The lab

Feeling risky? | Volume 20

Subscribe For The Best Insights On B2B Marketing
Free Content

I thought we were over Zoom faux pas and had seen all possible embarrassing headlines. But to my surprise, the best was yet to come – Zoom cat lawyer. 

Something else that has surprised me is Hubspot’s acquisition of The Hustle.  Acquisitions are typical for gaining market share and cost reduction but there is definitely more to unpack here. 

Hubspot is the master of content marketing, so why would they go after an up-and-coming newsletter provider? Well… you’ll have to read on to find out 😉 

Before we get into that, here’s a peek at what’s to come:  

  • Hubspot didn’t only acquire The Hustle, they acquired access to a new niche
  • Remaining risk-averse means closing doors on 2021 marketing opportunities  
  • All things referral — the second scalable growth channel utilized by unicorn companies

Hubspot’s Hustle Acquisition & Why It Makes Sense 🧠

Hubspot is a staple in understanding and embracing the importance of content. 

The original focus for Hubspot was content marketing, but it has expanded since 2006 – rolling out a CRM product, a customer service product and a CMS product. Along with growing their product offerings, their target audience has broadened beyond content marketers.

Today, hubspot.com generates an estimated 360M annual visits, coming from direct, organic, social, and referral traffic.  

Recently Hubspot had experienced a dip in traffic – which may be a reporting error – so moving to acquire a company that has between 5-8M annual site visitors is a genius move to recover from the recent traffic dip and surpass the pre-dip traffic levels. 

The Hustle is estimated to have:

  • Over 500K-2M annual visits to Trends (paid site) per year
  • Over 11K members in various niche FB groups
  • Between 5M and 8M annual site visitors
  • And over 1.5M newsletter subscribers

As mentioned above, Hubspot has begun to go after a broader audience than just marketers, so it should be no surprise that the audience following The Hustle are exactly the people Hubspot is looking to get in front of. 

Hubspot hasn’t simply acquired a company it has acquired: 

  • An audience-trusted brand 
  • A diverse batch of assets, they can leverage to reach their audience 
  • An editorial team to get them in front of audiences that most marketers struggle to reach

Ross goes even further into the “Why?” of Hubspot’s decision and shares his prediction on what this means for companies looking to grow their audience base. Check out Hubspot Acquires The Hustle: Here’s Why It Makes Sense for the whole scoop. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Acquiring niche media companies grants you access to new audiences and a larger support team 
  • Remain cognizant during periods of growth for the new audiences you are looking to reach and how to target them

Take Calculated Marketing Risks In 2021

2020 taught us the importance of adaptation in a very real sink or swim situation. 

This past year, everyone was forced into adapting their strategies, running events online, and tackling working from home.

Now with 2020 behind us, what challenges and trends await us in 2021?

Gartner released their Gartner CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021 earlier this month. This is a survey of 381 marketing leaders covering their plans and predictions for the upcoming year. 

73% of CMOs surveyed stated their focus will be on expanding existing markets for growth. After the ride that was 2020, it isn’t shocking that they are taking a safe approach and removing as much turbulence as possible heading into 2021. 

But will taking a low-risk approach payoff?  

VP Analyst at Gartner, Jay Wilson cautions that “low risk is matched by relatively low return CMOs must take care to ensure that their own strategic approach is matched to the enterprise’s aspirations.”

Focusing on an existing customer base and reinventing strategies is a safe approach, but it may not be as rewarding as one that requires a little more risk. In fact, it can even go wrong when a company changes too much and moves away from what their customers appreciate. 

Augie Ray, Gartner VP Analyst, says it best, “Those who attempt to reinvent too much simultaneously risk failing to do any one thing right while overburdening their teams.” 

With all these warnings raised, what can CMOs do in 2021 to boost marketing ROI? 

1. Be ruthlessly selective

      • Prioritize what will be reinvented, revamped, reduced, or returned to pre-pandemic levels.  
      • Focus on efforts that are most essential in the short term, aligned with the organizational growth plans for 2021, and suited for current capabilities and resources. 

2. Ensure proper documentation and support 

      • To reassure stakeholders and management, make sure to document every decision in reinvention and modifications. Highlight why the decision was made in terms of prioritization and return on investment.

3. Focus on scenario planning 

      • Making tough trade-offs will be imperative this year as resources and budgets have not fully recovered. 
      • Be prepared to lean on your adaptive skills and stay primed for quick changes. As the economic conditions stabilize, it is best to have scenarios planned that ebb and flow with the economic conditions. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Taking minimal risks leads to minimal pay-offs 
  • Strategic focus and project prioritization are in vogue for 2021 
  • Remain prepared & cautious through 2021 while the economy bounces back

Unicorn Companies’ Growth is Accredited to Two Channels: Part Two

Last week we covered how unicorn companies use SEO for scalable growth, and this week we are covering referrals

Disclaimer: these specific strategies are under constant review, A/B testing, and updates.

Referral strategizing is simple: give both the referrer and referred monetary value

From the companies above, the referring and referred parties gain on platform credit. Current platform users are incentivized to share for the reward and the credits are enticing for the newly-referred to test out the platform. 

Providing credit to a referred user is not always necessary as the key here is to generate new leads through referrals. One Uber driver made $90,000 in six months by referring around 200 drivers to the platform. 

MorningBrew offers prizes to users who refer friends to their newsletter – and who doesn’t love merch?

Identifying product-channel fit for referrals

Succeeding in a referral strategy is all about finding the sweet spot between a discount rate that is high enough to incentivize referrers, but low enough so that the effective customer acquisition cost isn’t too high. It needs to balance out. 

Products that have an existing discount rate that is enticing to users, less than user lifetime value, with a low payback period, and priced below paid customer acquisition cost have good referral channel fit. 

Referrals are a great way to gain word of mouth promotion and build a scalable growth channel. 

Key Takeaways

  • Monetary value is not the only referral reward out there
  • Referrals provide incentive for word of mouth marketing efforts
  • Finding the incentivized sweet spot is key to scalable referral growth 

In case you missed it, Part One: SEO


💰  Helping startups afford their stock options, EquityBee has raised $20M to support its stock option marketplace. 

💻  Creatio has rolled out a low-code automation platform with the competitive advantage of being easy to use in automating work in the CRM space. The low-code market is quite lucrative at the moment and Creatio is getting in on the action, raising $68M in investor funding. 

🚚   Focusing on last-mile delivery efficiency, UK company Gophr has succeeded in two million same-day deliveries for B2B companies. This proof has contributed to their success in raising $5.6M in funding. 



When we think of time management we often frame it for productivity and efficiency — trying to get the most done in the least amount of time. 

Brad Aeon, a graduate researcher at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, is focused on reshaping the way we think of time management towards wellbeing, mental health, and supporting a sense of purpose in life. 

“I would define time management as the ability to structure, defend and optimize your time so that your schedule becomes a reflection of your values, beliefs, and philosophy,” 

He goes on to point out that this change needs to happen at an employer level as well as a personal level. 

“A burned-out, stressed-out, anxious workforce will never be productive in the long term. Investing more time in clear communication, shorter work hours, seamless team management tools, and platforms can help employers get more productivity out of their workforce without being time-greedy.”



The four elements of writing style by Julian Shapiro


Pure Heroine by Lorde (Best Track: Tennis Court)

Did you enjoy this post?

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est eopksio laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis istpoe natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque eopsloi

The Best Insights On B2B Marketing

Subscribe today to get access to some of the best content on B2B growth & tech.