This is a guest post by HubSpot customer Marcus Sheridan. Marcus is the owner of River Pools & Spas, one of the country's largest in-ground pool companies and also has a popular sales & marketing blog called The Sales Lion.
Just over a year ago, I found myself in the same dilemma that most small business owners in 2010 find themselves in-I'd lost control.
What do I mean by ‘lost control'?
Well, to put it simply, I could clearly see what was happening to the mind of today's consumer. I saw old forms of marketing and advertising going the way of the dinosaur. Most importantly, I saw that more and more consumers were becoming dependent on the internet, especially Google, to lead them in the right buying direction.
With such a clear and present realization, I was extremely frustrated and concerned over my company's website. And to be honest, our site, as well as our general web presence, stunk. I knew this. My business partners knew it. And most of all, our potential customers knew it when they visited the site. Even worse, I recognized all of these things but could do nothing about it. Because I didn't know code or web design principles, I was stuck with relying completely on our webmaster, which was an expensive and less effective game plan. But despite all of this, I did understand one reality-it wasn't too late to make a change. It wasn't too late to offer consumers an incredible website with great content. And it wasn't too late to embrace this new information age and all of the new marketing methodologies that have come with it.
Upon researching the web in an effort to get design and marketing control over our website and increase our web presence, I luckily stumbled upon HubSpot's Websitegrader. Immediately, I entered our company's URL and the results were even worse than I expected-out site scored a 17 out of 100.....Yikes. This low score motivated me even more to improve our website. Digging further, I learned about all of the services that HubSpot offered and the rest, as they say, is history.
But considering it has been a little over a year now and our website (we build in ground swimming pools by the way) has now catapulted to the #1 swimming pool website and blog in the country in terms of traffic, I want others to know what I would do differently if I knew then what I know now. So without further ado, here are 8 Tips to help you make the most of your HubSpot:
1) Don't Wait to Start Using the CMS
For some dumb reason, when I signed up with HubSpot I only used their Content Management System for our company blog, and not for the rest of the website. So, although I was getting tremendous value from their analytics and the SEO the blogging was bringing my way, I was still hand-cuffed in terms of managing the content on our website. In hindsight, I was simply afraid that if I converted my site to the HubSpot CMS, I'd be married to the company forever. Also, I think I still lacked the belief that I could actually be my own web designer. Luckily though, with the help of a few great HubSpot employees, I finally ‘saw the light' and went all in with a complete website conversion. What's crazy is that I waited 6 months from the time I started with HubSpot before I made this move. But as soon as the conversion was made, and I realized just how easy it was to manipulate and design my site's pages, my creative energies and juices ran wild. I literally felt like a new business owner and frankly I feel like a big dummy for not making the change from the get-go. But as they say, it's better late than never.
2) Approach HubSpot Like It's Bootcamp
I'm not sure what it is about men and directions, but we're all apparently born with this thing that prevents us from making life much easier and actually reading the directions versus doing things the hard way. Such was the case when I started blogging and using the HubSpot CMS. Although I was doing quite a few things right, I was missing out on so many benefits because I hadn't taken the time to learn about all the awesome tools available in the software. This is why I strongly urge everyone starting with HubSpot to not just learn the system from your initial consultant, but rather utilize their incredible training articles and videos to establish your base and then use the consultant to clarify any confusing points.
3) Embrace Blogging
Nothing has changed my company, as well as my life, quite like blogging. The organic (free) traffic that we receive to our site on a daily basis is mind boggling compared to what it was just over a year ago. Looking back, I only wish I had been a little more consistent with my blogging early on, as well as a little ‘cleaner' with the look of each blog. For example, my first blog articles were very plain-no photos, bullets, embedded videos, etc. But once I started blogging at least twice a week, and worked on the general ‘look' of each article, the traffic and subscribers increased drastically in volume. In fact, I enjoy blogging and helping people so much that I now have another blog, The Sales Lion, whose sole purpose is to help business owners struggling to find their way in this new world of web sales, marketing, and social media.
4) YouTube Rocks
Wow, the power of YouTube is amazing, and arguably has done more to brand my business than any other marketing tool we've used in the last year or so. My only regret is that I didn't leverage video and YouTube sooner. With HubSpot's CMS, adding a You Tube videos literally takes about 60 seconds. The process is unbelievably easy and can be done by anyone who knows how to copy and paste.
5) Utilize Forms
HubSpot makes it really, really easy to create lead-capture forms for your website. For some unknown reason, I waited months to utilize these great forms. Notwithstanding, today my site has some type of lead capture on almost every page and, because of this, the amount of leads we get today versus what we were getting a year ago is staggering.
6) Lead Nurturing is Awesome
Going hand-in-hand with great lead capture forms, HubSpot's automated lead nurturing system makes the life of a business owner and marketer much, much easier. For example, our company sends out a free DVD to customers who fill out a form on our webpage, and without me doing anything, the lead will receive a nice follow-up letter 5 days later asking them what they thought of the DVD. This tool has been a tremendous asset, ensuring we follow up with all prospects while reducing the amount of time-consuming email follow-ups we have to do with our lead base.
7) Turn to the Forums for Help
One aspect I really love about HubSpot, is that they work hard to create a ‘community' or ‘tribe' feel among all of their 2000+ users. This is achieved through a variety of methods, the main one being their community forum called Success. The forum is full of HubSpot customers (of varying knowledge levels) and experts ready to answer and discuss problems, concerns, questions, etc. Therefore, I've more than once posted a general question on these forums knowing I'd receive multiple answers from a number of great people. This resource is great for anyone trying to improve their business website as well as enhance their Web 2.0 knowledge.
8) Subscribe to the HubSpot Blog
HubSpot's blog has over 30,000 subscribers for a reason-it's AWESOME. In an effort to learn as much as I could regarding SEO and inbound marketing, I have subscribed to many internet blogs on the subject, but none are more useful and applicable to my small business than the HubSpot blog. Over the past few months, reading this blog (they have a multiplicity of great authors, all delivering daily, unique content) has become part of my every day routine and it has made a huge difference in terms of my further understanding of inbound marketing, SEO, blogging, industry trends, etc.
I sincerely hope that these 8 Tips help new HubSpot customers maximize their success with HubSpot even quicker and more effectively than I did. Also, I do want to mention that I wrote this article without any solicitation from the great people at HubSpot. But because this company has literally changed my life and blessed my company and its employees so very much, I felt inspired to share my experiences.
Want to hear more about Marcus' tips & tricks? Consider visiting his popular small business sales and marketing blog at The Sales Lion or join us for a webinar on Thursday, May 27th with Marcus detailing how he used HubSpot to slash his PPC spend, while increasing organic traffic at River Pools & Spas.
Questions? Comments? Please feel free to leave your thoughts or experiences below.
Originally published May 13, 2010 11:11:00 AM, updated July 04 2013