Much will be said over the next few days about HubSpot’s $32M Series D round. The pattern of conversations will look something like this: First there will be a burst of emotion (observers will shout congratulations from the rooftops and laud HubSpot for attracting Google Ventures and as investors). Second there’ll be a wave of sober dialogue about what this investment means for HubSpot’s business. Then there’ll be speculation about the larger industry – who is next to get funded, who is next to get acquired. Finally, after about a week, there will be silence. We will all return to our jobs, already in progress. Because all industries – whether sports, academia or even marketing automation – come down to a single word: execution.

I should note that Eloqua serves a very different market than HubSpot. We focus on organizations above $5 million in revenues and we have great strength in large enterprises. The scale difference is significant: HubSpot tracked 70 million page views last year – that’s 6 days of Eloqua traffic. We tracked 4.7 billion page views for our clients.

HubSpot has carved out their own niche: Inbound marketing for small businesses. And as niches go, HubSpot’s is a compelling one: They sell demand generation and web traffic tools to companies with fewer than 100 employees. According to, a business database, 23 million companies fit this bill. The base of the pyramid is wide, so to speak. So with their 4,000 clients, HubSpot has penetrated less than .02% of its target market. It’s an exciting time for HubSpot (and I certainly wouldn’t want to be InfusionSoft right now). Of course, it is incredibly difficult – and expensive – to market to 23 million prospects, and then service the thousands you win, which, I imagine, is why HubSpot has closed four rounds totaling $65 million.

Go big or go home, they say. HubSpot is going big – on small business.

What does this news mean for Eloqua? It means three things.

  1. It means interest in the established marketing automation and emerging Revenue Performance Management sectors continues to swell. Oracle bought Market2Lead. IBM bought Unica. Teradata bought Aprimo. And any number of players closed financing rounds. Follow the money and it will lead you directly to our industry. And with money comes interest, which brings me to point number two.
  2. It means penetration will increase. Marketers who hadn’t previously heard of this category are beginning to contact us. Search traffic is up, year over year, quarter over quarter. Marketers are discovering this industry in all different ways – sometimes it’s by catching wind of a big investment, other times it’s seeing a headline about an acquisition. The strong players are benefitting from this increase in awareness and demand. It’s not yet shooting fish in a barrel, but long gone are the days of casting from shore and hoping for a bite.
  3. It means we must keep innovating. HubSpot didn’t luck its way into this round (or the three that preceded it). They innovated their way to the money. They carved out a category – like we did with Digital Body Language – and executed. Although we sell vastly different solutions to vastly different buyers, we share HubSpot’s ambition. We are taking something remarkably complex (helping companies know exactly what impact moving any marketing lever will have on revenue performance) and packaging it up in the most simple, elegant way imaginable (we call it Eloqua10).

It’s been less than 10 months since I first blogged about a major development in the lead management industry. Since that time, I’ve written about three other bellwether moments. Who will be next? I’d love to hear your guesses.