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    What is HubSpot? Understanding the Marketing Automation Platform

    Marie Hoffman September 15, 2016

    Are you looking at using HubSpot to run inbound campaigns? Are you an agency guiding clients on their digital marketing strategies? Already using HubSpot but trying to explain it to others?

    HubSpot, one of the most popular marketing automation platforms in the market may get points for being user friendly, but it's difficult to summarize exactly what the software brings to the table for companies -- both in terms of the features and the value. Let's take a look at how this plays out:

    As a HubSpot Gold Partner, Nexa's team is versed in HubSpot's features, setup and how to run different campaigns. That said, when we asked different team members to describe HubSpot in one word, we got wildly different answers. Our lead generation and strategy experts said "data insights." Our Managing Director said "money". Our business development team called it as a "sales tool". And as the over enthusiastic head of Inbound (who can't confine myself to one word), I said it's a "magic wand".

    Case and point, HubSpot means different things to different people. In an effort to categorize the different areas that HubSpot addresses for businesses, we came up with these 5 [[update: now 6!]] areas:

    1. WhatIsHubSpot.pngPublish Content without IT
    2. Boost Efficiency with Marketing Automation
    3. Reporting, Analytics and Tracking
    4. Build an Informed Digital Marketing Strategy
    5. Sales Insights
    6. [[update: Collaboration]]

    Let's take a look at each:

    Publish Content without IT

    If you're in Marketing, Sales or a business owner, you've probably worked with an IT department, website developer freelancer or a more technically savvy person to design, build or update your website, blog, emails or landing pages. And, as talented and collaborative as those people are, you've probably also run into the dreaded stalemate -- the pages you requested are over time, over budget and difficult to update after they finally go live. Sound familiar?

    HubSpot makes it possible for companies to publish and update landing pages, blogs, emails and even websites using the system's content management system (CMS for short or, less technically, "the place where you update text and images"). HubSpot's CMS -- which they refer to as a COS (Content Optimization System) -- is built around customizable templates, which makes it incredibly easy for the least digital person to update text, formats and pictures throughout websites, landing pages, blogs and emails.

    The plus for IT? They can get on with the more technical, things that they'd rather focus on.

    Boost EfficienCY With Marketing Automation

    Marketing teams are notoriously busy juggling campaigns and various activities.Publishing social posts. Sending email blasts and confirmations. Following up with Sales on the status of leads and campaigns. Fighting for more budget and resources. The list goes on.

    HubSpot allows Marketing teams to automate a number of activities that cut into time (and sanity). To name a few, you can send automatic confirmations for event registration, automatically publish blogs to social as soon as they go live, send SMS texts and emails to internal teams as leads come in -- and more!

    Reporting, Analytics and Tracking

     How many times have you run a marketing campaign and haven't been able to report how much return on investment (ROI for those into jargon) it contributed? Let alone the number of leads or increase in qualified traffic.

    This is a trend that especially happens with nondigital campaigns like billboards, flyers, printed ads and radio -- but we'll leave that for another post. Focusing just on digital, it's possible to track how well your social posts, ads on social and Google, SEO, emails and other channels are performing.

    HubSpot connects the dots between these different digital activities and lets you see the number of visitors, leads and customers come through different campaigns. The platforms dashboards and reporting lets you drill into these different aspects.

    Build an Informed Digital Marketing Strategy

    Building off of "Reporting, Analytics and Tracking", analyzing these figures allows marketing teams, managers and business owners to make the call on where to invest resources, time and money.

    Take the guesswork out of which marketing activities are working and what service lines are generating business. If you have a question or want to test a theory, HubSpot let's you collect data so you can have definitive proof about what's working -- and what isn't.

    Sales Insights

    Ever wonder how healthy your sales pipeline is? If you're in business development or sales, you may also have a hard time keeping track of who you talked to, what your follow up is and what service or product was addressed in the first place.

    Enter HubSpot CRM.

    The free CRM (customer relationshion management) is a perfect way to log your connections -- leads, customers and evangelists -- and your interactions with them. This includes emails, calls, meetings and reminders for upcoming tasks. On an individual level, this means you'll have a chronilogical record of all of your activities (hello, no more guessing games!). For the bigger picture, management won't have to breathe down your neck about whether or not you've followed up with so-and-so -- they'll be able to see everything they need in the system.

    When you pair HubSpot CRM and the Marketing side of the platform, things get even more interesting. On top of being able to see the full history of your communication with a prospective customer, you're also able to see how they've interacted with your digital content. When set up correctly, this includes the blogs they've read, website pages they've visited, forms they've filled out, content they've downloaded, emails they've opened and clicked -- to name a few. The sales team can then use this information to understand where an opportunity stands, how much an individual has researched, and if cross-selling is on the table.

    [[UPDATE: Collaboration]]

    Since publishing this blog, we need to call out another aspect that HubSpot addresses. Communication and collaboration. Coming out of the feature updates announced at INBOUND 2016, the platform now makes it easier for teams and clients to comment, edit and work together on content and leads. This means not having to share Google Docs or Word files to invite comments, but being able to file changes and comment thread directly in the system. Read more about it here.

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