It’s January, and this is the year you’re finally going to start Inbound Marketing at your company. You’ve seen the powerful case studies about how inbound can help companies grow. You’ve read all the top Inbound blogs and books, and you have a general idea about how Inbound works. You’ve gotten approval from your CEO to buy HubSpot and get the ball rolling. Now what?
The good news is that you’ve taken the first step—you’ve committed to change! But like any big change, success depends on setting realistic expectations, developing healthy habits, measuring your progress, and staying motivated when things get tough.
After years of implementing Inbound Marketing, we have lots of experience helping companies set realistic expectations for their first year. Here are the key points we emphasize when our clients are getting started on their inbound journey.
5 Things To Expect During Your First Year of Inbound Marketing
1. Lots of education and learning
Inbound Marketing seems like a relatively simple methodology, but it’s not easy to implement. There are a lot of moving pieces, and the technology landscape is constantly changing. Plan to spend a significant amount of time learning fundamentals and best practices before diving into execution.
- Everyone on your marketing team should get Inbound Certified—including developers, writers, graphic designers, and project managers.
- If you’re using marketing automation software like HubSpot, you should also plan to get trained and certified in the use of the software.
- Expect to spend time educating your sales and leadership team about Inbound Marketing, because you will need their cooperation to create great content.
2. Alignment between sales and marketing teams
Inbound marketing draws its power from the quality of the content you’re producing for the target buyers you have defined. You’ll need to spend time working with your sales team to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Plan to work with your sales team to understand your buyer personas and behavior, and the information they need to decide to buy from you.
- As prospects interact with your marketing material, you’ll need to connect the data you’re gathering to the CRM system your sales team uses to track and close opportunities.
- Expect to establish a regular meeting pulse between your sales and marketing teams to collaborate on strategy and content, and review results to make adjustments to your tactics.
3. Investment in building an inbound team
Inbound marketing unicorns are extremely rare—don’t expect your part-time intern to create the strategy, collaborate with your sales team, set up all the tools, design and build your website, write all your blogs, manage your social media, produce amazing content offers, and analyze your results.
- If you have an existing team with these skill sets, see #1—make sure they’re educated in how Inbound Marketing differs from what they’ve been doing up until now.
- If you have no team, you’ll need to recruit a team of freelancers and act as their general contractor to coordinate all of their activities.
- Consider hiring an experienced Inbound Agency to avoid wasting time making rookie mistakes. Depending on your needs, you should look for an agency that's capable of designing and running your entire inbound program, guiding and augmenting your existing team, or "teaching you to fish” independently.
4. Investment in building a scalable infrastructure
Most companies find that they need to complete a few infrastructure-building projects to position themselves for success.
- Expect to revamp the design and functionality of your website to focus on what your buyer needs to decide to buy from you. For some companies, this means a total website redesign, while others just need to tweak the messaging and add a few calls to action.
- Plan to invest in marketing automation software to help you manage all of the moving pieces and tie your activity to results—launching landing pages, circulating content on social media, tracking metrics, collecting lead intelligence, and more.
- You’ll need to invest in creating several initial content offers, landing pages, workflows, and email campaigns to kick-start your marketing engine. If you craft them properly, they’ll continue to serve you for years to come.
5. Discipline and patience
After you’ve built the infrastructure, you need to feed it a steady stream of content to start seeing measurable results.
- If content is king, then consistency is queen. Plan to develop a regular blogging habit (at least one blog per week to keep traffic flowing), and establish a consistent recipe for producing new content offers, videos, webinars, etc. to keep people engaged with fresh information.
- Plan to do a few things well, and execute them consistently, so it’s easier to understand the impact of your activity on your results. If you have too many balls in the air, you’re likely to experience inconsistent results and lose traction.
- Develop a regular strategic planning habit—meet quarterly and annually to review results, solve issues, and set reasonable goals for the next time period.
Inbound marketing is powerful, but it doesn’t work overnight. We encourage people to create a one- and three-year vision for their Inbound Marketing program. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But knowing what to expect down the road gives you a great head start for the year ahead!
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