Ebyline turned to Mike Volpe, the chief marketing officer at marketing software maker HubSpot, to answer these questions. Mike has been an integral part growing inbound marketing and is an expert on the state of digital content today. Read what he had to say about what tools and approaches show promise.
What’s the most innovative example of inbound marketing you’ve seen recently?
I always think about inbound marketing as the combination of content marketing, free tools, freemium, and contextual marketing. SolarWinds uses tools really well, Dropbox and Survey Monkey use freemium models exceptionally well, and of course Amazon uses contextual marketing well.
On the content side, there are tons of examples. One recent good one is Sequoia (who happens to be one of our investors), who published a blog post titled “Four Numbers That Explain Why Facebook Acquired WhatsApp.” The VC firm was one of the early and only investors in WhatsApp, and when news broke that they’d been acquired by Facebook, Sequoia turned to content to share insight on the company and recognize their milestone. Instead of focusing on their own role in WhatsApp’s growth, Sequoia highlighted the company’s talented team and innovative culture.
Above all, what should content creators avoid? Is there a type of content that poisons the well?
Every time you’re creating a piece of content you should ask yourself: “Will this help my audience?” If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board. It’s tempting to put out fluffy content that will drive traffic, but to effectively build relationships with leads, prospects, and customers, you need to avoid content that serves your company more than it serves your buyer. For example, I can’t stand blog posts that feature slide shows forcing you to reload a new page just to see the next image or tip. It’s a way to drive page views, but it is a terrible user experience to make people wait for a page to load (with all the new advertisements) to see each item on the list.
In terms of interaction, which social network do you place the most value on?
Twitter is great for building relationships and engaging with customers, prospects and influencers in your community. Too many brands still use the platform as a broadcast channel, but we need to be listening more to connect with our audience in a meaningful way. I use Twitter to answer questions prospects are asking, share our customers’ awesome content, join discussions with influencers, and give a voice to HubSpot’s management team. For me because it’s fast and easy, it is a great fit for my job, which allows me lots of small breaks between meetings but rarely a lot of contiguous downtime.
Are there any apps or platforms that you are particularly excited about from a marketing standpoint?
I’ve been using Evernote for a while now for jotting down notes and crafting new blog post ideas; it’s a great product. And I really admire the way they’re thinking about the freemium model and take an inbound approach to content creation and building customer relationships.
Another great tool for blogging is the Blog Topic Generator that one of our bloggers came up with and created. When you’re looking for new content, you just put in a few keywords and it spits out potential titles. Impact Branding and Design also has a sleek topic tool called BlogAbout. Now, writer’s block isn’t an excuse!
You’re very active in the lecture circuit. Is there an institution (academic or otherwise) that you think is leading the charge in terms of digital marketing programs?
I’m of course partial to MIT because I got my MBA there and HubSpot was founded there. What I think MIT does really well is combine technology and business together, which is essential for effective inbound marketing. Our CEO, Brian Halligan, teaches an inbound marketing class there, and I guest lecture in other classes as well. Beyond that though, the Inbound Marketing book is required reading for marketing courses across the country. I think it is great that many colleges and universities are starting to see how inbound is crucial in today’s landscape, and preparing their students for the jobs that marketing teams are hiring for today.