5 Lessons from HubSpot Partner Day

13245292_10208188714468062_1328467902351942720_n.jpgLast week, Duo’s CEO, Michael, and I spent a few days out at HubSpot HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From networking to high-fiving over product announcements, we had a fantastic time. We got to hear about all the great things that HubSpot is doing to plan for the future for both the HubSpot software and the Partner Program. This translates into how we can be even better for our clients moving forward. Plus, we got to meet with a bunch of awesome members of the HubSpot team as well as other partners we could learn from. There were even presentations by HubSpot's co-founders and HubSpot's CMO. 

We also learned a lot in the sessions we attended! So, here are my favorite five things I learned at Partner Day this year.

We Never Need to Guess Again

One of the main things I took away from a few of the Partner Day sessions was that we no longer have to guess. When building websites or doing inbound marketing, we have so many amazing types of analytics at our fingertips, we literally never have to guess which color will convert best or which term is the best fit. Instead, we can test and iterate based on the results of the test.

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One of my favorite new ways of testing things is using heat maps. I attended a session about Hotjar which provides heat maps, recordings, surveys, polls and more. By adding Hotjar tracking to your site you can see exactly where and how people interact with your site. You can see if they’re clicking on things that aren’t clickable or how far down the page they actually get. This kind of insight is incredibly powerful and when combined with other metrics can completely eliminate the subjectivity from web design. No more arguments over where to put the CTA or if people make it to the bottom of your page. We can simply monitor and discover the truth! A quote from the session that really stuck with me was:

“We’re not even in the business of selling a solution at the beginning - we’re selling data and trust.” -Jeff Coon, Stream Creative

Another thing that Jeff pointed out when talking about how his agency uses Hotjar is that you can use it to prove what’s already working fine and doesn’t actually need to be changed. He noted that sometimes people are just sick of looking at their own site because they see it so often. However, some things may actually be working fine. Test, analyze and uncover the truth.

The Death of the eBook and the Value of Long-Form Content

Wait? I thought marketers loved eBooks! What’s the problem with eBooks? Well, at one of the most interesting sessions I attended, David Khim from HubSpot discussed how eBooks are a lot of effort to create and painful to update. Plus, they don’t contribute to your network of internal links and don’t contribute from an SEO perspective. Also, when you have an eBook you promote to your existing network and hopefully through paid promotion and within blog posts. The solution is to create long-form content pages with a more engaging offer.

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On these pages you’ll want to focus on topics over keywords. By scaling production of search engine optimized site pages that answer questions your prospects are asking, you’ll fuel organic traffic and can give people a more powerful opportunity to convert. This is because, once you use the content that was once locked in an ebook on a page Google can index, more people can find it through organic search. Then you can offer an offer that is more actionable for the reader such as an interactive template. This long-form content that used to be in an ebook and is now on a site page is not gated, but the offer related to it is. This means it’s very contextual for the reader and they’re more likely to be interested in converting. The long-form content can be in the form of site pages or, if you already have a good blog going, you can expand your blog posts to be more in-depth. This idea really resonated with me and I can’t wait to try it out! Granted, this comes with the caveat that best practices should always be tested with your industry and your audience. It may not work the same for everyone!

Blog Banner CTAs - Not The Catch-All We Thought They Were

Similarly to the way that long-form content pages may work really well for some industries, Pamela Vaughan discussed how, for HubSpot, it turns out the end-of-post banner CTAs aren’t quite the catch-all we once thought they were.

In fact, an average of only 6% of HubSpot’s blog post leads came from end-of-post banner CTAs.

Between 83% and 93% of each post’s leads came from anchor text CTAs and internal link CTAs.

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So, HubSpot started testing more contextual anchor text links in the middle of posts and they began to convert much better. It’s worth noting that this was on the Marketing Blog and the Sales Blog actually performed a little differently. The true lessons though are to test everything, trust your analytics, and take best practices with a grain of salt. Try new things and see what works best for you!

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Pro Tip: Make CTAs smart to better resonate with your visitors. If you use a plain-text CTA in your post you can make a smart version that is just a space for people who have already converted on that CTA.

Paid Promotion and Ads Do Have a Place in Inbound

For a while, paid advertising and promotion was slightly frowned upon by inbound marketers because it was seen as such an outbound tactic. However, now we’re finding that you can absolutely use ads to amplify your inbound marketing without being an interrupting marketer. (insert interrupting marketer knock knock joke…) In fact, there is more than one way you can do this. You can use search ads to drive traffic while your content is warming up. Then, over the long term, you can capture leads and customers by promoting content or targeting bottom of the funnel keywords through search ads.

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The key though, is to not just create ads that people click, but to create ads on which people actually convert. Offer something valuable such as a template or eBook (read as: possibly long-form content page) that will answer your visitors’ questions and deliver value to them in the context of their search. Testing this is absolutely vital. Always measure your success, analyze your campaigns and optimize on a continuous basis.

Growth Driven Design is the Way of the Future

If you haven’t heard of Growth Driven Design yet, you should definitely start to learn about it. The web design process is currently broken and there is no need for us to take all the risks associated with traditional web design. What risks am I referring to? Well, after spending a long time on a new website design and developing it over months or even a year’s time, there is no guarantee that it will work the way we think or improve performance over the site it replaced. In addition, we deal with scope creep, challenges keeping on schedule, a large upfront cost for the customer, and more. The good news is, a website is not a project to be completed. It is a tool for your business that should always be performing at its highest level.

Growth Drive Design is basically a methodology that minimizes risks associated with traditional web design, allows you to continuously learn and improve your site, and allows the site to inform marketing and sales (and vice versa). GDD uses data to drive changes on an iterative basis and encourages us to be researching and testing to make our site the best it can be.

So, including walking a way with a super awesome HubSpot bike! (yup, I won the bike!) I walked away with some great new ideas to test and some insightful lessons from partners and HubSpotters. It was a great few days! (PS yes I'm testing this CTA below...) 

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Images: all screenshots are from sessions presented at HubSpot Partner Day.