Inbound Marketing: A Startup Growth Story With TeamGenius


TL;DR - Inbound Impact Overview

Every sales pipeline presents its own unique set of challenges and rewards. Getting pipeline momentum up and running fast for a startup with big ambitions – that’s a whole different ball game. That was both the challenge and opportunity facing the SportsTech startup, TeamGenius.

inbound marketing - startup growth story

Both co-founders were feeling stretched thin as the number of hats they wore continued to multiply. It was time to partner up. So they turned to Lake One to build a startup marketing program and get the pipeline moving.

In just the first 8 months of ramping up a robust inbound marketing strategy, the momentum started to roll including:

  • Quickly established positive ROI for Inbound Marketing (48%)
  • + 15% marketing assisted customer growth (35 new customers)
  • + 634 new leads
  • +300 MQLs
  • Website visits increased 406%
  • Organic traffic increased 385%
  • 8 content partnerships secured
  • +38% Twitter, +75% Facebook +6.8% Linkedin Social Community Growth
  • +250 new keywords ranked

About TeamGenius

Fresh off an impressive showing at the Minnesota Cup, the country’s largest statewide new venture competition, TeamGenius was looking to build a scalable marketing and sales program, building on the validation they were already seeing in their outbound sales efforts. They also were looking to build momentum as they moved toward a fundraising round.

TeamGenius is a SportsTech startup that provides player evaluation software to youth sports clubs. The software allows organizations to go paperless for tryouts, coaches evaluations, and youth sports camps right from the mobile app. The software simplifies and streamlines athlete scoring, team formation, and club communication.


The Challenge & Opportunity

TeamGenius faced a heavily seasonal buyer, with tryouts for various sports falling across the calendar at different times. In addition, the role of the buyer is somewhat obscure as based on the organization’s leadership hierarchy.

This presented both a challenge and an opportunity. We needed a content strategy that would attract the decision makers in a club who sometimes might be a coach, sometimes might be non-coaching management, but often shared similar challenges. The opportunity, was the cyclical nature of the sports that allowed us to conserve resources and focus on building and testing a program with a sport or two at a time. Once we found a path that worked, we could scale and replicate our strategy across sports as the seasons changed.

Our Approach

To help TeamGenius launch their effort, we started with developing their FieldGuide. During the FieldGuide development process, we research, plan and document how we’ll grow awareness, drive demand and increase prospect contacts. This process includes competitive analysis, keyword research, nurturing sequences, funnel mapping and outlining persona watering holes – finding places target buyers hang out online: associations, social communities and publications.

Our research uncovered a few key insights that shaped our overall strategy:

  1. A mountain of keyword potential
  2. Opportunity to curate a community
  3. A need to provide prospects a bridge between making the switch from paper evaluations to software, this helps focus on decision makers, or at the least – influencers in the buying process.

We quickly mapped out a content plan, digital PR strategy and discussed technology to enable the program.

HubSpot Startups for the Win!

TeamGenius knew marketing was important to their growth but, being a cash flow sensitive startup, they were wary of ballooning costs. Things like making marketing technology investments, while desirable, were not immediately on the horizon without additional funding.  Because of their participation in regional accelerators, we connected them with the HubSpot Startups program. This sealed the deal and we were able to launch our marketing campaigns, powered by HubSpot, on a startup budget. Not only were they able to power marketing – but they were able to tie in sales activity for closed loop feedback.

Running TeamGenius Campaigns

As noted, our research pointed out three keys areas of opportunity to focus our inbound program on:

  1. A mountain of keyword potential
  2. An opportunity to curate a community
  3. A need to provide prospect a bridge between making the switch from paper evaluations to software.

On the keyword front, the root of the term was often the same – ‘removing bias’, ‘player evaluations’, ‘running tryouts’ etc. But the nuance came in adding the sport. This presented an opportunity to repurpose the core of our content strategy, adapting it for each sport as we went, creating value for prospects we were trying to attract but being able to move fast.  

Since Q4 2017 – we’ve launched 9 campaigns, touching on every stage of the buying journey and specific to 4 sports so far.  

On the community side, we knew we wanted to work towards building TeamGenius as a youth sports resource. The best way to do that was to grow our own social community, develop our thought leadership and leverage the watering holes research to identify other publishers and voices that we could team up with.

On the prospect front, we began building campaigns to attract traffic to resources designed to help prospects looking for player evaluation forms and templates.

Once they converted and were in the funnel, we nudged them along to either sign up for a trial or let lead scoring add up until sales took over.

We had a campaign strategy: attract prospects by staying laser focused on our keyword research, expand our reach by building content partnerships and convert our traffic with resources of value that can be a bridge between the current state (paper evaluations) and the future state (software evaluations).

We also had our core stack in place – time to start executing.

TeamGenius Blog

Once a week, the TeamGenius blog churns out a new post to support effective youth coaching and youth sports club management. It serves to:

  1. Be a resource for youth sports club management, tackling topics from dealing with parents to running tryouts
  2. Educate on the value of player evaluation software  
  3. Build community by establishing partnerships and sharing voice across the industry
  4. Create a conversion opportunity by connecting them with our resource library

blogging for inbound marketing - team genius story

Our blogging efforts have resulted in an increase in ranked keywords of more than 250 new terms. We’re thrilled to have seen organic traffic grow more then 380% to more than 1600 visitors a month as a result of this focus and consistency.  

organic traffic growth -inbound story

search terms growth - inbound story

Conversion Funnels

All blogs are optimized for conversion using HubSpot call to actions. These CTA’s promote resources from evaluation forms to product overviews.

Call To Action Sample - Inbound Story

Leveraging the A/B testing capabilities within call to actions, we’re able to more than double the click rate of call to actions.

AB Testing Call To Actions

A key to our success so far, has been being able to quickly launch campaigns. At the heart of this is HubSpot’s landing page tool. Driving traffic from our embedded call to actions, we’re able to quickly deploy and clone the landing pages that are working the best.

Landing Pages - Inbound Growth Story

Across landing pages, TeamGenius campaigns average a 14.5% conversion rate, with an 8% new contact rate.

Leads are subscribed to one of two types of workflows either content type or persona type (based on sales/marketing priority) and nurtured to MQL status.

The repeat submission rate on forms is advantageous and let’s us take advantage of Hubspot’s progressive fields. As leads request additional resources, we learn more about their role in their club, the sports club itself and how close they are to needing evaluation software. 

We use this additional information in our lead scoring to help us identify when to update the contact’s workflow or create tasks to hand off to sales for outreach.

Once a hand off occurs,  sales takes over and leverages Hubspot sales  sequences and meeting links to set up demos and move the conversation along to purchase.  

campaign average landing page conversion rate


TeamGenius leveraged the HubSpot API at the bottom of the funnel. When someone signs up for a trial or the free version of the app, the API integration posts an account registration to a form inside HubSpot. This closed the loop on the funnel, tying the TeamGenius app and HubSpot together so we can see more of the journey from marketing to app sign up.  


With each new piece of content, we break it down and used HubSpot’s scheduler, to plan out posts to make sure content is promoted via social media at a minimum of 4 times in the first 30 days following its first publishing.

Posts are tailored depending on the specific social channel. As a result, at the end of May 2018, all channels have shown community growth – but more importantly all channels are driving traffic and lead volume.

social following growth

teamgenius social examples

Digital PR

A key part of our strategy has been reaching out to the watering holes our personas are hanging out in. Finding associations and publications that focus on youth sports, coaching and the specific sports our campaigns are focusing on.

A key component of our strategy has been to build a community around making it easier to run a youth sports club. As we began to build our content and resource library,  we conducted outreach to find partners who would find value from our content contribution. This started as a trickle and turned into a torrent.

Today, TeamGenius is getting emails and outreach from other sites, online communities and organizations seeking to partner with us – as they’ve seen our community grow.

Our partnerships have included the Positive Coaching Alliance, SportsEngine, and SoccerPractice Books. Partnerships range from blogging to co-producing content offers.

Digital PR - Content Partnership

Digital PR - Content Partnership

Digital PR - Content Partnership


While the outreach is critical to our SEO efforts, we also wanted to measure how it contributes long term to our inbound marketing and lead generation.

We used HubSpot’s url builder, to create custom url tracking codes to report back.

tracking urls - digital pr outreach

Digital PR Partnerships

Results So Far

In April TeamGenius closed its seed round to continue fueling its growth and product development. In the 8 months since launching the TeamGenius marketing program, TeamGenius has:

  • Quickly established positive ROI for Inbound Marketing (48%)
  • + 15% marketing assisted customer growth (35 new customers)
  • + 634 new leads
  • +300 MQLs
  • Website visits increased 406%
  • Organic traffic increased 385%
  • 8 content partnerships secured
  • +38% Twitter, +75% Facebook +6.8% Linkedin Community Growth
  • +250 new keywords ranked

This effort is just getting started and already showing incredible traction. We’ve been able to build a marketing architecture and free up time for the co-founders who can focus on other strategic elements of their growing organization. With the architecture in place and pipeline moving, we’re shifting to refining overall performance and replicating campaigns for upcoming sport seasons.

Why This Program Has Worked

The TeamGenius effort has been effective, in large part, to the collaboration between TeamGenius and Lake One and the insights enabled by HubSpot. The key factors driving this program forward include:

  • Keep moving: Both organizations have a progress over perfection mentality and strive to keep moving forward, learning everything we can about our marketing program as we go.
  • Alignment: Sales, marketing and product meet regularly to discuss what we are seeing from our various functional areas, where things can improve and ideate together on moving toward business objectives.
  • Reporting & Insights: The HubSpot suite enables line of sight across the organization into the full funnel so everyone is on the same page.

You can really start to see all these pieces are in place . . . Huge impact on the business already. It’s clearly the foundation for growth for our foreseeable future.

-Chris Knutson, Co-founder/CRO – TeamGenius

Where We Go From Here

With much of the pipeline architecture in place, we’re now shifting to focus on how we can increase the already positive, ROI impact of inbound marketing on TeamGenius in the last half of the year. We’re doing this by

  • Further aligning sales and marketing with updated lead scoring
  • Continuing to refine our content strategy and persona alignment
  • Better aligning bottom of the funnel activity between marketing workflows and sales sequences to move more MQL’s into the next stage
  • Continuing to test elements throughout the funnel – looking for incremental gains

Looking to tap into inbound and want to build a modern, measurable marketing program like TeamGenius?  Request a consultation.