Common struggles and marketing challenges from Dreamforce 2011

This past week, I was visiting San Francisco to speak at Dreamforce 2011 and support HubSpot’s marketing campaigns there. While I was there, I had many opportunities to speak with marketers from different organizations and learn about their struggles and marketing challenges. Of course, I was also able to offer them suggestions on how to get more leads from their website and better their inbound marketing strategy. After recording many of these ideas and common problems marketers are facing on their websites, I am sharing some of the most common issues and ideas with you all.

1) Surface great content across your entire website

A number of marketers that I spoke to had already bought into the content creation dream of inbound marketing, and were regularly producing stellar blog content all the time. Many of them also had decent traffic to their website already, but the blog was slow to take off and bring in new visitors and leads – For every 100 visitors their website received to the homepage, only a handful clicked through to the blog.

The ideal solution here is to promote your blog more effectively across the other popular destinations of your website. Put a listing of 2-3 of your best blog posts on a certain topic on your Product or Services pages, or add an RSS module to your homepage if your CMS software supports it.

That way, people who are browsing other sections of your website have a chance to bump into your latest news & content, and become more engaged or learn something interesting. You can see how Apple effectively does this on their homepage below – Out of 6 items on their homepage, a rotating news feed is below. If Apple had an editorial blog, I’m sure that they would share that content there as well. It’s also worth noting that in the mobile version of, the only two items that show up immediately are the top-placed product listing, and the “hot news” box. Apple must consider this a crucial item to their web presence.

2) Develop many landing pages to test different offers and landing page systems

According to data from my colleague Anne Holland in last week’s post, in 2010 only 35% of marketers could say that they ran conversion testing on their website pages. It’s surprising – Modern CMS tools should include software or functionality to help marketers test their calls to action and content offers and understand which ones are performing best. Even if they don’t, you still try to make this functionality yourself by having your different versions of the page, and then linking to each version from different pages. It’s less scientific than real testing functionality, but in a pinch it will help you do well.

To try this out, develop two similar landing pages – Try changing the color scheme on one page for example, or including a longer form, or a different content offer. Try out just one change to minimize the number of variables, so don’t change all of these things. Then, be very consistent in how you link to each version. For example, link to one version when linking from your blog, and then the different version when linking from your Products section. Watch the conversion rate and traffic generated, and see if there’s a significant difference present or if people respond similarly to your different pages. If you have a marketing automation tool, they may help do this for you as well.

If you’re in the 35% of marketers already doing this kind of testing on your website, try testing out a new factor that you had not tried before. We’ve had some real wins come at HubSpot by trying out changing things that you might overlook at first, such as the color of buttons on your landing page, or changing the page title.

3) Use real marketing analytics to understand different sources of traffic

There are many packages that you can choose from when looking for marketing analytics. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you, but make sure that you have a good way to tie in the success of your work and marketing campaigns to the leads or customers that you generated. Out of everyone that I spoke to at Dreamforce, very few people had a quantifiable way to justify the success of particular marketing campaigns or if particular sources did better than others.

One major mistake that was made to cause this was that they used the same landing page for all their promotion without any way to separate the sources of traffic. As a result, the same landing page was used for email marketing, paid search, and on the website’s blog, and they don’t know at the end which source actually generated the lead. Good marketing analytics platforms can pick apart that issue for you, but they could have also created separate landing pages and used them for particular sources of traffic in a pinch. This kind of knowledge can seem like a common thing to have sometimes, but few marketers are doing it to a degree that helps them understand how to save money.

What challenges does your website face in the modern age of marketing? Are there other tips that you’ve tried to apply besides the above to help confront these issues? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author

Mike Volpe,  Chief Marketing Officer, HubSpotMike Volpe is VP of Inbound Marketing at HubSpot, a marketing software company, where he leads the company’s lead generation and branding strategy through inbound marketing, including blogging, search engine optimization, video marketing, and social media. Since Mike joined HubSpot, the company has grown from 10 to 3,900 customers, from 5 to 200 employees, and raised $33 million of venture capital. Under Mike’s leadership, HubSpot’s marketing has won more than 30 awards and been featured in over 20 marketing and business books. Mike is a cutting-edge B2B inbound marketer who speaks at numerous conferences, hosts a weekly live marketing video podcast called HubSpot TV, is one of the 100 most popular marketers on Twitter, and blogs frequently. Mike holds an MBA from MIT Sloan and a BA from Bowdoin College and appears frequently as a marketing speaker.

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