Review of Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Book

I first read Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) book about six months ago.  It’s an easy read and well organized, but it doesn’t go very deep into anything. For example, if you’re looking to figure out how to build a following on Twitter, which seems like a pretty important topic to cover in a Social Media book, you’ll only find two paragraphs on that, which can be summed up quickly as:

  • Paragraph 1: People can follow you on Twitter.
  • Paragraph 2: Use our Twitter Grader to see how you’re doing.

But this isn’t really a how-to book.  I think that it’s meant to inspire you to get involved in social media by:

  1. Convincing you that social media presents an enormous opportunity.
  2. Making you feel that this whole social media thing is doable.

And I think it does a good job of meeting those goals. Their ultimate goal, of course, is to get you to buy their services. Fair enough. That’s why most business books are written.

Chapter-by-Chapter Review

Chapter 1: Shopping has Changed … Has your Marketing?

Covers how buying has changed. People are better at filtering traditional advertising like TV ads and junk mail and they use tools (e.g, TiVo) to do so.

Because you can no longer push your ads out to people, your company needs to be findable in search engines, in the blogosphere and on social media sites.

The only part I don’t like about this chapter is the reference to Obama’s social media campaign, which as every one knows was fantastic.  I just don’t see how that relates to business.

Chapter 2: Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?

The message in this chapter is to engage your site visitors. Your website should not talk at them, it should talk with them. I buy this. If you have the time and money to engage with your site visitors, it can be a good thing. But, if you’ve ever tried it, you know that it can be a time sink and it’s hard to do right.

Chapter 3: Are You Worthy?

This is a good chapter. The premise is that you must have something really exciting to talk about if you’re going to get any attention in the social media world.  You can’t just sell what everyone else sells in the same way that everyone sells it. If you do, nobody is going to talk about your product. Using my company as an example…

  1. We sell ASP.NET training. Well, so do a lot of other companies.
  2. But we’re certified by Microsoft to sell ASP.NET training.  Well, so are a lot of other companies.
  3. But we deliver our certified ASP.NET class with a live certified instructor every month over the web AND we don’t cancel class based on low enrollment AND we give a full money-back guarantee. I don’t think any other training company can say that.

And I think it makes us worthy. I also think it’s a better example than the one used in the book. Their example of a company that produced remarkable content is the  Grateful Dead! That’s like showing my kid a YouTube video of Michael Phelps and saying “Swim that way.”

Chapter 4: Create Remarkable Content

There is a play on words here.  You’re supposed to create content about which others will remark. And if you’re lucky, their remarks will come in the form of links, which help with SEO.

This makes perfect sense and the chapter explains it well. Good content results in more visitors, which hopefully turns into more sales.

But again, a not-so-helpful example: Wikipedia. Sure, it has incredible content and it’s brilliantly successful, but how does it relate to your business?

Chapter 5: Get Found in the Blogosphere

This is my favorite chapter in the book. It provides great examples of good blog post titles and a great example of a real company (Whole Foods) that has done well (presumably) using social media and blogging.  This chapter alone makes it worth buying the book.

Chapter 6: Getting Found in Google

This provides a good overview of how Google works. It felt a little misplaced in the book, which I think is more about generating interesting content than it is about SEO (though, of course one plays into the other). If you’re new to SEO, it’s worth the read.

Chapter 7: Get Found in Social Media

My second favorite chapter. Also worth the price of the book. This is the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, etc. chapter. It introduces you to all the biggest social media sites and provides a great to-do list at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 8: Convert Visitors into Leads

Summary: Have compelling and visible calls to action on your website. Simple but solid advice.

Chapter 9: Convert Prospects into Leads

This chapter covers landing pages (e.g, from an email newsletter) and form design. Definitely worth the read.

Chapter 10: Convert Leads to Customers

Hubspot has a product that helps you grade and develop your leads and I think this chapter is meant to whet your appetite.

Chapter 11: Make Better Marketing Decisions

While the chapter title is catchy, the content is a little weak. I’d recommend skipping it except that it’s only 5 pages.

Chapter 12: Picking and Measuring Your People

This is a good chapter to make you think. Who should you hire to do your social marketing? Is it better to hire the “Digital Citizen” who grew up on Facebook, but doesn’t have a lot of business experience or is it better to hire experienced business people and try to get them up to speed on social media. I think the authors would argue the former. Personally, I’m betting on the latter.

While we have brought on some “digital citizens” recently, it wasn’t because of their familiarity with social media. We’ve made a bigger investment in more than a half dozen very experienced and exceptionally talented trainers who will be responsible for doing some blogging and tweeting and such. I’m betting that they’re great at it. These are people who have plenty of “remarkable” knowledge and experience. They may not create the cool music videos that Hubspot’s people can, but they can teach you a lot about web development and Adobe and Microsoft products.

My advice: don’t be too quick to replace an expert business person with some new college grad just because the latter has 5000 friends on Facebook.

Chapter 13: Picking and Measuring a PR Agency

I don’t know if this chapter is valuable or not, but any company would be lucky to get the amount of PR from their PR agency that FutureWorks must have gotten from being in this book.

Chapter 14: Watching Your Competition

Good advice and some good pointers on how to watch your behind.

Chapter 15: On Commitment, Patience and Learning

Summary: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Chapter 16: Why Now?

Summary: The world is changing. Adapt or die.

Conclusion

The biggest shortcoming of this social media book is the lack of actual examples of businesses making money using social media.  But almost every book and article I’ve read on social media has the same shortcoming.  Is anyone making money using social media? And I don’t mean companies like Hubspot that make money selling other companies on the benefits of social media, but actual companies that have been around for awhile and will still be around when the hype dies down.

I believe there is a prize to be had in the social media world and this book does a good job of making you feel like you can win it.  It is sort of like going to see an inspirational speaker.  You walk out thinking “Awesome!  That’s going to change my life!”  And then when someone asks you what he said, all you can come up with is “he said to spend more time doing things that are important to me.” Well, yeah, that makes sense. How much did he charge you for that?

After reading this book, you’ll want to tackle this whole social media thing, but you’re still left wondering how and you’re hard pressed to explain why. Still, for $16.47 and a few hours of pleasurable reading, I think it’s well worth it. Whether or not you buy into the hype of social media, you should know what the hype is about.

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