few weeks.

The sales rep (Brian Nault – I still remember his name) asked if he could tell me about HubSpot. My response was something like “Yeah, what the heck DO you guys at HubSpot do? I mean, I LOVE all the stuff I’m getting from your site but have no idea what HubSpot is.”

I’m just glad they called because it’s been a great business decision for me and I’m confident that HubSpot has me headed in the right direction.

Now go get on that elliptical trainer!

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hahaha, love the elliptical comment Douglas!! And great meeting you as well sir, as Inbound was absolutely exceptional in every way…and boy did I have fun!!

Stay in touch and I hope your agency continues to do great things :-)

Marcus

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