How HubSpot Hires Growth Marketers

How HubSpot Hires Growth Marketers

When our VP of Growth at HubSpot, Kieran Flanagan, told me to start recruiting a growth marketer for HubSpot’s new customer service product my gut reaction was:

“Sure, no problem.”

Quickly followed up by:

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

I’d never hired anyone at HubSpot. I knew practically nothing about recruiting.

During my five-month journey of finding someone to join our team, I’ve learned hiring a smart marketer is extremely challenging. While I surely haven’t mastered hiring, I learned a few lessons along the way which I wish I knew when I started.

The #1 lesson I learned during the hiring process is recruiting is shockingly similar to customer acquisition.

My favorite customer acquisition framework is Ramit Sethi’s concept of “Go where the fish are.” You start by identifying what type of fish you want to catch, figure out where those fish are swimming, and then cast your net.

In this post, I’ll walk you through how I altered the “Go where the fish are” customer acquisition concept to apply to our hiring process. Here’s our a 3-step hiring framework that I now use for hiring at HubSpot.

  1. Identify the “fish” you want to catch → identify your ideal candidate.
  2. Go where the fish are → figure out where the most qualified candidates “hang out” online.
  3. Focus on lakes with fish, ignore the rest → Spend all your time recruiting where you get traction with highly-qualified candidates, and ignore recruiting channels that don’t yield the kinds of candidates you’re targeting.

Let’s get started with the first step.

Note: At the end of this article, you’ll find actionable templates we used in the interview process. This includes (1) the exact interview questions we asked, (2) the test assignment we sent candidates, and (3) our “sorry it didn’t work” email template we sent candidates who didn’t get the job.

The Two-Sided Network Effect - How Omni Bootstrapped Marketplace Liquidity

The Two-Sided Network Effect - How Omni Bootstrapped Marketplace Liquidity

Editor's Note: Today we're excited to share an exclusive interview with Ryan Delk, VP of Product and Growth at Omni. Omni is a storage-as-a-service business that recently announced its new marketplace feature, allowing people to make money off of their stuff sitting in storage by renting it.

This is a great piece for anyone looking to understand marketplace growth dynamics better, or for anyone interested in learning what marketplaces can teach other models (Omni started out as a one-sided storage-as-a-service business).

 

Key Growth Lessons:

1. Building a linear business to seed supply-side marketplace challenges can solve the chicken or the egg problem most marketplaces face.

The fundamental challenge of building a marketplace is solving the chicken or the egg conundrum of which comes first. We all know supply is key, but how do you build it if you don't have demand? Building both at the same time is hard!

Omni took a creative approach to solving this problem by building and monetizing their "storage as a service" business first, hitting critical mass, and then layering on the marketplace, seeded with supply from day one.

2. Layering a marketplace on top of an existing business supercharges linear growth and creates a moat around a commodity business. 

Not only does a linear business seed marketplace growth, but marketplace growth in turn feeds the foundational business. It's a self-reinforcing cycle that once spinning is hard to disrupt.

As Omni generates marketplace demand, they are finding that storage customers store more stuff. This supercharges growth.

Retention is Hard, and Getting Harder - Here’s Why

Retention is Hard, and Getting Harder - Here’s Why

If you've been following along in this blog series on retention, you know that retention can make or break your company.

In the first post, The One Growth Metric that Moves Acquisition, Monetization, and Virality,  we dove into how retention can make your company. Specifically, we walked through the 4 ways in which good retention helps you build a competitive advantage by:

  1. Driving acquisition
  2. Improving monetization
  3. Building acquisition muscle
  4. Accelerating payback period

In the second post, Why Retention is the Silent Killer, we revealed how retention, can break your company because:

  1. It requires a long-term view (often multiple years) to understand its impact.
  2. It’s easy to choose the wrong retention metric, which leads teams to focus on the wrong initiatives.  
  3. It requires not just breadth of customer retention, but also depth of engagement to drive sustainable growth.

When we combine these two factors - the power to compound growth and the power to kill it - the importance of retention becomes obvious.

But that’s not the full story. The last thing you need to understand about retention is that it’s hard to improve, and it is getting even harder.

In his blog post Acquisition is Easy, Retention is Hard, Hiten Shah outlines some excellent points on the challenges of retention for SaaS companies. I’d like to expand on his points and walk through how the same issues apply to every tech product.

In this essay, we will examine how 3 market dynamics have created the perfect storm - making retention much harder than it used to be:

  1. Increased competition
  2. Channel fatigue
  3. The rise of monopolies in tech

Then we’ll dig into each of these factors individually to understand more deeply how they affect retention throughout the three stages of the user lifecycle:

  1. Onboarding
  2. Habit formation
  3. Long term retention and engagement

Taking Over the Full Funnel - an Analysis of Google News

Taking Over the Full Funnel - an Analysis of Google News

Recently, Google News announced a suite of product changes aimed at helping paid subscription-based news sites.

In this post, we’ll be looking at different facets of this announcement and their implications for Google News' growth.

Key growth lessons:

1. If you're an aggregator, start with distribution and then leverage the power it affords to build a platform that can own additional parts of the funnel.

Google "took over the world" by building an incredible distribution engine for publishers and an effective discovery engine for consumers. It's continuing to drive growth by transforming that distribution engine into a platform that will allow it to own acquisition, engagement, conversion and monetization for publishers, in addition to discovery.

2. If you're a content producer reliant on one key distribution channel, design your content specifically to fit the channel (and how it makes money), and look for opportunities to create new content formats as your main distribution channel evolves.

Upstart video content creators producing new genres of content such as Let's Play videos and Product Unboxings, were able to build large audiences on the back of YouTube. As Google News evolves into a platform that controls the full funnel, publishers who design their content for the new world of Google News should do very well.

Why Retention Is The Silent Killer

Why Retention Is The Silent Killer

Retention - not only does it make companies - but it also quietly breaks them. For this reason, poor user retention has become the silent startup killer. In this post, I will walk you through the three key ways that companies go wrong when it comes to retention:

  1. They deprioritize retention altogether

  2. They defining their retention metrics incorrectly

  3. They don’t measure engagement

How I Went from Entry Level Sales to SVP Marketing at SurveyMonkey in 8 years

How I Went from Entry Level Sales to SVP Marketing at SurveyMonkey in 8 years

In her early and mid 20s, Ada achieved "hockey stick" growth within her own career, eventually leading growth and marketing as the SVP of Marketing at SurveyMonkey after starting out just 8 years earlier as a new college grad in an entry level sales job at Microsoft.

In this post, Ada shares a few frameworks that anyone can use to trigger a high growth inflection point in their career.

Why the Crypto Multiplier is the Next Secret Weapon in Growth

Why the Crypto Multiplier is the Next Secret Weapon in Growth

Nick Soman is a member of the Reforge Collective (our group of expert speakers who drop their wisdom as part of our Growth Series and Retention & Engagement Series programs) and most recently was growth lead at Gusto.

Nick's superpower is virality and referrals, and his essay is about how crypto can dramatically improve each key metric that contributes to a referral program's success.

The One Growth Metric that Moves Acquisition, Monetization, and Virality

The One Growth Metric that Moves Acquisition, Monetization, and Virality

In 2014, my team and I had been digging into retention for our new HubSpot Sales product. The more we unearthed, the more I realized how critical improving retention was to blowing out the product’s growth story. By May 2015, I was sharing our insights on retention with the wider startup community.

At the same time, high profile startups like Homejoy, Fab.com, and others, that had raised hundreds of millions of dollars and shot to the moon on rocketship acquisition metrics, were bursting into flames and crashing back to earth.

Since that time retention has become one of the hottest topics among growth professionals. It has emerged as the antidote to this boom and bust story line and the common denominator that separates the most valuable companies from the rest of the pack. It’s become the most valuable player in growth - and this is a great thing.

Yet, there’s still a problem - there is a lack of understanding why retention is the priority. Without understanding this, people end up working on the wrong things and missing the biggest opportunities.

Most people think retention is so crucial simply because it means you lose fewer users than you otherwise would. Though this is true, it misses the critical point.

Retention is the core of your growth model and influences every other input to your model. This is important because if you improve retention, you’ll also improve the rest of your funnel.

Improving retention spurs growth in 4 key ways:

  1. Retention drives acquisition
  2. Retention improves monetization
  3. Retention builds an acquisition competitive edge
  4. Retention accelerates payback period

Disney's 60 Year Old Growth Map Answers the Netflix Question

Disney's 60 Year Old Growth Map Answers the Netflix Question

This week, news broke that Disney is in talks to purchase 21st Century Fox. Consolidation of the two entertainment megapowers comes at a strategic time for Disney, who announced back in August that they'll be ending their content partnership with Netflix in 2019. 

In the context of these moves, in this post we look at Disney's answer to the Netflix question.

How to Grow By Stealing Market Share

How to Grow By Stealing Market Share

Competition is inevitable and turns every product, including yours, into a commodity.

In this post, Brianne Kimmel, growth leader at Zendesk and Reforge alum, walks us through the framework she developed for competitive marketing and how she used it to create a growth advantage for Zendesk.

How a Food & Restaurant Unicorn Nails Acquisition, Monetization, and Defensibility

How a Food & Restaurant Unicorn Nails Acquisition, Monetization, and Defensibility

Chinese restaurant ordering giant Meituan-Dianping recently raised $4B at a $30B valuation, making it the 5th most valuable unicorn in the world (and the 3rd most valuable in China).

In this 5-min read, we’ll look at how Meituan-Dianping overcomes growth and monetization challenges faced by peers in the US, including Yelp, Groupon, and others.

1. Reviews are a traffic acquisition engine, while deals monetize.
2. Dominate neighboring verticals, then use that distribution and infrastructure firepower to expand into more distant bets.

How Personalization Drives Retention and Monetization for Stitch Fix

How Personalization Drives Retention and Monetization for Stitch Fix

Subscription e-commerce is a crowded space, with multiple companies competing in the fashion and clothing vertical alone. But, to a customer, what differentiates a subscription clothing box like Stitch Fix (or its dozen competitors), from Amazon Fashion, from Nordstrom?

This post looks at how Stitch Fix has used personalization to drive retention and monetization, paving the path to its upcoming IPO.

How to Detect and Fight Back Against Ad Fatigue

How to Detect and Fight Back Against Ad Fatigue

Every way that a product or company grows has a ceiling. Some ceilings are lower and closer than others.

In this post, Reforge Alum Andrew Krebs Smith looks at audience saturation for paid acquisition — one of the fastest ways to grow, and also one of the fastest ways to hit that ceiling — and presents 8 ways to break through. 

How Cloudflare Laddered Up from Self-Serve to Enterprise SaaS

How Cloudflare Laddered Up from Self-Serve to Enterprise SaaS

Although Cloudflare claims that over 10% of all HTTP traffic passes through its servers, it’s a company that relatively few people have heard about and even fewer truly understand.

This week, we’ll look at how Cloudflare has grown from a self-serve, low-cost developer product into a pre-IPO business that's become an integral part of the Internet in just 7 years.

Where Are You on the Growth Marketer's Hierarchy of Skills?

Where Are You on the Growth Marketer's Hierarchy of Skills?

Hubspot's Scott Tousley shares the internal career progression framework he's used to build competitive skills and a career path on their growth marketing team.

When I joined HubSpot’s growth team in 2014, led by Brian Balfour, I felt wildly unqualified. I had one skill. I (sort of) understood content marketing. That was it.

That’s why, after many hours of deliberating this topic, and fine-tuning feedback from other intelligent growth marketers, I’m happy to share the internal career progression framework we use at HubSpot.

 

TaskRabbit’s pioneering marketplace model & missed growth opportunities

TaskRabbit’s pioneering marketplace model & missed growth opportunities

Last Thursday, furniture giant IKEA announced that it would be acquiring the pioneering on-demand labor marketplace TaskRabbit. While the purchase price was undisclosed, leaked reports indicated that TaskRabbit last raised in 2016 at a valuation of just $40M, a significant down round from its previous $120M raise.

Today, we’ll look at the growth dynamics behind the gig economy, and why some companies flourished while others like TaskRabbit struggled to maintain their foothold.

RealtyShares' Marketplace Efficiencies and Network Effects

RealtyShares' Marketplace Efficiencies and Network Effects

RealtyShares recently announced that it had closed a $28M Series C that the company plans to use to expand its crowdfunding platform to better cater to high net worth individuals and institutions looking to access new tiers of the real estate investment market.

Founded in 2013, RealtyShares connects accredited investors looking to put money into commercial or residential real estate, with real estate developers looking to raise capital. The company says it has 120,000 users on its platform, who have invested $500 million since the company's inception.

3 Key Growth Lessons

1. RealtyShares built supply side density through process-based innovations, which enabled growth and network effects within the marketplace as a whole.

2. By aggregating smaller investments in “18 hour cities,” the company is able to open up new supply that wouldn't otherwise have been profitable or efficient for investors. 

3. Moving upmarket to monetize

Zello's Explosive Growth by Design, and Freemium to Enterprise Ladder

Zello's Explosive Growth by Design, and Freemium to Enterprise Ladder

Two weeks ago, beating out Facebook and Snapchat, Zello became the most downloaded social app in America after becoming the de facto organizer app for the “Cajun Navy” in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

This isn’t the first time Zello has accomplished this feat, though. The app also topped the app stores in Egypt, Venezuela and Ukraine after being used as the main source of political organizing in each of those countries.

While many in America are hearing about Zello for the first time only now, the app has quietly accumulated over 100 million registered users and $10M a year in revenue, all while remaining completely bootstrapped with a staff of 20 people.
 

Dropbox’s Playbook for International Expansion, with ChenLi Wang

Dropbox’s Playbook for International Expansion, with ChenLi Wang

There have been two pillars to growth at Dropbox. The first, Dropbox’ freemium model based on word-of-mouth referrals, is something that most of us have experienced if we count ourselves among the company’s 500 million users. The second driver behind Dropbox’s growth to hit the 500 million user milestone is something that’s less visible many of its core users.

As of this year, 75% of Dropbox’s users are now outside of the U.S. In the past year and a half, Dropbox finalized key distribution partnerships with Softbank, Vodafone, Telmex and other partners that help carry it into new geo-linguistic markets (as well as onto different platforms). 

We recently spoke to ChenLi Wang, who oversaw international expansion as head of the company’s product and business operations teams, about frameworks for international growth, which countries and what timing, deciding on your first international outpost, some unexpected benefits of international, and its biggest risks.  

How an $800M Company Grows through Influencers and Content

How an $800M Company Grows through Influencers and Content

Ipsy is a vertically integrated beauty company, covering all ends of the consumer funnel from discovery through its media properties and creator relationships, to sampling with its monthly subscription beauty bag to commerce through its site and app. The company is valued upward of $800 million based on last year's series B and the growth the business has seen since then. 

Ipsy’s a fascinating case study because the company seeded its growth with influencers and content. When I spoke with Ipsy’s EVP of media and partnerships, Spencer McClung, at a 500 Startups event in Los Angeles, we dug into how Ipsy (which is part of the 500 Startups portfolio) has scaled its influencer-driven content marketing -- and kept it affordable and defensible -- in the hyper competitive space of makeup and beauty.