5 Lessons from OpenView’s Inbound Marketing Journey

May 28, 2012

Editor’s Note: This blog post is a condensed version of an article that was originally posted on HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog. You can read the full version here

These days marketing is no longer simply about delivering your message to your target audience. It’s about working closely with buyers to better understand their pain points, developing content and collateral that speaks to those issues.

One of the best ways of accomplishing that is through an inbound marketing program. Unfortunately, developing one takes time, resources, patience and commitment – not exactly the types of things startup and expansion-stage companies have in spades. But the good news is that if we can do it, so can you.

If you’re trying to get an inbound marketing initiative off the ground, here are five things we’ve learned at OpenView from our own three-year journey that might help:

1) Be Patient

It took two years for us to really see the fruits of our labor, but the wait was worth it. By setting and sticking to a specific inbound strategy, we were able to grow our newsletter subscribership from zero to 12,000 and increase traffic to our three sites by 600 percent. Inbound marketing takes time to be effective, so don’t bail on it after six months — even if you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for.

2) Be Consistent

Nothing will kill a blogging or content creation initiative faster than an inconsistent publishing schedule. HubSpot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing research shows that customer acquisition is directly correlated with blogging frequency; 66% of businesses that blog have acquired a customer through their blog. Be sure to update your blog at least once a week (the more the better) and be sure to post or share fresh, timely content regularly.

3) Get Organized

While an editorial calendar is an important tool for mapping out the content you plan to publish, an equally important inbound marketing tool is a content creation calendar. Like an editorial calendar, it helps you keep track of the content you plan to publish. It also provides a more in-depth view of where each piece of content stands, who its stakeholders are, and what the next steps are in its creation and publication. You can create one easily in an Excel spreadsheet and have it feed directly into your editorial calendar.

4) Build the Right Infrastructure

To be truly successful, an inbound marketing effort and content strategy requires buy-in from everyone in your company, along with the right external people, processes, and tools to make it work. At OpenView, our director of content strategy and managing editor lead our initiative, and we also rely on a strong network of freelance writers and graphic designers to help us quickly and efficiently produce high-quality content.

5) Don’t Try to Do Everything at Once

Three years into our inbound marketing initiative, we’re publishing ebooks, case studies, exclusive industry reports, and unique infographics, to go with our Labs site, blog, and newsletter. But we didn’t try to do all of those things on day one. Biting off more than you can chew will simply water down your content and prevent you from providing the high-quality, targeted information your customers need. That being said, don’t hesitate to take risks and try new types of content to see what resonates with your audience. If it works well, repeat it. If not, move on to something else.

The bottom line is that marketing today is inbound marketing. It’s no longer a fad or a revolutionary idea. It’s a marketing necessity, especially for growing companies that need to validate themselves or their brand, and educate their audience about who they are, what they do, and how they can help address a specific customer need or pain point. If you’re not producing content that does all of that, you’re letting someone else dictate your brand and its future. In today’s fast moving, web-based world, that’s a recipe for business disaster.

Editor’s Note: For more great tips on improving your B2B marketing strategies (and for growing your business), sign up for the OpenView newsletter.

SVP Marketing & Sales

<strong>Brian Zimmerman</strong> was a Partner at OpenView from 2006 until 2014. While at OpenView he worked with our portfolio executive teams to deliver the highest impact value-add consulting services, primarily focused on go-to-market strategies. Brian is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at <a href="http://www.5nine.com/">5Nine Software</a>.