We recently sat down with Sam Mallikarjunan, Principal Marketing Strategist at HubSpot, to talk about understanding users, marketing, and how Hotjar helped the team at inbound.org get valuable insight as they redesigned their homepage.
Who are you? What do you do?
Sam: My name is Sam Mallikarjunan. Tough to pronounce, I know. I recently transitioned from Head of Growth at HubSpot Labs. I’ve worked in several positions at HubSpot, like Head of Latin American Marketing, and also the Head of eCommerce Marketing. So now, I’m the Principal Marketing Strategist at HubSpot currently working with our ReadThink.com campaign.
So you’ve been a HubSpotter for a few years eh?
Sam: Yeah I’ve been here awhile :)
What are you doing with Readthink.com? What’s the goal there?
Sam: ReadThink.com is targeted at sophisticated marketers and executives. We saw a real need there so jumped in the gap.
The cream of the crop, cool.
Yes sir! It’s a new venture that we’re excited about. HubSpot, as you know is huge, so this is one of many things we’re doing to grab a hold of the market in a new way.
Awesome. So, as a digital marketer, what’s been your biggest challenge with regard to tapping into the mindset and online behaviors of your users?
Sam: For ReadThink.com specifically, our target audience has very little free time to spend idly reading. The whole busy executive thing you know? So we need to somehow develop innovative concepts and explain them in very short articles.
So given that obstacle, what have you used in the past to figure out what users do on your site? What worked? What didn’t? Any plans to integrate those tool with ReadThink?
Sam: At HubSpot Labs, where I spent the biggest chunk of my time, we used a number of tools, including Hotjar, MixPanel, HubSpot, Intercom, and others. We also relied on personal user interviews. For the content properties, HubSpot is our primary analytics tool and user interviews are our primary subjective feedback mechanisms.
Your face is on the Hotjar homepage. Great face by the way. How’d you hear about Hotjar initially? What made you try it out?
Sam: I don’t actually recall. It just came out of nowhere after someone on the Labs team suggested it, and we went with it. We had serious tool-creep for a while there.
Yeah, lots of tools, lots of Google Docs with passwords. I get it. After using Hotjar for a while, what’d it do for you? How has Hotjar helped you understand your user behaviors?
Sam: To be honest, we did a pretty poor job of understanding how and why people used inbound.org for the first year or so, we just built, built, built. And what’s funny is that we built inbound.org for us, not for them, which in this case is a weird twist because for the inbound.org / HubSpot team, we actually were the user and the builder. We were marketers marketing to other marketers about marketing so it was a fun gig. Huge learning experience.
When Hotjar came around, it gave us insight that we wish we would have had earlier on in the scaling phase.
After looking at a lot of recordings, heatmaps, and getting feedback from the polls we got a good idea of what our users wanted and moved from around 80K members to now over 150k. Hotjar was a big piece of that redesign.
So you broke the #1 rule of UX eh? You are not the user.
Sam: Yeah but rules were made to be broken. And like I said we were the user, so there’s gotta be some exception clause in there somewhere. At any rate, it worked.
Ok, I’ll give you a pass on that one. Now with Hotjar, what did you like best? What proved to be the most useful for you?
Sam: It was a real eye-opener. The heatmaps and particularly the recordings were useful to see how people actually used what we were building. That data would be otherwise very costly and time consuming to get our hands on. We even used data from Hotjar to help us redesign the inbound.org homepage. After looking at a lot of recordings, heatmaps, and getting feedback from the polls we got a good idea of what our users wanted and moved from around 80K members to now over 150k. Hotjar was a big piece of that redesign.
Nice. A homepage redesign is always better when you have users input and feedback prior. So, anything you want to leave us with? I saw on your Twitter account that you’re a lover of Scotch. Any favorites?
Sam: Ardbeg Uigeadail is my latest crush. Perfect balance of sweet and peat.
I’ll add it to the list. Sam I know you’re one busy fellow so I appreciate the time you took. Upward and onward my friend.
Sam: Likewise, always a pleasure.