crisiscomms_hubspot-1080x675Last week, marketing automation provider, Hubspot, experienced an issue with one of their critical infrastructure systems that supports many parts of the platform, apparently right after announcing upgrades to its enterprise suite. HubSpot, for those not aware, is widely credited for inventing and popularizing Inbound Marketing and creating the first scalable marketing automation platform dedicated to serving the small and mid-sized market.

Following infrastructure failure, HubSpot immediately began communicating with customers via email and social media. The organization promised to thoroughly investigate and publish an in-depth retrospective in the following week to provide more information about the cause of this issue.

While customers posted and shared their frustration with HubSpot on social media, the organization’s crisis communications were spot on during the entire outage and beyond. With an eye towards customer perception and loyalty, the company had the essentials right: When things go wrong and clients are impacted, you should communicate with speed, empathy, and control. Their communications succeeded at doing just that.

To move the narrative away from an emotional reaction to a technology failure and focus forward during a crisis, the organization must start by expressing regret and empathy. It should also show firm resolve to fix the situation in the most timely fashion possible, even discussing how they will implement changes to avoid a repeat of the infrastructure glitch. It should finally offer some form of resolution. All of this must be done without any outward signs of defensiveness, nor any claims of ignorance or reassigning blame.

We assembled a selection of HubSpot’s communications — emails, social media interactions and even a follow-up note from the company’s Chief Operating Officer JD Sherman — and analyzed them for their effectiveness at crisis communications. Swyft considers that any messaging should adhere to what is commonly known as the ‘4 R’s’ of crisis communications, which is how we present the HubSpot quotes below:



HubSpot Quote: For those affected, we’re so sorry for the impact this has had on your business. We know that the timing of this, at the end of the month and the quarter, makes this situation especially painful for some of our customers.


HubSpot Quote: As of 5:00 PM EDT, we have been able to restore the affected system and have been working throughout the day to catch up on all of the data. This process will continue until we have been able to fully restore all of the functionality and catch up with all of our systems.


HubSpot Quote: Your growth is our top priority, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure these types of issues don’t happen in the future. We’re working tirelessly to ensure that every last customer need is met.


HubSpot Quote: We have identified the root cause of the issue and are working on our end to prevent this from occurring again.

The company could have taken a major hit to its reputation by not responding quickly and thoroughly. Instead, thanks to quick thinking and what looks to Swyft like the implementation of a well-crafted communications plan, customers were kept updated throughout the system outage. The timely, persistent, and comprehensive response helped contain the damage to HubSpot’s reputation.

B2B tech companies would be wise to observe and emulate how HubSpot managed such a critical infrastructure failure with transparency, empathy, and resolve. Anything short of that could risk causing damage to both reputation and revenue.

This article was previously posted on the Swyft’s Insight blog.