B2B Marketing Blog

Why B2B event businesses and media organisations fail with HubSpot

It is a fact, there are event and media organisations that are having a difficult time with HubSpot and think that "HubSpot does not work, and that inbound marketing is a big scam".

After running more than 50 inbound and content marketing implementations in events and media, most of them with HubSpot, we have looked at a variety of factors as to why it works for some companies and not for others?

These are the reasons WHY:

1. Not following through with training and support

Normal onboarding projects will include between 3 - 6 training sessions to get you going. However this is only the beginning. Event organisers fail to continue training or requiring users of the tool to get certified.

Why is this so important? The certification process requires the user to:

  • Attend / Listen / Read training sessions on key aspects of inbound and how the HubSpot will enable you to execute and deliver inbound marketing campaigns
  • Execute practical activities related to the training
  • Undergo a test that requires a minimum pass rate.

All HubSpot certifications and courses are free and here is your link: https://academy.hubspot.com/courses?page=1#certsOnly=true;

Fail safe actions:

  • Nominate at least 1 super user in the business for all things HubSpot
  • Require that most users have at least 2 certifications: HubSpot's Software certification and Inbound Marketing certification
  • Use the certifications as means to promote, motivate and reward your team members. Most of our customers incorporate these into their performance and reward schemes


2. Rushing everyone in

By the time you purchase your HubSpot license, all stakeholders are pretty much keen and ready to get started as soon as possible.

While it is great to get everyone onboard quickly and start having results soon, it's not a recipe for success.

Fail safe actions:

  • Think big start small - Regardless of the size of your business, start with one campaign / one division / one product line / one event / one publication
  • Aim for the quick wins, then replicate
  • Make mistakes (small scale), learn, adjust, iterate


3. Using the wrong strategy and approach

There are plenty of inbound agencies (they actually win awards) and marketers out there that are very good at inbound and content, but they struggle to understand the dynamics of the events and media industry.

There are really good event marketing agencies, freelancers, and marketers (and lead generation cowboys) that know the events industry very well. They are pretty amazing at marketing events, but give them a tool like HubSpot or ask them to implement inbound and they struggle.

Inbound marketing is not rocket science, in fact it's pretty straight forward, but it is not easy to execute.

Let's be honest, our industry is pretty old school and for the last 20 years the tactics to market an event or a magazine/news product has not changed much. Therefore changing the approach in one go will not work, in fact response rates will literally drop! Organisations need to find a middle ground a "best-of-both-worlds" approach.

Fail safe actions:


4. Messy and dodgy data

9 out of 10 of the event and media businesses that we have worked with, don't have a clear way to segment or distinguish different groups within their database. Data weirdly enough sits everywhere, and to this day many in excel sheets.

This creates a lot of problems, delays, friction within internal teams and headaches for everyone. Have you heard of the saying "garbage in - garbage out"

Fail safe actions:

  • Don't put dodgy data in your HubSpot account
  • Clean your database beforehand
  • Create a database protocol / Database schema that will allow your database to be organised
  • Use HubSpot as your clean data hub


5. Using HubSpot as a spamming tool

The idea of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Crazy as it sounds, this is where you will end up if you simply want to do the same thing that you have been doing for a very long time with your Mailchimp (or equivalent) system. HubSpot is not only an email marketing platform, it is much more than that.

Be mindful as:

a) HubSpot will only allow you to email 10 times the number of contacts in your database, therefore spammers will pay over the odds. you are better off staying with your current email service provider

b) HubSpot gets very funny with spammers and will put a lot of hurdles in your way to do so.

Fail safe actions:

  • Use HubSpot as your clean data hub
  • Keep your email marketing platform for your "outbound emails" (who said spam?)


6. Thinking that HubSpot will solve your problems

HubSpot is only a tool, if you are facing declining attendee numbers, low subscription rates or a decline in leads and traffic, signing onto HubSpot will not be the magical solution. In fact it can only aggravate the issues.

Fail safe actions:

  • Understand the financial and resource implications of driving an inbound marketing campaign
  • Have a content strategy or inbound marketing strategy in place
  • Follow a process


7. Thinking you and your team can do it yourselves with no extra support

Let's be honest, this thing takes time, effort and financial commitment. So if you are not prepared to build a team with the resources they need or hire an agency that can do it for you, you may as well stay as you are.

Fail safe actions:

  • Hire experienced team members or hire an experienced agency (at least at the beginning)
  • Devote a full time member of staff to your project
  • Support your staff members with training, structure, strategy


8. Expecting results too soon

Inbound Marketing is not a race, it's a marathon. It will take at least 1 month to onboard and it then about the same amount of time to start adding the fuel it needs. If you're in this for short term, quick wins then you will be disappointed.

Fail safe actions:

  • Expect initial results by month 3
  • Best you set tangible targets and kpis by month 6
  • Do not expect to see results for an event taking place in the next quarter. Think about next years' event

9. Failing to gain data insight immediately

Ensure that you are tracking visitor numbers, insight into the leads you generate, but more importantly that you are able to understand where your sales are coming from. The biggest selling points for using a tool like HubSpot is gaining the full customer view and gaining insight on how they engage and interact with you. This is what senior management wants to see almost immediately, and they have a point.

Fail safe actions:

  • Install all tracking codes on all your websites and any other third party systems you are using (a.k.a. registration and subscriptions management systems)
  • If you run multiple websites for your events, the tracking code needs to be present
  • Set your reporting first, focus on the execution second


10. Adding all of your Database into HubSpot


If you have a massive database, it is likely that most of it is non-responsive. So changing marketing platforms and CRM platforms is always a good opportunity to get rid of people and companies that have not been responding to your communications. HubSpot works wonders with clean and engaged contacts.

Fail safe actions:

  • Start with your customers, key prospects and engaged data
  • Have a transitionary period where you continue with your outbound plans and direct contacts to take action in HubSpot
  • Run a re-engagement campaign with all your contacts on your database, add all responses to HubSpot. Use the rest of data to create sample audiences and for remarketing purposes


11. Not having internal champions or super users

Someone in your business needs to be the go to person for HubSpot, I mean officially (as in written in their job description!) They will need to be responsible for onboarding new members of the team, troubleshooting, building things in it and corresponding with customer services and technical support teams at HubSpot. If the person is no longer in the business, then name someone else and get them trained.

This will save you money on consultants, third parties etc.

Fail safe actions:

12. Focusing too much on email

HubSpot is not an email marketing platform. Yes, it has a really good email marketing kit, but it is not your mailchimp or equivalent. 

Focusing solely on deploying your email marketing campaigns through HubSpot, will prevent you from leveraging the other tools at your fingertips to run ads on facebook and adwords, deploy robust social media campaigns, engage with people on social media, build workflows and use the data insight to drive more sales.

Fail safe actions:

  • Hook all of your social media channels and your ad accounts to HubSpot
  • Start running all your social media amplification from HubSpot
  • Remember why you are using a tool like HubSpot in the first place.  To transform the way you do your marketing right?

13. Thinking that you have unlimited email sends with HubSpot

All HubSpot accounts are allowed 10x number of email sends per month. This means that if your DB is 20,000 contacts, you can send up to 200,000 emails per month. If you go over the contacts or email limit outlined in your subscription contract, your fees may increase to accommodate this overage. 

HubSpot's theory is that:

a) In normal circumstances businesses will not email their entire DB 10 times per month. Errrrrmm, not if you are in media and events!!

b) HubSpot does not want spammers as customers. No problem here, who said event people and media businesses spam? ;-)

Fail safe actions:

  • Keep track of your email sends on a monthly basis
  • Do not spam
  • You might need to use a separate email sending domain within HubSpot or use a more efficient service for your daily newsletters
  • Have a buffer in your account to allow any extra emailing quotas


14. Started using shortcuts

Inbound marketing is a methodology - you must follow every single step, otherwise it will not work.

Inbound Marketing is built on these key pillars:

a) Buyer personas - If you think "you know your customers", I won't dispute that, but you'd be surprised how much some of your team members don't, and how much others know that you were not aware of. This is crucial.

b) Publishing content consistently - If it is not consistent, SEO optimised, worthy of reading, valuable for your buyer personas, you will fail.

c) Lead generation / engagement - The effort of attracting visitors to your website will be wasted if you are not creating opportunities for your prospects to engage with you, you will fail.

d) Amplifying your content - your content will not promote itself, (well, it kind of will through SEO but this will take time) so you will need to amplify it through your different channels, like email, social media, small networks etc. This takes time and effort, it is a must, otherwise you will fail

Fail safe action:

  • Don't use shortcuts

15. You didn't build a team

Inbound requires effort and marketing muscle. This means that if you are expecting that the extra work will be absorbed by existing members of the team, you are wrong and you will crash very soon.

Fail safe options

  • Do nothing! Don't do it! Best you continue doing the same thing if you are not prepared to invest
  • Build a team, give them the resources they need
  • If you can't build a team, outsource one!


16. Not doing automation with an automation platform

Reinforcing item 12 "focusing too much on email", there are tools within HubSpot that will make your life easier in the long run, not in the short them. It is not about sending automatic notifications after a form is submitted.

I am talking about lead scoring, using workflows to tag/clean and organise your database, resurfacing leads for your sales teams so they are focusing on the right leads at the right times etc.

Fail safe options

  • Explore the rest of the tool set from the platform
  • Set up your lead scoring immediately
  • Use HubSpot Chrome plug-ins for all users especially sales
  • Invest in your staff training


In conclusion:

Signing up to HubSpot is not going to magically improve your marketing, increase your subscriptions, generate more attendees and grow your business.

HubSpot is an enabling tool to run full inbound marketing campaigns and content marketing campaigns the end result depends on how good and efficient you run those campaigns.

Inbound Marketing is like the Formula 1.

HubSpot is your car/engine; your marketing team are the pilot and the guys talking to the pilot on the radio; your content/inbound strategy is your race plan / fine tuning of the engine / tyres; blogs and actual content pieces is the fuel.

Having a Ferrari gives you an edge, but on its own it will not will the championship.

Are you in a position right now where you think HubSpot is not working for you? or do you want to ensure you have a full kit to help you drive inbound marketing for your event or media business?

Get your personalised Inbound Marketing ROI forecasting plan 

Topics: Event Marketing Inbound Marketing B2B Event Marketing