A digital marketer’s user experience review of HubSpot Marketing Hub

A recent conversation sparked me to think about my own use of our marketing automation tool, HubSpot, specifically about the time it saves me, or the time and hassle I would have to revert back to without it! Our content strategy is a big part of my role, and this has been simplified by using the inbound marketing principles and marketing automation over the last 12-18 months. Publishing blog articles and series is my most common use, so I’ll start there…

Blog Management and Publishing


Publishing a blog article is not as simple as a copy/paste/publish straight from a word document. That’s the first step, but factor in keyword and search engine optimization (SEO), including images or videos, creating an effective title, URL and meta description, and this quickly becomes a much more in-depth process.

HubSpot’s inbuilt tools quickly and continually scan your document for how and where you’ve used your chosen keywords or phrases, and provide you with guidance around the frequency of their use, how it interacts with other content pieces you have published, and essentially gives you the green light to publish only once you’ve satisfied the set criteria.

This might sound demanding, if you will, but it saves you having a 12 item checklist to manually work through to ensure your content is optimised to be found and read by your target audience once it’s published and available online. There is very little point publishing fabulous content, only for it to be next to impossible to find on a Google search! I’d estimate this feature saves me at least an hour per piece – that adds up quickly when you publish several pieces of content per week.

Another handy feature that could be easily overlooked is the free access to thousands of stock images for use throughout blogs and emails (basically wherever you’d like to place it!). This saves having an external resource to sift through and file and store your images. The searching, storing and integration of these images saves many fiddly steps and minutes at a time.

Keywords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

sew-organic-rankingsNewer tools and updates have changed the way keywords are checked, lodged and used for optimisation in HubSpot. Rather than the previous iteration of single string keywords/phrases, it now allows you to build out content families and series, with multiple pieces centred around a primary focus topic.

This allows you greater control over which content pieces you want to highlight and direct traffic towards, and is proactive in suggesting how to physically connect and link other pieces in the series so your audience can arrive at one page and seamlessly navigate through to others – maximising the time they spend on your website, and depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey, their level of engagement and action.

While I still check Google searches myself for search volume and to check out which pages are ranking well, the keywords features have saved a lot of time with their guidance around search volumes, the difficulty you might face in ranking for term ‘x’, and relevant cost-per-click (CPC) prices for those who take that path!

Social Media and Monitoring

Social media’s reach and influence continues to grow and be a leading component in business’ content strategies. The ability to schedule and publish posts from one location for multiple social channels is a great time saver, and allows you to easily create and see the consistency or points of difference in your posts.

Monitoring tools are also included for an overview of views and engagements, and further complement the tracking and monitoring of other features (such as calls to action you might include in a blog post) to create an overall picture of the success of your content publishing.

Email Marketing

hubspot-marketing-emailThe other side of publishing and reaching contacts that I use HubSpot for on a regular basis is newsletter mailouts, and event invitations where required. The newsletters can be created, filled with images and highlighting relevant CTAs, direct readers to landing pages or forms, all within the one tool.

Sending the newsletter is as simple as adding the various contacts, either individually or as tagged/designated groups, and scheduling the best time to send it. I can quickly see who has received the email, who has opened it, who has clicked on any of the internal links, even how long people spend reading or scanning the newsletter.

This HubSpot feature was particularly useful earlier in the year when we organised a half-day workshop. I could email invitations to our relevant contacts, see when and how the emails were opened, and then share this information with my colleague who was making personal phone calls to contacts at a certain stage to encourage registration. Likewise, when he found another contact to invite, it was a quick process to add them to the list and have these engagement metrics instantly available to view and action on.

HubSpot Marketing Hub – One of the team…

Using HubSpot as our marketing automation tool easily saves me several hours each week across just one aspect of my role, and honestly I would struggle going back to completing each part manually to achieve the same level of detail and comprehensive overview of our content strategy. It allows sharing of knowledge and resources between team members in a way that no manual approach could cover as successfully for the same effort or time. HubSpot is really another hard-working and valued member of our team!


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An inside sales user experience of HubSpot marketing analytics

 

An inside sales user experience of HubSpot marketing analytics

By Andrew McFayden
Marketing and Sales Insight Consultant

Inside Sales experience before HubSpot Access

Working for other companies in various levels of maturity, I have found that the incumbent customer relationship management tool has ranged from either online shared Gmail tools, Microsoft suite or the old style note book and pen. Suffice to say they have their purpose and are thankfully superseded. These tools and the outbound process of cold calling and having no visibility into whether my communications have been received or even looked at are behind me at this point in time.

My initial impression of HubSpot as a CRM was that it was an unknown – I have not used this tool before, I hope that it does not slow me down. Should I revert to digital note pad to create canned responses to my contacts? Should I create multiple signatures as canned responses in Outlook? Also yes, great – so where is my cold calling list to bang blindly away at!

Inside Sales transformation with HubSpot access

I found that the user interface was easy to work out and it also helped that HubSpot has easy to follow training videos that helps your people with getting a running start to the tool. The important point here is that it is a tool. But this particular tool has smarts about it. Uploading structured and relevant content documents (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, videos/audio etc) to the file system allows you to place hyperlinks into your emails that allows this system to provide analytics to the sender of the email.

Where as before I was blind and ignorant as to whether a contact has opened my email clicked on the attachment and even if they have looked at the content pieces I have sent. Now I am able to see each time stamp when the email has been viewed.  Hang on a second, I know you want more. This reporting goes further and also informs you as to when the contact has clicked on a link to your document(s), as well as which pages have been viewed and approximately how long each page was the focus. This is provided that you send them a link that allows them to view the link to the document(s) online. An important note here is to structure your content attachments so that you have one topic/service listed per page, with a table of contents at the front.

marketing-analytics

With previous tools that I have used this level of data was not available and it resulted in repeated calls to the contacts to see if they had viewed the email or the document(s). More importantly it has allowed me to identify who may have needed a reminder and who has not opened a particular email, content attachment or link.

Inside Sales with HubSpot access: A real example

For example: I was in recent contact with an ICT software development company. Part of my research included looking for triggers. Triggers are events that have been documented online that may be a pain point for your contact that may be a need that can be filled by your company. I found that they were advertising for a position, also additional research uncovered that there was a review on Glassdoor that reflected on the current culture within the organisation.

Reaching out to the CEO of the company, I had a discussion around the position that was advertised. We discussed the particulars of the role and also details of the culture of the company as well. The result of the call was that I was to send an email with additional information to be reviewed. I included the link to the Glassdoor review as one of the links. Out of all the information that I had sent through to the CEO, the link that was clicked first was not surprisingly the Glassdoor review that was submitted by a former employee. The details of the Glassdoor review are not important to this overall picture. What is important, is that it provided me with some insights into the priorities that the CEO has for his business.

When I review this contact in the HubSpot CRM now, I am able to see which other links he has clicked and which documents he has viewed. As a result, I avoid sending information that he has not reviewed, again, and instead look into content that I can send him that he has shown an interest in. It is important to note that at this point that you should not just rely on the marketing analytics and data report to supply you with all the information. Follow up with a call for validation from your contact.

You can use this data to determine when the best time to call may be. As people tend to form habits calling at around the same time as the contact has been setting aside to read emails you have sent should result in being able to reach the contact more readily. The same can be said if the contact has not opened your emails as well. Calling to verify if they have been received your email will help you avoid the spam filter black hole.

This level of marketing analytics and insights have not been available to me previously. It has allowed me to be able to determine the logical and informed next step, the next piece of content to follow with my clients.

It is important to note that HubSpot also have a certified course on email marketing as well that I can recommend that will help with structuring your emails and the content that you send. The courses are free which is an added bonus and I have found that they have allowed me to further improve the quality of my engagement with inbound methodology to my customers.



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Digital Readiness Assessment.

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A digital marketing user experience with HubSpot marketing automation

Digital Marketing for Financial Services – A differentiator is marketing automation.

The Singapore financial scene is highly competitive, hence digital marketing for financial services is a challenge.  For us to understand the level of competition, we can refer to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) financial institutions directory which is open to public. As of 24 July 2017, there are 128 commercial banks (5 local and 123 foreign banks), 420 fund managers, 45 corporate finance advisors, 181 insurers, 39 research houses and so on.

In other words, for every lucrative segment of the market, we have ample competition vying for the same pool of qualified customers. For foreign companies who are seeking to break into the local market as a springboard to capture the wider ASEAN and Asia market, the door is wide open but you would have to differentiate yourself against the sea of competitors. Marketing for Financial Services in Asia is no easy task, especially in Singapore where budgets are limited.

Using marketing automation for marketing for financial services institutions

If you have a solid product and team behind you, the third vital component is to craft an effective message and reach your target audience effectively. According to research by Sirius Decision, marketing automation is lowest in the financial services sector at 4%, compared to 15.5% average across industries.

Marketing automation is the process of automating repetitive marketing activities (from advertisement to email marketing to social media management) so that your institution can reach your clients on multiple channels effectively. Important activities include lead generation, lead scoring, work flow automation and analytics to find out what works.

Inbound automated marketing is often integrated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to form a scalable environment to deliver effective marketing campaigns and sales enablement. For financial institutions, an automation platform provides the following three areas that would give you the cou the competitive advantage:

1. Optimization

At the very basic level, it means that repetitive tasks can be automated and you will require less staff for your lead nurturing and marketing campaigns. For instance, you have a prospect who filled in a form inquiring about your product. After his question has been answered and he is not ready to purchase yet, the old school method would be to leave him alone.

The optimized method would be nurture this lead through sending automated emails, first with an introductory email, followed by other customized emails which feeds him with value along his buyer journey. Without an automated marketing system, your financial institution would not be able to handle the volume to have a meaningful conversion, especially for a small and medium sized institution.

With an automated marketing system, you can push customized content to your client based on their personality, buying habits, stage of their sales process and so on. You can have an editorial calendar that would publish content automatically on different social media platforms at the right times. Your marketing staff is then free to focus on higher value-added work and reach out to a wider audience

2. Analytics

You can’t improve on something which you can’t measure effectively. If you have a closed case, the important question would be which channel did the lead come from? What is the marketing initiative that resulted in this batch of clients? Do you have a proper sales funnel where you are getting the targeted number of visitors, prospects, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads and so on.

reports measuring marketing automation

Source: Raven Tools

All the major systems such as Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On have analytics embedded in them. It would allow you to identify the strength and weakness of your marketing and sales strategy at a glance.

3. Customer Retention

After you have gotten the customer, it is not the end of the road as competition is lurking around the corner. With marketing automation software, you can check out their activities on your website. If your sales people see that your customer has downloaded your whitepaper on Technology ETFs, your sales staff can add value by talking about technology to get your client to reveal more about his interest as part of their regular engagement.

This is a good way to remain relevant to your clients and look for ways to improve your content there. This will stop them from reaching out to another service provider for a solution. Next, customers who regularly download your materials and engage on your social media accounts are priceless to you. They provide social proof and give credibility to your sales pitch. Therefore, you should reach out to them and reward them for their loyalty.

After you have built a strong relationship with them, you can start to ask for favourable testimonial and feedback on social media. Lastly, you can use the same lead nurturing technique to upsell more solutions to them. For instance, they might have purchased a wealth product but you can start to sell insurance or will-writing products to them and rope in the entire family.

Crowded but Still Prosperous

The Singapore market might be crowded but there is a niche for every financial institution who has a solid product and team. We are living in Asia where there is growing demand for financial services as wealth is being created at a record pace. Standard Chartered noted that the liberalisation and deepening of capital markets will result in a much larger financial market in 2025.

The market is indeed competitive but your company can still prosper and thrive with the proper marketing platforms, sales and implementation strategy. There will be some initial cost but it would be worth it and necessary as it allows your company to stand out from the crowd.

For an independent commentary piece on selecting a marketing automation tool from our guest reviewer Jamie Strachan, please click here.

If you are interested also in how to differentiate in a Fintech environment, an example of how marketing automation is used in the ICT sector is illustrated HERE.

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