Lessons From HubSpot

How content built a billion dollar company before even having a product

Content driven growth is met with mixed embrace, some managers see content marketing as part of going through the motions, others have bet the farm on it.  HubSpot falls into the category of the latter, recently making a bet on content likely in excess of $200 million.

 

HubSpot Logo (Credits: HubSpot)

HubSpot is arguably one of the largest SaaS brands in the world with a market capitalization in excess of $22B. Over the years in helping to driving the company’s success it has become one of the single largest free resources of sales and marketing related content. The strategy has been aimed at hyper focused keyword marketing campaigns, with almost any sales and marketing related Google search under the sun you are likely to find a piece written by HubSpot on the first page.

 

In HubSpot’s early days 30% of their customers came from demand generated by their blogs, furthermore if you were to do a web traffic audit including organic search, direct search, and referral traffic, it dwarfs that of even major publications like TechCrunch. HubSpot is a company that understands the digital age and the cutthroat competition that exists for digital attention, as a result it behaves like a media company.

 

This was the strategy from day 1. HubSpot started going all in on content before the company even had a product to sell.  HubSpot created content of value for audiences to grow their inbound marketing. This model of delivering value through content that helps educate audiences is far superior to simply throwing money at interrupting audiences with traditional advertising.  This becomes the first step in a marketing strategy because it is demand based answering the call to any given query a prospect might have, if organizations can nail this first step they then have the ability to lead them further down the marketing funnel and create even more hyper target content to influence them.

 

This year HubSpot didn’t stop there, the company just recently acquired TheHustle, a successful online newsletter that created an organic audience through conventions and conferences delivering audiences daily stories in business and tech news. In 2008 during the midst of the financial crisis, a newsletter called Daily Candy sold to Comcast for $125m, now here we are in 2021, TheHustle’s sale was not disclosed but likely is in that ballpark range adjusted for real inflation and asset inflation.  On a 7x revenue multiple, it likely thatHubSpot just spent north of $200m on an investment that will end up paying for itself.  They now own a media asset that can help other companies and existing clients scale up further.

 

Other SaaS brands however, do not need to spend hundreds of millions to do this, they can build 3rd party media platforms in house and use these assets to grow organic audiences that they can then in turn sell products to.  This all fits into a model of designing a content ecosystem designed to get audience attention without disrupting them and providing value. The key to this is no different than product marketing, delivering robust content that audiences want and letting that value proposition speak for itself.

 

 

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