Brian Halligan, CEO & cofounder
|Products||HubSpot, marketing consulting services|
|Revenue||$52.5 million (2012)|
HubSpot develops and markets a software-as-a-service product for inbound marketing also called HubSpot. The software has features for social media marketing, email marketing, content management, web analytics and search engine optimization among others.
The company was founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. Originally funded by Shah and a faculty member at MIT, it raised more than $100 million in funding. The organization advocates for the inbound marketing concept in its own marketing through viral videos, Twitter, webinars and an annual inbound marketing report.
HubSpot was founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2006. Shah invested $500,000, which was followed by angel investments from Edward B. Roberts, the chair of the Entrepreneurship Center at MIT. The company introduced the HubSpot software in beta in 2006 and officially launched it in December 2007. An additional $5 million in funding was raised in 2007, which was followed by $12 million in May 2008, and $16 million in late 2009. The company grew from $255,000 in revenues the first year the software was released to $15.6 million in 2010.
In the summer of 2010, HubSpot moved its offices into the Lechmere neighborhood of Cambridge MA. In 2011 it raised $32 million in venture funding and acquired marketing automation vendor Performable. Later that year HubSpot announced its acquisition of oneforty. Oneforty began as an app store for Twitter, but shifted into an online resource for social media marketing. The company also introduced new software for personalizing websites to each visitor. According to Forbes, HubSpot started out targeting companies of 1–10 employees, but "moved steadily upmarket to serve larger businesses of up to 1000 employees."
HubSpot raised $32 million in additional venture funding in February 2012 from Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Salesforce and others. At the 2012 annual Inbound Marketing Conference, HubSpot announced a software product for sales staff called Signals. By December 2013 Signals had 26,000 users and HubSpot set it up as a separate startup within the company.
HubSpot evangelizes the inbound marketing concept through its own marketing. According to CRMSearch, "the company promotes a message of 'publish your way in' and practices what it preaches as a prolific creator of content, including blog posts, social media posts, white papers, webinars and more."
The company manages an 8,000-member LinkedIn group called Pro-Marketers. The HubSpot Internet Marketing blog was ranked as the 21st most influential marketing blog in AdAge’s 2013 Power 150. The company also produces viral videos, such as a You Oughta Know parody and a video series on "Foursquare cops" that parodied Foursquare's then-recent features to prevent fake check-ins. It hosts HubSpot TV, a live broadcast with commentary on current events. HubSpot does not have a PR agency on retainer.
According to Harvard Business Review, HubSpot's most effective inbound marketing has been its free online tools, such as Marketing Grader (formerly Website Grader), which grades a website's performance and gives it a score based on how it compares to other websites that have been ranked. WhoRetweetedMe.com, which was introduced in Beta in August 2011, shows the number, timing and audience of tweets containing any URL provided by the user.
There was some debate in 2009 on if HubSpot was over-commmercializing tweetups after it used Twitter to secure celebrity guests on HubSpot TV. In 2009, as an April Fool's joke, the company created a personality grader tool. The next year, as a marketing stunt, HubSpot claimed it received a cease and desist letter from "Kronos Media". It created a "Captain Inbound" character to defend HubSpot from an "evil" interruption marketing firm. There were polarizing responses whereby some customers thought the legal troubles were genuine and felt misled and others enjoyed the ruse. On August 23, 2011, HubSpot's "social media scientist," Dan Zarella, was awarded a Guinness World Record for the largest online marketing seminar after "The Science of Social Media" obtained 10,899 attendees. That same year HubSpot announced its acquisition of OneForty through a series of Tweets, obtaining 400 retweets or mentions within the first two hours.
HubSpot publishes "The State of Inbound Marketing Report" annually. The 2012 report found that 89 percent of businesses are maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets. In 2011 it found that 65 percent of companies had a corporate blog, up from 28 percent the prior year. Additionally, 44 percent of marketers said Facebook was critically important to their marketing strategy, up from 24 percent in 2009. The 2010 report found that 77 percent of Internet users read blogs. It also publishes a State of the Twittersphere report. The Twittersphere report has found that links in a tweet are more likely to be clicked on if the tweet is short and the link is posted early in the message and that Twitter profiles with a picture attract six times as many followers on average. Additionally, HubSpot's research found that New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London were the top tweeting cities in the world. In 2008 the company estimated Twitter had 4 to 5 million users, 30 percent of which were “brand new or unengaged.”
Software and services
HubSpot provides a software-as-a-service product for inbound marketing also called HubSpot. It includes tools for social media marketing, email marketing, content management, analytics, landing pages and search engine optimization, among others. The HubSpot suite of online tools has three primary applications: Content management tools for creating or managing blogs, templates, forms and landing pages; Exposure optimization applications that help the content be found, such as through search engine optimization; and Lead tracking and intelligence tools, which track and manage e-mail marketing, customer interactions, qualified prospects, reports and analysis. As of 2012, about 8,000 companies use HubSpot. 85 percent of customers are based in the US.
HubSpot has integration features for salesforce.com, SugarCRM, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and others. Nimble users can have HubSpot automatically add visitor data to their Nimble account, and user's of PR Newswire's iReach can access iReach from the HubSpot dashboard. There are also third-party services, templates and extensions that can be downloaded through the HubSpot App Marketplace. HubSpot offers consulting services and hosts the HubSpot Academy, an online resource for learning inbound marketing tactics. It also hosts user group conferences and offers inbound marketing and HubSpot certification programs.
HubSpot has a corporate culture similar to many technology companies on the West Coast of the US. It has repeatedly been named as a Best Place to Work by the Boston Business Journal. The company began an unlimited vacation day policy in 2010 and started an employee training program, called the HubSpot Fellows Program, the same year. HubSpot's "startup within a startup" program was started in 2008 after a salesperson's evening and weekend project on a partner program became their full-time job. By 2011 the partner program was responsible for 20 percent of HubSpot’s revenue.
HubSpot offered a $2,500 bounty for referring a successful candidate, which was increased to $10,000 in 2011, while the company was looking for HTML5 developers. Senior recruits coming from large corporations are offered a “jailbreak” bonus of $1,000 for each year they spent at a big company.
HubSpot is the third largest marketing automation vendor by market share. In a competitive review conducted by analyst firm Gleensight, specialist vendors ranked higher than HubSpot in individual categories such as SEO, or email marketing, but HubSpot had the highest rank for "overall value". A review in CRM Search said HubSpot "is not the best product in every category ... yet may still be the single best marketing solution in bringing all the tools together." Many of HubSpot's individual applications have "point competitors" that have more sophisticated products in that area, but HubSpot is simpler and provides an all-in-one approach intended for non-technical users.
TopTenReviews gave HubSpot’s SEO features an 8.32 out of 10. It said that HubSpot “actually deliver[s] on its claim” of being an "all-in-one.” The reviewer praised its range of features and dashboard, but added that the click-through analytics for email marketing campaigns only provide similar features to Google Analytics. A review in CRM Search identified HubSpot's "Strengths" as the sophistication of its Call to Action (CTA) tool and its online ecosystem, the HubSpot Marketplace. According to the review "Ease of use is a design hallmark for this application" and its pricing is reasonable. Under "Weaknesses" the review said "it has more breadth than depth." It said the lack of customization and design tools can be limiting. According to the reviewer, it lacks some advanced tools such as Business Process Management (BPM) tools to manage workflow.
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- Halligan, Brian; David Meerman Scott (2010). Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-90052-9.
- Halligan, Brian; David Meerman Scott & Dharmesh Shah (2010). Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-49931-3.
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