CarverTC is a HubSpot partner agency. We chose HubSpot as our social media and online engagement platform for a number of reasons. One of them was their commitment to innovation and continuing improvements. As we close our first year of being a HubSpot partner, we're attending the INBOUND17 conference with over 10,000 other marketing professionals in Boston. The conference has provided wonderful insights, engaging speakers, and great connections. It also provided a look at how HubSpot as a platform for digital growth will evolve through 2018. In this article, I'll give you a first look at the new features and changes coming to HubSpot. These features and changes are both innovative responses to digital marketing trends and continued refinements to the features of the HubSpot product.
Beefing Up the Growth Stack with Sales Hub, Customer Hub
HubSpot's stated vision has been for an end-to-end experience. Starting with attracting visitors to your website, and using content through all stages of the funnel to drive conversions, and post-conversion to delight customers and turn them into advocates for your brand. You might be familiar with the following graphic that defined the Hubspot approach:
HubSpot added a CRM product in 2014. It was a great move targeted at bringing core CRM functionality into the HubSpot growth stack. It provided an integrated look at your contact's interaction with your content and website well as traditional sales outreach such as emails and calls. The new tool dubbed HubSpot Sales was designed to reach small and medium businesses still using spreadsheets. But many users wanted more.
HubSpot created a pro version of sales that added several features including live on-site chat, email automation, email template reporting and enhanced product support. It also added the ability to track visits to your site by domain. This prospecting feature moved many, including me, to move to Sales Pro because of the potential for new lead generation.
Until this week, however, HubSpot sales has remained a tool that targets sales reps. Users of the pro version have been asking for more functionality especially around sales team management. HubSpot has responded to those requests. In their announcement, HubSpot lists the new features briefly. The key new features detailed at Inbound17 include features for managing sales teams, securing sales data, and reporting on team activities.
HubSpot has renamed the product Sales Hub, and the team features move the tool into a new tier of functionality that will appeal to larger businesses. HubSpot will also increase the price from $50 per month, per user, to $400 per month for up to 5 users starting November 1, 2017. However, anyone can buy Sales Hub pro for the old price until that time, and be grandfathered in on the old pricing!
If you were thinking about buying HubSpot CRM, act before November 1st to get grandfathered pricing.
In addition to sales, HubSpot has added a Customer Hub. Despite acknowledging the need to engage and delight customers you've won, there were no specific tools for doing that built into the HubSpot growth stack. Customer Hub changes that. In their announcement, HubSpot stated Customer Hub will:
- Use automated customer feedback and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to track the pulse of customer happiness.
- Deliver sentiment analysis and churn forecasting to identify and respond to issues.
- Automate the capture of customer testimonials.
- Provide a knowledge center that can be used for customer self-help.
The new growth stack looks like the following:
Customer Hub is not yet available. Users will most likely see portions of functionality become available throughout 2018. The product will be included in HubSpot's free CRM, Sales Hub free. However, there will likely be different tiers for this tool as well. So it remains to be seen which features will be included with which version, and if any versions will come at an additional cost.
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HubSpot is adding Instagram as a network that content can be published to in Marketing Hub. Like HootSuite, Buffer, and other Instagram publishing tools, users will create and queue up posts in the tool. Then, at the scheduled time, reminders will be sent to the designated mobile device. Users can then publish from their mobile device with a few clicks.
This long awaited feature is still in the Alpha development stage so expect to see that in 2018 as well.
Messaging Based Unified Inbox, and AI powered ChatBots
HubSpot is addressing the growth and importance of messaging in both marketing and customer service head on. Pardon the pun but the importance of messaging in marketing, sales, and customer satisfaction and retention have been, well, persistent messages at the partner conference and at the general conference. With 1.2 billion users of Facebook Messenger and "and 1 billion messages sent between people and businesses every month" it's easy to see that messaging is something all brands need to be incorporating into prospect, lead, and customer engagement.
HubSpot is addressing this on multiple fronts. In May they announced Messages, a Live Chat tool that was part of their Pro CRM product. Messages allowed you to add a chat box to your website to gather feedback, and allow prospects to set up meetings, and to answer questions.
HubSpot is up-leveling messages by turning it into it a unified inbox. The new tool, which will start rolling out in 2018 will be called Conversations.
The tool will:
- "Unify messaging conversations Facebook Messenger, onsite chat, social media, email and other messaging outlets such as Slack into one shared inbox."
- Tie these messages to CRM contact "enabling companies to have the full context of past interactions wherever and whenever they may have taken place."
The Conversations tool will span the different HubSpot hubs. This will allow marketing, sales, and customer support to see context, assign tasks, and respond with depth of knowledge to opportunities, and issues in a timely fashion
Conversations will also be scaleable with Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbots. Speaking of which, Hubspot acquired Motion.ai less than a week before the INBOUND17 conference. The Motion.ai tool allows anyone to build a chatbot without the need to code. That functionality will be added to Hubspot.
For me, this is one of the most compelling announcements from INBOUND17 as these products provide a comprehensive, centralized, messaging solution spanning teams, incorporating internal and external sources, and incorporating AI powered chatbots in an accessible, easy to deploy, and easy use platform.
Campaign Reports for Attribution and Revenue
HubSpot is also adding new campaign analytics and reports that will help marketers do that one thing that so many struggle with - assigning value to content and other marketing activities. In a comprehensive reporting update, HubSpot has added analytics and reporting for campaigns created after September 1st, 2017. The new features allow you to:
- Compare campaigns to one another. You can compare a single campaign against previous time periods, or compare multiple campaigns to each other.
- Visually chart campaign performance.
- List and export contacts created a by a campaign by first or last touch.
- See contacts influenced by a campaign through blog post views, social clicks, email opens and so forth. This information can be critical in understanding how campaigns and assets move contacts down the funnel toward conversion.
- Attribute revenue. From their article, "when a deal closes, HubSpot tracks down every campaign that ever touched it (via an associated contact) and credits that campaign with influencing that deal. This concept of assigning credit to several touchpoints on the way to a conversion is called multi-touch attribution." This type of reporting might be able to tell you that the previous month's webinar campaign influenced $10,000 in revenue.
This type of reporting is great for agencies and marketers alike as proving ROI from digital marketing has always been a struggle.
Shopify Integration and EComm Bridge
HubSpot has added a native integration with e-commerce leader Shopify. This will integrate Shopify data such as customers, orders, and products into HubSpot.
This eliminates pains of having to manipulate HubSpot to work with e-commerce, and will enable key features such as:
- Store integration between Shopify and HubSpot allowing you to "turn customers into contacts, orders into deals." A new object Products will also be available.
- Marketing automation for e-commerce such as using deal stages, or purchase pattern as signals to trigger workflows for things like new customer welcomes, order processing, and abandoned cart nurturing.
- Email for e-commerce such as order confirmations and delivery updates.
- Products and order analysis. Orders will be surfaced in HubSpot as deals which can be analyzed using HubSpot tools to find customer lifetime value, campaign ROI and other key information.
- List segmentation based on e-commerce signals such as "products, categories, deal stages, deal amounts, purchasing patterns, and so forth."
For e-commerce shops that don't use Shopify HubSpot will add the Ecomm Bridge. "A new set of API’s built specifically for the e-commerce use case. Bridge gives technical teams an official and streamlined way to connect online stores to HubSpot."
These e-commerce integrations are currently in limited beta. The beta is set to be expanded in late Q4 of this year. HubSpot plans to add these features at no additional cost.
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Audience Sync for Facebook Ads
HubSpot users that have the Ads add-on will soon be able to sync any HubSpot list with targeting audiences on Facebook. This will let Ads users leverage Hubspot data for Facebook and Instagram ad targeting. Using HubSpot lists to inform audiences will enable re-targeting people in Facebook based on actions tracked in HubSpot as well as dynamic targeting based on HubSpot lists. This will also remove the need for manual downloading of data from HubSpot and uploading it to Facebook.
HubSpot Collect Chrome Extension for Content Curation
HubSpot is aiming to make content curation easier by creating a Chrome extension called HubSpot Collect. The extension is in beta and available in the Chrome extension store. Quite simply the extension allows you to click on pages, text selections, and images to copy them into your HubSpot Portal.
You can then easily add collected items to blog posts in HubSpot's Composer tool. Attribution is handled automatically. I've used the Collect tool to add most of the images to this article, and it works very well.
Content Strategy: Content Optimization For the Evolution of SEO
HubSpot recently released a lot of content about Pillar Pages which are the cornerstone of organizing content in topic clusters. Topic clusters fundamentally change the way you optimize content for SEO. The need for this change comes from changes in how people search. As stated in their article,
“Nowadays, most [people] are comfortable posing complex questions to a search engine, and they expect an accurate and timely result. Searchers who want a specific answer also use many different phrases in their queries. And now search engines are smart enough to recognize the connections across queries. Algorithms have evolved to the point where they can understand the topical context behind the search intent, tie it back to similar searches they have encountered in the past, and deliver web pages that best answer the query.”
To address this, Hubspot recommends moving to the topic clusters “where a single “pillar” page acts as the main hub of content for an overarching topic and multiple content pages that are related to that same topic link back to the pillar page and to each other. This linking action signals to search engines that the pillar page is an authority on the topic.” This strategy also informs your site’s content organization.
This task can be daunting. For each pillar page you have to define keywords that are relevant to the topics you wish to become an authority on, and subtopics that you can link to from your pillar pages. This is essentially an exercise in creating a content strategy for the areas where your organization has expertise. HubSpot has developed and integrated a new tool into Marketing Hub, appropriately named the Content Strategy Tool.
The tool uses HubSpot’s machine learning infrastructure to:
- Discover and recommend topics and organize them into topic clusters.
- Optimize existing content into content clusters around pillar pages.
- Track views and clicks on each piece of content, and show ROI for topic clusters with reports that show contacts and customers generated by each topic cluster.
I stated at the outset that we're a HubSpot partner. It should come as no surprise that we're excited about these upcoming changes and new features. We're excited because HubSpot is addressing key digital marketing trends head-on with innovation. We're more excited at the opportunities these capabilities will provide us, our clients, and Hubspot users.
CarverTC is a Hubspot partner agency in Portland Oregon that specializes in inbound marketing and content for technology companies and anyone with complex messaging.