Delivering on the Promise of the Platform

By Nicholas L. Holland, VP & GM of Marketing Hub at HubSpot

The article below reflects our belief that companies of all sizes should experience the benefits of a platform versus point solutions, and that power and ease of use do not have to be mutually exclusive. As a reflection of our investment in our marketing automation platform, we are pleased to be recognized as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for B2B Marketing Automation Platforms.

For as long as I’ve been working with marketers, the promise of the platform has loomed large.

Platforms were supposed to be the marketer’s one-stop-shop for all their marketing needs. It would provide them with content, messaging and automation — allowing them to build campaigns that could help align teams and, ultimately, grow their business. These platforms could be used by everyone, and unlock key insights that would make the next campaign better than the previous one.

At their core, platforms are meant to help marketers fully understand and optimize the journey someone takes with their company — from first touch, all the way to customer and promoter of their brand.

Personally, I think the marketer’s vision of a platform has been a mirage.

Where most platforms get it wrong

For starters, the promise of the platform has always been reserved for true enterprises. Unless you were one of the select few marketers who could afford to shell out serious cash for an enterprise marketing platform, you were left assembling the tools in your marketing toolbox in a piecemeal fashion. You bought one tool for organic search, layered on another when you started dabbling in paid ads, and yet another for email marketing campaigns. And you worked tirelessly to integrate all of these tools together, crossing your fingers and praying that your audiences matched and your messaging was consistent across tools until your company scaled to a point where you could afford to invest in one of those shiny enterprise marketing platforms.

Now if you own one of the aforementioned enterprise marketing platforms, you might be scratching your head saying “huh, we struggle with message consistency, feature integration, and using data from across the company to inform our work too,” let me be the first to tell you — you’re not alone.

So many platforms require custom development and hours of expensive admin time, just to make them usable for the everyday marketer.

If you take a look under the hood on a lot of these platforms, you’d be surprised to see just how much they resemble the stitched together tools used by marketers at growing companies. They might be able to deliver more power, but cross-channel usage is only accessible to the most technical of users, and uncovering insights on the experience you’re providing your customers requires an investment of time and resources most marketers would find prohibitive. Finding and organizing the right folks, with the particular set of skills that will make these platforms work as intended, is a full time job in and of itself.

HubSpot’s approach to marketing automation platforms

Many marketers have waved the white flag and accepted the pitfalls of most platforms as a necessary evil. But here at HubSpot, we think there’s a better way. We’ve been working to build out our platform for quite some time now, and we ground ourselves in two core principles:

  1. Every marketer should have access to a platform that is going to scale with them.
  2. Platforms can be powerful, without being overengineered.

What does this look like in practice?

Let’s start with this myth that platforms can’t scale with businesses as they grow from startup to household name. Here at HubSpot, we’ve intentionally built our platform so it meets the needs of your organization at every stage of your growth. When you’re just getting started, and need a marketing automation platform to get your marketing team off the ground — HubSpot is here for you. As your team grows and becomes more complex — HubSpot is still here for you, with enterprise tools that power the digital experiences of brands like Monday.com, Trello, and Momentive (formerly Survey Monkey).

We’re able to do this because we’ve carefully crafted our CRM platform from the ground up. I’ve spoken about CRM-powered marketing in the past, but I truly believe that in order to break through the noise and deliver content that resonates with your audience, your marketing automation tools need to be rooted in a CRM platform. This CRM platform can be used across all teams, or simply integrated with a platform that is used by your sales and services team. Regardless of your approach, marketers need direct access to the data in this system of record — without having to jump through internal gatekeepers — in order to create personalized marketing campaigns at scale.

The beauty of our platform is that we’ve simplified it down into five key elements — content, messaging, automation, reporting, and data. Instead of learning hundreds of different tools, you really only need to learn five. If you know how to build a landing page in HubSpot, you’ll be able to easily build a marketing email because they’re based on the same content tools. If you’re able to create a report on your website’s traffic, you’ll be able to create a report on which of your lead gen offers was the most successful because it’s all one reporting engine. We refer to these elements as our primary colors, and they are the key reason why our platform is not only easy to use, but also deeply powerful.

Instead of layering on different elements like other platforms, creating a cobbled together system that’s a headache for the everyday user, we invest in enhancing these platform-wide primary colors.

Investment in these primary colors has helped us meet the demands of our customers as they look to build even more nuanced marketing campaigns leveraging our platform. When customers said they were expanding their usage of our CRM beyond standard CRM objects, investment in our data platform enabled us to deliver custom objects to ensure the CRM could apply to any use case. As marketing and sales teams began working together on account-based marketing campaigns, investment in our automation and reporting platforms helped us easily meet the demand for advanced ABM capabilities. These are just a few examples of how our approach to platform has helped us innovate, without compromising on the ease of use our customers love.

Delivering our platform, without compromising our vision

We’ve never had to search far to see that our dedication to ease of use across the platform was impacting our customers. We see it in our NPS reports (that we go through with a fine toothed comb) and in our reviews on G2. I’m extremely proud of our reputation for consumer-grade software. What I might be even more proud of though, is that we’ve maintained this reputation for ease-of-use while adding in firepower to meet the needs of the most complex marketing teams out there. Take the team at Momentive, for example. Their CMO Leela Srinivasan says that, “Marketing Hub Enterprise enables seamless cross-functional collaboration from one easy-to-use platform, allowing us to launch global campaigns quickly, run sophisticated workflows, and continually optimize performance.” We believe that being positioned as a Leader in B2B marketing automation by Gartner is yet another point of validation that we’re on the right track.

I welcome all of you to take a look at this Gartner report, and your own marketing toolset. As you’re thinking through what tools you need to execute your marketing plans, think through where your company is today, where your company will be in five years, and if your stack is going to provide you with the power and flexibility you’ll need to achieve your goals.

Power and ease of use — no longer at competing ends of the spectrum. Who’d have thought it?

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