This year on our book list, we've been reading Inbound Marketing (2014) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the Founders of HubSpot. This compact guide was a great easy read over the holidays, never mind the fact that it travels great. Covering the entire spectrum from social media tips to desirable traits when hiring new recruits, the Inbound Marketing book takes the reader through all related networks of the marketing realm.
Our verdict? We loved it.
Founded in 2006, HubSpot has become an industry leader in educating brands both big and small on marketing best practices and trends, while also becoming an authority on distributing marketing certificates. What's not to love about the idea of HubSpot creating a paperback book too?
Shah and Halligan do a great job of simplifying the dichotomy of inbound marketing from beginning to end. The book's simplistic breakdown of complex concepts makes inbound marketing understandable, and an easy enough concept for any reader to grasp. We've drawn out some of the book's most iconic points that left a deep impression on our team, as reasons why you should definitely give this book a read.
Halligan and Shah emphasize the need for a call to action on every web page, not just the landing page. They explain that you need to specifically ask your customers to perform certain tasks. From asking your viewers to share your content, to leaving a comment, to asking if they'd like to subscribe - the HubSpot co-founders advocate for explicitly presenting your viewer with options, rather than leaving things to chance.
HubSpot stays true to its name, in advocating for companies to become hubs for industry content, ideas and conversations. The authors place great emphasis on being involved in your online industry, by joining in specialty communities and engaging in industry debates and forums. This is a unique thought in itself - rather than encouraging companies to squeeze out endless content, they affirm more value in sharing articles from other companies, asking outside writers to feature on your blogs and even writing articles about your own ideas of other articles. The interconnections of a brand's presence online is deemed invaluable, and is a somewhat humbling approach to growth.
The biggest idea continued on throughout the entire book was the concept of remarkable content. The idea was initially inspired by Seth Godin's critique of unique content, which prompts you "ask yourself whether your product or service is worthy of other people's 'remarks'" (Halligan and Shah, p. 17, 2014). The HubSpot co-founders encourage brands to become remarkable by doing something they think they can perform the best at, or specializing their practice until they are the top contender in their offering. The cycle starts with standing out to become remarkable, and after that, your remarkable ideas will spread themselves.
The realness of the authors was refreshing when reading about all the problematic ways company websites can get taken down from Google. Often you hear SEO experts advocating for sporadically inserting keywords, as they emphasize jamming as many keywords as you can into an article , but how many tell you that Google can shut you down for Keyword Stuffing? There was no beautification of the grit and patience required for brand growth. The honesty that increasing your keywords may not even increase your rank in search results is the type of realistic expectations entrepreneurs need to hear.
With daily tasks to do at the end of each chapter, the HubSpot authors share an appealing to-do list for the Type A reader. A Step-by-step call to action at the end of each chapter keeps the reader active in applying their knowledge to real life, rather than just passively reading. If followed to completion, these steps seem like they could be pretty powerful.
Just in case start-up readers were not able to compile the key points themselves, Halligan and Shah created a summary of all the main takeaways at the end of the book. A guide specifically tailored towards entrepreneurs, this portion takes start-up businesses through the entire process of what to consider when starting a brand.
While we get the importance of linking theory back to real-life examples, the Inbound in Action segments were sometimes vague and erred on the side of being promotional. The takeaways from these stories could be hard for readers to draw out, and some may be tempted to skip over what seemed like contractual sponsorship.
We understand that it may be difficult to release a an updated and revised copy yearly, but some of the insights have evolved overtime, especially in the realm of social media. Advertising methods have changed, and platforms like Instagram have become increasingly important in reaching the customers of both big and small companies. While HubSpot offers courses in related fields, perhaps updating the book one more time, or releasing another type of guide will provide more depth into this popular topic.
Overall, Inbound Marketing was full of valuable insight and widgets of creativity. While our team would definitely recommend this, the contents of the book will be relatable to an individual with a basic understanding of introductory marketing. However, this book is absolutely for you if you're starting a new brand, going through a re-brand, or even just a curious mind looking to know more about inbound marketing.