[This post originally appeared on the Percolate Content Marketing Blog]
Over the summer of 2013, David Byttow, a former Google software developer, started building a mobile app to solve a problem he had. Byttow noticed he and the engineers he worked with were bad at giving each other feedback, and he wanted a way they could comment honestly on each other’s work without professional or personal backlash for saying something negative. Byttow wanted a way to tell the truth, without revealing who said it.
Eight months later, the most talked about content at SXSW 2014 wasn’t a flashy new tech launch, sharing economy roll-out or big-budget event activation: it was a SXSW feed from Byttow and co-founder Chrys Bader‘s two month old app, Secret, that aggregated and shared honest, anonymous feedback about the conference. The feed, coming on the back of Secret’s $10 million fundraising announcement, caused the app to jump more than 500 spots in the Apple app store rankings over the weekend, making Secret one of the fifty most downloaded social media apps, ahead of Foursquare and Facebook’s new Paper.
By itself, Secret is a noteworthy example of product design and community-building in an identity-conscious, mobile feature-unbundling world. But Secret isn’t alone. Its largest competitor Whisper also just raised venture funding, another addition to a Snapchat-led ecosystem of apps that help users create, share and consume content that’s genuine, unedited and in the moment. In fact, I see Secret, Whisper and Snapchat as part of a larger content and cultural trend centered around a key brand pillar: honesty. Continue reading
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported marketing software company Hubspot has started IPO discussions with Morgan Stanley after achieving 50% year-over-year revenue growth in 2013 to $77 million. As most already know, Hubspot’s central offering is a suite of software that helps companies manage their inbound marketing, a strategy focused on creating quality content to pull people toward your company’s website and products.
At its core, inbound marketing is a structured marriage between content marketing and analytics, centered around an owned content hub: your brand’s website. Hubspot’s own value creation in this space has come from providing agencies and brands — primarily SMBs — with a system of record for website-based marketing content to drive business leads. Although Hubspot and similar SaaS vendors like Marketo are often designated “marketing automation” software, their true focus is about influencing the customer lifecycle with content, then tracking their progress from prospect to customer.
To me, Hubspot’s recent success — and their decision to now go public — highlights three important trends currently happening in marketing, ones that will have significant influence on what inbound becomes.
1. The marketing funnel now extends well beyond the website. Originally, inbound was a marketing system with the website (and its blog) at the center. But several of Hubspot’s recent product releases — in particular social inbox — tie into a broader theme that social (largely due to mobile) has massively broadened the outer reaches of the marketing funnel. Buyers don’t contact brands until the majority of their purchasing decision process is already complete, and 78% of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by social. Social platforms are the first place buyers learn about and interact with brands, and its not an owned part of the funnel. The shape and size of the content marketing landscape is changing, and it’s driven by social.