As most of you are well aware, I’m a passionate fan of Hubspot. The Boston-based company and all-in-one social media platform gave me the tools and information I needed in 2009 to save my swimming pool company and turn our website into the #1 trafficked site of its kind in the entire world.
After experiencing so much success with the system, about 10 months ago I became the first customer in a non-tech field to become a Hubspot partner, or ‘VAR’ (value added reseller). This essentially means that businesses who are interested in Hubspot sign up to the system under me and I help them through the process of boarding on this new platform, which includes teaching them to use and understand all of the Hubspot tools but also catch the vision that is Inbound Marketing and carry out a plan that will catapult their business and brand to new heights.
Today, as one of the largest Hubspot partners in the world (in terms of clients), as well as the fact that so many existing Hubspot users email me regularly because of this blog and my free eBook (Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy), I’ve been reminded day in and day out of the one great problem Hubspot is facing in 2012 and beyond.
A Company of Extreme Growth
But before I discuss what this problem is, I want to do a brief over view of Hubspot’s history, which in many ways coincides perfectly with the theme of this article.
You see, when I started with Hubspot in 2009, they still had less than 1000 customers. (Today they’re around 6k). They also had one main blog, which was updated once, maybe twice a day.
The core to their system was:
- A simple CMS/blog platform (content management system)
- Keyword/SEO tools
- Lead tracking/nurturing tools
For me, as a new Hubspot user and total tech dummy, this was perfect. It enabled me to focus on the same key elements of inbound marketing and analyze the same tools day in and day out.
But fast forward to today, weeks before the start of 2012. Google has dumped tons of money into the Hubspot movement. Other investors have thrown their hats in the ring as well. They’ve been named the 2nd Fastest Growing Software Company by Inc. Magazine.
The list of accolades could go on and on, but the movement has made everyone in the social media industry pay close attention.
What’s interesting though, if you look at Hubspot’s core system today, their features include (to name a few):
- A more advanced CMS
- Improved Keyword/SEO tools
- More in-depth lead tracking/nurturing tools (especially with the acquirement of Performable)
- Landing Page creation and Advance A/B split testing
- Advanced Marketing Automation/Email
- A robust App Marketplace
- And much more
Many people will look at all of these new and improved features by Hubspot and give it a huge ‘thumbs up’, as well they should.
During my time with the company, it has been obvious that Hubspot is the opposite of a static company. They are constantly developing, improving, adding features, etc. The list above will likely be a spec of the platform’s core features a few years from now.
Notwithstanding all of this, there is also a dark side to such growth and improvement.
Yes, most people in my position wouldn’t talk about this subject, but then again, I’m not most people. Fact is, Hubspot has a unique problem on its hands-
The Curse of TMI
That’s right, too much information. This is Hubspot’s biggest problem going forward. Why? Think about this for a second:
Pretend you fall into the 95% of Hubspot customers who are small to medium sized business owners with very limited knowledge as to how the web works. The phrase ‘social media’ is intimidating to you. The idea of ‘inbound marketing’ is very attractive, but the thought of ‘blogging’ and ‘producing content’ makes you a little (or a lot) nervous.
This being said, you start to learn from Hubspot and something happens:
- You’re getting hit with multiple blog posts a day telling you what you need to be doing.
- You feel like you need to be good at twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
- You feel pressured to write blog post upon blog post.
- You feel pressured to create landing pages, call-to-action buttons, and lead capture forms.
- You understand the need for continual education and staying up to date with the industry
- You want to keep up with and learn about Hubspot’s newest tools, features, etc.
- And on and on and on and on.
Catch what I’m saying here folks?
When I say there exists a ‘Curse of TMI’, I’m not kidding.
On an average day, I’ll receive 5-10 personal emails from Hubspotters and Inbound Marketers stating:
“OK, I’ve just signed up with Hubspot, but now what??!”
“Marcus, I know I should be blogging, but where do I start??”
“I’m so confused with all I’ve been reading and feel like I’m getting pulled in 10 different directions.”
“I know all that I’ve been seeing and reading is important but I just need to know what my priorities are!”
These are actual statements I received last week alone, and as you might imagine, there are many, many more.
Now is this Hubspot’s fault? Are they falling short?
Some might answer ‘Yes’ to this, and others will answer ‘No’.
Personally, I think there is a little bit of both going on.
Paralysis By Analysis
Look, over the last couple of years, no one has given more free information to the public about social media and inbound marketing than Hubspot. This act deserves major applause and appreciation from all of us.
But, because humans have a natural tendency to lose focus so easily, all of this information can act as a curse, as it can induce a ‘paralysis by analysis’ from users.
With 100 items on their ‘inbound marketing to-do list’, Hubspotters and inbound marketers often times feel overwhelmed and the starting point, at least in their minds, simply isn’t there.
Don’t get me wrong here folks. I believe what Hubspot is doing is a major service for all of us. The fact that they put their money where their mouth is and have become the leading ‘teachers’ of this marketing movement is unbelievable.
And trust me when I say they do not want their customers to fail. More than ever, Hubspot is offering continuing education and training for their users. They’re producing tutorials on a weekly basis. They’re offering more 1-on-1 consulting than ever before.
Notwithstanding all of these actions though, they need to do a better job of addressing this TMI issue. They need to find a more clear and concise way of helping clients and users catch a clear ‘starting point vision’ with the product and with inbound marketing in general. If they achieve this act, the difference it will make for their user experience will be monumental.
The One Thing Hubspot Cannot Change
Despite all of this though, many users will fail with Hubspot and Inbound Marketing because of laziness and lack of effort. I’ve seen it at times with my own clients and I’ve seen it with Hubpsotters that have come to me for help. In fact, I’ve never talked with someone who ‘failed with Hubspot’ where it wasn’t their fault.
Simply put, all the information in the world will not overcome lazy and unmotivated people, and Hubspot will never change this.
Like the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Here is a question for all inbound/content marketers, whether you’re using Hubspot or not: What do you feel is the key to starting a successful inbound marketing strategy and not getting caught up in all the information, education, tools, and to-do’s? Also, if you are using Hubspot, what suggestion(s) would you offer to someone who is just starting with the product?
Jump on in folks, I’d love to hear your take on this matter…
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Feel free to contact me directly with further Hubspot questions as well.