The following is a guest post from Peter Caputa IV (@pc4media), director of channel sales and marketing at HubSpot. Pete and I both attended the Mirren New Business Conference in NYC, where he presented on why marketing agencies should partner with HubSpot. Even after working with HubSpot for four years at PR 20/20, I learned some new stuff from Pete’s presentation, which he agreed to share and recap below.
Many agencies confuse HubSpot for its competition or just a content site for marketers. [Slide 1]
Before I started the presentation, I polled the audience to see how knowledgeable they were. I was surprised that about 75% of the audience had heard of HubSpot and about 50% of the audience knew that we are a marketing software company. According to a fairly recent poll of our entire audience, only 24% knew we make marketing software. So, the Mirren crowd is “in the know” a bit more than the average.
What very few people in the audience knew is the breadth of HubSpot’s marketing software. [Slide 2] The software includes tools for:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media
- Lead generation
- Contact management
- Email marketing
- Marketing automation
- Marketing analytics
- And more.
The tools are integrated, enabling different apps to leverage data and functionality from the others. [Slide 3] As an example, the SEO tools integrate with the blogging platform, so that blog authors are prompted to use the correct keywords in the right parts of their blog based on previously completed keyword research and selection. This lets agencies help their clients increase search traffic over time. Another example is how the landing page tool integrates with the anlaytics tools in order to track the traffic source of each new lead, what pages the lead viewed and when they return to the website. Agencies can use these tools to help clients increase sales productivity.
These are all tools that we like to say create a 1+1=3 equation, where the sum of the parts create greater efficiency and greater effectiveness for agencies and their clients. [Slide 4]
More Than Just Content Producers
So, why do some agencies mistake HubSpot for a content site? [Slide 5] At HubSpot, we produce volumes of content. Our blog has more than 55k blog subscribers. Our free tools have been used by millions of companies to evaluate the effectiveness of their websites and internet marketing efforts. We regularly produce and publish podcasts, videos, photos, presentations and ebooks. Our webinars often generate 10s of thousands of registrants each. It’s easy to mistake HubSpot for a content and community website for marketers.
What most people fail to understand is that HubSpot does this in order to grow our own business. We eat our own dog food, or as our marketing team prefers to say, “We drink our own champagne.” All of this content helps us attract almost 1M site visitors every month, convert them into leads, and educate and inform them so that they are more likely to want to do business with us. [Slides 6 & 7]
Each month, 1,000s of companies ask us for help. Each month, we reach out and connect to 1,000s more who are happy to take our call, and who often thank us for publishing so much great educational material that makes them better marketers. As a result of all of these conversations, we’ve signed up more than 6,000 customers since 2006, when we started selling our software. [Slide 8]
We’ve sent $5M worth of marketing services work to our agency partners
HubSpot Wants Agencies to Succeed
All of this content has also helped us sign up hundreds of marketing agencies as partners. A big portion of our new customers come from our inbound marketing efforts. Another big portion come to us when an agency bundles HubSpot into their retainer services packages. We refer a lot of business to our agency partners too. We’ve sent $5M worth of marketing services work to our agency partners since we started tracking it. [Slide 9]
But, that’s not all we do for agencies. My team helps marketing agencies grow in a variety of ways. I started the partner program in 2008, and my team and I have built it to 700 agencies. There are 40 of us in a variety of positions. We exist [professionally] to help our marketing agencies grow their businesses. [Slide 10] We are not competition.
How Does Inbound Marketing Work?
Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) says it best in his cartoon, “Thanks to the Internet, Marketing Has Changed Aaaagh!!! Aaaagh!!! Aaaagh!!!” For the most part, the advertising and marketing industry seems to be a bit frustrated and confused by the change; slow to adapt. Thus, the “Aaaagh!!! Aaaagh!!! Aaaagh!!!” is appropriate. [Slide 12]
In house and agency marketers alike are being forced to adapt to a consumer who no longer wants to be interrupted by the marketing messages that they’ve put out and have worked really well for decades:
- 86% of consumers skip TV ads.
- 44% of direct mail is never opened.
- 91% of people unsubscribe from email marketing messages.
- 200M people have signed up for a “Do Not Call” list. [Slides 13 & 14]
This stuff still works to a certain degree, as evidenced by the really successful ad agencies at Mirren, but effectiveness has waned. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, helps marketers draw prospects to them—at all stages of the sales and marketing funnel—like a magnet. [Slide 15]
During a panel on Wednesday, the CMO of Time Warner Cable’s Residential Services, Jeffrey Hirsch (@JeffreyHirsch), was asked, “How do agencies get through to you? Have you ever responded to a cold email or cold call? What works?” His response was “Nothing. I don’t know why IT can’t figure out how to delete those messages automatically. No cold message has ever worked. If I need something, I will find you.”
Jeffrey’s comments are indicative of B2B buyers and consumers alike. They don’t want to be interrupted. The Internet has changed buying processes. Buyers now start seeking solutions to challenges/needs by searching on search engines, leveraging their [real world trusted] online networks and by following experts in their industries. During a separate panel on Wednesday, Colin Kinsella (@ColinKinsella), CEO of Digitas NA, said that Digitas publishes thought leadership content in order to attract CMOs to them. That’s the idea behind inbound marketing.
At HubSpot, we’ve developed inbound marketing into a step-by-step process. Inbound marketing is the process of getting found, converting interested site visitors into opt-in leads, and nurturing leads with educational content that helps turn them into customers. [Slides 18 & 19]
HubSpot’s software includes the tools that remove the mystery of using the web to grow a business, simplifies that process, and makes marketers more effective at driving their company’s revenue growth. When used well, HubSpot’s software helps marketers rely less on renting audiences through advertising and focus more on establishing “marketing assets” that attract, convert and nurture visitors into leads and sales. [Slides 16 & 17]
Benefits of a HubSpot Partnership
So, how do agencies benefit from partnering with HubSpot? [Slide 20]
Grow Your Clients’ Businesses
The most important thing that our partners leverage is the proven inbound marketing process or methodology. The inbound marketing methodology helps agencies help their clients attract visitors, convert visitors into leads, nurture leads into sales and then continuously analyze each step to find opportunities for improvement. This process has worked for 1,000s of companies and 100s of agencies. Agencies who leverage this process don’t have to make it up as they go along. They can walk into a prospect meeting and confidently demonstrate how they can help grow that prospect’s business. [Slide 21]
Offer Integrated Services
A partnership with HubSpot also helps agencies expand into additional services. [Slide 22] The advice from many of the really big and successful agencies at Mirren was to focus on a vertical market or being really good at one thing. While there is room to do that when serving Fortune 500 clients who demand best of breed for every service, most companies are seeking an agency that understands the value of a integrated service offerings.
As Paul explains, “Agencies can’t do services in silos anymore, as content, social, search, etc. all play off one another [producing compounding results when each is performed with the other in mind]. You need to either plan for integrated services with partners or offer all the services within one agency.”
HubSpot is the software partner that makes it possible for agencies to expand into SEO, content marketing, lead generation and marketing automation, to name a few.
Provide Training to Employees
Another way that HubSpot is valuable to agencies is by providing training to agency employees. [Slide 23] In most agencies, labor is divided by specialty. While it makes unquestionable sense to have expert specialists on staff, providing a base level of training on most Internet marketing techniques to all employees:
- Brings up service quality
- Reduces bottlenecks when serving clients
- Creates a learning culture that most good employees will flock to.
HubSpot invests a significant amount of resources into training and teaching our customers and partners. Partners have access to training in Internet marketing, sales, service delivery and more. HubSpot customers and partners frequently rate the quality and comprehensiveness of our training very high on our Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys.
Reach the Exec Level
In addition to leveraging a proven process, expanding services offerings and training, HubSpot partners who are willing to adapt what they sell and how they sell it, are able to sell higher in the organization and deeper in the sales funnel. [Slide 24] By being able to predictably and measurably increase traffic, leads and sales for clients, agencies are able to sell the benefits of their services to the C-Suite.
CEOs and CFOs care more about marketing when they realize it can be a predictable source of new business and a measurable way to increase up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Sales VPs often wield significantly more influence over strategic decisions than marketing managers, and when an agency can show them how inbound marketing will help improve sales productivity and lower cost per sale, agencies have a huge internal champion who will help them win the business.
Of course, marketing executives are still leading the selection of agencies. But, the sales process becomes a bit less reliant on the spec-creative or the “final pitch” and a bit more reliant on understanding the client’s P&L and showing how marketing can improve that.
Shorten the Sales Cycle
As a result of selling marketing services that create sales funnels, agencies are often able to shorten sales cycles by helping their clients set plans and put goals in place that tie marketing activities to business results. [Slide 25] Inbound marketing is very simple math. A certain percentage of visitors turn into leads and a certain percentage of leads turn into sales. A good inbound marketing agency knows what marketing activities improve those ratios. The inbound marketing calculator helps agencies set those goals with their prospects.
When prospects understand the math and understand the importance of hiring an agency to improve these ratios through consistent inbound marketing effort, sales cycles go down and new business close rates go up. As Brent Hodgins (@MirrenBizDev), Managing Partner at Mirren, said in Wednesday’s keynote, agencies must tie their prospects’ challenges to their solutions and the fastest path to new agency business is to increase clients’ revenues.
Our best partners have gradually increased their retainer sizes over time. [Slide 26] Kuno Creative‘s pricing page shows how they price and package services, as well as its retainer sizes and the ROI to be expected. Smaller agencies and large agencies will scoff at the size of their largest retainer: $23,760/mo, but for different reasons. Smaller agencies will think that’s crazy high. Large agencies will say it’s too small.
Both would be missing the point—Kuno Creative delivers a measurable ROI for any size retainer, and routinely secures 12+ month retainers worth 100s of thousands of dollars of revenue per year.
Efficiency and Collaboration Lead to Profitability
Smart agencies focus on creating processes. [Slide 27] At the conference, I met and talked to about 50 people. Joe Olsen (@joeolsen), the CEO of PHENOMBLUE, stood out. He values his company’s internal process and systems development as highly as his team’s creative output (which is also excellent also).
In The Marketing Agency Blueprint, Paul dedicates several chapters to discussing why process is critical to his firm’s profitability. If nothing else, all software does is codify process. It allows a firm to create a consistent process for delivering services without creating those processes themselves. It also allows non-technical people to do things that previously took hours of programming, such as launching a new landing page, tracking SEO results or running an A/B test. HubSpot’s Marketing software is 10s of thousands of hours of R&D that instantly produces efficiency on demand for our agency partners.
In addition to efficiency, collaboration also drives profit. [Slide 28] When managers, front line employees, contractors and clients all share a common interface, individuals can contribute, approve, oversee and analyze work and data at any time. For example, instead of relying on data analysts to compile data from different software, analyze it, present it internally and then present it to a client, what if anyone could log in and instantly make decisions about what marketing activity should be done next?
Instant reporting across all key metrics and all key marketing activities provides agencies the ability to focus on producing more marketing, instead of wasting time running more reports. HubSpot’s software instantaneously produces monthly C-Level-ready reports and provides on-demand reporting and analysis for all inbound marketing services from SEO to blogging to lead generation and email marketing. Marketing agency reporting becomes easy. [Slide 29]
In summary, HubSpot has helped 100s of agencies of all types and sizes, in a variety of ways. If you’re interested in having an exploratory conversation, request a marketing agency consultation.