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HubSpot pairs community with a connected platform



HubSpot pairs community with a connected platform

It was an ambitious message to deliver. The last few years have left many of us feeling disconnected in our homes and work lives as well as increasingly intolerant of disconnected digital experiences, whether as consumers, as B2B buyers, or both.

But the first in-person Inbound conference since 2019 seemed the right forum to articulate it.

Bringing us back together

“Everything we do tries to be a reflection of the world and the customer,” said HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar. “We started by looking at ourselves and thinking how we were feeling – and man, it’s been really hard. But we weren’t the only ones feeling that. We saw Inbound as starting to bring us all back together and we wanted a message and an experience to reflect that.”

The twin message was almost too neat. Two kinds of disconnection — personal and technological — two solutions — building community and building a natively connected marketing, sales and service platform.

“Software is necessary but not sufficient,” explained Bodnar. “There are some problems software can’t solve that need to be solved for our customers and for the broader B2B go-to-market community — and those are problems that really need to be solved by communities and networks.” HubSpot’s community initiatives, including the new networking space, respond to a perceived need to build not so much a community of product but a community of practice; spaces where marketing, sales and other professionals can explore common challenges. “We have a great foundation,” said Bodnar. “The content, the HubSpot Academy; it’s not an overnight thing for us.”

Indeed, HubSpot’s content offerings have burgeoned, not least through last summer’s launch of the HubSpot Podcast Network. As we reported yesterday, the network is seeing some nine million monthly downloads. “That’s audio only,” said Bodnar. “Once you start taking those things to YouTube, that’s several more million.”

Read next: Why community could be the next big thing in marketing

The network effect

It’s early days for It features several thousand early adopters who have created profiles designed to indicate their interests, skills and certifications. In some ways, it almost looks like a nascent LinkedIn. Is HubSpot going head-to-head with LinkedIn, at least within the parameters of marketing and marketing operations, sales and service?

Bodnar balked at that. “There are probably some overlapping use cases, right? I don’t think the two will be mutually exclusive, it’s not going to be an either/or situation. There are more focused use cases we think we can deliver from a community perspective that LinkedIn under-addresses today.”

There are, of course, many highly focused — not to say niche — use cases to be found in private Slack channels. Is looking for a sweet spot between Slack and LinkedIn? “I think that’s a really nice way to describe it,” Bodnar agreed. “The Slack channels are too decentralized. There’s great communication but there’s no network effect. To discover new things to learn, new people to learn from, people who can help you, people who you can hire for your business, you need the network component more than just the base community that exists in a private Slack channel.”

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The platform effect

HubSpot proselytizes not just for connected communities but for connected technology. After all, if technology is not sufficient, it is at least necessary. Perhaps uniquely among the big players in the marketing suite space, HubSpot has built its offering for the most part natively rather than through acquisition of existing third-party solutions. In HubSpot’s view, this is something that can increasingly be turned to their advantage.

“Data is hard, it’s messy,” said Nicholas Holland, general manager of Marketing Hub and VP of product, looking back to the decision to rebuild the early Marketing Hub offering on the then new CRM platform rather than leave them as two separate but integrated platforms. “We weren’t having system A talk to system B. Everything was on the singular, unified data layer.”

The opportunity Holland saw was to leverage CRM data, which is much richer than list data, directly in the marketing automation part of the solution. “Every piece of data should be available in reporting, every piece of data should be available in automation, every piece of data should be available in content.”

Competitors, Holland said, are in a different position. Marketo marketing automation needs to integrate with a separate CRM; the various separate Salesforce clouds need to synch together.

It’s this connected platform that it supporting the new Customer Journey Analytics tool announced at Inbound. “If you have the object data — contacts and companies — the event data — everything they’ve done across the journey — and you can string that together in a reporting framework, now you have everything you need [for attribution].”

While an individual customer journey can look fragmented and unpredictable, tracking a cohort of customers can deliver a clearer path. Having the common data layer, Holland argued, obviates the need for yet another product, like a CDP, to pull disparate data together.

As for attribution models, there are many out there, as well as plenty of disagreement about which are most insightful. “Because something is not perfect,” said Holland, “doesn’t make it not valuable.” Despite noise and complexity, he said, attribution models can be directionally accurate.

Read next: Why marketing automation is both a challenge and a necessity

Evolving concerns, evolving leadership

HubSpot registered some 50,000 audience members for Inbound 2022. That includes virtual attendees, of course. The in-person crowd seemed less of a crowd than usual — partly perhaps because some of the expo floor was turned over to small stages; audiences tended to appear when the stages were in use, then disappear to other parts of the enormous Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Bodnar admitted that in-person attendance was somewhat down: “It’s slightly smaller, like 10-15% smaller than 2019.” In many ways that’s not surprising.

There have also been significant changes in leadership since 2019. Chief Customer Officer Yamini Rangan succeeded to the CEO slot last year, with co-founder Brian Halligan becoming Chairman. “Brian gets to still be Brian in the Chairman role but doesn’t have to do as much of the day-to-day admin stuff you have to do when you are the CEO of a business like this,” said Bodnar.

It’s interesting both for HubSpot users and users of other platforms and solutions to contemplate the deliberate evolution of the offering, especially over the last eight or so years as it has both added new capabilities to its original inbound marketing solution, and elevated its market focus to include the enterprise.

“We’ve always been clear about where we’re trying to go and we’re just evolving the next step of leadership to get us there,” Bodnar said.

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Salesforce winter 2023 release: The business executive’s guide



Salesforce winter 2023 release: The business executive's guide

More than 150,000 companies are Salesforce customers. Salesforce’s share of the CRM market is about 25%. 

Few customers take advantage of the thrice-yearly release updates rolled out to every Salesforce user. I get it. Folks aren’t always paying attention to the releases because they’re focused on running their business, tending to the million things that come up each day. 

The full edition of this Winter’s ‘23 Release comes in at over 700 pages. The boiled-down, brass-tacks summary is still 32 pages.

Few business executives have the time and bandwidth to keep up with the ins and outs of these updates. Your admins and marketing operations people may slog through the whole doc but may not connect the dots between business initiatives and platform functionality. 

This series will connect those dots. I’ll summarize what you need to know about the latest release in five key categories: commerce, sales, service, marketing and loyalty programs.

I’ll cover the features that will help you make better decisions for your business and maximize how you use the platform. 

Based on features in this release, Salesforce is focused on:

  • Improving the base platform (adding ease that your hands-on admin and developer teams have requested for a long time).
  • Creating even more ways to connect with customers.
  • Offering more industry-tailored options that bring value to a business more quickly.

Robust support for subscription selling added to Commerce 

Adding a subscription pricing model benefits most businesses, whether you’re a fan belt manufacturer or an artisan dog food company.

Making it easier for your customer to buy your product is always a win-win, and this release makes implementing subscriptions more seamless from the backend with the Connect API tool. 

Connect API resources now support subscriptions and multiple product-selling models: 

  • One-time sales where products are sold for specific prices once. 
  • Term sales offer time-limited subscriptions. Products are sold and renewed for a specific amount of time, e.g. 12 months. 
  • Evergreen subscriptions offer products on a recurring basis until canceled.

Configuring charges for collecting local taxes in international jurisdictions was also enabled. 

Dig deeper: Salesforce unveils features to boost automation for marketing and sales

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Additions to sales enablement functionality

Overall, I’m loving the general focus on enablement through enhancements with dynamic forms, screen flows, and Slack integration. 

Teams can now build and launch enablement programs that drive to the most important KPIs for your business. You can now focus on specifics, like programs for a particular region or product, and offer incentives to drive business from them. 

And, dynamic form improvements mean end-users have more flexibility with fields and sections to display on page layouts. 

Sales teams can now better access, update, share records and get important notifications on their key accounts directly within Slack using a new integration. Sales can collaborate in account- and opportunity-focused Slack channels while accessing Salesforce data. 

And, you can make it easier for sales teams to work with colleagues throughout the enterprise in departments such as fulfillment, shipping, and finance. This is enabled using Slack and providing real-time access to data stored in Salesforce to everyone who needs it.

Next time, I’ll dive into the latest service, marketing, and loyalty programs features included in the Winter 2023 release.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Joe Anzalone

Joe is Vice President, Salesforce Technology at Shift7 Digital. As a member of the Shift7 leadership team, Joe works to craft solutions and architectures that meet ambitious client goals using the power of the Salesforce platform, including product ownership for Shift7’s Industry GTM Accelerators. Joe brings more than 20 years of experience implementing Salesforce and other digital platforms including enterprise solutions and complex technology implementations. He sits on the Salesforce B2B Commerce product advisory board. Shift7 Digital is a Salesforce Ventures-backed agency, revolutionizing the digital experience for manufacturers, distributors, and their customers.

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