Beta Testing HubSpot's Latest Digital Marketing Tools

By Brad Harris - December 07, 2016

HubSpot began as a competitive marketing platform, but has grown into a fierce growth-hacking software solution adapted for all content marketing services. That's why we jumped for the chance of being one of their selected BETA features users - to test out innovation in the making, and foresee what our clients will soon be able to experience. 

While strategising go-to-market plans for venture-backed startups, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah began to take note of a change in the winds. "Customers had gotten really good at blocking out interruptive marketing and sales tactics", they say. "The tried and true tactics of old (direct mail, email blasts, cold calls) simply weren’t effective anymore." While this revelation was happening, Dharmesh’s OnStartups blog was seeing ridiculous traffic figures. The question was raised: How had he generated more traffic with far less budget than companies with professional marketing teams? The answer was simple.

People don’t want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople. They want to be helped.

That observation caused another revelation to take place: marketing and sales needed to be more human. It had come the time for us marketers to treat buyers like people. Real people. It had come the time to grow an inbound community. That's just how HubSpot began, and now they've grown into an enormous inbound marketing and sales enablement machine. A machine that's innovating new features each year for their clients. 

All images are credit of HubSpot: Workflows, Lead Flows, Data Export.

The Top Three HubSpot Beta Features

1. Workflows editor

Marketing automation is the differentiator of businesses in our digital era. In fact, a successful Inbound strategy and marketing automation go hand in hand. That's why we were giddy at the sight of this HubSpot upgrade.

Workflows are complex beasts. One flow branches off into two, and then three or four, and six, eight, twenty... you get the picture. It's a lot of stuff to keep track of. One change might influence the entire workflow, and so it's vital that you have a constant overview of what you're working on. Something that's easily understandable. Enter, HubSpot's refreshed visual interface for workflows.

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This fantastic update allows you to have a clear overview of your workflows in real-time, as you build.Of all HubSpot's new digital marketing tools, this one has got us weak at the knees.

2. Marketing and sales data exporting tools

Analytics are the beating heart of digital marketing. If you can't measure your strategies and judge their results, how would you ever improve?

Boom! HubSpot went and made sure your analytics and reporting are going to be a step easier. In BETA, you're now able to export your Marketing Dashboard, or any Reporting Add-On Dashboard, as beautiful visuals in PDF, PPT, or ZIP formats.

Step 1: You'll find the option on the top right of your dashboard screen, labelled "Export".

Step 2: Now you can choose how you want to export this file, and to where (HubSpot currently requires the file to be emailed to you, not downloaded directly).

Step 3: You're gifted with a wonderfully visual export of your chosen marketing or sales data for use in presentations (which the ability to export in .PPT format makes very simple). 

Why does this make our top three? Because marketing and sales reports are perhaps the most important factor in optimising business's growth strategy. This means that reports need to be accesible to everyone, easily understood, and quickly generated. This HubSpot beta feature allows you to have just that - at the click of a button, your marketing and sales performance can be right beneath your CEO's nose.

3. Lead flows

Lead flows are the second freshest beta feature update from HubSpot. Essentially, lead flows allow you to now create pop-up forms. 

Many questions "pop up" when we saw this new feature. Can pop-ups really be effectively used in an inbound strategy? Thankfully, HubSpot foresaw these questions arising, and answered it by stating that:

It really depends on the intention and execution - but non-interruptive or annoying pop-ups can be inbound, and the data proves they work. AWeber found that using a pop-up form for obtaining blog subscribers converted 1375% better than a traditional form. - HubSpot

These lead flows, or pop-ups, can be inserted on any page. However, their functionality in this beta feature is still quite limited (with regards to targeting and design). If you want to try it out, head on over to the "Products & Add-on" screen, and then activate "Lead Flows" for your account. Once this has been approved, you'll find "Lead Flows" displayed under the "Content" menu.

From here, you'll see the following screen, and you can choose what kind of pop up/lead flow you'd like to create. 

You can then create and customise your pop up form to capture details from your users (which are linked to a list for use in workflows). 

You can see a live version of this kind of lead flow on our About Us page. If you stay on the page for 7 seconds (currently the minimum amount of time for a pop up to appear in HubSpot's lead flow customisations), you'll see our little orange box jump out and say hello.

4. Topic cluster Tool

Now, the new kid on the block is a new method of conceptualising and strategising your content marketing. It's the topical cluster tool and it looks like this. 

Found as a child menu item called "Strategy - BETA" under the parent "Content" menu in HubSpot, this tool is all kinds of cool. 

Take-away point: Topic > Keyword. Let me explain. 

You can use this tool to own a topic - simply being clever about keywords isn't all that useful for Google rankings anymore... search engines want to know that you "own a topic". In other words, that you're the absolutely best resource for their users on a specific topic, not a specific keyword. In this instance, I've decided to investigate "HubSpot" as a topic. 

As soon as I enter my main topic, the tool suggests quality sub-topics for me to use (or not use). When I select these, it creates a mind-map around my central topic of different search terms that users might be interested in. 

You can even click on each chosen sub-topic to investigate it more, and see its competitiveness, popularity and relevancy percentages.

Only from here do we begin to look for our specialised keywords, which will support each sub-topic. This means we have a hierarchy of keywords: Topic > Sub-topic > Supporting Keyword. They all feed back to tell the search engine that you're an in-depth resource on this topic, and that users can find any variation of this topic within your domain's pages. 

This leaves you with a much fuller idea of your content marketing strategy going forward. Word has it that there's even a superb analytics feature attached to this coming out soon. 

Bonus tip: What will we be seeing next?

We’re lucky enough to be one of only 20 customers on the new HubSpot CRM beta. It came fitted with an entirely new UI, making space for some major improvements that are highlighted by their newly introduced pastel colour pallette. Watching the HubSpot CRM user interface change like this makes us suspect that what's happening to the workflow editor might just be the beginning of an entirely new revamp of all of HubSpot's digital marketing tools. Stay tuned for more from us on this.

If you'd like to know how inbound marketing and digital marketing tools can be used to differentiate your business, download our eBook to help get you started. Or, if you want to know more about how we can aid you in making the most of HubSpot's features, simply get in touch

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