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.
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:
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.
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.
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?