Lessons From the Best Marketers of the 2012 Inc. 5000

This article was written by Rebecca Corliss

This week, Inc.com announced the 2012 Inc. 5000, its list of fastest-growing businesses determined by their three year revenue growth percentage. HubSpot is honored to have been included for the past two years, and this year our CEO Brian Halligan will be highlighted as a speaker at the Inc. 500|5000 Conference on “How to Grow by Leaps and Inbound.” Needless to say, we’re pretty pumped.

To shed light on the impact inbound marketing has had on the growth of these companies overall, we took a look at the marketing effectiveness of all 5,000 companies via our free marketing evaluation tool, Marketing Grader, and the results were fascinating! This blog post will pull out some of the highlights (and yes, the lowlights, too) from these stellar companies’ marketing presences.

The goal here is not only to learn how a company grows through excellent inbound marketing, but also learn how to examine a company’s website — whether it’s your own, or an industry competitor’s — to see what opportunities exist for improvement. Let’s dive in!

First, a Word on the Tools of the Trade

To perform this analysis, we used a tool called Marketing Grader. It’s is a free tool — that means you can use it, too! — that measures your entire marketing funnel … not just surface level stuff like how optimized your homepage is. It also gives you actionable advice on how to get more out of your marketing, so you come out of the analysis with some things to do to make your next grade higher. It has run over five million reports since it launched in December 2011 (and a million reports in September alone!) giving feedback on top of the funnel marketing like blogging and social media, middle of the funnel marketing like marketing automation and email, and finally, analytics to close the loop. In fact, you get a specific score for each marketing stage.

HubSpot wanted to find the marketing rock stars within the top ranking companies in the Inc. 5000, so we used this as our tool to evaluate them, and we’ll highlight the key lessons of these successful companies below. Below are the top ten marketers on the Inc. 5000 based on their combined Marketing Grader Score and Inc. 5000 rank.

Top 10 Marketers from the Inc. 5000


Inc. Rank

Marketing Grade

Marketing Grader Report

1. Acquia 8 92  view report →
2. AdRoll 7 88  view report →
3. Nasty Gal 11 91  view report →
4. UTest 16 89  view report →
5. WebiMax 37 91  view report →
6. Gold & Silver Buyers 5 73  view report →
7. Vitals 47 88  view report →
8. Gemvara 48 88  view report →
9. Red Frog Events 9 77  view report →
10. Datto 38 85  view report →


Congrats, top 10! Now let’s dive into some of the high points of the analyses.

Gold & Silver Buyers – Inc. Rank 5, Marketing Grader Score 73

Let’s start with Gold & Silver Buyers, one of the highest ranked on the Inc. 5000 list. Their Marketing Grader Score is respectable at 73, but that means there’s tons of room for improvement … especially when you compare it to the scores of some of the other companies in our top 10 list. Let’s dive in to what they’re doing well, and what they could improve upon.


marketing grader gsb resized 600


When it comes to things like social media and SEO, this company is doing everything they should, just not at the volume or frequency they should be for maximum results. For example, they have a blog … sweet! But they’re not blogging that frequently, only every 19 days on average … bummer. They have a Twitter account and Facebook page … yay! But their content isn’t getting shared on social media that often … Hmmm. Know why that is? Because it’s not that easy to share their content, as there are no social sharing buttons. That’s a huge miss, because blog posts that are shared on Twitter have 113% more inbound links than those that aren’t shared on social media. Upping the frequency of their blogging, and then making it really easy for people to share that content, would result in some serious TOFU wins for this company.

Let’s move on to the opportunities they have in the middle of the funnel, too — because there’s one glaring missed opportunity that we love to talk about. And that’s marketing automation. And for Gold & Silver Buyers, it doesn’t appear they’re making use of any marketing automation software. Now, we know not every company is ready for marketing automation software. But we also know how much easier our lives are when we use it — it’s fast, efficient, targeted — it is, in a word, awesome. So without knowing everything about the state of the MOFU marketing, I’ll just say … consider it 🙂

Nasty Gal – Inc. Rank 11, Marketing Grader Score 91

Let’s take a look at someone who could value from some improvement with their Analytics. Nasty Gal (awesome name, no?) already has a fantastic Marketing Grade at 91, but just look at that 50% in their Analytics section! If they picked that score up, their marketing would totally skyrocket.


nasty gal marketing grader resized 600


So, what is it they can do, and why is it important they do it? Well, it doesn’t look like they’re using any software to measure the performance of their website. That doesn’t mean they need to invest in closed-loop marketing software necessarily; not yet, at least. It just means something free, like Google Analytics, would help them get some insight into basic metrics that every marketer should know, like whether they’re trending upward in site traffic month over month, what keywords they’re getting visits for, and what pages on their site are most popular. Without knowing basic information like this, it’s hard to know whether your marketing activities are having any impact at all — negative or positive.

Read the rest of this article here, at http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33670/Lessons-From-the-Best-Marketers-of-the-2012-Inc-5000.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HubSpot+%28HubSpot%29&utm_content=Google+Reader


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s