• Causal Engines

Using products as your lead-gen channel: a Hubspot case-study

Whenever a consumer considers purchasing software of any kind whether its a business buying enterprise software or buying a mobile app, that decision represents a “lifestyle” change for the buyer. Consequently, successfully selling that change means overcoming the inertia of either a regular consumer’s actual, everyday lifestyle, or the heavily entrenched workflows of a business. Many times people won’t ever download an app unless it’s free. A great example of this is when businesses buy new payroll software - committing to this change means committing to overhauling the previous payroll workflows that the entire organization was used to.

Overcoming this challenge is where product-led marketing comes in. Anytime a product is used to draw customers in, that’s product-led marketing. But this can come in more forms than just free trials or demos. Hubspot for instance, which sells CRM, inbound marketing and other software, creates many products for simply capturing customers early in the lifecycle. Their free website grader allows anyone to see how fast, search engine optimized, or even secure their websites are with just a URL and an email address. This product targets Hubspot’s customers - small businesses - and provides a low-commitment way for users to become familiar with Hubspot, and more importantly, helps Hubspot create mindshare which ultimately makes purchasing Hubspot less intimidating.

Importantly, it also allows Hubspot’s sales teams free leads via all of the emails they collect through the website grader. Free courses, blog posts (see image), and other such content fulfill a similar goal - drawing potential customers into proximity with a company’s products, and decreasing organizational activation energy by integrating services and products into the customer’s workflows.

These free products are part of a larger strategy of inbound marketing - something Hubspot helped pioneer, and has benefitted intensely from, reaching revenues of over $500 million 2019. Hubspot serves as a powerful lesson when selling anything over the internet - it is an intensely competitive marketplace where customers have significant freedom. Letting customers familiarize themselves with your company through offering a product early in the customer lifecycle before actually committing to a purchase allows you to step in front of the competition, and ultimately lead to further success.

We would like to thank Leo Mirani at Quartz and Morgan Brown at GrowthHacker for their inspiration.

This article is a collaboration between Archit Bhise and Alex Li