Last updated on November 9, 2023

Justin Butlion
January 22nd, 2014 | 3 minutes read
Table Of Contents

Here at Yotpo, we are big fans of HubSpot and were stoked when we got the chance to pick the brain of our friend Sam Mallikarjunan.

Sam’s currently the Head of Growth at Hubspot (and was previously Head of eCommerce Marketing), so we knew he’d have quite a lot to say about how inbound marketing factors in to the future of eCommerce.

What’s your number one tip for how online stores can improve their inbound marketing? 

Engage in a deep, painful, detailed introspective study of your customers and what they’re actually using you for.

Use inbound marketing at the top of the funnel to build an audience of engaged and relevant consumers, use pre-transactional conversions to learn about them, and focus heavily on creating an experience that adds value with every touch.

Even if they don’t give you money, you’re asking for value when you ask for time and attention in today’s crowded market space, so make sure that you’re offering something of value in exchange for that attention.

This applies for prospects that aren’t yet customers, but equally so for customers who need can buy from you again and again.

If you’re Starbucks, you’re not trying to sell a $5.90 cup of coffee you’re trying to attract and retain a $14k customer (that’s their average customer lifetime value).

That minute shift in how you examine the economics of your business — putting the customer at the center of everything in financial fact and not just saying it to feel warm and fuzzy — will inherently guide you towards creating an effective inbound experience that drives measurable growth and revenue.

Inbound marketing is all about touching individuals and bringing them into your little world. Do you agree with this statement?

To an extent. Inbound marketing refocuses the entire company around the customer. The customer is the unit of economic value that you’re solving for (customer life time value) instead of solving for transactions.

It’s about creating an end-to-end experience that adds value before it asks for it and creates a relationship with the customer that becomes more valuable to the customer over time.

This may be educational content (the most common form at the top of the funnel) or useful tools, cool user interfaces, etc.

What major trends do you see in the eCommerce space in the near future?

Price competition is dying off (finally) as the sole foundation for eCommerce strategy.

The concept of pre-transactional contacts, or leads,  as a method of learning about your customers and building a robust and customized experience before the sale is gaining rapid adoption.

Also, the post- transactional relationship is getting more attention.

If you’re an ecommerce business, you need to get beyond solving for naked revenue figures and solving for the transaction and start solving for the individual customer as your unit of economic value.

Sometimes this involves adding additional products you can cross-sell, but more often we have a good catalog of products but do a poor job of treating our customer contacts as discrete cohorts that have independent pain points.

Most eCommerce marketers are still blasting their entire list with a coupon three times a week and calling that marketing — that has to stop.

If we treat all customers the same, customers will treat all retailers the same and the only differentiation left is price (which is a battle, again, that we just can’t keep fighting).

What are some of your favorite inbound marketing tools and why?

There’s no way to answer this without sounding shamelessly self-promotional :)