Jeanne Hopkins of HubSpot: All Leads Are Not Created Equal

Time is very valuable and this is especially true when it comes to small business. In a small business, time is worth its weight in gold. Using your time wisely on matters that will make a difference and aligning business goals is crucial to a small businesses success. Here, Brent Leary joins Jeanne Hopkins of HubSpot to discuss the concept of inbound marketing and wise time management.

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Jeanne Hopkins of HubSpotSmall Business Trends: Why don’t you give us a little bit of your personal background.

Jeanne Hopkins: My background is pretty normal for a marketing person. I started working in the toy business for Milton Bradley company.  Then I went to Lego Systems, and then I moved into the technology space and worked for a couple of big B2B companies. I came to Hub Spot about two and a half years ago.

Small Business Trends: What is inbound marketing?

Jeanne Hopkins: The concept of inbound marketing is based on three principles. The first one is getting found on the Internet using those search terms that people are looking for when they are trying to solve a problem they have.

The middle of the funnel is what we would call conversion, or getting information from people that visit your site. When they fill out a form we consider that a conversion, or if they give you some information, “Here is my email address and I am looking forward to getting an email newsletter from you.” That is a conversion.

The third component is what we call analyze. How many people visited that particular landing page or offer page? How many people converted to a lead, and more importantly, how many people actually became a customer?

Small Business Trends: How successful are small businesses with inbound marketing?

Jeanne Hopkins: I think the biggest challenge for small business is time. But know that companies that blog, even just once a month, have 50% more visitors to their website than companies that don’t.

So that is the fundamental reason why we encourage people to create content that allows you to get found on the Internet.

Small Business Trends: What skill sets are required to be good at the middle of the funnel portion and turn those leads into sales opportunities?Inbound Marketing Concept

Jeanne Hopkins: First of all you want to think about how you are following up on those leads. All leads are not created equal. For example, at HubSpot a demo lead is probably worth 10 or 20 times as much in terms of value to a sales person than a lead for somebody that downloaded a Facebook eBook.

What ends up happening is those Facebook eBook leads might have a high volume, but the sales person does not want to follow up on those particular leads because there is less of a likelihood of success with them.  And sales people want to be successful, right?

Mac MacIntosh, a fantastic B2B speaker, says only 23% of those people searching for solutions actually buy within six months.  But two thirds of the people looking for solutions will still buy.  That is what the whole concept of the middle of the funnel is – to keep those people warmed up. You want your brand, your company, your service to be available to them when they are ready to buy.

Small Business Trends: How do you go about implementing a good foundation for that middle part?

Jeanne Hopkins: I would put together a mind map or a spreadsheet which would have a series of offers to warm people up. For example, when you ask somebody for a demo, it is like asking somebody to get married before you ask them out for a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee is get my email newsletters, the cup of coffee is to get my Facebook eBook.  Getting married is the demo because every person who says, “I want a demo” – they know they will be called by a sales person.

Small Business Trends: What mix do you have to have in place in order to make sure you are successful with your funnel operations?

Jeanne Hopkins: I think the very first step is to talk to the sales organization to be able to get them aligned. You are not in it on your own, and they are not in it on their own. You are hooked together.

The second step is to figure out what works. How did you get to that particular demo phase? How do you get them to that point? Once you have actually mapped it out, you can realize that for every 100 visitors to the website – five actually fill out a form. Of those five that fill out a form, these three people fill out this form, and these two people fill out this form, but the two people that fill out the second form – one of them actually becomes a demo.  And of every other five demos, we get two customers.

That is the kind of data that you want.  You really want to be able to see the flow because you want to make sure that those three people that fill out the form, you see, they never become customers.  So you want to be sure that you are not doing more of that – because you are essentially wasting the sales persons time in terms of closing the deal.

Small Business Trends: Where can people find out more?

Jeanne Hopkins: You can go to We have a lot of free marketing resources. The next place I would say to visit is  It is a free tool that HubSpot offers.  We have 65 different metrics there to see how you work against other companies, how you stack up, it is pretty awesome.

This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.


Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.

14 Reactions
  1. Most companies just need to have an honest discussion about how they would feel if they were the lead. This helps you know when it’s too early to have a sales guy calling (annoy someone early in the funnel and you can kill your chance of getting a sale later) and when you need to make sure you’ve got a knowledgeable person on the phone.

  2. Thanks, Brent. As always, a great interview. Jeanne Hopkins is one of the best and brightest in lead gen marketing. (She’s also the co-author of “Go Mobile” a book we wrote together.)

    I agree with Robert Brady’s comment — knowing when to approach a lead is every bit as important as getting the lead in the first place.

    Thanks for another great interview, Brent. Bravo.

    — Jamie Turner
    Co-Author, Go Mobile

  3. Great interview, Brent! I have spoken with Jeanne briefly on the phone, and it’s nice to get a deeper picture into her thought processes. I really enjoyed it (and the little inbound marketing graphic is helpful, too — thanks for including it).

    – Anita

  4. Thanks Robert and Jamie. I really liked how Jeanne phrased it with respect companies wanting prospects to commit to getting married and haven’t even given them a chance to commit to grabbing a cup of coffee first.

    Good stuff from Jeanne!

  5. “What skill sets are required to be good at the middle of the funnel portion and turn those leads into sales opportunities?”

    This is one of the most specific, useful questions I’ve ever seen about conversion. Nice!