If you’re a SaaS entrepreneur, you need to study Hubspot

Here are the inbound strategies they used to grow from 0 to 100M+ users

Hubspot introduced and created the term inbound marketing. Founder Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah grew their inbound marketing software business (founded in 2006) to an IPO in 2014 at $25/share (now $450). They are the 2nd fastest SMB SasS company to IPO.

Their entire strategy used inbound marketing to educate users on the benefits that inbound marketing (specifically content marketing) had, while directing all leads to their product. Overtime Hubspot became a household name in marketing.

Here’s a brief history on Hubspot. Over time they did raise many millions of dollars though VC funding (Sequoia, Google Ventures, etc), however their inbound strategies are responsible for their impressive growth.

They noticed a shift in the way people shop/buy. Consumers weren’t tolerating interruptive ads and were ignoring them. Part of this shift was due to the internet/google. People now had the power to do their own research about what products could help solve their problem, instead of simply listening to the ads thrown in their faces.

Theme: Inbound marketing

They learned conversion rates from inbound (organic) leads compared to outbound/paid were more than double. It was cheaper to acquire traffic and resulted in higher quality leads. 75% of their lead gen was inbound, focusing on blogs, webinars, and other free tools. 

Strategy 1: Hubspot Blog

They share resources/tips/steps to improve your inbound marketing. They drew people to their posts, provided value, and added a unique CTA related to the topic at the end to capture the lead. The blog resulted in 20% of their organic leads and 3x their leads

Strategy 2: SEO

They created over 50 pieces of content/week, targeting popular keywords related to inbound. In 2009, they ranked first on Google for phrases like “website leads” and “grow email list.” After a few years, any search related to inbound, Hubspot would appear.  Today they have a #5 traffic rank on google in the digital marketing space.

Today:

Strategy 3: Webinars 

In 2008 Hubspot started creating webinars, and it became one of their strongest lead generation tactics.

They attracted a lot of people by providing value in this form. They used webinars to educate users, generate buzz, attract website visitors, and grow leads

They ran 2 types of webinars:

  1. Educational

  2. Software Demonstrations 

The conversion rate on the demo’s was really high (10-20% signed up would buy) but lower for education, however they generated much bigger audiences for the educational webinars

In 2008, Hubspot held a webinar on using twitter for marketing/PR, which got over 3,000 sign ups and tons of new followers. For webinars they used Twitter as a discussion tool, allowing people to ask questions, chat, and engage with each other.

They were the first company to use twitter for discussion. Many of their hashtags from the webinars became a trending topic on twitter. More than 5 of their webinars were global top 10 trending topics. One of their most popular webinars had 13000 sign ups. 

Strategy 4: Free tools 

Hubspot created free tools that generated tons of organic leads. The most popular was their free Website Grader. Anyone could enter a URL and get insights about the sites performance. Between 2006-2011 the tool graded more than 4 million websites

Twitter grader, another tool made in 2009, sparked viral awareness with users sharing their twitter scores across the platform while tagging Hubspot. This was early when business owners were still trying to figure out the ultimate value of social media.

Strategy 5: Subdomains

2 critical sites were inbound.org (hub for marketers to connect, learn, and find jobs - over 200k members when launched 2013) and thinkgrowth.org (medium publication launched in 2015, reaching 160k views/month) This built a strong Hubspot community

Strategy 6: Conference

In 2013 they launched their first conference called Inbound, running interactive workshops where guests could get a certification. It attracted 500 marketers in year 1 growing to 26k in 2020. The conference generated buzz and hasn’t stopped growing

 Note on inbound marketing:

Inbound marketing is a long term growth strategy, however once the effect truly kicks in, it can lead to steady exponential growth. Hubspot's growth from 2006-2009 was impressive but still relatively slow compared to 2010+. It’s a worthy investment.

Here’s a look at Hubspot’s user growth since it all started.

Hubspot today":

  • $1B+ ARR

  • 100k+ Users 

  • 21B market cap

Keys to effective growth: 

  • Strong understanding of inbound marketing

  • Value based approach through free tools/webinars/blog

  • Producing tons of valuable content consistently 

  • Optimized for SEO

I hope you like this breakdown of Hubspot’s extremely successful inbound marketing growth strategy

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