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HubSpot CMO interview: ‘Google, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok are key channels’

HubSpot CMO interview: We speak to Kipp Bodnar from the CRM software giants in the latest of Press Gazette’s Marketing Maestro interviews. This series is produced in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s content marketing arm.

What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?

Building an amazing team of marketers, globally.  Our marketing team did a remarkable job building and refining marketing and transitioning HubSpot from a one-product business to a full CRM provider.

The marketing team is amazing. They have directly connected sales revenue to marketing and they contribute the majority of our sales revenue. For me, some of the core milestones include the move to international and driving growth across six languages. Then, there’s the move from an inside sales only model to product led growth model. And finally, the remarkable work from defining the category of inbound marketing to them becoming a key player in the CRM category.

What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?

For me it has to be Google, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok. While people have their own preferences when it comes to finding or interacting with brands and gathering information online, social media and search continues to be a common path for building relationships with companies.

In terms of content on media channels, we’re finding that content marketing has become a top priority for marketing teams – they’re investing in multimedia formats more and becoming increasingly interactive and accessible. This year, and for the third year in a row, we actually found that video is the top media format — but specifically, short-form video platforms like TikTok are growing the fastest.

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What is your advice for mastering social media?

Focus. Don’t try to be average at everything. Pick one or two core platforms and focus on being world class at them. However, it’s worth noting that although it’s advisable that marketers use content that matches their brand identity or industry, the most effective posts are 1) funny and 2) interactive.

Underpinning that must be consistency. Brands need to master the balance of not seeming too ‘functional’ or appearing robotic. There has to be a level of synchronicity across platforms. Yes, tone will need to vary per platform, however a brand must identify their personality and ensure it shines through.

In your opinion, what is the main difference between B2C and B2B marketing?

B2B has a much clearer and deeper understanding of their customers. We know a lot more about them in terms of demographics, psychographics and even behaviour. But we can’t say the same for B2C.

However, I’m noticing that B2C and B2B are coming closer together. The reality is that B2B does a great job of capturing details about their customers and leveraging that data to improve the customer experience but as of late, so does B2C. I still think there are learnings they can take from each other. Some of those core learnings are using first-party data for better personalisation and customer experience. In B2B we see clear customer segments that really exist. I believe this will become a bigger part of B2C and we’ll see less broad sweeping.

What is the key to producing engaging marketing content and what types of content works best for you?

A business must be clear about its goals – for example, increasing brand awareness. Here, this would mean having a content strategy that focuses on increasing SEO to help with your website’s visibility. Ask yourself – what makes you unique? Who will be reading or engaging? What problem will you be solving for an audience? And what channels will you be sharing your content on? All these considerations must be intertwined with your business goals.

How important is technology in modern marketing?

We all operate in an increasingly complex world and it is very challenging to do great marketing without the right tech – particularly when it comes to data privacy. You can’t effectively engage a customer or prospective customers without tech to automate privacy controls and the proper messaging and segmentation for every audience.

Automated controls will also help prepare businesses ahead of the removal of third-party cookies. Change is always difficult for marketing teams that have relied for years on third-party data for their advertising strategies. It will take time to adjust to this ‘new normal’ when it comes to data privacy, but automation will help support this transition.

What future marketing trends will become mainstream before too long?

AI is going to become bigger in the creative work that happens in marketing. We are seeing very early examples of this with DALL.E where you are able to use text to create designs and images.

And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be?

Marketers of today need to be experts in understanding which channels work best for them and why. Channels need to generate leads and convert to customers. They also need to accurately predict the impact of increased or decreased spend in order to execute a good marketing strategy.

But how do you evolve measurement and attribution in a world where marketing is changing dramatically and more of the marketing channels are focused on indirect monetisation instead of direct response?

I know this is a burgeoning question across my team. If we can resolve this, marketers, the opportunity will be phenomenal, so hopefully one of us has the solution.