Continuing with our guests from our visit to HubSpot HQ in Boston we spoke with Kipp Bodnar, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of HubSpot.  In this epiosde we talk about how HubSpot do marketing for themselves.

Kipp has worked his way through the ranks at HubSpot, initially starting in a role looking after the blog right the way to CMO - so he gave us a wealth of advice for marketers at all levels.

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In this episode we will discuss:

  • What Kipp has from the 7+ years he has been doing marketing for HubSpot

  • What tactics are working for HubSpot today

  • Do you need to know about bots as a marketer, if so what?
  • What HubSpot are focusing their marketing efforts on in the next 6-12 months

  • Kipp's top tips for in-house marketers

Watch...

 
 

Listen...

 

Available on Itunes  Stitcher-Logo.jpg   tunein-3.svg  

 Thanks so much for joining us this week.

Have some feedback you’d like to share, do it in the comments below!

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Full transcript:

Mark

- Hi guys, today we're at HubSpot HQ. We have Kipp Bodnar, is that how you pronounce it, Kipp? Is that correct?

Kipp

- Yep, yep

Mark

- Thank you so much for joining us.

Kipp

- Thanks for having me.

Mark

- Got Rikki here as well, okay so you say you're on the third floor, so not too far to travel up.

Kipp

- Yeah, not too far from my little desk in the marketing area here, yeah.

Mark

- Just for our viewers watching then, can you give us a bit of background on yourself? And how you ended up on at HubSpot, and how long have you been here?

Kipp

- Yes, wow, for me, I spent the early days of my career working at different marketing agencies for a long time. Basically, in the early days of online marketing helping companies figure it all out. Back when inbound marketing wasn't a thing yet. Everybody was just trying figure out how this internet thing was going to impact their marketing. And then I started a blog, talked about social media and how companies could use it. And that let me to meet all the awesome folks at HubSpot. And I joined HubSpot March 2010. So over seven years ago now, our company was like 90 employees at the time.

Mark

- Wow, I didn't know that.

Kipp

- We were starting embarking on the journey of teaching everybody about inbound marketing. It's been an awesome ride ever since.

Rikki

- You got a few more colleagues now then?

Kipp

- Yeah, a few more, a few more.

Mark

- So your position is CMO at the minute.

Kipp

- Yep.

Rikki

- So, where have you come from then, or how was your progression been through the company, just work your way up?

Kipp

- Yeah, my very first job at HubSpot was I wrote the HubSpot blog for a while, for like the first year. And basically every job, functional job, marketing up then, design and coding and things you don't want me doing. Obviously right, you don't want me touching any of that. And then it ended up that I was VP at DemandGen for a long time, helped us build out our global go -to -market, figure out how we'd go to markets like Europe and Asia and Latin America. And then now, I'm CMO, it's a blast.

Rikki

- What would you say then, a bit of a broad question, but in your seven years then, what was the most interesting project you've worked on, would you say?

Kipp

- Most interesting is kind of like the newest interesting thing at the time. Early days it was like search engine optimization, social media, and now it's video and Facebook Messenger, bots are taking up a tonne of my time. And then which we can talk a tonne about. But the thing that was probably the most fascinating that was most foreign to me was our inbound conference. So, we host a big event every fall called Inbound. It started with a few hundred people, now it's over 19,000 people last year. And just like the scale of that and when you're somebody who deals in the digital world all the time, to take a step back and spend all of that work and effort for a physical event, it's fascinating.

Rikki

- I think it's digital marketers just like and going out to events and taking a time out from reading blogs and ebooks and to actually to go to an event and learn, it's quite powerful.

Kipp

- Well, you need to reset your perspective sometimes. Sometimes, you can get so focused on the content you're reading, the perspectives you're reading, that sometimes you just need to hear slightly different stuff in a different environment to kinda helps true up what you actually think about this thing, what your real perspective is.

Rikki

- I think this will be our fourth year. We're taking a big team this year for that reason. We're investing a lot, as you know the cost from the UK, the travel, the accommodations.

Markk

- Yeah, okay. You touched on bots there, obviously about the podcast with Brian and he's talking about AI, artificial intelligence, a lot of the bot word, I mean can you go into depth with that, what's happening there?

Kipp

- Oh gosh, there are so many things to know. I think if I'm a marketer today, the ways that marketing is changing in a few ways. We've diversified from text content to video content. That video content is largely both search and social. YouTube is the second biggest search engine. So, if you're distributing your video through YouTube, typically more tutorial, more how -to, longer length content can be found through search. Kind of analogous to your traditional blog content. And then you've got shorter, more entertaining, more practical video content that you're gonna share on Facebook and Instagram, normally sub 60 seconds that you're gonna have the whole reach of your networking community on there. And so I think if you're a marketer today, you can't be successful without doing it, like you guys are doing it. And thinking about what your primary mode of distribution is and kind of where in the funnel. There's some marketers, I know who do a really good job on their own, it's really focused in the sales process. Bob Funnell, often convinced their prospects. That's awesome and it's just being strategic about everything and then, I think a lot about our messaging channels, like email is kind of plateauing in its effectiveness. It'll always be a way that some people interact, but man, you could work really hard and optimise your email performance and you might move like half a percent on click -through rate, or maybe a percent on click -through rate, right? Like, you guys do this, you agree. Whereas if you go to something like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, the modern messaging channels, man your click -through rates are 5X of email, 6X.

Rikki

- Something about a few, We're always testing ourselves with how we do fine. And so we signed up for a Facebook Messenger bot, got people subscribing, sent out a blast through it, I'm sure it's 96 percent or something, like.

Kipp

- You probably had 15 to 20 percent click - through rates versus two to three percent on email, four percent, maybe, people in the UK like email more, I'm not sure exactly, but, and so, man that's a frickin' massive difference, and it's like it's going to be the way that most of us communicate. It's, one of the folks on my team, I think said it best when he was just like, "Facebook is the, is the community infrastructure "of our time, and Messenger is the best way "to interact and drive engagement awareness on Facebook." And if you're going to be in the Facebook game, you gotta be in the Messenger game, and then aside from Messenger, you have the whole bot layer. Right, 'cause messaging and bots are different, right? Like, you can send somebody a message without a bot, you just talk to them, but bots can, you know I look at email, I look at all the first generation of web marketing, it's like, man, we were doing our best to guess, right? We were like, oh, okay, this is my persona. I'm going to do some stuff that I think is really good for them. I think this is what they need right now, I'm going to give it to them. And, we'd send that email off, and they'd see it a few hours later and then they would either agree or disagree with us and you can kind of tell by your click -through rates or yourrates. Now you don't have to guess anymore. You can use a bot in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and Slack and the person can get what they need.

 And sometimes if they need us to get right to a human and that's fine, the bot can get them to a human and do that, but sometimes it's like, I just, I want what I want really fast. And a bot can deliver that far better than a lot of other occasions. I think of, like, Messenger and WhatsApp and the conversational UI applications, it's like, kind of like the terminal of how you interact. Like you had, we had Windows, and then we had Internet Explorer was the next terminal, you built web apps on top of Internet Explorer, and then you had iOS, that you built mobile applications on, you have Chat OS, essentially, and you're, bots are the application there on top of that. And so, you're gonna have both utility bots things like our Growth Bot product where somebody's going to have a reoccurring use case, have a diverse set of things they're going to use on a daily or weekly basis, and then you're gonna have what I call are transactional bots which are just basically, "Hey, I want to download this thing." Or, "I want to just schedule a quick meeting." Or, "I want to do this very specific thing "and I want to do it well with really low friction." They'll be a place for those, too.

Rikki

- Imagine our in house marketers get quite scared when things like chat box, you talked about a lot.

Kipp

- For sure!

Rikki

- The are being pressured  to learn something completely new where would you recommend people, how do people get started with chat bots, like where to go? I know I just, I used something called Midi Chat or something like that, just download it, really low friction, easy to play with version and just to play, really.

 Kipp

- Yeah, the, so there's an emerging sector of tools. There's a tool called Chatfuel, there's a tool called Motion.AI, a tool called Flow.XO. Those are a couple of the cooler applications you could use there, we've basically done our integration with Motion.AI and HubSpot, and so we can take everything we know about somebody on the HubSpot contact record and my chat bot can greet you by your first name because I have it in my contact record. Or, my chat bot can know that you looked at our pricing page because I have that in my contact record. Right, and you know, what's going to happen is the same thing that happened in email, is that people are going to do it all in isolation and it's going to be very impersonal in the early days and that's what we want to avoid.

 Rikki

- That's what I was worried about, too.

 Kipp

- You need to, but if you can rely on the 360 view that you have of somebody through all their interactions with you and then apply it to the engagement medium that they now feel the most comfortable with, the most in tune with, then you can create a really valuable experience for them and create a trust with them very early on.

Mark 

- Personalization, and Brian touched on that as well, so. What are the tactics, what are the projects you've got going on at the minute? 

Kipp

- So much stuff, we just launched a big Facebook contest called Summer Startup.

 Rikki

- Yeah, I saw that.

 Kipp

- Yeah, so we've got a contest for basically, you enter 25 words or less around what is the dream company you've always wanted to start? And we're going to select some finalists, do a second round and then the winner's going to get $100,000, some HubSpot software, some expert mentoring and coaching to go and stop doing the thing they don't want to do anymore and do the thing that they really want to do. And for us, it's like a huge opportunity to apply some goodwill back to the startup community it's also a great way for us to build awareness for the brand through Facebook, it's, you know, I think our videos had like three quarters of a million views, we think we've had over 5,000 people enter so far in the first, we're about 72 hours in right now, three hours in, or three days in, so it's going really well and I think it's a good example of things that modern marketers are going to need to do, quick 60 second video, layer of the contest, in social, to a core part of their community, right? And so I think that's practical tips to everybody watching.

 Mark

- Was that your idea or was that a communal idea, or?

 Kipp

- We actually have somebody who runs all of our brand and social campaigns and that was his idea. And his name's Ryan, he did an awesome job. We were kicking around a bunch of ideas and that one was the one that kind of stuck, and we took it from there. 

Mark

- So, your focus in the next six to 12 months is what we talked about, or will you move onto other things or...

Rikki

- Is HubSpot still very focused on the blog, the traffic, the leads, the ebooks, is that still the focus, or are you trying to do the focus a bit another way?

Kipp

- If I look at marketing at HubSpot, right, which is like kind of my domain, I look at our job as to lead the next evolution of marketing and, you know, marketing, vlogging, all those things actually still work, and still work great. And if you're a marketer out there, you should do them. There's just some new tools in the tool belt and they're still actually very early on. Most people kind of want to do video, but they're uncertain of their strategy, their technology stack, everything, similar with messaging, similar with bots, onsite chat, things like that, right? And so our job is to teach the world about those. So, you know, we had a post go live today on the HubSpot blog, around three experiments we ran around Facebook Messenger and chat box, right? And so we're going to be, within the next six to 12 months really deeply focused in trying to call all these new rounds of changes for marketers and give them clear strategies to playbooks to go and execute and we're going to do that by doing it ourselves and learning a bunch and then hopefully inspiring some folks and getting the opportunity to learn back from them, from the work they're doing.

Mark

- Yeah, we had a chat with Luke, we went to lunch with Luke Summerfield and he said exactly the same thing, his big focus at the minute isplaybooks getting the strategy in place. So, yeah, it's good to see Brian seems to have done that as well, so it's a company wide educational push, in a way.

Kipp

- Every time you have a lot of human behaviour change you've got to adapt to it, crystallise it and help communicate it to the world and I think that's always been our promise to the community is that, like, hey, we're going to learn stuff, we're going to try to learn stuff as fast or faster than anybody else and give, put you in the driver's seat to be successful as you need it and as your business is growing and adopting them, so.

Rikki

- We've been talking a lot about how the marketer's scope is just getting bigger.

When HubSpot launched and HubSpot sale as we found ourselves, look, we're a bunch of marketers and now we're having conversations about sales and helping enable that and I think a lot of people are going that way and how have you seen your scope change from being very focused on like, say, blogging and does HubSpot allow you to get involved in the experience for customers themselves side and the website and does marketing influence range far?

Kipp

- Yeah, you know, it's interesting marketing sets the tone for everything else, right? Everybody has to kind of follow the lead of marketing, they're the leading edge of any business. And so, I think some of the changes I've seen is that, man, marketing has a big impact through the entire customer experience. Through sales, through customer success, customer service, right? And I see more of it, I see more of that all the time. How do we better set expectations with our prospects? How do we help our customers like get more value? Discover new use cases, new products that they have available to them to use, right? And I think, you know, 10 years ago marketing was, oh, let's figure out how to do some blogging, and it might work, right? 'Cause even back then it was like this nascent thing and now it's like oh, we've figured a bunch of stuff out and that's working really well. Now there's a new wave of stuff to figure out.

Mark

- So, so true, Rikki, we are a marketing company now we've got a video department, we have developers and designers doing their thing, sales andthis is why we have so many questions about the future. Us as business owners and marketeers, what's happening next so we can prepare?

Kipp

- Regardless it sounds like you guys are very well prepared, very much tuned into what, how user behaviour has changed. And part of it is like being ready when new things happen. There's a bunch of this stuff that's still uncertain and very speculative, you know. We've talked a lot about the past couple weeks about we were on the cryptocurrency market 'cause you've had high fluctuations in things like Ethereum and everything, it's like, I have no idea that Ethereum Bitcoin will ever be anything.

It's 100 percent speculative. I know that is a technology, and like, cryptocurrency and block chain is a massive disruptive technology and will be a huge part of our future. Like, I think most people who have done enough research can agree on that. I don't think I have any clue if those are going to be the currencies that we use in the future. And so, there's some aspects that translate to marketing. There's sometimes where like Facebook Messenger is a way over a billion people communicate it's going to be an important part in our channel. I think we're still figuring out the right playbooks, the right strategies that are actually that are are successful. We're going to have some that aren't successful and we need to set up values and keep the prospect and the customer in mind the whole time, treating them correctly.

Mark

- There's a fine balance in marketing between constantly learning and getting distracted by shiny new objects.

Kipp

- Totally.

Rikki

- This might completely revolutionise your whole industry. Or you might put a load of time into it, it might do nothing, how does HubSpot, I imagine you've got thousands and thousands of ideas at HubSpot and ways people want to go but you've got a very proven process that works and where do you choose to invest your time?

Kipp

- Yeah, no, I look at it as like, from a marketing perspective, you know, there's results that I need to achieve every single month. And I want to do those and I have a playbook of things that work, but one of the things I know for certain is that every marketing tactic eventually fails. Like, eventually stops working.

Rikki

- Because markters ruin it?

Kipp

- Yeah I've got a good media article coming next week on that, keep your eyes peeled, eyes peeled. Put it in the show notes here. So, for me, it's relying enough on the tried and true and overachieving on that so that you have the ability to achieve your goals in a way that you still have a little bit of time to discover new things because I know that one of these things that I'm doing now is going to stop working three months, six months, two years from now, and I'm going to need to have some different playbooks that I need to evolve. And, yeah, and so I want to make whatever investments I can to start learning that, because when you do learn that ahead of time, when you're the first mover advantage in marketing is exponentially higher than, like, anything else in your, you know, click through rates on Facebook Messenger you're at 15, 20 percent now in 18 to 24 months, they'll be three to five percent, six percent.

Rikki

- It's going out towards email.

Kipp

- Yeah, over time, but man, all the work that you do tomorrow, the next month, massive growth opportunity for you.

Rikki

- It's hard because we're still trying to convince prospects that need to be people are in Facebook, I can't believe you're saying these conversations, but you're having them, and you don't almost believe me that...

Kipp

- I got some lines for you, one, there's never been a platform that a billion people have used, ever, that has not been, like, dramatically impactful for marketing, ever.

Mark

- Next time we're at that meeting that happens weekly, we're just going to take this video and just press play.

Kipp

- Like, ever, like, I promise. I have thought more about this than 99 percent of humans and it just, it never happened, it has just never happened. And, if you don't believe me, go fly to Singapore, fly to Tokyo, fly to Seoul, fly to Hong Kong, everything is being discussed, communicated, negotiated, over WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger.

Mark

- And they'll say to us weekly, "My clients won't read Facebook, LinkedIn, that's it, "just LinkedIn," and we're just, "Oh, no, come on."

Rikki

- The cost per click Facebook, I mean.

Kipp

- It's exponential, exponential. It's suboptimizing is what it's doing.

Rikki

- In 12 month's time you're going to start losing that advantage of how cheap Facebook is. We'veand it still amazes me it's sub one pound a click, I mean, it's absolutely insane.

Kipp

- Fear is the enemy of great marketing. Your fear of paying too much or your fear of not working, gosh, like half your marketing shouldn't work, right, like, if you have 100 percent hit rate on your marketing, wow, you're leaving a lot of money on the table. Like, you're leaving a tonne of money on the table. And that's just impractical.

Mark

- So watching a Gary Vaynerchuk video last week and he said put small bets, put small bets on all these new channels and if they don't work, walk away, and it's...

Rikki

- And be prepared, like you say, to build something that's gone in three, four, five years as well. Reap the rewards while they're there. 'Cause Gary V. talked a lot about he's put a lot of time into building his Twitter account, that might be redundant in a few years, yeah.

Kipp

- Yeah, it might be, you never know. What you need to know is, hey, human behaviour always evolves, always changes. If you bet on how that behaviour is evolving and you bet early enough, you're going to be exponentially successful than everybody else. Like, that's the, that's the constant in all of this. And that behaviour is driven by technological trends and innovations, it's driven by marketers doing bad things and pushing people out of things because the experience is no longer what it needs to be. And quite frankly, it's driven by our lives. One of the reasons that people, people out there that don't believe in Facebook Messenger, for example, like, people just don't have the time to do it the other way, you know, they need the answer they need and they need it now, they don't have the time to wait and go check their email. The lag is just, everything has to be... Near instant now.

Mark

- The time they're prepared to wait is just shrinking.

Kipp

- And they're frustration around waiting has never been higher, though the wait times have never been shorter, right? Like, think about that, that's crazy. And you're like asking people to wait. You're asking people, like one, if you're using LinkedIn in ads, like, oh, so like the one time a week when they go on LinkedIn versus the five times a day they go on Facebook, and that's not a lot on LinkedIn, it's a great product, but there's just different use cases there. Then you're making them wait, and you can't make them wait. You're not going to be a successful business if you're making prospects or customers wait in today's economy.

Rikki

- One thing we've discussed a lot recently is our persona, we target very similar to yours, it's the in house marketing manager type persona, and I always imagine getting in their shoes where they're thinking, "Right, I've got to learn, "I've got to learn ads on social, I've got to learn video, "I've got to study chat bots, I've got all this to do. "Am I better as a marketer being a marketer who's "a generalist and learns everything, or am I better "being someone that's really good on one thing?" If you're really in your marketing career again, and you've got to be a generalist marketer or a specialist marketer, which way would you go?

Kipp

- I think you need to be great at a small number of things. I don't think you can be great at just one thing.

Rikki

- 'Cause you used to be able to do that, yeah.

Kipp

- Yeah, you used to be able to be very focused and great at one aspect of marketing, I don't think you could be that, and I don't think you could be so shallow and go across all aspects of marketing. I think you have to be truly great at two to four aspects of marketing. And that might be content creation plus analytics or that might be content creation plus engagement, you know, whether it be chat or messaging or email, whatever that may be, right? And I think that is where you're going to have to go. You might just have a role where, for the first few years of your career, oh, this year I'm going to really focus on this, then next year I'm going to focus on this. And you don't have to try to be great at those four things all at once, but you have to know that things are going to culminate and that kind of deep, yet broad enough pocket of knowledge.

Rikki

- Where do you recommend people go learn? Obviously HubSpot, they're the masters.

Kipp

- Got lots of great content.

Inbound...

Biassed, sorry.

Rikki

- I mean you're the master of that, that's obviously you go to HubSpot for all those things. Out of HubSpot,what do you like to read, where do you learn?

Kipp

- I learn from a bunch of places. I love books, books are like super valuable. Like, they're digging in on especially emerging topics, new behaviour via books is like underrated, underrated thing. I absorb a lot of info from podcasts now. I read, I'm a paid subscriber to Ben Thompson's newsletter. I don't know if you guys know who Ben Thompson is. Stratechery.com, so he's awesome business strategist and so, I pay him an annual fee so I can get all of his great content, it's totally worth it. And then, I basically have a bunch of curated feeds that I used across, across Twitter, across Flipboard, across a few different news consumption apps that gets kind of all the core marketing publications, business publications, everything. It's about having that infrastructure of learning that works for you, right? That, if you have to go out to a bunch of websites that you have to filter through all of these different email newsletters, it's a little clunky. It's like, give yourself a work flow that allows you to learn in bits and pieces when you have the free time in your day to do that.

Mark

- We were saying that we're self learners as well and we're on the fly and yesterday I said I'd love to just learn every day all day.

Kipp

- Totally.

Rikki

- Yeah, that was your job.

Mark

- That was my job and we love it that much, but I'm afraid there's business and

Kipp

- Well, part of learning is the practical application of learning, right? So that's why we have jobs so that we can go from the theoretical to the practical.

Mark

- Well, leading on from Rikki's question, what would, what percentage of your week or month is down to learning, or essentially to your day, would you say?

Kipp

- I bet you, depending on the day, I'm somewhere in like the 15 to 20 percent with learning.

Rikki

- Yeah, and we'd tag ourselves similar, don't we? Which is interesting, I think when, we talk about this a lot when we're hiring marketers, that's a quality a lot for us, do people want to learn now? Because if you think you've come out of Uni or you've finished your study and that's it, then those days are gone, haven't you? You can't come out of Uni with a marketing degree and you can do marketing for the rest of your life.

Kipp

- Curiosity is a core trait of a great marketer. If they're endless, they have an endless curiosity they're going to be a self learner, they're going to seek out problems, they're not going to be content with just doing something the same way over and over. And doing something the same way over and over is the fastest way to fail as a marketer.

Mark

- If you could, like, summarise your learning and being at HubSpot, kind of, from writing blogs to going where you are, what's a, what's the one thing you've learned that really core that you'd like to pass on to people?

Kipp

- Oh, a couple things, like, one people make all the difference, right? You're a leader, hiring great people makes all the difference, if you are an individual contributor, having great peers makes all the difference, like, having amazing people to learn from, reflect with, bounce ideas off of is incredible. And then, I think if you're a marketer, like, you've got to place some freaking bets. You have to have some conviction. You have to say like, I know this to be true. And just go through the thought exercise of what do I know to be true, okay, I know there's all these people doing this, I know there's a higher app with those people in my customer base, I know there's a big opportunity there that's untapped. And you have to go figure it out. You have to be okay operating in a pioneer kind of way and understand that there's going to be a bunch of stuff that isn't figured out but in doing so, you're going to learn immensely, but you're also have the opportunity to be immensely successful.

Mark

- That's great, I mean, you give us so many more tips but we'd just like to round this off now, any more, any more tips for marketing professionals out there? Anything you should give us?

Rikki

- What should we be focused on, like what tactic? If we're doing a standard inbound marketing playbook they're doing that fantastically well, one tip, one thing to go away with and implement in the next six months, which one would it be? You have to pick from bots and video and social ads and all of that.

Kipp

- It totally depends on the, on your business, obviously. For me to be a catch all would be a little rash. I would say, you know, if you have the gene for creating content, you're doing content well, I think making the leap to video is a natural extension and you're going to see a lot of success there. That being said, the flip side of that is like, Maybe you're great middle of the funnel marketers and you're great at email, then make the jump to something like Facebook Messenger is going to be a little bit more comfortable for you. And so, part of the success is stretching your comfort zone just enough, like not completely frustrated, like it's a big jump that you can't make, but it's like, oh, I know in theory how to solve these types of problems, I'm just going to go and solve a new type of problems. But this for a couple, would definitely be a couple of areas where I would spend some time and focus on.

Mark

- Absolutely brilliant.

Kipp

- Fantastic.

Rikki

- Thank you so much.

Kipp

- Thanks. Appreciate you having me, thank you.

Mark

- Take care, bye bye.

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