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Inbound Success Podcast

What do the most successful inbound marketers do to get great results?

You’ve heard the stories about companies using inbound marketing to dramatically increase sales, grow their business, and transform their customer relationships, but not everyone who practices inbound marketing knocks it out of the park.

If you want to know what goes into building a world class inbound marketing campaign that gets real, measurable results, check out the Inbound Success podcast. Every week, host Kathleen Booth interviews marketing folks who are rolling up their sleeves, doing the work, and getting the kinds of results we all hope to achieve.

The goal is to “peel back the onion” and learn what works, what doesn’t and what you need to do to really move the needle with your inbound marketing efforts. This isn’t just about big picture strategy – it’s about getting actionable tips and insights that you can use immediately in your own marketing.

Dec 10, 2018

What marketing strategies is HubSpot's CMO using to drive the company's explosive growth?  

This week on The Inbound Success PodcastHubSpot Chief Marketing Officer Kipp Bodnar is pulling back the curtain on the company's marketing and sharing the details of four successful marketing experiments that have been game changers for the company in 2018. 

Kipp covered this in his presentation at IMPACT Live 2018 and it was so fascinating, I asked him to come on the podcast so we could dig a bit deeper.

Some highlights from our discussion include:

  • HubSpot's marketing strategy for 2018 was focused on reducing friction and making it easier for customers to learn about, interact with, and engage with the company.
  • By revamping their lead nurturing workflows for new contacts, HubSpot was able to go to a 67% open rate from a 37% open rate, and from a 17% click-through rate on the previous version of its lead nurturing workflow to a 61% click-through rate.
  • By syndicating content that relates to high traffic, competitive keywords and republishing it on third party sites, HubSpot dramatically increased page authority for that content and as a result, traffic grew considerably (up to 16,000% for one article!).
  • Building on the success of its content syndication program, HubSpot is now working on getting accepted as a publisher in Google News in order to experiment with the impact that exposure in news aggregation sites will have on traffic.
  • A new strategy to connect with its audience via Facebook Messenger is also paying off, with prospects converting on a Messenger-based quiz.
  • The company is in the early stages of a new play to cover more breaking news and has added a full time writer to work exclusively on this.
  • In 2019, Kipp foresees HubSpot devoting more resources to video and to marketing via Instagram.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about the marketing experiments HubSpot conducted and the results that they generated.


Kathleen Booth (Host):Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm Kathleen Booth, and I'm your host; and today my guest is Kipp Bodnar, who is the CMO of HubSpot.

Welcome Kipp.

Kipp Bodnar (Guest): Hey, thanks for having me Kathleen, I really appreciate it.

Kipp Bodnar and Kathleen Booth
Kipp and Kathleen recording this episode

Kathleen: I'm really excited to have you here. I had the opportunity to hear you speak at IMPACT Live in August.

Click here to watch the video recording of Kipp's IMPACT Live talk.

Kathleen: I've heard you speak before at INBOUND and so I'm personally very excited to get to pick your brain a little bit on some of the things you're doing at HubSpot.

Before we dive into that, can you talk a little bit about yourself and just about HubSpot. I'm pretty sure most of my listeners know what HubSpot is, but just in case there's that random person out there who's never heard of it, maybe you could give us the two-minute version.

About HubSpot

Kipp: Sure, yeah. Well thanks for having me and to the audience thanks for taking a few minutes to listen.

So HubSpot...we build technology for growing businesses and we started as a marketing and marketing automation tool, but really now we're a CRM with tools for marketers, sales people, and customer service folks.

Whether you need to store your contacts, manage your pipeline, automate your marketing we've got the tools for you to do that.

I personally have been here at HubSpot for almost nine years now. It's been a fun journey. We've got an awesome global team growing and an amazing network of agency partners, integration partners that really extend HubSpot's platform with their own application.

It's a really awesome system we have here and I'm excited to talk a little about it today.

Kathleen: Yeah, it's amazing to me how much the company has changed since you joined, I mean I haven't known of HubSpot for even as long as you were around. I think when I had my own agency we became partners, it was 2011.

Kipp: Yes.

Kathleen: And even just in that time it's unbelievable what's happened, so I can't imagine as someone who joined what was it? Would it have been 2007?

Kipp: No I joined the end of 2009, so not-

Kathleen: 2009, so-

Kipp: - too soon before, about a year or so before you started coming through my office. But yeah, the company's been around since 2006.

Kathleen: Yeah, unbelievable amount of change in that time.

Kipp: Glad you remember and reflect on it.

Kathleen: I feel like we could do a whole other podcast on just that. But we won't so we'll save that one for another time, and for this time, you know, one of the reasons as I said I was really excited to talk to you was that I think a lot of us in the marketing world have heard HubSpot's story of growth. It's incredibly impressive, but it also - to the average marketer or to the small or medium-sized business owner - it can kind of seem unattainable or unrelatable because the growth is so dramatic.

What I appreciated so much about what you discussed at IMPACT Live was you pulled back the curtain on HubSpot's marketing and rather than try and give us the secret to success, you gave us a couple of very discrete, actionable, specific things that HubSpot has done in the past year, that have really made an impact in terms of the results that you're seeing in your marketing.

It seems to me that all of those were very doable and attainable by the average company and so I would love to spend today breaking that down and talking about that for listeners.

Kipp: Let's do it.

HubSpot's Marketing Goals

Kathleen: Alright. So maybe you could start by just talking about what your goals for the year were, 'cause I know when you started talking at IMPACT Live a lot of these changes that you put in place had to do with really achieving the objectives you set out as far as HubSpot's marketing.

Kipp: Yeah, this year we wanted to build off of the momentum we've had and we wanted to really solve for our prospects and our customers, which has kind of always been our core DNA. But when we thought about this, like man we've got this awesome flywheel, we've got a business that's really going up but there's a lot of friction in it, and how do we reduce that friction and make it easier to learn about us, interact with us, engage with us?

And so we really wanted to drive awareness with HubSpot and how we think about getting people to adopt our free products, which I think are a really great way to engage with us.

We wanted to make it easier for our customers to be advocates for us. We believe that word of mouth is one of our best marketing channels, and so we wanted to really rethink how we thought about customer marketing and communicating to our customers, and how we enabled them to tell a better story.

We wanted to make shopping with us and buying with us easy, friction-free, on our own prospects' time schedule and how they wanted to interact with us. And so that involved telling better stories, educating them, but also doubling down on things like automation and chat and different strategies like that.

Hubspot 2018 marketing strategy

Kathleen: Yeah, and all of those I think are goals that any business that is at all down the path of pursuing an inbound marketing strategy probably share. I know for myself, we would love to reduce friction and solve for the customer and make it easier for our prospects to engage with us, so how'd you do it? I know you ran a bunch of tests, and there were some that worked and worked particularly well.

1. Revamping HubSpot's Lead Nurturing Strategy

Kipp: Yeah, so there's a ... We'll talk about one of the things I shared at IMPACT Live which is really about how we improved our automation and nurturing.

Once we were able to bring somebody into our community I would really take them to the next level and help them understand our products, address their pain in the right way, and really we've been, as a company that's been in the marketing automation system, we've been doing automation for a long time and we continue to try to iterate on it over and over again.

Like any marketing tactic or strategy I feel like you always, the first iteration is always just full of assumptions, right? It's the marketer trying to guess and making a bunch of assumptions as-

Kathleen: Right, as people like to sound fancy and scientific they say, "It was my heuristic analysis."

Kipp: I'm not that fancy at terms.

Kathleen: That's just a way of sounding really smart when you're saying, "I made a bunch of assumptions."

Kipp: Yeah, and so that was basically like our automation, two to three years ago, that's kinda what it was like, right? We'd assume based on what the topic that person downloaded that they wanted more stuff on that topic, right? And we wanna try to keep giving them more of what they wanted and it worked okay, like we had a 30% open rate on that automation, about 14% click-through rate. It was respectable. Nothing to be frustrated about.

Hubspot conversion rates

Kipp: Then we were like, "Oh well it's good that they want that stuff, but actually they're looking for this information 'cause they have this bigger holistic set of problems, right?"

They either need to get more traffic to their website, they need to get more leads for their business, they need to turn those leads into customers at a high rate.

There's kind of a refined subset of problems that all these folks have, and so what if we do our best job to kind of segment those people based on those areas of focus and kind of what their core marketing challenge was?

Kathleen: Yeah, I seem to recall you gave an example in your presentation of somebody would download a social media playbook and at first on the surface it would appear that their problem was they wanted to learn how to do social media better, but really that was the symptom of a larger challenge that they were facing, so I thought that was interesting.

Kipp: Yeah, and so we looked at that and we said, "Okay, well let's then do this different point of segmentations, instead of giving them a bunch of social media content, let's give them content around how they can get more leads to their website," for example.

And that improved our performance. We went from a 30% open rate to a 37% open rate. We went from a 14% click-through rate to a 17% click-through rate. It's an improvement I think a lot of people would be happy with.

But then we really did something pretty obvious that we should've done two years earlier, which is we asked people ... We basically made a "pick your own adventure," choose what you really need to know about right now.

And so if you, basically if you downloaded that same social media ebook for example, you get that first kind of welcome email after that was, "Well what challenge are you trying to tackle? Do you need more leads? Do you need to grow your revenue? Do you need to manage your sales pipeline? Or do you need to do all of these things?"

Hubspot choose your own adventure

But some people write. Some people it's, "Hey I'm just getting started, I need to make all these things happen," and based on which one you picked, we had a really customized set of followup content that really aligned really tightly with that.

And the response rate on that was way better than we could've ever imagined. We went to a 67% open rate from a 37% open rate, and we went from a 17% click-through rate on the previous version to a 61% click-through rate-

Hubspot improved conversion rates

Kathleen: Wow!

Kipp: ... on the newer version, which is a massive, massive improvement.

Kathleen: That's amazing.

Kipp: It's awesome, and our team did an incredible job on that, and I think it came back to, "Well when you finally get segmentation and the value you need delivered for your perspective customer, and you marry that with good content, good information, you can really drive remarkable results.

Kathleen: Yeah, what's so interesting about that change for me is that it kind of mirrors what you're taught as a salesperson.

I spent some time on IMPACT Sales Team, and before I came here I was an agency owner. I kind of was my main salesperson and you're always taught in sales, if somebody comes to you for example and says, "I need help with social media," the best salespeople don't just say, "Well great, how can we help you?" Or "Here's how we can help you." They say, "Well why do you need help with social media. What are you really trying to achieve with that?"

So you kind of peel back the layers of the onion and figure out, you know, don't let the customer self-diagnose necessarily. Figure out what they're real motivation is and I like the way you guys went with the pick your own adventure.

I mean the customer is still self-diagnosing to a certain extent.

Kipp: Totally.

Kathleen: But you're taking it to a deeper level by asking them really, why? Why are you here? What's behind it? So that tracks very nicely with how I think the buying journey happens.

In my head when you said that you went from a 30-something percent up in rate to a 60, or whatever the increase was, I felt like it was you doubled everything, all I could picture was the marketing team popping a bottle of champagne that day 'cause that is such a huge increase.

Kipp: Yeah. No, I mean that's the biggest thing, like, for anybody, when you have big milestones you've gotta celebrate them, right?

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: So we do all kinds of fun things. Sometimes you'd have a bottle of champagne, sure, sometimes you get a bunch of cupcakes, sometimes it's like a big joke that's a symbol of the progress.

Kathleen: Right.

Kipp: Whatever it is, celebrating those milestones are super important.

Kathleen: Yeah. Now from a very kind of nitty-gritty technical standpoint, when you present people with this. So somebody converts on something, we'll go back to our example of the social media playbook, and they're sent either an email or they're sent to a thank you page, you're giving them this opportunity to say, "Here is the direction that I wanna go."

Is that as simple as they're clicking a button and then that button sends a signal in HubSpot to put them in a certain customer segment and it kicks off the workflow?

Kipp: Yeah. Yeah. So basically there's essentially four different workflows and based on which button you click in that email you're gonna get enrolled in that workflow.

Kathleen: Okay, and I think I have some screenshots of some of that, so I'll include that in the show and that's for anyone who's curious to see what those examples look like.

Hubspot four workflows

Kathleen: I love that and that's something that's really easy for I think anybody to implement, is really what's your problem, and based on the problem to then put in place the nurturing.

Kipp: Anything you can do to get a clearer understanding of what your prospect is looking for, their core problem, so you can deliver on that is going to drastically improve your marketing results.

Kathleen: Now am I right to assume that if I do come to your website, I do convert on that social media playbook, that's my first conversion, I then enter into one of these four workflows -- am I right to assume that you have some suppression in place so that if I then, five minutes later go and download something on something else entirely that I'm not gonna then start to get five different emails?

Kipp: Yeah, these are basically like the master workflows, so once you've had that first conversion you're gonna get enrolled in that workflow and regardless of what else you do you're gonna stay in that workflow and not get enrolled into anything else.

Kathleen: Until it ends?

Kipp: Until it ends.

Kathleen: Yeah. Okay. Well that's so interesting and there you go, there's one great actionable tip.

2. A Strategy to Rank for High Traffic, Competitive Keywords

Kathleen: One of the other things you talked about at IMPACT live I recall was a massive increase in traffic to the website.

Kipp: Yup.

Kathleen: Would you talk a little bit more about that?

Kipp: Yeah, so when I think about, it's kinda tough to be a marketer today and the whole host of reasons, and one of the reasons it's tough is because it's just been a lot of consolidation of audience. And man Google and Facebook earn so much of the audience, and so when we think about how we grow organic traffic to our websites, man, Google is the top priority there.

One of the things that we really learned is that there's some powerful stuff we could do to really get better distribution through Google, and one of the plays we did there was the content syndication play.

So basically what happened is content syndication essentially is a process of taking some content we've published and republishing it on third-party sites for broader reach around that point of view and thought leadership. That's the base thing.

And so we would create content for sites like Fast Company or The Muse, or Thrive Global, or other sites where at the end of that article we've got attribution that this article was originally posted on the HubSpot site. So Google knows that that article is not the canonical, the one on our site's the canonical article, so we're not messing Google up in anywhere there.

When we first did that we thought, "Oh this is gonna be a play to get good referral traffic from those websites. Oh people are gonna see that and they're gonna click that little link in that article and get back to our site."

And what we found is that that just wasn't true at all. You know an article for the Muse got us eight clicks, and that's just basic laws of conversion rate.

But what we saw, what was interesting though, is even though that post did not get a ton of traffic from the Muse for example, it started jumping up the rankings for a bunch of different key words. And the views from organic search really started to climb, and wow we saw that as a pretty awesome and interesting opportunity.

What we figured out is that syndication - instead of getting that direct traffic from the syndication partners - what it was actually a tool for was building authority in terms of linking and recency of traffic and everything else to those pages.

Kathleen: Okay.

Kipp: And it gave us some authority to basically increase the rank of those pages, and that was a really powerful revelation for us because we were able to figure out that, "Wow we need to use syndication as a tool in our organic search tool belt."

This is a play that I think anybody can run and kind of, if you wanna think about how you apply this it's you've got to look at the content you already have and what of that content has high search potential?

So, maybe it's already on the first page of Google, maybe in the bottom of the first page for example, so it has some resonance. It's got some credibility, it's on a topic that you care about, topic that has real search volume, and then you wanna go and you wanna promote that content through syndication partners, whether it through email, through Facebook.

That additional promotion gets you additional inbound links and sends a signal to Google that this is a really quality piece of content, and then you're gonna see your organic ranking increase and have a much longer month-to-month tale of traffic and visits to that page because of that promotion effort.

Kathleen: And that strategy presupposes obviously that you're able to find syndication partners that are open to republishing content that has appeared somewhere else, 'cause I know a lot of them are ... A lot of the big ones are really picky about that.

Kipp: Yeah, and sometimes it might be a repackaging of that content, it might be a new twist on that content, that is, you know, maybe you've got an article on your site that's really in depth, that you take one portion of it and you kinda add to it and you make it a syndicated article that points back to that original article for a more in-depth look at that issue.

Kathleen: That makes sense.

Kipp: There are couple different ways that we've tried to do it.

Kathleen: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And your traffic increase, if I remember correctly, it was something like 16,000% increase?

Hubspot traffic increase

Kipp: Yeah, so for one blog post, yeah, we ... The example I gave is we had one blog post that went from I think it was 500 views a month to over 69,000 views per month. 'Cause we were able-

Kathleen: Wow.

Kipp: ... to really change the dynamic of how that post ranked and how we were able to promote it.

Kathleen: That's amazing. Now, just out of curiosity, have you looked at all or is your team looking at all at the impact that news aggregator sites could potentially have on gaining visibility for your content? I'm thinking like Apple News, Flipboard ...

We're looking closely at that for ourselves 'cause we're kind of establishing ourselves as a publisher and I've read a lot about that but I haven't ...

Kipp: Yeah we have, and so for us our big focus, those aggregators the key word of the statement you said is news.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: Right, and so it's a really different type of content and so what we have is we have, right now we have one person dedicated to news in our industry, and we actually, we are close to applying and getting into Google News for example, being able to include it in Google News results and then that paves the way to having that news content listed in those different aggregators.

We have seen that to be, early signs are very positive. It is really gonna be, I think, until we are listed in Google News 'til we really know the extent of how valuable that play is and is it, "Wow we need to put more people on that because that's working really well," or is it kind of incremental on top of what we're doing.

So that's kind of where we are in that process. We're just like you, we think there's some interesting opportunity there. There's a few technical things and everything we need to do to kind of finalize our play there to see how it actually works long term.

Kathleen: Yeah I think you're right about being very specific on the news side, 'cause we are covering news as well but I think we made a strategic error, 'cause we applied for Google News as a publisher and initially got rejected, but that's I believe because we submitted our main RSS feed, which includes a lot of non-news topics along with the news, so I think we might need to go back.

Kipp: They like you to have a whole separate feed and section of your site, how you structure the site matters a lot for those aggregators, so-

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: We're in the process of fixing that and then we're doing real news. The woman who does that for us is traveling to events, she's covering stuff in real time. We've got a slack channel where she jumps in and asks people internally for comments. She's got some great external sources.

We're really trying to treat it very much as a news outlet, much more than an educational content or how-to content outlet like a lot of our other content that is currently positioned.

Kathleen: Yeah it's a really interesting shift and I'm looking forward to seeing where you guys take it and the impact that it has onsite traffic and a lot of these other things. So maybe we can do a followup next year on that.

Kipp: We could. That'd be awesome.

3. Generating Leads With Facebook Messenger

Kathleen: Great, well the other area that you talked about was Messenger, and particularly-

Kipp: Yeah.

Kathleen: ... Facebook Messenger, which I think is so interesting that something that's accessible to a lot of companies but very few I am seeing use it well, so maybe you could dig into that a little bit?

Kipp: Yeah, it's interesting, there's been an increased ramp of the talk of website chat and live chat in the market, right?

We've been doing live chat on our website for about five years at HubSpot, it's been a great channel for us. We're continuing to innovate there and really grow it's-

Kathleen: You guys have a great product for that, too, I mean-

Kipp: It's a great product, it helps with conversations, it's free if you wanna .... If you aren't using it check it out, but there's a ton of value there. I highly recommend it. If you don't, if you're not using any live chat on your website you really wanna start doing that. There's gonna be real benefit there.

Kind of tangential to that, we also have this strong belief that we wanna remove friction, like I talked about earlier, and one of the ways you remove friction is to go where your customers are, where your prospects are, and there's just a huge part of our community that is on Facebook. So why are we gonna ask them to leave the Facebook ecosystem to engage with us on our website, chat with us on our website? Why can't we have them do that within the Facebook ecosystem, is essentially our kinda core hypothesis here.

And you've got, we had a big Facebook book print, right? We have ... we're getting closer and closer to two million Facebook fans. We've got millions of Facebook video views, but man it's been ... we were kinda struggling, like how do we actually monetize this audience? How do we better engage with this audience?

And we've done a bunch of different Facebook Messenger tests. The one I shared with you and the folks at IMPACT Live was around comment to messenger, which is a specific feature where basically you can set a keyword in a social post on Facebook, and if the person comments with that specific keyword -- for us we had an SEO tutorial video. If you commented SEO on that video, it opened a Messenger dialogue with an SEO quiz for you to test your SEO knowledge.

That's the basic mechanics of it, and that quiz was awesome. It asked you some information about yourself, had some great questions for you-

Facebook Messenger Lead Gen

Kathleen: And the quiz happened in Messenger?

Kipp: The quiz was all in Messenger, so delivered via a bot in Messenger, and then once that quiz was done we connected you with other pieces of content, so maybe an in-depth ebook on SEO.

But man if you care enough to take an SEO quiz and you're feeling pretty good, maybe you wanna learn some more, and that SEO book, you could load it as a Facebook instant article, so you still didn't have to leave Facebook.

And the interesting thing is from a form information perspective, if you wanna check out that ebook, we just asked you, the bot asked you a few form questions, you never needed to visit a webpage, fill out a form, and then we just automatically sink that back into HubSpot so we had all of your information.

You could do great automation, customize your experience with us, and everything, as well as re-engage you via Facebook Messenger after you've consumed that quiz and that ebook. You know, follow up with you the next day to see, "Hey now that you've read that ebook do you have questions? Are there ways that we can help you?"

Kathleen: How do you avoid people feeling like you're in their space on Facebook Messenger? 'Cause I feel like traditionally that's been such a private space, you know a friend-to-friend space and it's a fine line but brands walk if they go into that space.

How have you guys handled that in terms of the frequency of messaging, the nature of it, et cetera?

Kipp: Yeah, so we found it works most effectively when it's really anchored against something that they have real high in turn around. So the fact that we -- for this example, right -- the fact that we even kick off that Messenger interaction with a quiz that they have to opt into and they're doing in real time, and any followup is really around that quiz and around that topic, and then we really try to kind of hold off on much engagement until they actually proactively reengage, because you're right.

We wanna be sensitive to the fact that it's often a space for friends and family, but man I think business has a great space there. Well if you are contextual and you're really trying to provide value and be helpful to them.

And so it was pretty awesome in that of of the people that watched that SEO missed video on Facebook, about a little over 2% of them opted in and commented to take the quiz, which is a pretty good conversion rate. That's, I think a similar click-through rate, conversion rate, you would find on your website-

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: ... and other places. SO I thought that was pretty good and I thought what was really interesting, if they opted in 95% of the people who opted in actually finished the quiz. So-

Kathleen: Oh wow, that's actually very surprising.

Kipp: - engagement of that platform, right? And the power of that platform, and the really crazy thing is that the quiz got them interested enough that of the folks that took the quiz 68% of those folks actually downloaded our ebook.

Kathleen: Wow.

Kipp: They were really engaged, really wanted that next step. We were able to teach them some really interesting stuff from the quiz and they wanted to take the next step of their education.

Kathleen: That's pretty impressive and what interests me the most about this one is that for a lot of companies there's a feeling of frustration that they spent years building up their page likes for their company page in Facebook, only to have Facebook pull the rug out from under them and basically make it so that nobody saw anything unless they paid to play, and this is an interesting way to derive value out of people who've liked your page or people who are interacting with it that I think it's a way to drive value in those legacy fans if you will.

Kipp: I think that's right. I think that's a very astute observation on your part.

Kathleen: Is this something that's really hard for the average business to set up? Is it super techy complicated or is it pretty accessible?

Kipp: No, you know it's getting much more accessible every day. You could do some of this with the HubSpot Conversations product I talked about.

Many Chat is a really great product. They've got a great HubSpot integration as well. There's a few other platforms out there, but if you just wanna go and create a free account on either HubSpot or Many Chat you can get something like this up and running pretty quickly actually.

Kathleen: That's great. And you also have some other ways you've used Facebook for conversion, I think you mentioned you have some native lead forms in there as well? Or-

Kipp: Yeah, so as part of this quiz or any of the Facebook Messenger engagements we do kinda natively forms within Messenger instead of sending people to an HTML form on a website, and we've found that the conclusion rates, conversion rates are really strong there as well.

Kathleen: So they don't have to go off of Facebook or off of Messenger, they can stay where they are and it all syncs back into the platform. Now, technical question.

Kipp: Sure.

Kathleen: When you take this approach, are you sacrificing the ability to cookie that person?

Kipp: You are. You are.

We believe that the number one thing is to deliver that prospect a remarkable native experience wherever they are to the extent that we can do that for them, right? And that's why we format our search content for answer boxes so that if they don't need to click through then they don't have to click through.

We're trying very hard to get them the information that they're looking for as quickly as possible, and knowing that if we do a great job of that, that we're gonna build great brand awareness, we're gonna build great trust with them, they're gonna take the higher-intent actions that we're hoping for as they continue to interact with us.

Kathleen: Yes.

Kipp: But you're giving up the right to cookie, but you ... I don't know actually say you're trading off the right to cookie for the right to have a Messenger exchange with them, right?

And you can retarget them on Facebook, there's other advantages, but what you're really sacrificing is cookie-ing for interactions kind of across the web and exchanging that for deeper interactions in the Facebook ecosystem.

Kathleen: Yeah and it almost seems to me, maybe you're not trading off or giving up the ability to cookie, you're postponing it-

Kipp: Yeah, exactly.

Kathleen: ... because if you do your job well, they will eventually come to your site and-

Kipp: Totally. Totally.

Kathleen: ... convert on something, and you'll get them anyway. So, yeah, I guess it all depends on the quality of that first interaction and the value that you're delivering.

Kipp: You've gotta bring the value, first and foremost, before anything else.

4. Growing Traffic Through News Coverage

Kathleen: Yeah, so going back to the topic of news.

Kipp: Yes.

Kathleen: You touched on this earlier, this has been a big play for you guys. I heard you mention this. I think I heard Matthew Barbey talk about it when he spoke at INBOUND.

Kipp: Yup.

Kathleen: How did this start?

Kipp: It started, we've always kind of covered news a little bit because even in the early days of our HubSpot blog it was because ... In the early days of social news content got you a lot of social traffic, and we're like, "Oh cool. This is a sweet way to get different people to discover us and get cool discoverability on social," and as social's kind of matured that's become a little less true, but now we've seen it as a unique way to get to a different type of audience through search news aggregators like we were talking about a little bit ago.

For example, one of the things we've noticed is that on average our news posts have a lot more links coming into them and more page authority than our non-news posts.

Kathleen: Huh. That's interesting. When I think about the traffic impact of news, it almost seems like a food analogy comes to mind. I feel like news can be a bit like a sugar high, you get that big initial spike and then you drop because obviously news gets old quickly, and more traditional content, like being on the protein diet, you get the long slow burn.

Kipp: Close.

Kathleen: Is that kind of what you've seen with your traffic?

Kipp: Some, but not completely. We try to take an editorial commentary on the news that makes it more evergreen.

And you also have a lot of research all on past news events, it's less like that. I think it's certainly partly like that, but it's less severe than I think you're kind of outlining it to be.

What we've seen is that you get a mix of social and search traffic to that news content, and you attract in ... You're really bring in people at kind of a different point in their process, right?

When you're getting people to do a search they have an intent for one very specific thing. News you're bringing people with much more passive intent, they didn't know they were looking for this thing but now that they've found it they're interested in it and they're engaging with it and maybe engaging with follow-along content and stuff from that.

Kathleen: Is part of your strategy to also go back and update older news posts when there are developments?

Kipp: Yeah, I mean news and non-news posts. We try to keep our best content always up to date.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: With a lot of time doing that, I'm sure you all do as well, it's just an important thing in today's internet, 'cause like you said, stuff changes and stuff can get out of date pretty quickly.

Kathleen: Yeah, absolutely. Well it's super interesting to me because some of what you guys are doing I think we're testing out at a much smaller and maybe less ambitious level but it's great to be able to have some insight into the approach you're taking and the results you're getting.

Kipp: Yeah, good. I'm glad.

Kathleen: I'll be really curious to see what happens with the news aggregations, that's one that I'm-

Kipp: I know.

Kathleen: ... personally very interested in at the moment, so ...

Kipp: Me too, and I'm a little impatient on it. Hopefully -

Kathleen: Yeah, I know. There's nothing like sitting back and waiting for Google to approve you. I ... we applied and did get accepted to Flipboard, but it took like-

Kipp: Oh nice.

Kathleen: ... a month-and-a-half, which was incredibly frustrating. I wanted to know like 24 hours later, so ...

Kipp: Totally.

Kathleen: We're all at the mercy of the platforms, right?

Kipp: That is the world we live in right now.

HubSpot's Marketing Plan for 2019

Kathleen: So my last question for you on this topic is just as we head into the New Year, can you share anything about where your focus is gonna be coming into 2019?

Kipp: Well there's a lot of focus, but we want to ... Man, I'm pretty-

Kathleen: And I'm springing this on you, I didn't tell you I was gonna ask you about this.

Kipp: Well I'm pretty obsessed with reducing friction, just making the best buying experience possible. The best educational experience possible for our community and so, man, we're gonna continue to make even bigger investments in Messenger and live chat, and automation, so you're gonna see a bunch more stuff from us on that front.

And then we're gonna continue to double down on the great educational content, but continue to evolve how we're telling the stories. More video, YouTube, things like that. We're gonna invest more there as well.

Kathleen: So you're not scared off by ... Everyone's been saying in the news that the pivot to video was kind of based on a false premise because Facebook didn't have the right data, are you ... You're not rethinking your strategy because of that?

Kipp: I think Instagram's growing like a weed. I think YouTube's a huge network with the ability to drive awareness, I think, only growing there. I think there's a big opportunity.

Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah. I would agree.

Kathleen's Two Questions

Kathleen: Well this has been great. I've learned a lot. I probably have a thousand more questions, but you only have an hour, so ...

Kipp: No worries.

Kathleen: Before we wrap up there's two questions I always ask all of my guests, and I would love to get your take on it.

The first is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Kipp: I love what our customer ezCater is doing. They're doing a really, really awesome job. Some folks who don't know, they are a platform that enables, they're kinda like an Uber Eats for catering for businesses. And they're doing a great job reducing friction in their buying process, they have a great website. They have an awesome blog creating content around catering and food trends and everything else.

It's definitely a market you probably wouldn't think about for awesome inbound marketing, but I think they're doing a really, really great job.

Kathleen: That's great and I love when people give me examples from outside of the marketing industry, because I feel like we can be a giant echo chamber so I can't wait to check them out.

Second question is, as you know the world of digital marketing changes so quickly, how do you personally stay up to date and educate yourself?

Kipp: Yeah, for me I try to have like a system of how I consume information so, Twitter lists for people who I really respect their opinion of, certain Flipboard magazines from people and sources that I think have really awesome information.

I subscribe to some old-school email newsletters 'cause some of them are really good, like Brian Balfour's 'Reforge' newsletter.

Kathleen: That's a good one.

Kipp: Right? I love Brian. He used to work here with us and so I always want to know what he and that crew is thinking about. So really that's what I want to do. And then sometimes, honestly, sometimes I'll just see a piece of marketing and I'll think it's really good and I'll just go try to find out who did it and talk to them.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Kipp: Be like, "Hey this is awesome. How'd you do it? Tell me more about it," and I think sometimes just doing that is super valuable as well.

Kathleen: Yeah, that's what my podcast is for me. It's my excuse to sponge all the knowledge from the people that I wanna learn from.

How to Connect With Kipp

Kathleen: Well this has been fantastic. If somebody is listening and they have a question or wanna learn more, what's the best way for them to connect with HubSpot or with you online?

Kipp: Yeah, so HubSpot, go to, chat with us, sign up for our free products, whatever you need there. And then to chat with me, just connect with me on LinkedIn, send me an email, happy to chat and connect and do whatever I can do to help.

Kathleen: Great, and I'll put links to your LinkedIn profile and to HubSpot on the show notes, and thank you. This has been fascinating.

You Know What Comes Next...

Kathleen: If you're listening and you got value out of today's podcast, you know what to do.

I would love it if you'd leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice, and if you know someone else who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, Tweet me @workmommywork because I would love to interview them.

Thanks Kipp.

Kipp: Awesome, thanks Kathleen. Appreciate it.