Q&A: Hubspot's Adrianne Mayshar on Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy

By James Knutila on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tell us about yourself and HubSpot?

I'm Adrianne Mayshar, Principal Inbound Marketing Consultant at HubSpot. I've been at HubSpot for the last four and a half years, and my job is to teach businesses how to embrace inbound marketing and come up with a strategy. I help people see the "inbound light." Ha. If I were to sum up HubSpot, we're a software platform that helps marketers of all sizes drive traffic, convert leads, and close customers.

What exactly is inbound marketing? Why is it important?

Inbound marketing is customer-centric marketing. What do your customers care about? What education do they need to make a decision? By creating educational content, optimizing that content for search engines, and promoting it to your audience on social media, you're setting yourself up to drive leads online.

Once your audience is engaged, you keep them coming back by nurturing them with personalized emails and web content that pertains to what they care about.

Inbound marketing is important because it evens the playing field for marketers. Gone are the days where the company with the biggest marketing budget wins the lion's share of business. Inbound marketing helps the right businesses connect with the right consumers.

Consumers are becoming increasingly impatient with traditional marketing tactics; they also hold all the power. I mean 86% of people skip TV ads these days! If you're spending your entire marketing budget on TV ads, you're missing the boat.

Inbound allows for a mutually beneficial relationship between consumers and businesses. Consumers aren't interrupted and are able to find the educational content they care about, when they care about it. Businesses on the other hand are able to build longer lasting relationships with consumers and cut costs on traditional marketing tactics. A win-win!

HubSpot talks a lot about "personas." What are these, and how do you create them?

Personas might be the single most important component of getting started with inbound marketing. A buyer persona is a fictional, generalized character that encompasses the various needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. In simple terms, a persona is whom you are trying to target. Without clearly defined personas you can't expect to create remarkable content.

The best way to get started creating personas is to think about who your ideal customer is. This person doesn't necessarily need to be the customer you serve most frequently today, but in a perfect world what would that customer look like.

Once you have the foundation (and you can have more than one persona, but I'd try to keep it under 4 - 5 - anymore and you lose focus), it's time to get started on gathering what makes these people tick. You can start simple by defining:

  • Role.What do they do, how are they measured, who do they report to.
  • Goals.What do they care about personally and professionally, what does success look like for them.
  • Challenges.What keeps them up at night, what do they find challenging at work.
  • Company information.Size, revenue, industry, and so on.
  • Personal background information.Age, single, married, children, education level, and so on.

The biggest mistake companies make is that they create only hypothetical personas. Do your best to interview real human beings (past customers, prospects, friends in the industry). Or at least do some research on popular sites, like LinkedIn, to get a better understanding of exactly whom your personas are (the real live ones) -- to make them more concrete.

The second biggest mistake companies make after defining personas, is that they leave them buried on a computer hard drive to die. Your personas should be something your entire company -- from administrative staff, sales, marketing, and support -- should be able to clearly articulate.

Inbound isn't just a way to drive people in as a marketing tool. Inbound should be a way that you engage with customers throughout their lifecycle, and that means understanding what makes them tick throughout their relationship with your company.

What's the best way to set goals for inbound marketing? What types of goals do you recommend setting?

I'd start with figuring out where you are currently. If you're getting 1,000 visits to your site today, it's not realistic to set a goal of 50,000 visits in 6 months. Inbound takes time and it takes work.

Figure out where your company stands today in regards to site traffic and leads generated, and then figure out where you need to get to from a revenue stand point. You can walk backwards from your revenue goals to determine customers needed, and then leads needs (based on your current close rates).

The key to successful goal setting is keep them "smart." Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.

Starting a blog can be a daunting project. What's the best way to figure out what to write about?

That's an easy one, start answering your customer's questions! If you do a good job determining all of your persona's goals and challenges, use that as a checklist to get you started.

If you sell scuba gear and your persona's goal is to learn how to scuba dive this year, then you need to write one blog article per thing that person might need to know or ask about getting ready to go scuba diving.

Do I need to take a scuba course; what are the best courses? What kind of gear do I need to wear? Best ways to overcome my fear of being eaten by a shark while scuba diving? You get the idea. 

Just start brainstorming the questions your persona might have around a goal or a challenge they face and I promise that will give you a great first start on blogging!

To read the rest of the interview check out our free Ask the Experts eBook!

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