In early May, HubSpot announced that it was launching its very own podcast network which would include six shows that “represent a wide range of business topics and backgrounds.” We sat down with Alanah Joseph, the Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot who is responsible for marketing and operations of the HubSpot podcast network. She gave us insight into why HubSpot decided to go down the podcast route, what it means to be a part of the network, what does success look like for podcasts, and what’s Joseph’s personal goal with HubSpot’s podcast network.
You can listen to the episode here:
Alanah shares her thoughts on the following topics…
Why HubSpot decided to start a podcast network: [05:15]
“As podcast audiences have increased year over year, we want to be a part of it and make our mark on the podcast industry.”
What does being a part of the HubSpot podcast network really mean?: [09:37]
“We essentially find great creators who are very talented and whose mission and brand align to ours...essentially we are an advertiser. So most networks are going to manage your ad inventory. We don't want to manage the ad inventory. We want the inventory... we work with our creators on long-term deals where we have a 60 second mid roll and a 30 second pre-roll that are in all of their shows, but beyond just being their advertiser, we also have all of these other benefits to working with us. For example, cross promotion on other shows. We have a match program, which means that if they run advertisement for their show, we provide additional ad funds each quarter for them to have even better ad campaigns”
Biggest goal: [29:08]
“I do desire to make some sort of impact to change and make those business charts a little bit more diverse because the business world itself is incredibly, incredibly diverse. And so I would love to see that diversity reflected within the business podcasting charts, especially. Myself as a black woman, I want to see people that look like me.”
David Tintner: Well, hello everybody. I am very excited to welcome to the show today. Alanna Joseph senior marketing manager at HubSpot, and a lot is running the HubSpot podcast network. So we have a ton of questions for her as they've been doing amazing things over there really exciting stuff. And also news coming up left.
So, thanks for joining
Alanah Joseph: us. Thank you for having me. It's so cool to be on this show, and I'm very excited to talk about the HubSpot podcast network. It's been so fun. I'm leading this initiative for HubSpot, um, [00:01:00] and just watching it grow. We launched six months ago. Um, and that feels like an eternity ago. And also yesterday it was very weird, but I think we've had a lot of success.
David Tintner: That was May 11th, I believe. Right? Yeah. And yeah, I mean, I remember, I remember seeing, I'm not sure if I, if it was someone covering it or is there directly from home stuff, but I remember reading about it and, um, I was like, this is so cool. A B to B company that is taking essentially control of the road content.
Building a podcast network and coming to a media company like this is awesome. I would love to know how did this idea of company,
Alanah Joseph: well, I think if you look at HubSpot and the history of HubSpot HubSpot started, um, by re. [00:02:00] Sharing with the world, this idea of inbound marketing, which essentially says that you, you know, earn customers, you create a community by being a value to people.
And that was a long time ago that, um, HubSpot kind of coined that term inbound marketing, and a lot of creators are essentially using the techniques of inbound marketing to create content and to build a community and an audience. And so of course we love creators because, you know, we, we have essentially the same kind of ideas around.
Creating valuable content that inspires and educates people. And that's what HubSpot has done for, for a really long time for decades. And so when it came to, um, our content, right, as HubSpot has grown over time, our product has grown and scaled. And so it only makes [00:03:00] sense that our content scales as well.
And so when we decided, okay, we really want to scale our audio offers. There were so many talented podcasters that were already creating business content that was, um, educating and inspiring. It's their audiences. And so. We kind of put our heads together and thought like, how can we invite these, um, incredible content creators with this insightful content into the fold?
And so it only made sense to create a network that was mutually beneficial, both for HubSpot and for the content creators.
David Tintner: I think it's an amazing initiative. And, uh, you brought up the, on the spot. Inventive inbound marketing. And I think that's, that's something that we should discuss for a second. I mean, I really used to own inbound.com.
Right. And it [00:04:00] is still
Alanah Joseph: so inbound, inbound is actually at an event in a conference that we have, and that happened a few weeks ago, maybe like a month ago. Um, and that was incredible. I mean, it's an annual event where. Talented business professionals come to share all their secrets. So if you weren't able to join, I would highly suggest you join next year.
Um, but yeah, inbound marketing itself is, is something that is fundamental to the foundation of, of the company.
David Tintner: It's just something that I think so many marketers today have started to create. The past two years, 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago came into the world of marketing just to kind of, that was already the standard. Um, but looking back, uh, before that, I mean, you're absolutely right, that it wasn't a standard and it was something that, [00:05:00] um, you guys essentially really created and it's cool to see how it's evolved and taken shape to.
The creator economy and, and how, um, content has evolved over the years. What made you go after, let's say podcasts as a format to, to start a network rather than maybe a YouTube or another format
Alanah Joseph: yeah. So when I joined HubSpot last year, I was brought on to the podcast team specifically. So I've all, I've always worked within, um, this type of content for HubSpot.
Um, I think there's a lot of benefits to audio content, especially, you know, last year as people, as we had lockdowns and COVID and people were kind of looking for content that was educational and, and, you know, allowed them to kind of get ahead in [00:06:00] their careers during this downtime. Audio content is really cool because you can multitask while you listen to a podcast, right?
You can listen to a podcast and wash dishes, go for a walk it's content that can follow you wherever you go. And it's non-intrusive. Um, which I think is different because we're only asking for your ears, whereas with YouTube or other forms of content that have their own. Pros and cons one thing is that, you know, with YouTube, you have to watch it not necessarily, but, um, You, you have to like actually pay attention and with podcasts, I, I personally love it because I feel like I listened to podcasts while I work.
And I listened to a lot of podcasts, as you can imagine. So I listened while I work. I would listen while I take a walk. And so at the time it just, it seemed like a great form of content. Um, because a lot [00:07:00] of people were going to podcasts to kind of seek this education. Um, and as people, as podcasts, audiences have increased year over year, we want to be a part of it and make our mark on the podcast industry.
David Tintner: So what was your role like when you joined HubSpot? Uh, you said you joined podcast. Yeah. And there was no network yet? No. Was this or it be the plan. Okay. So what were you doing at the beginning?
Alanah Joseph: So wild ride and I love, I love being at HubSpot because although it is a large company, they really add.
There's a lot of room for innovation and new things, and we get things going really quickly. So when I joined, I joined the podcast team as essentially the marketing arm. So I was working on HubSpot owned podcasts, um, and working to grow. Those audiences specifically had some, some success [00:08:00] there. And our leaders came to us and said, Hey, Let's times this by a thousand, can you create a podcast network?
Um, and so I worked with my manager Lisa who is the director of content, and we really kind of sat down together and, and mapped out what we wanted it to be. And then I, um, develop the operation so how this network would actually work, um, and the marketing plan for, for the network itself. Okay.
Because I was really exciting, but I just, initially when I started HubSpot, I was just working on a couple of shows and now I work with 14 shows.
David Tintner: and those couples you were working on in the beginning, you said were HubSpot all the shows, there were shows that you were creating in-house there weren't shows that you had purchased.
A podcast or outside of the company, is that correct?
Alanah Joseph: That is correct. [00:09:00] Yes, they were. Let's see. At the time I was working on the growth show and scale up. Uh, so those are two shows that were produced in house. Um, but with the podcast network, we don't, we don't purchase the podcasts. Um, we work collaboratively with podcasts creators, so, um, we don't own
David Tintner: How does it work exactly. To, to join a podcast network or to join the HubSpot network?
Alanah Joseph: Yeah, so we work a little differently than I think other networks do in that we essentially. Find great creators who have, who are very talented and whose mission and brand align to ours.
Um, after we find and source those creators, we have, um, conversations with them in order to figure out what would be the best relationship between us. Um, they vary, but essentially we are an advertiser. So most networks are going to. [00:10:00] Manage your ad inventory. We don't want to manage the ad inventory. We want the inventory.
So it's a little different. So essentially we, um, Work with our creators on, on long-term deals where we are. We have a 60 second mid roll and a 30 second pre-roll that are in all of their shows, but beyond just being their advertiser, we also have all of these other benefits to working with us. So not only is it just, you know, the typical relationship between an advertiser and it creator, it is a more comprehensive than that.
So they have other opportunities. For example, cross promotion. On other shows, we have a match program, which means that if they run advertisement for their show, we provide additional ad funds each quarter for them to have even better ad campaigns. Um, The work with them on, you know, [00:11:00] promotions and marketing, and essentially they have marketing support, right?
We have, one-on-ones where we talk about, um, the growth of their show and how we can get them to the next level. And the network is very invested in the growth of the show, which makes us more than an advertiser because we want to see the show be successful and we want to help and support the creators.
To make that possible. So we're really working hand in hand.
David Tintner: What does successful mean for podcasts?
Alanah Joseph: I think when we look at the success of a podcast, we're looking at two things, we're looking at one audience size. So like how many people do you reach? Probably the most typical, how many downloads do you get per month?
How many downloads are you getting per episode? Those kinds of questions, which I think are pretty typical. Um, but beyond that, we're also looking at impact. So now that you have a target audience you're reaching that target audience, what kind of impact is your show [00:12:00] making on that audience?
How are they engaging with your show in a meaningful way? And are they essentially taking something away from it? So. You know, there are shows that have large reach, um, and large impact and that's, we love those shows, right? But they're also shows that have really high impact and maybe not a very big audience.
And so we can help them if they have a high impact and they're creating really great content that moves people helps people get ahead in their careers, help people grow their business. Start businesses, those kinds of things, then it's, it's much easier to grow their audience right. When their content is great.
And so I think success can mean a few different things, but, um, just industry-wise right. We're we're typically looking at downloads.
David Tintner: Is there a way that you can measure that impact that you're talking about?
Alanah Joseph: Yeah, I think so. Um, yes and no, right there. [00:13:00] Tons of qualitative data. So if you're looking at reviews, you can look at someone's LinkedIn following or other social media, um, and kind of see how people are engaging with that content.
Um, I find some of the reviews are so, incredible as people talk about, wow. You know, I listened to entrepreneurs on fire and it just makes me feel like I can conquer the world and I can go out and, you know, achieve all of my goals. Those are the types of things that I think show impact, right.
That you're actually inspiring people and, and, and helping people. Be their best selves. Right. Um, and, and since we are a business podcast, we're looking at being their best professional selves or just being inspired, feeling like they can start that business feeling like they can grow their business, all of those things.
And our creators really enable people to do those things. So when I read those reviews, It's meaningful. It's, it's [00:14:00] certainly very meaningful. Um, and if, you know, if you're listening to this show and you love this show and it's making an impact on you, leave a review
David Tintner: Podcasters can find ways to engage with their audience more and more because. Looking at the reviews is kind of almost the only feedback we have for this channel. Um, and it, it definitely feels like something that's pretty primitive compared to most other content formats today.
I feel like some of the only solutions that are out there today are really okay. So go to another channel, like let's talk on Twitter about the podcast, right? Okay. Um, you know, there isn't like on YouTube, you have the comment section directly on the videos, right? Um, does it feels like there's something kind of missing in, uh, in the podcasting space there?
Alanah Joseph: Yes. I would say one.show that I [00:15:00] think is fabulous at this is being boss. She actually has events. She has like a workshops where she actually invites her listeners to come and work with her and think about how they can grow and scale their business. They have being boss is a community.
It's not just a podcast and it's listeners. She. Actually engaging with them, um, and like physically showing up for them and inviting them into spaces where they can talk about being, being a boss. Right. And, and what that means. I always just cheer on Emily Thompson, the host of being boss, because I think she does that extra step, um, to actually get to know her listeners. Like she knows her listeners, like by first name, um, some of the people that have been listening to her for, for years and years, What they do.
She knows what their businesses are, um, and is [00:16:00] actively engaging with them. So I think that, yes, you can, you know, we have the reviews, we have Twitter, as you said, and LinkedIn, but you can be creative as a creator and actually figure out ways to, um, Listen to your listeners, um, which is very important. And I think that's important for me as I work with shows to ensure that that, um, all of our shows have impact.
David Tintner: What are HubSpot's goals, growth, uh, cannulation, or what would I expect to find if this success.
Alanah Joseph: So how spot podcast network is the audio destination for business professionals? So I think our success is somewhat tied to the success of the people that listen to our shows. So I think success for us, of course we have, you know, like we want to reach millions monthly and we have kind of those. Those [00:17:00] targets, for example.
Um, but I think that we're always looking to, to grow and bring in more content creators that can help. Engage and impact people because the reason being is from a network standpoint, when we bring in a creator or a podcast, or like yourself, you are helping people or sharing strategies and actionable takeaways with people.
Um, as you're presenting, as our pod-casters within the network are presenting their strategies. HubSpot is the tool to execute the strategy. So it goes hand in hand the content and the tool, it just works so well together. And so I think for us it's Hey, we really, the network to the listener is, Hey, we really want you to be successful.
We really want to see you grow your business, grow your career. Here's some content that can help you, [00:18:00] um, you know, develop strategies and. Action items. Here's the tool that you can use to execute all of those strategies. So I think it comes from like a good place and our success is very much tied to one, bringing in talented creators that have, whose intentions are to positively impact their listeners and then being able to provide a tool so that their listeners can actually find stuff.
So that's like the, the overall arching goal, but I would say, of course we are, we have no plans on, you know, pausing or stopping our progress by any means. And in the past six months we have just made incredible gains. And so I, I foresee that next year will be very bright for us. And, um, we'll continue to really grow and scale the network so we can reach more people and impact more than.
David Tintner: [00:19:00] And do you look at the direct revenue generated from the network .
Alanah Joseph: Yes. And no we're a bit limited within the podcast industry and the things that we can and cannot track. So we have some data limitations as does everyone in the podcast industry. Um, but we do use different software to be able to better track, um, kind of the leads that come from our podcasts.
Um, so we. Pod sites, we use chartable and some of those programs that will help us at least give us an idea of the kind of impact that the network is having on the business. Um, but we can tell that there is, uh, that this was a great initiative for us. Um, and we are definitely seeing some benefits from, from the business side [00:20:00] on the success that the network has.
David Tintner: Yeah, it's definitely a challenge in the industry. How you measure sales from your spend right? How do you measure return on ad spend? Um, and it sounds like you you're measuring it, but you kind of accepted that it's not something that can be said for a fact, you know, we spent X and we got back Y fact, uh, so that's, is that why you're looking at, I'd say larger metrics and kind of larger impact and not really direct success from a single download
Alanah Joseph: yeah, I think that we're not able to, you know, other forms of content, I would say like YouTube blogs, it's a bit easier to track those things. Um, and with podcasts and with audio content, it's just a little bit more difficult. So we're relying on yes. Some of those larger metrics, uh, to tell us, or [00:21:00] to give us an idea of the kind of impact that we're having.
Um, Or the, the audience that we're reaching, I should say,
David Tintner: wait, when you're looking to, uh, start working with a new podcast that someone new to the network, do you need any sort of editorial control or, um, or approvals, or how does that work on the level of the content?
Alanah Joseph: Sure. So we bring in podcasters because we love their content because they're great creators and they are really good at their job.
So if we brought them in, we don't need to help them do their job, let content creators do what they do best, which is to create content. So, no, we do not try to have any editorial control. Um, we allow them to basically continue. Businesses usual. And then when it comes to the [00:22:00] ads, right? The HubSpot ads that are within them, we still work very collaboratively.
So we do not deliver scripts and say, read this word for word. This is, and you must read this word for word. We kind of. Work with the creator to see, like, what are you comfortable with? What works best for you? Do you want a script? Do you want an outline? Do you feel comfortable like reading the script or like what works best for you?
Um, that's like from step one from onboarding and I think it takes a little time for someone to get really comfortable within our scripts, to the point where now they're really infusing their personality, they're infusing their voice into this script. So it doesn't just feel. And ad, we want to ensure that all of our ads are custom and contextual in order to do that.
We have to work collaboratively with the host because no one knows the podcast target audience like the host does. And [00:23:00] so we. We rely on them for, um, input and feedback in order to create an ad that will resonate with their audience. And so even with that, we try to have a little less control. Of course there are like CTA days and those types of things, but we want the creator to.
Take the script and really make it their own. So I would say in terms of the network, we are always in support of the creator. We always work with creators and work collaboratively. So, we don't try to have a lot of editorial control. And even with our advertisement, we try to make that a collaborative.
David Tintner: I have to say, it sounds like an amazing deal so they get to keep doing what they love doing. And it sounds like when they join you as a networker, it's basically I'm [00:24:00] committed to them getting a long-term, um, advertising deal, where they have to re retain editorial control and can do ads that are, that are native and they can continue to do, I believe you mentioned before additional ads for.
Alanah Joseph: Yeah. With some of them they do, as long as they, you know, of course it's like, you can't talk about our competitors, but, um, other than that, yeah, you can, if you want to do a HubSpot ad and we have certain placements, but at the end of the show, if you want to do an add on, I dunno, bubble bath, like that's totally on you.
That's that's up to you. That's fine with us. So, yeah, we, we try to ensure that this is the, not only the audio destination for professionals, but it is the destination for creators. We want to ensure that our creators feel like they are valued to feel [00:25:00] like, um, you know, that we are in support of them and we are invested in their success and growth.
And so, um, We take a lot of pride in, in our sourcing, um, workflows and in bringing the right people on. But once they're in, it's like, you know, we're, we're happy to work with them and we're happy to collaborate with them. So I hope that everyone feels like you and that this is the best place for a creator to, to kind of be a part of.
David Tintner: And how long is the committed.
Alanah Joseph: It depends. It depends. It depends on the show. It depends on once again, it comes down to that conversation with the creator and, um, them telling us what works best for them and what works best for us. All of these kinds of collaborations and partnerships are stem from extensive conversations that we're having to ensure that everyone feels like, you know, this is the best case scenario for them.
So that varies.
David Tintner: Do you take [00:26:00] inspiration from any other brands that are doing original content or, or doing anything similar that you've seen out there?
Alanah Joseph: I would say, uh, maybe not other brands, but I do take inspiration. From kind of the history of HubSpot. And like I said, like inbound marketing and how we can grow in scale. I don't think that we are necessarily looking to other brands. I think that HubSpot has always been a leader in content marketing. And so we're looking at how we can continue to be a leader within content marketing and continue to be innovative. And so the desire here was to be. The cool new thing that is happening right now in content marketing.
And that is the HubSpot podcast network. So I think that we just want to, in the same way that we, I think we are a leader with our, with our blogs, we want to be a [00:27:00] leader within podcasting and with audio.
David Tintner: So how do you source a, a new, uh, creator? What does that workflow look like?
Alanah Joseph: Two different ways. One, if you are a creator with a business podcast, you can always go to hubspot.com/podcast networks, scroll to the bottom and you will see a link to apply. So we have people actually fill out a form and apply to the network.
And then we evaluate from there. Otherwise, we are looking at our content gaps and places in which we would like to have more creators. So for example, within the network, we have entrepreneurship shows, leadership shows, marketing sales, customer success. Um, so w we look at kind of those niche or those categories, and think about where can we add more creators, um, in, in what are the content gaps?
Where, where are we missing content and try to [00:28:00] fill in from there? Uh, so there's a few different ways that we look at it, of course, and then our hosts are just so. Great. They're our biggest cheerleaders. And so we, because we have this collaborative approach with our house, we commonly get, uh, You know, inquiries from other hosts within the same kind of community.
So our hosts kind of talk to their fellow hosts and then they reach out to us that that certainly happens because you know, they're our, they're our biggest fans, which we appreciate. I think that that marks the second. Of the network. I believe if people that are within the network are going out and saying, I love being a part of this network, you should be a part of this network too.
And we are not asking them to do so. They're doing that voluntarily. That shows that our network is very successful. I, I think at [00:29:00] least,
David Tintner: Do you have some, uh, shows that are on your wishlist that you really want to add??
Alanah Joseph: Hm. I would say, uh, One thing that I will note within the podcasting industry. If you look at the top charts for business, for business specific, whether it's marketing sales business, not a lot of diversity there. Um, typically, uh, when you look at the top 50 business podcasts, I think there may be.
Three black men, zero black women. Um, and when you think of, or just just women in general, aren't aren't, as, it's not a 50 50 split between women and men that within the business podcasting space. So my wishlist is actually that. In regards to the network specifically, but [00:30:00] I do desire to make some sort of impact to change and make those business charts a little bit more diverse, um, because the business world itself is incredibly, incredibly diverse.
And so I would love to see that diversity reflected within the business podcasting charts, especially. Myself as a black woman, I want to see people that look like me. In, you know, leading and hosting a top business podcasts. So I'm trying to figure out the best way that we can do that. And over the weekend, we were a sponsor for a conference called Afros and audio, which is a.
Conference that's created for black podcasters and got a chance to kind of listen to them, um, in terms of the things that they want and what they need to be successful. And so, um, that's what I wish and that's what I desire is [00:31:00] to help more women in people of color, um, be successful. Space. So, uh, if I can figure out how to utilize our resources at the network to make that happen, I definitely will do so.
One thing that we talk about a lot in the podcasting space is discoverability. And for a lot of us. Our, where we discover podcasts. And so we're kind of stuck in this loop where the top charts are not very diverse, but those are the only shows that you're seeing.
So then you continue listening to those shows. So I think, yeah. Go a little deeper than the top charts when you're trying to find a new podcast to listen to. Um, there are tons of incredible podcasts that don't have super large audiences, but can very much, you know, you you'll be able to relate to them or whatever the case may be.
So I would say if you want to help this initiative to [00:32:00] create more diversity, then you have to dig a little deeper, go on, maybe, uh, Try to find a podcast it's led by a woman or a person of color and in support that show, because that's the only way they're going to make it into the top charts. And once they make it into the top charts, then that's great because they'll continue people continue to discover their show.
So, um, yeah, I w I would love to see us support, um, people of color in podcasting and women in podcasting. Um, as much as.
David Tintner: Something that also comes to mind to me. And it's a great point that you bring up the discoverability is kind of this like closed loop, that if we don't do something to fix it and we just get stuck in this, in this ride. Um, I, I am so most people as well. Also notice that on, um, on many interview style podcasts, which business shows often tend to be interview style podcasts.
You hear the same guests over. And [00:33:00] that's also because the discoverability of the, I guess, where you're saying that it ties in here too, not just on the shows that you're listening to, but the guests that host and bring note is, oh, okay. I heard this guest brought on that other show that I listened to. I want to bring them on my show.
Alanah Joseph: Absolutely. And one of the things that we do ask for our shows that join the network is that they are intentional about their guests and that they're bringing on people onto their show from all walks of life.
And our shows tend to be pretty good at that. But I would also say as a listener, right. That sometimes I want to hear, I, I, I love shows where we're talking to CEOs, right. But sometimes I want to hear from. Uh, director or someone who is a little closer to the ins and outs and the day to days, um, because they can be very helpful as well.
And so I would say if you have a podcast right, open it, open it up a little bit to, um, maybe people that aren't necessarily [00:34:00] CEOs because yeah, we, like, I feel like we hear a lot from those incredible CEOs. Um, And so I think that, that, that might be cool just as someone who like listens to 12,000 podcasts, um, it seems like every day that's very dramatic.
I don't listen to that many, but, um, that's kind of what it can feel like. So, yeah. And that brings me back to. Me really appreciating being on this show because I am a senior marketing manager. I work for HubSpot and I'm a black woman and I love all of those things. And so it's really great to be on a show and share my perspective and experience and, um, yeah, thanks for having me, David.
David Tintner: Well, thank you very much for coming on the drain us. Uh, it's been awesome to be here. Everything that you built, um, which has told you is really, really impressive.
As we wrap up here, I would love for you [00:35:00] to, uh, they never know how they can get in touch with you. And, um, and, um, Anything that you'd like to share with what's coming out
Alanah Joseph: next week? Yeah. Um, absolutely. So if you're interested in the network, definitely go to hubspot.com/podcast network and check out all of our incredible shows.
If you're interested in the work that I'm doing specifically, please find me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to answer any questions that you have about the network or about my career journey. Um, and I always post updates there. To my career endeavors. So definitely looking forward to connecting with you all on LinkedIn
David Tintner: and all brand marketers out there.
I really think what Ana is doing leading there is basically we're setting the new gold standard for how companies should be thinking about content and advertising within podcasts. It's super cool to see. And I [00:36:00] think if I, if more brands jump on the band, It will only help the podcasting industry.
Alanah Joseph: Absolutely. Oh yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Sorry. Thank you for having me, David. I really appreciate being on the show and, uh, yeah, definitely love this show. And, um, I know that I listened to the episode with John Lee Dumas from entrepreneurs on fire, so, and he's so great. So. Yes. And a member of the network. So definitely listen to that show if you haven't done so already
thank you so much.