How to Future-Proof Your Marketing

I went to quite a few conferences this year and listened to a lot of speakers talk about the future. But one of the most interesting sessions I caught was how HubSpot was actually working to “future-proof” its marketing.

I went to quite a few conferences this year and listened to a lot of speakers talk about the future. But one of the most interesting sessions I caught was how HubSpot is actually working to “future-proof” its marketing.

So what does “future-proofing” your marketing even mean?

In the session “Adventures in Emerging Channels: What we learned from a year with Medium, Podcasting, and Live Streaming” at Inbound 2017, Meghan Keaney Anderson, HubSpot’s VP of marketing, explained that HubSpot dedicated resources to looking a what changes in the environment could derail its very successful marketing engine. (These notes and slides come from that presentation.)

HubSpot started with a hypothetical article headline “What happened to HubSpot: The decline of a marketing giant.” They looked at what would likely be the key reasons for that fall, and when they came up with those “highlights,” they began working on plans to proof against them.

What if Search and Email Went Away?

Turns out there are some pretty obvious vulnerabilities in HubSpot’s marketing stemming from the company’s highly optimized, and non-diverse, lead nurturing cycle.

According to Anderson, HubSpot gets 90 percent of its web traffic from search. They convince a large portion of those visitors to sign up for some kind of email communication, and then they “send them things” via email.

That search-to-email relationship is primarily how Hubspot nurtures leads into customers, and that whole cycle has become key to HubSpot’s success. So what happens if search were to change dramatically? Or people were to move away from email as a communications channel?

The thing is, neither of those futures was very far-fetched. Google and other companies are sending all kinds of signals that they see search moving away from text and toward voice and image interfaces. In that future, search will still be important, but who knows how much traffic you could count on from it?

Similarly, email has been showing signs of weakness for some time. Anderson said HubSpot has been seeing email rates decline, and usage messaging apps rising. In that future, people would still probably receive email, but they wouldn’t pay as much attention to the channel. So how would HubSpot communicate with them and nurture those relationships without that channel?

These scenarios are not remote possibilities. It’s actually fairly likely one or both of those scenarios will be the reality within a few years.

The Horizons of Innovation

HubSpot has a philosophy — and the resources — to dedicate personnel to these problems. And they do that by focusing on the “Three Horizons of Innovation.”

HubSpot's 3 Horizons of Innovation

The idea is to pinpoint and prepare for the inflection points where the current state of your industry is going to be replaced by the next state, and when that will be replaced by yet another state:

  • 1st horizon: What’s happening now/next. Gets the biggest team.
  • 2nd horizon: What’s coming after that: Gets a smaller team.
  • 3rd horizon: What’s coming after the second horizon sunsets: Gets to smallest team.
  • The second horizon should be rising as the first is falling. Be ready for those inversion points.

How Moms Shop Online

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish  and CafeMom.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish and CafeMom.

Razorfish surveyed 1,500 digital moms — or moms who used at least two Web 2.0 technologies and actively researched or purchased online in the three months before the survey was conducted in October 2008.

Razorfish and CafeMom’s goal was to learn more about the digital mom. How does she use digital technology? Do her habits differ by age? What are her motivations for engaging in social media and other emerging channels? How should marketers engage her?

The report was chock-full of interesting and surprising information.

One key finding from the report is that more digital moms today interact with social networks (65 percent) and SMS (56 percent) than with news sites (51 percent). And just as many can be found gaming online or via a gaming console (52 percent).

Which technologies digital moms use, however, depends on factors such as the mom’s age, the age of her children and motivation.

Moms less than 35, for example, are more likely to use newer communication platforms like social networks, SMS and mobile browsing. Moms 45 and older are more likely to use online news, consumer reviews and podcasting.

What’s more, online video consumption is highest among moms with children 12 and older — the group that’s also more likely to be online monitoring their children.

Online purchasing habits
Compared to nondigital media such as magazines, newspaper and radio, digital channels continue to influence digital moms in their purchasing decisions, according to the survey.

Answers to questions for digital moms who researched or purchased products online in the three months prior to being surveyed revealed the following information:

• the gap between TV and digital channels in creating initial awareness of a product is closing;
• Web sites, search engines and friends/family, along with social influence channels and magazines, are more used and trusted for research and learning than any other sources;
• social activities play an important role in influencing digital moms; and
• emerging channels like mobile and podcasting also influence different stages in the purchase funnel, although it varies by vertical, and penetration is still relatively low.

What does this all mean? If you’re an online marketer targeting moms, understand that this group is pretty Web-savvy. In many cases, digital moms are using some of the newest Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with friends and family and help make purchasing decisions. So go ahead, test a variety of these Web 2.0 tools when marketing products or services to moms. You may be surprised by the results.