HubSpot was founded in 2006, so we're a relatively small startup company. One issue I have been pondering recently is the HubSpot brand, and how much (or little) we had grown the brand in the past year or so.
One piece of brand-related data that I track is the number of people each month that find us by searching on "HubSpot" in search engines. This number has increased dramatically each month, so clearly more and more people are going to search engines to find information about HubSpot.
But that brand statistic does not tell me how I am doing building the HubSpot brand as compared to other marketing software companies. The question I wanted to answer is "How does HubSpot stack up to other companies that also sell Marketing software?" Most of these companies are not really competitors to HubSpot (they generally sell much more complicated and expensive products aimed at large enterprises) but they are a good proxy for HubSpot's position in the broad market for "marketing software". Here is how I tried to answer this question - I decided to get some search volume data for different companies.
How to Compare Different Brands Using Search Volume
Launch a Google AdWords campaign. Take the list of company or product names from the market in which you are interested, and use those as the keywords for your AdWords campaign. Need more info about how to launch a Google AdWords campaign? Read this article about How to Launch a Google AdWords Campaign for more info.
Make sure to have a high bid per click. You want to have your ad displayed in the top couple results so you are shown as close as possible to 100% of the time. If your ad is not shown all the time, your data will not be accurate.
Set a large daily budget. You don't want Google to decide how often to run your ads based on your budget, you want your ads to be shown as close to 100% of the time as possible. Use the Traffic Estimator in Google AdWords to make sure that your budget is not limiting the number of impressions you are receiving.
Let the campaign run for 3-5 business days. You want to get a few days worth of data so that any daily noise in searches is minimized. Also, try to run the campaign when there are no major announcements or news from any one company happening in your market.
Stop the campaign, check the impressions data. Go into the details of your campaign, and look at the keyword detail, then look at the number of impressions by keyword. You don't care about click through rate (CTR) or the number or cost of clicks. As long as your ads are shown the vast majority of the time for each keyword, you now have an inventory of the number of searches for each company brand over the life of your campaign. You can now rank and compare all the companies or brands in your market. Here's the table I created of marketing software companies.
Market to Lead
After seeing this, I felt pretty good. The companies ahead of us are much larger and older companies, and the sell to very big enterprises and can spend a lot more on marketing. Most of the companies below us are smaller startups, but even a lot of them have been around alot longer than HubSpot.
I was also thinking that as a potential customer of one of these companies, especially the smaller ones, I might want to get a sense of the market traction for each company as a way of telling if they would be around in a year or more from now. In addition to picking software, you are also picking a long term partner, since you want your marketing software vendor to be growing, allowing them to have more and more revenue to increase their spending on R&D so they can continue to invest heavily in the product you are using. As a potential customer, this would make me feel good about HubSpot, since the data indicates HubSpot is one of the top growing marketing software companies.
The whole campaign cost me under $100. A small price to pay for some pretty interesting data. In your market, you might have to pay more, but for most small comanies, especially B2B companies, it will probably not be that expensive.
Have you done this type of analysis for your market? What did you learn?
Originally published May 22, 2008 10:36:00 AM, updated March 21 2013