I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to interview our next predictive marketing thought leader, HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe.
Mike heads HubSpot’s lead generation and branding strategy through inbound marketing, including blogging, search engine optimization, video marketing, and social media. As the fifth employee at HubSpot back in 2007, Mike has witnessed the evolution of marketing technologies and has played a key role in enabling the company’s marketing innovation.
Since Mike joined HubSpot, the company has grown to 11,000 customers, increased revenue to $77 million, and went public a couple of months ago with a current market cap of about $1.02 billion.
Q: How do you believe B2B marketing has evolved/changed since the growth of SaaS companies?
A: SaaS and other subscription-based services have had a profound impact on the customer experience. In a subscription model, the connection between a buyer and a brand is not a single transaction, it’s a long-term relationship. To that end, the onus is on businesses to continue an optimal customer experience long after the individual or company has completed the purchase. For example, the customer marketing team at HubSpot focuses on product education and adoption to make it easy and seamless for people to use different apps within their platform—that’s an investment of time, energy, and money every company should consider making in the interest of a long-term engagement with its customers.
“The connection between a buyer & a brand is not a single transaction, it’s a long-term relationship.”
Q: Gartner Analyst Laura McLellan predicts that in 2017, the CMO is expected to spend more on technology than the CIO. What technologies do you feel are the most important to invest in now more than ever?
A: Per HubSpot, we think everyone should have an inbound marketing platform. The marketing technology space is just getting started—more and more companies of every size are realizing that traditional marketing doesn’t work, and that consumers will not tolerate a fragmented buying experience. Marketing technology done right drastically improves your customer engagement and your business results, so companies are investing accordingly.
Q: In marketing today, some marketers claim that there is too much data cluttering up their databases. How do you navigate through the data noise and hone in on the information that is relevant to you?
A: There’s a post on HubSpot’s blog on the marketing metrics executives actually care about because the team received so many questions from people around what companies should actually be measuring. Everything else should build from these six core metrics:
1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
2. Marketing % of Customer Acquisition Cost (M%-CAC)
3. Ratio of Customer Lifetime Value to CAC (LTV:CAC)
4. Time to Payback CAC
5. Marketing Originated Customer %
6. Marketing Influences Customer %
Q: Marketing believes the sales force is myopic—too focused on individual customer experiences, insufficiently aware of the larger market, and blind to the future. Do you believe this lack of alignment exists? If so, what steps can be made to make sales and marketing more integrated?
A: We think most sales and marketing teams spend too much time bickering with each other and not actually thinking about what customers want. For example, at HubSpot, both our marketing and sales teams are held accountable for building the business together through a service-level agreement. I think companies as a whole need to spend a lot more time thinking about what their prospects and customers actually want and less time arguing about whose fault it is that their approach isn’t working.
Q: What are some of the key marketing technologies that enable your success? What gaps have you found?
A: Having a fully-integrated marketing platform makes all the difference in creating a relevant and personalized experience for your buyers. With HubSpot, our contact data is tightly woven into email, social media, analytics, landing pages, and every tool we use to connect with our prospects. That means we aren’t just sharing valuable content, we’re sharing the right valuable content, with the right people, at the right time.
Along those lines, having an integrated set of tools that talk to each other makes it easier to do closed-loop marketing, something I don’t think a lot of marketers have mastered just yet. If a new lead finds your company through Facebook, you should be tracking their activity as they move throughout the buying process toward becoming a customer. Having that kind of insight means you can directly tie your marketing efforts to revenue. Historically, that’s been a real challenge for marketers but today we have the sophisticated marketing technology to do it, you just need to dive in.
Q: Lastly, as a marketing leader in the B2B space, what are the top 3 qualities you believe are essential to be a successful demand gen marketer?
A: The best demand gen marketers are analytical, great content creators, and have a Get S#!% Done attitude. The ability to learn from results and dive into data is invaluable, and creating content is a requirement for marketers across the board today. One thing we like to say at HubSpot that’s a little different is that we look for people with that GSD quality. Demand gen marketers always need to be improving and learning, but also producing results. People with a GSD attitude aren’t just scrappy, but strategic and working toward clear, defined goals.
“The best demand gen marketers are analytical, great content creators & have a Get S#!% Done attitude.”
Hope you enjoyed reading this week’s edition of our Thought Leadership Series. If there are any questions you would like to see asked on my next interview, please insert them in a comment below.