How much time does your department budget right now for inbound marketing? Is it enough?
One of the biggest roadblocks encountered by marketing departments as they work to implement marketing automation and inbound marketing solutions like HubSpot is understanding the investment of time required to make the most of the technology.
Those companies who see the best results from HubSpot are those who do three things we talked about last week:
Blog. A lot.
Leverage lead nurturing.
Analyze data to improve their approach.
Accomplishing those objectives takes time.
Two Ways to Think of Time
We can think of the time involved in finding inbound marketing success in two ways:
Weekly hours committed to the tasks of inbound marketing
The timeline for implementing inbound marketing technology and reaching the critical mass of needed content and momentum
The first measurement of time you need to consider in deciding if you are giving inbound marketing the time it needs is the day-to-day commitment to the various tasks involved in inbound marketing:
Writing blog posts
Creating downloadable content
Crafting landing pages and lead nurturing email workflows
Promoting blog posts and content through social media
Managing the technology itself
These all require time—some require a lot of time in order to reach the levels that HubSpot says are produce optimum results: 40 blog posts per month.
(See our suggestions for how many hours you should budget to implementing HubSpot in your first year using the technology in our HubSpot Implementation Timeline and Planning Template.)
What if you can’t commit that optimum amount of time to inbound marketing? Could you do less and still see results?
Yes. Not every organization is going to have the bandwidth and budget to implement a technology like HubSpot at the optimum level; you have to work within your own means.
But in doing so, recognize that reducing this first time commitment concept, you will lengthen the other concept of time we discussed: the timeline for reaching critical mass. HubSpot representatives say that in order to see significant impacts from your inbound marketing efforts, you need to have published 120 blog posts. At their optimum level of blogging volume, that will take three months. If you are blogging less frequently, truly moving the needle on website traffic and lead generation will take longer.
You can do put in more day-to-day hours committed to inbound marketing tasks to shorten the timeline, or accept that the timeline will be longer when you can’t dedicate the weekly hours of effort.
Staffing Resources & Time to Make HubSpot Work
HubSpot says you need 40 blog posts a month to realize optimum results, but the time commitment involved in that level of content creation may not be manageable for many small to mid-sized businesses.
Even if you choose to reduce that goal to something you feel is more manageable, such as 16 blog posts/month (that’s 4 per week), you should expect your writers to spend between 5 and 20 hours each week on those posts, depending on the length and depth of detail. Add in content creation (at least 4 pieces of content for each monthly campaign) and all of the supporting tasks that make inbound marketing work, and you are looking at as much as 80 hours per week to hit optimum content creation volumes.
Early in your use of marketing technology, you will also need to budget time for training staff on the software, and possibly even on the entire inbound marketing concept, if your team is new to this approach. There will also be overall strategy development that needs to occur before you start creating all of that content.
Over the first few months, the hours needed for training will be less, but you will then need to add in time for HubSpot’s third key to success: data analysis.
Timeline to HubSpot Success
Regardless of your content creation volume, hitting full speed with HubSpot and other marketing automation solutions for inbound marketing won’t happen overnight.
Just getting your staff on board, proficient and comfortable with all of the tools and options will take at least three months, HubSpot advisors say, and if your typical sales cycle is 2 years, you can’t expect to simply jumping into inbound marketing to turn new leads into customers in only 6 months.
And, I noted earlier, if your blogging pace is slower than optimal, the timeline for seeing significant impacts will be lengthened accordingly.
Remember that your commitment to inbound marketing is not a quick one-off campaign; it is a marketing philosophy that develops and grows stronger over time.
How to Shorten the Timeline
While some aspects of reaching critical mass with your inbound marketing will simply take the time it takes, there are things you can do to move implementation more quickly (or at least avoid delays).
Of course, restructuring your team or adding new staff to take on the increased content creation and technology management duties might be an option. But few companies are in a position to either reassign significant staff time or to add new hires—given the range of skills needed within inbound marketing, you would potentially need 3 or more new people, with the accompanying salaries, benefits and overhead.
Freelancers can fill some content creation roles, but come with their own challenges in finding qualified professionals and managing multiple people outside your own walls.
The third alternative is to work with a HubSpot-certified agency partner that can bring all of the needed skills and bandwidth right to you.
By working with an agency partner, you have access to individuals who are already experts in the platform, so they can get your inbound marketing up and running while your staff is training. You eliminate that learning curve from the timeline.
You will also have access to writers, designers, strategists, social media experts and others, without having to hire for each of those positions by contracting for the hours needed within each individual skill set.
(See our checklist for choosing an agency partner for a list of criteria to consider and questions to ask: Choosing a HubSpot Agency Partner Checklist.)
A contract to implement HubSpot or another inbound marketing technology is a significant investment, and it has the potential for incredible results. But you will need to also invest the time into the tasks that set the technology up for success—either with in-house resources or by hiring outside help.
If your HubSpot and marketing automation mistake is not committing enough resources to create the needed volume of quality content, download the solution.