Ask Me Anything: Demand Generation at Startups

HubSpot Employee

Hi HubSpot Community! My name is Carl Pieri and I am the Global Head of Demand Generation for the HubSpot for Startups team here at HubSpot.
 
As we kick off 2020, this is a great time to think about demand generation, specifically for startups. I’m super excited to be here answering all of your questions around demand generation at your startups! I’m happy to answer questions around anything related to demand generation: blogging, content creation, social, sales alignment, automation, reporting, or anything else you can think of. Happy to keep it general or get as specific as you’d like. If I don’t know the answer I will find it for you!
 
 
Some example questions may include:
 
How do I make sure I’m getting all the leads I can out of my blog?
What content should I create for my audience?
 
I’ll be answering questions in this thread from Monday January 27th to February 7th.
 
Looking forwards to hearing from you all!
Carl
Twitter: @carlpieri

 

23 Replies 23
Regular Advisor

Hey Carl, thanks for taking the time to do the AMA!  I work with several different HubSpot clients and I have a few questions I'd like to pass along:

- I've found that going educational with content surpasses the typical clickbatey ness of headlines:  "Understanding how red light therapy affects your health" vs "9 tips and tricks to improve your health" Is it worthwhile to pursue both?
- Are webinars for B2C effective, if so, how long would you say?  Especially with high average deal amounts (1K plus)

- I'm all about Inbound, but with demand generation sometimes there's a good amount of Outbound that might need to happen, do you agree?  I've often found supplementing content generation with cold email referencing the content as a way to help.

Some non-demand generation topics

- What does the roadmap for E-comm look like?  I don't have specific questions here, just looking for possible enhancements/additions (with what you can share).

- Is there any plan to enable more popup / welcome mat functionality like we have with Optimonk or Optinmonster?

 

Thanks again!

HubSpot Employee

Hey Bryantworks! Thanks for reaching out - happy to answer to your questions.

 

- For the most part, I have also found that more educational and specific content performs better than clickbatey content. Typically this sort of content has a more 'lasting effect' and makes a longer impact when it comes to SEO and sharing. I also believe that consumers have become smarter and more alert when it comes to which content they choose to consume, as is reflected in the kinds of titles they choose to click through on. I think there is a place for clickbatey content, if your particular audience shows a preference for it or if the goal is more of an overview than in-depth education/engagement.

-Webinars for B2C are typically less effective than B2B, but become more effective as the deal amount goes up (as you alluded to). If the buying process is longer and requires a decent amount of research or comparison then webinars can absolutely be effective. As for the length of a webinar, I tend to find that about 30 minutes of content and 15-20 minutes of Q&A is the sweet spot. Most people's attention spans can't last that much longer than that on a webinar and other attendees will primarily be there to get their questions answered (so they won't want to wait a very long time for that to happen).

-Don't tell HubSpot I said this Smiley Wink, but sometimes I do find that startups need to blur the lines of Inbound and Outbound slightly. When you're starting a new company you have little to no momentum to work with and it can take some creativity to get that ball rolling. I think the key here is remembering that, even if you are being a little Outbound, do you ultimately feel like you are being helpful or trying to drive value for an individual? If the answer is yes then it might be an action that you should consider going forward with. If the answer is no, then you're probably just spamming.

 

In reference to your questions about ecommerce - I actually don't know very much about the product roadmap for this area of the product and don't want to accidentally share something I wasn't supposed to. If you make another post with some specific questions around this I can try my best to surface it to the right individuals here at HubSpot to get an answer. 

Regular Advisor

Thanks for the quick response @cpieri !

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Regular Visitor

Thank you for the opportunity!

 

As an early-stage pre-funding startup CEO, how do you create content from zero while maintaining focus on the main priority - sales and traction. What are the highest converting content or marketing initiatives that I can focus on? List building? Email content building? Social media? Testing on all to see which converts?

 

(Context: MindfulText.com helps you learn mindfulness and meditation effortlessly through SMS.)

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HubSpot Employee

Hey there Mark! Thanks for posting the question - I'm passioate about mindfulness and meditiation so excited to see you working on this!

 

In the early days I think you are largely right to have your focus primarily on sales and traction as these are the kinds of activities that will keep the lights on and please investors. However, it's important to create content at a steady pace to be building up your authority and create a steady influx of leads. A couple things that could work for you: the first, you can create a bit of a 'content quota' for yourself and anyone else at the organization. Make an achievable goal for how many content pieces you will make a week or month and then feel free to take the time to chip away at creating these. A second way to achieve your content goals is to hire some afforable labor to help you create the content. I know many a startup that generated all their leads in the early days on the backs of college students who were looking to earn a little extra money. I find the best way to make outsourcing content effective is to put the 'content creators' in touch with experts on the subject they are creating content for. It'll take signficiantly less time for someone to create content if the source material for that content is given to them in the form of an interview, meeting, email, etc.

 

In my personal experience, creating content that works well over email and creates a dedicated email list of folks who look forward to receving your content has proven to be the most effective strategy. That being said, I work in B2B, so plays such as social media are less likely to be effective. If your go to market strategy is B2C I would encourage you to spend sometime rotating between each of the methods and track the conversions that come through. Maybe you'll find that it's easy to track a large following in one domain, but only another domain converts highly into customers.

 

Does that help Mark? Let me know if I can clarify anything!

Regular Visitor

Hi Carl, thanks for the notes. It has confirmed my gut feelings on thoughts on how I should spend my time on the content end. Thanks!

 

Mark

 

P.S. Since you are interested in mindfulness and meditation, let me know if you are interested in trying out MindfulText and I'll share ways to try it out. Our next batch starts on Feb 10th.

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New Contributor
Hello Mr, I want to be professional in marketing, I completed inbound marketing module, hubspot is fantastic site i want to work as one of your team in Mena
Thanks for you for hearing me, Hope be professional soon
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New Contributor

Hey Carl,

 

My question is about email marketing. It seems as though email "best practices" become outdated as soon as they're relatively well-known. I'm curious what you're seeing at the cutting edge of email marketing - strategies or tactics that might not be well-known yet? 

 

Thanks!

Ben

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HubSpot Employee

Hey @BenPutano ! Thanks for reaching out - I agree with you, it often feels like the best practices do become outdated as soon as they become fairly well-known. This is a trend thats common in marketing (it's very frustrating in SEO) where once someone discovers something that works, once they share it and everyone starts doing it, it no longer has any sort of advantage anymore. The good part about this is that it generally means the experience for a lead/user/customer is on an overall upwards trajectory.

 

But to answer your question - a few things I've seen that still lead to impressive results: MovableInk is a great software solution that makes it possible have stunning, moving, interactive, visual experiences within your emails. I particularly like the countdown feature, and see it always bumps up email interactions when it comes to live events like webinars. Another way to make your emails work better is to personalize them as much as possible. And by personalization I don't just mean putting in personalization tokens that fill people's names, companies, industry, etc, but making sure that if someone is being sent an email that they really should be receiving this email. The key to this means making sure that you have enough data on a contact. If all you know about a contact is their email address, its just about impossible to know if anything you send them is remotely relevant to them. At HubSpot we use a couple tactics to learn more about our contacts and send them the right content. One way is by sending a 'general' email up front, but from there giving people the chance to 'pick their own adventure' by what CTAs they interact with in the email. A lot more on that is covered in this blog post written by our chief-email-guru (not a real title), Jordan. Another way to capture this info is by having the person tell you more about themselves whenever they first give you the information. At HubSpot, we have users identify themselves as being a member of a given persona (marketer, salesperson, etc) when they first signup for our free tools. This way all our communications after this point are intended to align with their goals. 

Another great 'trick' that is failry simple but goes along way is making sure your emails are all about the the person receiving them. From the first three words of your email (and subject line!) a person should feel that they are being told of a value they are being given.

 

Let me know if those help Ben or if I can clarify further!

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Occasional Contributor

Hey Carl,

 

We're about to hire another Growth Marketer for our growth team. One of the challenges we've encountered is finding someone who is 'channel-agnostic'. For example, most of our growth today is organic, content-driven. We obviously want to increase the experimentation and channels we rely on for demand gen, but we don't yet know what will work. When we're hiring, we find that many candidates are 'content-people' or 'paid ads-people' for example, and the last thing we want to do is have a team member who is a rockstar with one channel that ends up being less effective for the business.

 

Any advice for hiring great demand-oriented growth marketers who can do whatever ends up working out for us in terms of other channels?

Thanks

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HubSpot Employee

Hey @darrenchait thanks for your message! I think there are two routes you can choose at this point.

 

The first is to continue down the route you are on to try and find a trained marketer who has a lot of experience across many different channels. If you are going to go down this route I'd suggest searching at younger companies with smaller marketing teams (probably Series A or B or earlier). As I'm sure you know, it is the nature of startups that all employees really have to wear many hats.  One way that you could try to source these candidates is by looking at candidates who have completed the Reforge Growth Series in the past on LinkedIn. This whole program is all about learning to be an effective Growth Marketing leader and I can speak from my personal experience that there are likely many people in that community who meet your requirements. Product Marketers may be another persona to try and recruit here because they often have to work across (or at least oversee) many different channels.

 

The second route you can go down is to focus a little less on their previous experience managing multiple channels and instead aim to find someone who is very hungry to learn other channels. You would identify whether this person has the eagerness to learn by including a multi-channel case study as part of the interview process. The case study will clearly demonstrate which inviduals are BSing and which really put in the effort to research and learn more about the channels necessary. From this point you could source marketers who are extremely strong in one channel but are clearly eager to learn more and actually want to spread out into other channels. You could also consider sourcing recent grads or college students from a local college who have had stellar internships and show a clear thirst for learning. Recent grads tend to be young, hungry, and have a strong desire to learn.

 

Let me know if I can clarify anything Darren!

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Occasional Contributor

Hey @cpieri this is unbelievably helpful. Great ideas, and lots of angles to pursue. You shoudl turn this into a piece of content!

 

Thanks again

Occasional Contributor

PS, put together this JD in case you (or anyone in the community) has happened to come across the unicorn we're describing 🦄

New Member

I have not started blogging yet but when I do should action words be used in my sentences.

Thanks,

Rebecca

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HubSpot Employee

Hey @Milligan63, thanks for reaching out! I'm happy to hear that you're planning on starting your blogging adventure.

 

I absolutely recommend using action words in the sentences for your blog posts. Blog posts can serve a variety of purposes: informational, instructional, etc. If you are instructing someone how to do something, you will absolutely want to include plenty of action words to make it clear what the reader should be doing. If it's informational you are likely to use less action words but you still want to make sure you are giving some sort of call-to-action or task so that the reader knows how to make use of the information in your blog.

 

If you are looking to start blogging, I also highly recommend checking out HubSpot Academy's free course "Learn What Blogging is and How to Do It." Its a great introduction to the world of blogging.

 

Let me know if I can clarify anything at al Rebecca!

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New Member

Hey Carl! Thanks for the AMA. 

 

We're a bootstrapped B2B startup and have a small marketing team. As of now, we're getting started with inbound through blogging. Do you think we should focus on blogging alone as of now and then use other channels like social, etc? We are finding it difficult to focus on different channels with the team we have right now. What do you think is the right way to move forward?

 

Also, what would you suggest will be a good CTA for a blog post catering to prospects in the awareness stage?

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HubSpot Employee

Hey @abeykoshyitty, thank you for your question and thank you for your patience in me getting back to you! I have a few recommendations for you, I think blogging is a really great way to help build the search engine authority of your domain in the early days. Your primary focus at first should be to gain traffic month over month. From there you want to make sure that you are capturing these leads by including at least three CTAs within each blog post (of 3 varying styles is best). To capture these leads, however, you will need to create content that you can gate behind a form or use bots/livechat on your site. So this sort of content creation / lead capturee would be a good next step. I think the first and third lessons in this Academy Course here could be helpful in defining the channels that you should invest in as a young startup. While one channel might be your bread and butter it's always good to spend some amount of time (often people say 15%) experimenting with other channels, because you may see some surprising successes when you branch out.  In reference to your question about CTAs - I often find that three different CTAs that appeal to three different people or reaons why someone might be reading a given post is a good way to increase conversion rates. This way you have three chances as opposed to one to capture a lead. I don't know about your brand, but at HubSpot we tend to find that super actionable offers (say an ebook, kit or template) convert at a much higher rate than offers where the value is less tangible (like '10 inspiring quotes') content pieces. 

 

Let me know if what I've said makes sense and I highly recommend checking out that course I linked to above because I think it could lead to a few key lightbulb moments for you.

 

Also, one small, low hanging fruit is that you make sure you get an account in your brand name for every major social media platform (and the up-and-coming ones). Even if you don't use them now you may use them later 

New Contributor

Hi, 

I am looking to create a client relationship management process for follow up and outreach. What tips and tricks have people found helpful?

 

Thank you,

Danielle

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Community Manager

Hi @dmrmcb,

 

Do you mind sharing more about your company, what stage of business development you are in, and any other pieces of information that we should know? As every company is different, having this sort of insight will help us advise you on best next steps.

 

Thank you,
Jenny


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New Contributor

Hi, Jenny

Thanks for the reply. Sure.

 

  • FinTech/FinServ StartUp: 5-10 employees
  • Primarily B2B but some B2C Business Development
  • Working to establish product market fit

 

Thanks,

Danielle 

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Community Manager

Thanks for clarifying @dmrmcb! I am merging this into an AMA we have with @cpieri who is a subject matter expert in your question!

 

Thanks,
Jenny


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HubSpot Employee

Hi there @dmrmcb,

 

Thanks for your post - I definitely have a few pieces of advice out the gate and we can go from there! 

 

A key tenent of great client management is centralized communicaiton. You want it to be very clear who at your organization is talking to which clients and when. If they receive varying communications from many different people this erodes trust and credibility. A good way to make sure you are doing a good job (assuming you are using HubSpot) would be to use the Conversations inbox within the tool and assign clear 'Client Owners' within your account. Processes such as these also allow for much quicker response times that build trust.

 

Be proactive in your communications with clients. If you always wait for your client to come to you with questions or requests for updates they are not going to view their working relationship with you as positive. You want to let them know what you are working on, the timeline around it, and how you are working to help them. 

 

Finding pain points for a client before they even know they have them. If you know that your clients tend to hit pain points at a certain point using your product or in their lifecycle then you want to be helping them through these pain points before they even hit them. 

 

Make sure that all your communications are not over email! Sometimes you want to hop on a phone call or Zoom if you want to build a stronger relationship or work through certain issues in a much faster manner. 

 

Now because you said that you are working to establish product market fit, you will really want to involve your clients in this process. Find clients who are enthusiastic about your product and clearly show a desire to help and consistently ask them for feedback on your product. You can reward these clients with discounts, free tools, etc. Many startups fail to include their customers in the product development process and this leads to the creation of a product in a bubble that doesn't necessarily solve the right problems. The client and the startup should be working along side eachother to establish product market fit.

 

Lastly, I fully recommend being incredibly transparent with your clients. Even if it doesn't look great for you, it will build trust with your clients and keep them happier in the long term. The longer you wait to share information (bad or good) the worse it ends up looking for you.

 

Let me know if you have any questions or I can provide any color on anything you said! The more specific you are the more I can help typically Smiley Happy 

New Contributor

Thank you so much for this feedback, very helpful. I do use Hubspot and wasn't aware of the conversations inbox. Going to check that out now. 

 

Thank you!

Danielle

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