HubSpot seems to be everyone's favorite marketing firm these days -- or at least the favorite of many. The firm, which charged into the market two years ago, now has more than 1,000 customers leveraging its inbound marketing services. I know I'm not alone in being fascinated by HubSpot so I spoke to Mike Volpe, vice president of marketing, about the company's rapid growth, the benefits of "eating its own dogfood" and how his six-person marketing team appears larger than life.
Q. [Jennifer] HubSpot seems to be on fire in terms of it's brand exposure. Over the last year, at the least. What do you credit with that?
A. [Mike] Really? Thanks! Two years ago we were five people with an alpha product and 12 customers. Today we’re 65 people and have 1,000 customers. But we’re not a household (or business-hold) name yet. We have a long way to go in terms of building a company and brand. But, the growth we have experienced is completely based on having a great team that has built cool marketing software products and marketing content that people seem to like. All we try to do is build things we think people will like – both software like HubSpot and the free marketing tools at Grader.com and other things like our blog articles, Webinars, videos, and HubSpot TV – and then share these things with people and ask them what they think.
Q. Are you guys "eating your own dogfood" -- so to speak -- with inbound marketing?
A. Yes, absolutely. About 90 percent of all our leads are inbound. There are two huge benefits to that.
First, the lead quality from inbound marketing is much higher since all of our leads approached us. We make zero cold calls. Every single phone call one of our sales reps makes is calling someone back who has already used one of our software tools or watched a webinar or something like that. A lot of people we call say “Oh, HubSpot, cool! I was hoping you would call. I just watched your webinar and I had a question…” Our sales reps are a lot like marketing consultants because they are highly trained in marketing and are just there to answer questions about our product and how you can use it to drive more marketing results. At other companies you’re making a cold call, and the person either doesn’t answer or when they do answer they start thinking “who is this person calling me and why do they think I want to talk to them."
Second the cost per lead is much lower from inbound marketing. Our cost per lead is about five to 10 times lower than the benchmarks for most other B2B software companies. And that enables us to have a very low price product and serve a much larger market of small businesses, rather than spending lots of money and having to go after a small number of large companies and charge really high prices. It also enables us to grow a lot faster using less capital than other companies, and we can spend a higher portion of our dollars on product development and enhancements, which makes customers even happier. There are a lot of positive reinforcing loops when your company embraces inbound marketing.
Q. How does HubSpot measure the success of it's programs -- both traditional and social.
A. We are marketing geeks and we measure everything fanatically. Our office overlooks MIT, and a bunch of us went to graduate or undergraduate programs at MIT, so the analytical thing is in our blood. Every single HubSpot meeting has some sort of data. After seeing his first marketing meeting, one of our newer engineers recently told me that “marketing is different at HubSpot, you guys use numbers and measure everything and actually know what is going on. That’s cool. At my last company the marketing team was more like the arts and crafts group.”
Of course we do this analysis using our own software, and we take what we want to do and build it into the software to make it easy for our customers. So, I know exactly how many leads we get from Website Grader or our blog or Twitter or Facebook or anyplace else. I also know the SEO impact of all the new inbound links that we receive, the effectiveness of each of our blog articles, trends in our keyword rankings, campaign performance, pretty much everything you need to know as a marketing person is just behind your HubSpot login screen.
Q. What are you doing differently, in your view, than other marketing and consulting firms?
A. The big differences between HubSpot and a marketing consultant are that we have marketing software, we’re way cheaper, but you have to do some of the work yourself. We think most marketing consultants spend a lot of time doing things that are not rocket science, and can be made accessible to mere marketing mortals using software and some training. Our methodology is simple and transparent, our software is web based and designed for a non-technical person. We think that pretty much anyone can become a great inbound marketer and dramatically increase their lead flow while lowering their cost per lead if they use our software and follow our methodology.
Q. Any case studies that show how HubSpot clients have experienced similar brand growth?
A. There are a bunch of case studies people can watch on our Web site and hear from the customers themselves. But if you watch those videos you’ll hear how Cilk Arts increased their website leads 600 percent, Makana Solutions doubled their website traffic and leads, eCoast Sales grew their SEO traffic 50 percent, The Bridge Group doubled their online lead generation, and Vocio doubled website traffic and saw a 30 times payback on their HubSpot investment. There’s lots more. And don’t trust me, if you’re on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, ask around if anyone has any experience with HubSpot. Our customers are our best salespeople.
Q. The Inbound Marketing Summit you held last year. How successful was that? Do you plan a repeat in 2009? Any concerns about the economy and will you do it differently because of that?
A. We were a sponsor of the Inbound Marketing Summit last year along with a number of other marketing industry companies. A new event company is going to be managing it this year, and I have been talking to them. The schedule is not announced, but since I’m a ZDNet fan I can tell you there will be three Inbound Marketing Summits in 2009, each in a different U.S. city. There will also be a team of three industry experts that will be driving the content strategy for the event. It should be really great.