How to Embrace Agile Marketing with HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe

Posted by in Content Strategy, Digital Marketing, SEO and SEM Strategy

agile marketing graphic

Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer of HubSpot, shares his thoughts on inbound marketing, content iteration, marketing automation and more. Mike leads the company’s lead generation and branding strategy through inbound marketing, including blogging, search engine optimization, video marketing, and social media.

mike-volpeName: Mike Volpe
Title: CMO
Company: HubSpot

What has been the biggest change in the world of marketing measurement over the past few years?

More people are realizing they can measure most marketing efforts and there is more and more interest in making marketing more scientific. I am not sure there has been enough effort at making measurement accessible to the mainstream marketer. Most marketing systems are still too complicated and require too much specialized expertise to implement and use them (except for HubSpot of course… ha!).

If there was one single measurement task, concept, or idea that you think marketers should embrace, what would it be?

I’ll give you two. The first is do more inbound marketing. Second, measure and iterate. You have more and more tools today to measure your marketing. You should not overthink things. So just try something and see if it works or not. Being fast and adaptive beats out careful and planned in today’s fast-paced world.

Why would marketers want to use a marketing automation system?

Marketing automation often makes it easier to send more and more spam to your email list. What marketers should do instead is to figure out how to use inbound marketing to attract more prospects through SEO and social and blogging and then customize the buying experience through personalized interactions on the website, in social media and in email. This is why we built something different than traditional marketing automation at HubSpot.

What do you say to marketers who have concerns about automating what should be custom and personalized interactions with customers?

Only use automation to make interactions better and more personalized. For instance, using technology to enable your website to change based on who is visiting your website is a good use of “automation”. Sending more emails to the list you purchased is not a good use of automation.

How are the terms digital marketing, content marketing and inbound marketing different?

Digital marketing just means on the web, which can include banner ads and spam and crap that annoys people. Content marketing is much better, it is usually less intrusive to attract people to your business using content marketing techniques such as a blog and white papers. Inbound marketing means transforming your marketing to attract people to you and interrupt them less — this includes content marketing but also encompasses free or freemium interactive tools or products (such as Marketing Grader).

Where does content strategy fit into the above mix?

Content strategy is an aspect of inbound marketing. Knowing your customer persona well and creating content that they love is critical to making all this stuff work well.

How do you practice ‘lean marketing’?

We’ve blogged about agile marketing before. We’re fans. We were also profiled in the book Lean Analytics. In today’s world, you need to respond to buyers and market trends quickly. The quarterly or annual campaign cycle does not match with how the world works. We try to come up with a game plan every month and then execute on that, then measure it and then adjust to a better game plan the next month. Then repeat. We iterate toward success more than we do campaign planning toward success.

We’ve seen an increasing amount of overlap in shared disciplines between UX, design, marketing and content strategy recently. What advice would you have to web design firms wanting to build integrated teams with marketing, design and development under one roof?

There is a ton of power in having more integration, it enables you to have fewer silos and have a customer experience that is closer to what the customer wants. It gets hard to do as you grow because you naturally need to break people down into smaller teams for management reasons, but try to organize your company according to the customer personas, not job functions.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to incorporate A/B testing into their website marketing process?

Always be testing. There is no reason you should not just have a test running all the time on your landing pages on your website on your email marketing. Look for a marketing system that has testing built in, not a separate testing system that has to be integrated with your other systems. That will make it easier to test more often.

Tim’s full interview with Mike Volpe is featured in his latest book, Return on Engagement: Content Strategy and Web Design Techniques for Digital Marketing. You can read Mike’s articles at HubSpot and

Tim Frick is the author of four books including, most recently, Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services, from O'Reilly Media. He is @timfrick on Twitter. Mightybytes is a full-service creative firm for conscious companies and a certified B Corporation. Connect with us on Twitter or fill out our contact form.