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The Women of Inbound Marketing: Part 1 with Hubspot's Karen Rubin

February 14, 2011
BostInnovation
by Sean Zinsmeister

This week we’re happy to bring you our 4th installment of the Boston’s New Marketing Superstars series.  In this latest mini-series we talked to two of the top leading women of Inbound Marketing over at Hubspot: Karen Rubin, Product Owner and HubSpot TV Co-host and Rebecca Corliss, Internet Marketing Manager and founder of Inbound Marketing University.  Part 1 will feature Karen Rubin and how her technical background lead her to link up with today’s thought leaders in inbound marketing practices over at HubSpot, as well as a weekly video gig with Mike Volpe.

It all started at Trinity College where Karen received her degree in Programming and Computer Science.  She only had to spend one summer sitting behind a desk programming to realize, this is not the job for me.  After coming to this realization Karen spent her time trying to figure out what it was she wanted to do.  At first, she fell into the investment banking trap directly after college.  “This was decidedly NOT where I should be,” Karen explained.  She left the job at the investment bank after only 10 months, and once again began the search for what’s next.  It was then that Karen learned about a field called Project Management, which would allow her to combine her technical skills with her business skills.  She would be able to work with developers to help solve problems, keep projects on track, and remove any roadblocks they might encounter.

In 2005 Karen got a job over at TheStreet.com as Director of Publishing Technologies. Companies of all sizes would outsource their development needs to TheStreet.com. “I was the interface between our developers and our customers,” Karen said.  “I did that for a few years and it was really interesting!  But then I got tired of New York.”  It was at this time that Karen and her husband decided they just weren’t New Yorkers anymore.  They loved the city, it was a great place to be, but it was just not where they wanted to be long term.  It was at that point that they decided to move to Boston.

When Karen arrived in Boston she took some time to get acclimated to the city.  She started going to lots of events, like Open Coffee, to get the lay of the land.  At all of the events she attended, one company in particular kept coming up…HubSpot.  “I started reading about what they were doing with Inbound Marketing and it just made so much sense!” Karen exclaimed.  She wasn’t sure the best to get in with the guys at HubSpot, however she was familiar with Dharmesh Shah’s popular On Startups blog .  Knowing this, Karen began to show up at events that she knew Dharmesh and HubSpot were going to be at.  What ultimately landed her the job was that her former boss at TheStreet.com knew individuals at both of HubSpot’s investors.  He was able to get her resume to the VCs, and the VCs passed it on to CEO Brian Halligan, which got her an interview.  “At that point I basically wouldn’t leave until they gave me a job!” Karen said laughing.

Karen had been at HubSpot for about 3 or 4 weeks as an Inbound Marketing Consultant when the idea of a video podcast first came about.  “One day Jonah Lopin, VP of Customer Success, came up to me and said, ‘Karen…I think we should start a video podcast for our customers.  I think we should teach them more about Inbound Marketing through a weekly video podcast.  Mike’s going to host it, it’s going to be Marketing with Mike.  I want you to go figure out how to make this happen- write up a proposal.’  So I go write up a proposal and begin to figure outHubspot TV with Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin how we could do this” Karen explained.  “I wrote up an 8 page proposal which nobody has read to this day!  The two things I changed in my proposal was that I changed the name to HubSpot TV instead of Marketing with Mike, and I made myself the co-host.  We just went and got a webcam and started recording.  Every week we started to figure out different things. For example, we’ve had 17 different sets where we’ve taped the show; such as we’ve learned you don’t tape in front of a window.  It’s been a very gradual progression in technology and sophistication in how we do the show.  At the beginning we pulled the show together for less than $100.  Honestly, it took about 20 shows before we had any idea what we were doing.”

BostInno: How is the success of HubSpot TV measured as a content marketing piece?

Karen: At HubSpot we love our numbers, so if we were going to do it we have to measure it.  We decided we were going to measure iTunes subscribers, live viewers and the total number of views per episode. We started to measure it, and began to realize that…people don’t subscribe to podcasts in iTunes.  We get about 1500 views per episode at this point and people go and watch individual episodes but they don’t subscribe.  Subscribers ended up being a completely flat metric.  We were getting all these viewers but not a lot of subscribers.  The other thing we learned was that the live audience is completely random.  There are weeks where we can get 100 to 150 people watching the show live, and there are weeks where we have 25 people watching.  It depends on the weather, the summer time, if it’s a long weekend…and of course the content that we are putting out.

There are things we could do to change these factors as a company:  we could tape it on Thursday at 1:00, really drive the iTunes subscription more, or go to a shorter format and put it up on YouTube to start to observe YouTube views.  The reason we don’t is because one of the biggest benefits of HubSpot TV is the cultural benefit.  As a small company, and a growing company having everyone come together at 4:00pm on a Friday to have some beers and hang out is a fabulous thing for us to do.  There is also a Hubspot TVhuge recruiting benefit that we haven’t been able to measure.  Our recruiters bring people to HubSpot TV all of the time to come hang out.  David Wells for example, who currently hosts Inbound Now, got a job at HubSpot because he just started coming to HubSpot TV and meeting people.  When our Sales Team are on the phones, clients will actually mention HubSpot TV.  When Brian Halligan goes and does speaking gigs, people mention they saw Mike and Karen on the video podcast.  Those benefits aren’t measurable, but there’s this general sense that it helps and it does good for both the sales staff and recruiting.  While that is completely not the way HubSpot normally works, generally you have to be able to show the numbers for it to be beneficial…we’ve continued to do HubSpot TV because we believe it’s helping, even if it’s hard to measure.

Be sure to tune in again in a few days for Part 2 of our mini-series.  In Part 2 we get the chance to sit down with Rebecca Corliss and learn how she ended up at HubSpot and created Inbound Marketing University.

The Women of Inbound Marketing: Part 1 with Hubspot's Karen Rubin

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