Christopher Nault on HubSpot, Inbound marketing hacks and more

March 23, 2023 | Interview

Welcome to Rankwatch’s Marketing Lego thought leader interview. Today we will talk to Christopher Nault, CEO of Growth Marketing, about his journey of creating a successful digital marketing agency. We also talk about Hubspot,Inbound Marketing, and more to find out what that is.

Hello everyone. And welcome to another Marketing Lego thought leader interview. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliances of two brilliant marketing SAAS tools, RankWatch and WebSignals.
Today’s guest is the founder of an agency called a Growth marketing firm. They are also HubSpot platinum partners and recognized as a top rank national US ad agency.
Welcome Chris! I’m so happy to have you.

Thank you very much. Happy to be here, Harshit.

Please tell us a bit more about your journey. How were you as a child and how did you get to where you are today?

Oh man, I’m a son of a US Navy officer and my mom was a chef. So two different personalities and I grew up with them around the country.
Ultimately, I went to college in Florida, university of central Florida, and that area is very creative and fun. And I started selling marketing as a service in 2003, kind of midway through college. I started building a network of websites that targeted socially active adults, which I very much was at that point in my life.
You know, a series of websites, things to do, people were going to the websites, we’d sell banner space. We started getting into Google ads and Facebook advertising at the infancy and yet 20 years later, that’s still kind of a pillar of what I do.

What made you start? I mean, I saw your low boots.
That’s so brilliant. Like, I really love the Redwood on you, I understand the story, you know, the background behind it. Please tell me about Growth marketing. What was your vision about it? More about it. So this is an off mix.

Yeah. Thank you. I love the logo too. It’s actually kind of like two of our original logos and it kind of speaks a lot too.
To how we operate at growth, the first logo can be found online. It’s got a lot of leaves, a lot of words, a lot of lines. And then we’ve found over the last five years that simplifying the message is so important and our logo kind of personifies that kind of growth and Redwood mentality without having it be so blatant.
So I’m glad you really enjoy that. For me, the redwoods are just such an iconic creature and ecosystem, really they’re identified as souls. Plants, right. They’re huge on their own. Right. But really they grow in clusters or grow and work together just like sales and marketing and service to build a better company.
These groves of redwoods build these empires that last thousands of years. So yeah, all, every, all things outdoors are big at Growth. And I think the Redwood tree Grove is just the best symbol.

What service verticals does the agency cater to right now? Like inbound methodologies that you have in house and the team?

Our services are really about building a sustainable revenue driving system, right?
So it’s one part marketing, but it’s also taking a look at your sales, what they’re doing, how to improve it. Reducing friction, whether that’s developing online payment platforms that integrate with your CRM. HubSpot shout out here, it makes life a lot easier. And when you dedicate ourselves purely to marketing for many years, that doesn’t really give you the full picture.
It’s easy to look at some base metrics like website, traffic, but at the end of the day, like we’re responsible for companies growing in actual revenue dollars. So we. Access to those systems. So that way we can kind of prove our worth, so to speak.

How exactly is the typical client journey? What do the first 30 days look like for a client?

Yeah. So I mean the whole journey, how they find, find us. We do run some paid ads on LinkedIn and Google, but seven out of eight of our customers are word of mouth referrals from one of our partners, softwares, Asana, or HubSpot. And then we spend a lot of time on building relationships.
So we do get a lot of referrals, which is like our favourite type of client. The first 30 days, once you’ve kind of onboarded, most clients choose to start with some paid research, essentially developing or building that map up the mountain, so to speak. So based on that company’s priorities, we typically create a six month rapid.
Plan or a 12 month still pretty rapid plan. You know, you use Gantt charts, it’s very visual. And then each line of the chart has its own multi page breakdown. So everyone understands the steps, transparency and communication are kind of our fundamental rules here at Growth marketing. Once they approve the plan, we start.
Going into production. That typically means content’s being created. Websites are being judged. Ads are starting to launch, and then we, you know, really start seeing how the balls land and, and making improvement. The growth mindset is a major part of how we operate simply put the growth mindset focuses on progress over perfection.
So rather than trying to get every detail of your first blog, right. Let’s just get your first blog up, get some feedback from real customers and make improvements, game changer.

Gotcha. So like you do both like inbound as well as outbound services. It’s a mix of both. Right? What outbound channels do you typically leverage for your clients?

So we, I would say that a perfect mix is a 70 is to 30 inbound to outbound. So outbound, outbound has a lot of names, right? So like demand gen is a very hip term right now. Cold emailing is a word, a word or phrase that people know, but really it’s about putting you in front of the customers, whether they expected it or not.
So as you know, if the chuckle even comes outta me, it’s funny because you’re like some kind of force imposing your business on a prospective customer. And that can land a few different ways. I would say. Typically, unless you have a revolutionary product that no one has seen or heard of before, outbound is good.
If it’s well targeted and very light, and non-intrusive almost all businesses will see a happy customer, a happier customer when they were actually sought after for the specific service or product that they were selling. And then did a good job doing that rather than trying to, you know, knock people over the head with a message.
But it, so it’s definitely a good idea, but it is very targeted not releasing hundreds of thousands of emails or anything like that. Very much intuitive.

Primarily like email marketing is one of the biggest outbound channels that you use, right?

I would say email LinkedIn navigator is a really good tool.
I mean, both as we try to be our own best client. I’ve been found often through LinkedIn because I do a lot of thought leadership there and share what I know with other business leaders, that sort of demand. Agenda’s also great and a less intrusive than the, knock them over the head cold call calling people, checking people’s cell phones.
Although we can certainly do that. If a client demands it.

Any useful tips that you can share and based on your observation, like people basically like businesses make those mistakes and that are very common in nature when it comes to LinkedIn outreach altogether and how you basically overcome that.

It’s tough. I mean, it really takes developing trust. And so the inbound methodology isn’t a switch that can be turned on overnight. You have to build a space that’s comfortable for your prospective buyer. And one of the ways that you do that is start to develop content that helps them. So at Growth, like we’re big hubs spotters here.
So a lot of our content is how do you make your HubSpot software more efficient without hiring us? How do you improve your sales team? How do you get better reporting? Why is it better than Salesforce? It is that ability, lets people know that without having to talk to will or myself or anybody at growth there’s resources that we built for them based on our knowledge, every business.
Plays better by thinking of your customer that way, whether you’re a lawyer, real estate agency or, you know, you’re developing a new product for VR software.

Gotcha. Anything like when it comes to outbound reach, any tips that you can share, how to go about it? or like how to formulate your strategies to be more effective?

The first thing to do, and I’ve got this kind of piece of advice from DME indirectly, from HubSpot, co-founder.
I now try to visualise my perfect customer sitting next to me at my office all the time. And I do that for our clients too. So the reason we do that is would this email be offensive if I wasn’t expecting it? If I’m a sales director and I get an email from growth saying, Hey, we wanna talk right now that isn’t, that person has plenty of other things to worry about, but I do want to be found.
Types in, I need to talk to a rev op agency, or I need to talk to a host bud agency. So the biggest piece of advice is truly look inward. And would this be an appealing marketing message or first point of contact for your ideal customer? If it’s not, don’t do it.

Let’s talk more about inbound, like, because that’s the favourite topic, like how exactly, like in your agency and what the process that you follow and what methodology do you follow for your clients?, when it comes to inbound marketing, please, can you share?

A bit more about that? Yeah, happily. So one, I definitely urge everybody to make their customer data. The centre of this conversation. It’s super important to use a CRM. That’s flexible enough where you can. Have it work for your company using your language and that people are actually gonna use.
So that’s super important. The reason why is when you have this information, you can see the customer’s interactions on your website, the interactions with the chat bots on your website, the interactions with your sales team, um, and your customer service team, all in one place beyond imperative. Once you start looking at scaling and increasing the number of those conversations.
Ultimately in the beginning, if you’re starting at zero or low amount of anything, you can kind of get away with a Hodge PODD system. But if you start going from one conversation a month to 10 to a hundred, without that infrastructure things fall apart very quickly.
That’s true. And seems so obvious or so simple, but like really the inbound philosophy requires. Customer data at its centre to make better decisions. It’s not fun, but you gotta.

Actually you, I was curious to know Chris, HubSpot is again like a big part of your service offerings, right?
Like when you, when any client basically approaches you and you feel like, you know, this is the right software for them to use, right. It’ll sort out their marketing. Sales process makes them better. But then again, one of the biggest challenges I feel that businesses have is like making their team members become adaptive to that particular new software.
Right. So how do you tackle that? Any tips.

Yeah. yes. You have to set some rules and you need to give it time, the larger the organisation, the more structured, the rollout. Any software needs to be for very large organisations. You certainly want to pick a pilot program leader. So one person that works with a team like ours to build the software the way you need it, right?
And then you need to in phases, launch it to basically your beta group. Those are typically people in your company that are tech savvy that are comfortable testing and providing feedback, which not everybody is able to identify the ones that help you go from one person to adoption, to let’s say 10% of your company is that adoption.
And then I start with the hardest group first, the sales people, and then I get them to who get integrated and then you roll it out to your marketing people and then to your service to constantly monitor spot admin services that we provide.

And I like this based on my observation, like people who are part of an organisation for like say long and, uh, farm, like really experience.
They always have a little bit more hard time. Adapting to the new changes compared to a new employee altogether. Right and definitely like, just like you said, like regular training and just telling them about the benefits and all the good things about it would eventually solve the problem.

I mean, People don’t like to break their habits, right? Like that’s, we all are like that. I’m trying to lose weight and still, I catch myself, you know, eating too much at night and I’ve got an app. I got everything. So it’s difficult to break these habits. Yeah. Companies are totally able to purchase pro and enterprise software directly from HubSpot and, and onboard themselves.
But you’re a hundred percent right. Having a team or a partner that can hold a company account. Greatly increases the success of onboarding new software so that we do a lot of handholding, a lot of reverse operations therapy, you know, when it’s stressful, they slack off, they call us, you know, whatever they need we’re used to it.
So data can be scary, but we’ve got that covered.

Gotcha. So it’s like more or less when it comes to softwares as well. It is much more like a recurring nature service from the growth and not a one time just simple set thing. Right.

Correct. We do offer the one time service, but I don’t even think the years that we’ve done it, that anyone ends up taking it, have we’ll start with 30 days.
And for even the people that are like, no, we just wanna cut. You know, we need these two things done. Okay. Sure. By the time that they are closing in on those 30 days, they want and need to have a partner like growth to bounce ideas off. Becomes a part of their business model. There’s so much that you can do with a software like HubSpot.
The ecosystem’s so robust now that no matter how complex your use case is for purchasing it the first time, you’re still only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There’s a million things that you haven’t even thought of yet. That will help your business grow that a software like HubSpot can.

Definitely like the sky’s element.
Right and HubSpot is brilliant. So yeah!

HubSpot. Yeah. That’s great.

Let’s talk a bit more about the inbound strategies. Like, you know, one of the biggest parts of inbound marketing is content. Yeah.

Agreed 100%.

One of the biggest challenges that the businesses and marketers face is how to go about planning and generating good content that gives them much more value. How do you go about that?

Well, like any resource you have to identify whether you have it or not. So if your company doesn’t have somebody that can be dedicated to generating content, you absolutely either need to create that job position, or you need to hire an agency to do it for you. It’s a fundamental need for this.
There’s also a few ways to look at content and going back one of us has done a huge case study about how important writing high quality content really is making it. So it’s actually wanted to be read as growth. Very thankful. We have a rockstar named Jenny. She’s got a PhD in writing. She’s a former college professor and the lengths that we go to make sure that our clients in our own articles are actually valuable pieces of information.
I have not found another agency that makes it as important on the sales side. It would be great if I was like, yeah, we’re using copyright AI . And we’re just generating hundreds of articles that a human’s never touched, but ultimately our eyes are going to scan the first sentence or two and then completely deposit that as trash in our brains.
Okay. Cause we, we know better. So take the time, start with one blog piece per month and as you develop new pieces, go back to those original articles, scan them, improve them slightly and again, progress over. Perfect. We’ve got some articles on our own site that help with thinking of one of our blog posts like 66 content ideas.
So if you’re like blowing ideas, there’s your first, you know three years worth of ideas already in an article for you. Just go to the website.

Put it in a section, like just in case, you know, people wanna check it out and get more.

Yeah, please do. Makes life easy. That’s true.

Chris, one more thing like planning and content is one thing then like, you know, what are the main KPIs that you keep track of the time to measure the success of content and how you go about improving the content altogether?

So the ultimate KPI is new revenue generated. We do want to see and have access to a company’s actual sales records using, you know, HubSpot sales hub, preferably that’s the ultimate. Determination of whether or not we’re doing our job, basic metrics like overall website, increasing that is important and where the traffic comes from the time that someone spends on specific pages is also very important.
We tend to find that as you develop better quality content, that people spend more time on those pages. So that can be affirmation that improving your content is working right? Yep. But again, leads generated website pages visited. Deals closed. Those are what we want to focus on.

Gotcha. And any tips for the conversion rate optimization that you would like to share and like the common mistakes that you see say a new business that you’re consulting, right.
How do you go about that?

The first and most common mistake is not taking the time to set up all the different tracking and conversion metrics. It does take time. I mean, even as a professional ad developer of 10 years, for me to fully sit down with all the pieces to connect everything, you’re still looking at like a half day’s work.
Ultimately, and that’s not including writing ad copy, which is an entirely different part of your brain altogether. So you need a full day dedicated to developing an ad to get all the conversion tracking working. And then if it’s Google, I always suggest giving it 72 hours, start with a low bid and then start spending more.
Don’t start with your full offering on day one, Google will milk it and you will not get as much out of it as you would like. If your true budget’s gonna be a hundred dollars, which is a typical ad budget. The first 72 hours, you fire a campaign, set it at $10 to $15. Google is then going to work harder to get you to that a hundred dollars a day amount than it would.
If you started at a hundred dollars a day, it sounds very counterintuitive, but makes perfect sense over time. So improve those metric tracking methods. Start with a lighter campaign and then boost the dollars as they go three days for Google seven days for links. It’s brilliant. Um, are you specific?

Is that too specific?
It’s actually brilliant. And, just curious, like you know, it could work both ways, right? You know, when you run ads, you kind of like to validate your message as well. Right. Your marketing content as well, because if your CTR is good, right. It does something which is working for your target audience, right.
They’re clicking onto it, landing on your page. And then, you know, there are multiple ways you can go about improving your landing page, experience, and rate all of those things. That’s pretty clever. And, uh, that brings me to my next question. How do you go about a few tools that you kind of like to use? That measures the landing page performance.
Right. And then you go ahead and improve the page experience mainly.

Right. Is there anything that you use? Yes, HubSpot for that as well. So I definitely love them. One of my favourite things about HubSpot is that you can have all these different teams in one portal and everybody’s kind of playing with the same tool set.
So, you can see all those rankings and improvements. I think it’s also a less obvious reality that even if you have a well written ad and somebody clicks on it, most people, most of the time or have that like angst about actually filling out a contact form. So like our own landing pages, we try to also provide additional resources.
And we know that there’s a high likelihood that this person, even though we have a great ad, that’s at the right time, isn’t gonna want to contact us. If you’re ever gonna do inbound paid ads, I highly suggest that you set up remarketing campaigns as well. Yeah. Google’s actually rebranded that it’s called user data campaigns, user data campaigns mean that let’s say this person went to your landing page.
They referred to our website, whatever, as they play around online, your ads will pop up on the different display channels that you give permission to Google to display them. LinkedIn’s the same way. It’s also much cheaper to bring somebody back to your website once they’ve been there than it is the first time.

That’s perfect. Any few marketing automation hacks, you know, that you would like to share and you know, that is something that every business should kind of like to use.

I feel like we could have turned this interview or reading into almost like a drinking game about OnSpot. So like what, what are the great tools with that as well?
Do all of your tracking codes live there? All of your conversion, all of your ROI metrics are all inside that marketing portal. You can set up dashboards that help management, see the facts and allow them to make better decisions. So that way their ground workers can improve marketing campaigns can stop ones that aren’t working can increase, spend on the ones that are.
It’s really just like a universal tool to get people out of that. Day to day grind, angst, and being able to take just a big breath of air and plan for next week. Gotcha.

Gotcha. Let us know one of the most successful case studies of the Growth Marketing firm. And, one of the main parameters on which, on the basis of what you were able to like.
This works really well for us.

I’m happy to. So like our most successful clients, like our case studies are companies that actually have been around for quite some. And they hired a marketing person three or four years ago that talked about blogs. Maybe they have three or four they’ve dabbled lightly in popular phrases related to revenue operations.
So that could be some, some inbound stuff. Maybe it’s just a paid ad, but they never executed on landing pages. Okay. And so it’s, these types of companies are stepping into these conversations. Feeling like a wounded animal because they feel like they’ve tried and it wasn’t successful. So they don’t believe in it.
But what’s really happened is that they haven’t indoctrinated and gone into full strategy and execution. So it becomes a bigger challenge showing them like, Hey, this investment’s going to be larger than you expected. It’s gonna take more time than you expected. But the return on your investment is going to blow your mind.
And sometimes we need as little as 45 days to see an improvement. Sometimes it takes six months, but our most successful clients are the ones that have seen and operated without the tools that we have. And then when they get them, it’s like, whoa, . So we love teaching old dogs new tricks.

Gotcha. That’s and because you carry years of experience, any hardest story and the lesson that you’re learned from experience,

I think the biggest learning lesson is that customers can hold onto very strange pieces of information in the sales process. So sometimes it can take three or six or nine months to close a deal, because this is such an intimate relationship when that happens.
If you have sales people that are more like the old school sales people, that kind of say what they think the customer wants to hear. It is very amazing how little pieces of information can be retained and then brought up like 10 months later, like, oh, sorry,will be, have said that we can do this.
And maybe it’s doable. Maybe it’s not, but it never was. Defined in the proposal was never put into the scope of work and here we are operating and executing. And then all of a sudden, the point of contact is like, Hey, remember that one thing, one person said that one time and you’re kind of left.
Dealing with that. So the biggest learning opportunity from that is to make sure that your sales and service team are aligned and make sure that your sales people aren’t selling things that aren’t real and anything that they say that we’re gonna do, make sure it’s put into writing.

The thing I like about you as well is like, you always keep on indulging into some of the other certifications licences, and that’s brilliant.
Like you should never stop learning. Right. Agreed. Yeah. No matter how experienced you are. And that’s rare nowadays, like, you know, I’ve seen like the majority of people who are like so experience that at a certain point, this job and just leverage all the experience I’ve collected over years, but there’s always room right? For improvement.

I have 100% believe in that. It’s the fund of the name? Growth for growth marketing actually came from a quote from Tupac. And essentially, if you’re not growing, you’re dying and for me growing means learning new things, technology’s changing, I’m changing. My clients are changing and I, there is a level of curiosity that I’ve just had as part of my DNA for a long time.
And I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to surround myself with like minds with the team at. And we’re all in that same mindset. You know, if there’s a new HubSpot product coming out, we’re the first to get certified. If there’s a new platform coming out, we’re the first to tinker with its ad. We enjoy what we do.
So it’s important for everybody to find what they love to work in. And then if you’re hiring an agency, definitely temperature, check everybody there to make sure that they’re passionate about it.

Gotcha. That makes sense. I think Chris, we are coming to an end here. I would like to have a quick rapid fire with you.
Are you ready for it?

Yeah. Hit me.

Name a person who inspires you the most.


What career did you dream of having when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a Naval officer and then I wanted to be a business owner.

Gotcha. You got one, right? Got it.

Yeah. It didn’t end up being a fifth.

What scares you the most?

Oh, well that’s tough. I think failure.

So one word that describes you the best?


What did you last search on Google?

How to develop ads on grinder?

What’s the craziest thing that you have ever witnessed at a zoom meeting?

Oh, I feel very thankful. Nothing strange has happened, but I have nothing, but I do love it when kids crash the party.
Like I absolutely love it. It’s just like, Hey, let’s just hang out with that kid for a little bit.

It is strange, like just a few days back, I embarrassed my wife, she was on a video call, and I was excited for some reason and then suddenly shouting happened. Like shouting from my lungs out.

They must be like who’s that guy? Who is that guy?

If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

Yeah! I really appreciate all your time and all the valuable information that you shared with us today.
Really valuable!

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