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If you’re an IT professional, you’ve probably at least heard of HubSpot even if you don’t have deep familiarity with the application. Founded in 2006 and a public company since 2014, HubSpot is one of the most well-known marketing solutions in the industry with a strong reputation in the small-to-middle market. Yet, they’ve also steadily moved up to the enterprise level, thus getting on the radar of more IT leaders.
Today, HubSpot continues to be highly regarded among marketing professionals as a premier solution. They have nearly 69,000 customers worldwide as of September 2019, up 31 percent year over year, per their latest quarterly filing. As a marketing leader, I’ve now deployed HubSpot at three different companies. In this article, I explain what HubSpot does for marketers and why the platform is effective.
What is HubSpot?
HubSpot came to prominence as a marketing automation platform. HubSpot helped popularize inbound marketing and the whole idea of changing marketing from an interruption-based activity aimed at hitting as many eyeballs as possible to a permission-based activity with a goal of getting interested buyers to willingly opt in to receiving marketing messages by freely offering high value content.
"Email campaigns, videos, blog posts, social media posts—these and more are all trackable on the HubSpot platform"
While HubSpot continues to be one of the best marketing automation solutions in the market, today they are much more than that. Their vision is to be a growth platform, which is why HubSpot’s suite of solutions now includes marketing, sales, and service, all wrapped around their proprietary CRM. However, to appreciate the full value of what HubSpot does today, you first must understand its core competency as a marketing automation solution.
It all started with inbound marketing automation
When a marketer publishes a blog post, she wants to attract as many readers as possible from her target audience. She’ll then want to further engage with those readers (all of whom are potential buyers) to identify and qualify those that might be good sales leads. But how can this marketer obtain the information needed to qualify the lead? In inbound marketing, you utilize the principle of “give to get”.
For potential buyers, you can “get” the information you need to qualify the lead if you “give” them content that is helpful: an infographic, a white paper, a product sheet, etc. Even a helpful blog post, published freely, is a form of “give to get”. Marketers give insights and perspective in a blog post in order to get potential buyers onto the website via SEO.
HubSpot allows marketers to operationalize all of this give-to-get activity. Email campaigns, videos, blog posts, social media posts— these and more are all trackable on the HubSpot platform. Furthermore, sequences of marketing activity can be automated using HubSpot. When someone subscribes to the blog, automatically send a “thank you” email. When someone downloads a piece of collateral, follow up with an email in 24 hours to offer a demo. These are simple examples of how marketing automation works and why more and more of today’s marketing is based on content generation rather than traditional advertising.
Beyond marketing automation to revenue operations
Automating marketing activities isn’t the final destination, of course. After all, the purpose of marketing is to drive sales and top line revenue. This is why HubSpot has continued to evolve their solution into an entire platform for marketing, sales, and service. These three areas taken together form a system that companies use to facilitate customer growth—the ongoing marketing, selling and supporting of customers in a cycle that generates top line revenue.
In fact, one of the latest trends in B2B marketing is revenue operations, which Fred Shilmover of Insight Squared defines as “the alignment of existing business functions—Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success—into one team that is driven by a single goal: growing revenue.” For B2B marketers, especially, HubSpot’s platform can be viewed as a fundamental tech stack component for revenue operations.
Single underlying database
While HubSpot has many highly touted features and advantages, such as its ease-of-use, which has earned it many fans, there is one underlying element of its architecture that distinguishes it from other similar solutions. HubSpot is the only sales, marketing, and service platform built on a single database. This means that the cross-functional processes supported by HubSpot flow much more efficiently from user to user. When an activity progresses from marketing to sales to service, there are fewer redundancies.
Having used HubSpot with several companies now, I would say its greatest value lies in the richness of its capabilities and the seamless way in which all the components work together. Like any all-in-one system though, the solution works very well as long as your needs fit within its capabilities. If you need to go outside the HubSpot system for a particular piece of functionality, its value equation starts to blur a little. Nonetheless, any company trying to generate a revenue fly wheel would be well off taking a solid look at HubSpot.