Here's something most small businesses already realize: On the Web, no one knows how big you are.
Of course, knowing something and actually using that knowledge to your advantage are two entirely different things. While it is a level playing field in the sense that anyone can throw up a Web site, many small businesses lack the time, personnel or know-how to turn their sites into search-engine-optimized, content-generating, metrics-filled powerhouses that not only promote their products or services, but also build community and help their customers succeed.
That's why a recent report on companies using HubSpot software for inbound marketing has some big news for small businesses: Not only can you can run with the big boys (and girls), you may even be able to gain some ground on them.
The report, prepared by an MIT Sloan MBA student and released this month, looked at data from 800 HubSpot customers along with survey responses from nearly 250 customers.
The overall results are extremely positive regardless of the size of the business, especially considering the economic landscape during the period that the study reviewed. According to the report, customers saw a 60 percent increase in unique visitors to their sites and 4.2 times more leads after five months of use.
Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents said sales increased - and we're pretty much talking 2009 here, people - 29 percent did not know, and 13 percent saw a decrease.
Good news for small business
These positive numbers are consistent regardless of the size of the company or whether it's B2B or B2C, but firms with fewer than 25 employees fared particularly well. Among those businesses, more than half reported increases of more than 25 percent in Web traffic and sales leads. And a little less than a quarter of the smallest of the small - businesses with one to five employees - reported sales increases of more than 25 percent.
Part of the reason for these dramatic gains may be that small businesses typically don't have the budget, staff, tools or expertise to leverage inbound marketing to its fullest potential without a little help. That's where HubSpot - and its certified partners - come in.
HubSpot provides the tools and detailed instruction on the software, as well as a ton of useful, free information on inbound marketing.
Honestly, this is enough for some clients. But is it enough for you?
One section of the otherwise positive HubSpot report included comments on the challenges of successful inbound marketing:
"We have better insight into who is visiting our web site. We have not had the time to really use the tool to enhance our web site - and with only one marketing person and a web support person who is only part-time, there are just not enough hours in the day."
"The challenge is doing the work, writing compelling articles, blog posts and connecting them to ways to attract new prospects and build deeper relationships with existing people on my list."
"The tools are there, but finding the time to fully use it is the challenge."
Partners in success
Are you intrigued by the concept of inbound marketing, but not sure if you have the time or expertise to get the most out of your investment in the software?
Whether it's developing an overall inbound marketing strategy or working specifically on things such as site or landing page design, lead nurturing, social media or blogging, HubSpot has more than 20 certified partners and an inbound marketing services marketplace. Already it has helped more than 100 clients - small and large - get the most out of their investment.
Now, you shouldn't hire an agency thinking they're just going to do something that you don't have the time to do, like blogging, for example. Sure, many partners can provide that service, but there's a lot more to it than simply outsourcing your work.
Hiring an agency is about getting the expertise, strategy and results that you can't get on your own (in the same amount of time, or ever). It's about optimizing your time spent on inbound marketing so you know what you're doing will yield real results. Agencies and consultants have invested thousands of hours in their own education and experience, and most likely thousands of dollars in professional software, tools, conferences, etc. These are things you could never get by "going it alone."
When it comes to inbound marketing, the tools, the talent and the results are waiting. The only thing missing may be your business.