TechBytes with Nicholas Holland, GM/VP of Product (Marketing Hub) at HubSpot

TechBytes with Nicholas Holland, GM / VP of Product (Marketing Hub) at HubSpot
TechBytes with Nicholas Holland, GM / VP of Product (Marketing Hub) at HubSpot

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at HubSpot.

As a VP of product and the General Manager of our Marketing Hub, it’s my job to ensure that our Product team is building the tools that today’s marketer needs to get their job done and grow the business. We’ve seen a shift lately in the overall role of the marketer. It used to be marketers would write content, create conversion points, nurture converted leads through an ad or an email, and pass them off to Sales. Now, we see marketers are really owning the entire customer experience —  from the first touch, all the way through brand advocacy. We’re hyper-focused on this ever-evolving role of the marketer, and we work hard as a product team to build the tools that help marketers prove the value of their activities, grow their impact, and do so more efficiently.

Is CRM’s time up – with the rise of CDPs, Intent Data-based ABMs, and AI-powered Marketing Automation? What is the future of CRM for Marketing and Salesforce Automation?

The term “CDP” is thrown around a lot lately. In my opinion, it’s still a pretty vague concept for many vendors. But whether you use a CRM, CDP, or another tool that aggregates customer data, one thing is clear: Companies can no longer find success without leveraging a centralized system of record for their Marketing, Sales, and Service. At HubSpot, it’s our CRM. However, we do everything we can to ensure that all the tools you use to run your business can seamlessly integrate into our own, so you get a holistic view of the customer journey. Truly personalized Marketing Automation is nothing but smoke and mirrors if it isn’t rooted in your company’s CRM. Your customers suffer when you don’t leverage these systems, and they start to notice the factions in your organization when each team isn’t working off of the same system. So whether you focus on inbound marketing or ABM, having a source of truth for each team in your organization to work off of is mission-critical.

 Tell us more about your ‘Flywheel model’ for CRM+Emall free tools

The flywheel is based on two premises. First, each function in your business feeds into the next. Your Marketing efforts attract leads for Sales, then Sales engages those leads and converts them into customers for your Service team, and then your Service team delights these customers, creating promoters of your brand. These promoters generate word of mouth and become a natural Marketing channel for your business. In this scenario, customers are no longer output, they’re input into your company’s growth. Over time, your flywheel starts to spin faster, and once it’s spinning, it becomes incredibly difficult to slow down that growth.

Second, your customers should be at the center of your business. If you keep your customers happy, they add force to your flywheel and help your business grow. The inverse is true too — if you deliver a sub-par customer experience, it will add friction to your business and stunt your growth. The great thing about the flywheel is that by leveraging your customers as an engine for growth, they’ll naturally start to spin your flywheel for you. At HubSpot, we believe the CRM is what helps you keep your customers at the core of everything you do, and it should feed into every tool at your disposal. Adding email and ads to our free CRM is our way of letting every company that decides to explore HubSpot see how powerful your Marketing gets when you use a CRM to stay customer-centric in your Marketing campaigns. It’s the ultimate flywheel play.

When you plan to give CRM for free, would it impact your overall Customer Experience values for your paying customers?

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub has four tiers: Enterprise, Professional, Starter, and free Marketing tools in the HubSpot CRM. What separates HubSpot from the other SaaS solutions out there is that we’re building consumer-grade products with enterprise power. It should be so easy to use our Marketing tools that anyone can hop right in and see immediate value. Because tools like Email Marketing are being used by companies with maybe one marketer with our free tools or Starter edition, and companies with large Marketing teams in Professional and Enterprise, ease of use is paramount.

But while we offer many of our tools for free, we’re constantly focused on expanding the value our Professional and Enterprise customers see, giving them all the bells and whistles they need to scale. Email is a perfect example of this. When you first start with HubSpot, our free tools or Starter edition might be all you need. As you grow, you’ll need automation, smart content, and other features in our premium tiers to continue scaling your business. This allows companies to grow with us. You can get started for free without the pressure of a trial, make a purchase decision when you’re ready to do so, and grow with our solution as you start to scale.

What are the biggest challenges you face in delivering real-time customer experience? How do you measure the impact of your customer experience efforts, especially for new customers who have less than 2 user accounts with you?

Internalizing feedback from our customers and taking action on it is the best way we know how to deliver on our promise of providing an exceptional customer experience. We take customer feedback very, very seriously. We take in feedback across a number of channels — Twitter, calls with our amazing Support team, our ideas forum, even our email addresses are public (nholland@hubspot.com).

I also spend a good chunk of every day talking directly to our customers. I have a standing invite out to our Sales and Services teams to include me on any of their calls. I do this because it really helps me understand exactly what problems our customers are facing and how they’re looking to leverage the product we build. I also spend a lot of time pouring over NPS reviews, and we present on it monthly to company leadership. Anything below a 7 and someone on our Product team is reaching out to the customer to see how we can improve their experience.

Another goldmine of information is product usage data, including customer activation. It doesn’t take long to notice trends, and this feedback influences everything from our product development to how we take a product to market. In an ideal world, you build the exact product that your customers are looking for based on your own data-mining. But to ensure that you’re properly measuring your impact and supporting your customers in real-time, it’s important to have open lines of communication across all customer-facing teams — including product. We work hard at HubSpot to ensure that trends we notice in Support, Service, Sales, Marketing, and Product lead to quick updates and solutions for all our customers — whether they’ve been with us for 10 years or 10 days.

How do you plan to increase your CRM user base, especially in the APAC and Middle West regions? 

Since it’s beginning, HubSpot has been rooted in the practice of inbound marketing. For the North American market, where inbound is a commonly practiced Marketing methodology, we want our product to speak for itself. In regions where inbound is still gaining traction, we have some work to do. Luckily, we have a team of people focused on creating educational content that not only teaches people how to grow their businesses through inbound but also shows them how they can use our software to execute their Marketing strategies.

We also have a few competitive advantages that we really plan on focusing on as we look to grow our user base — especially in non-English speaking regions. I’m proud that our product and documentation is localized into six different languages today, and we’re actively exploring how we can bring our product to even more languages so that businesses everywhere can see the value in using our tools.

Nicholas Holland is VP of Product and GM of HubSpot Marketing Hub. He loves learning and innovating.

His Specialties are: Business Strategy, Online Marketing, Usability, Project Management, Leadership, Sales, Team Buildin

hubspot logoHubSpot is a leading growth platform with thousands of customers around the world. Comprised of Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and a powerful free CRM, HubSpot gives companies the tools they need to grow better.

HubSpot was founded in 2006. We’re headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we have offices in Dublin (Ireland), Sydney (Australia), Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), Berlin (Germany), and Bogotá (Colombia).

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