For anyone with even a passing interest in inbound marketing services and how business gets done these days, HubSpot’s Annual Executive Review of Inbound Marketing Trends and Tactics (aka 2013 State of Inbound Marketing) is a must-read. In the 2013 edition, HubSpot – the industry’s leading voice in marketing software and the folks who coined the term “inbound marketing” – uses deep survey results to illustrate how we’re attracting web visitors, converting them into leads, and closing the deal.
Inbound marketing services are growing. While a few years ago it may have been dismissed as a flavor-of-the-month, inbound has taken a firmer grip on the marketing landscape.
HubSpot reports that nearly 60 percent of marketers have adopted inbound strategies and more than 80 percent of those executing inbound marketing have integrated it into broader company goals. Businesses are also putting more money into inbound, with budgets growing nearly 50% in each of the past three years. Outbound marketing is shrinking. While outbound, or “interruption,” media – like direct mail, broadcast, and print ads – still exists, the audience for them has faded; as HubSpot put it, the traditional models “are dramatically devalued by all marketers in 2013.”
Putting Numbers to the Trend …
17 percent marketers say both traditional advertising and direct mail have become less important in the past six months. Traditional advertising and its online equivalent, pay per click, will deliver the least number of leads in 2013, with just 6 percent originating from each of these categories.
Marketers plan to commit 34% of their overall budgets to inbound tactics – 11% more than they plan to allocate to outbound media.
Rise of the Customer-Centric Company
Look at nearly any business’ mission statement and you’re sure to find some language about “exceeding customer expectations” or “putting the customer first.”
Content Plus Context
There’s a reason inbound marketing is sometimes known as content marketing. Content – the blogs, videos, whitepapers, infographics that engage, inform and drive action – is a critical component of any inbound campaign.
But it’s not the only component, nor does it work in a vacuum. Rather, “content created and distributed by marketers must tie in context on customers, from how they interact with your channels to CRM information to personalized, dynamic targeting and beyond,” says HubSpot.
And it’s got some growing to do; only 18% of marketers are purely focused on developing quality content in 2013 – even though great content is proven to attracting and converting quality leads.
What We’re Spending …
“Forty-eight percent of marketers plan to increase their inbound marketing spending in 2013 – the third year in a row that inbound budgets are increasing at or near a 50% pace,” notes HubSpot. “Executives lead this strong growth, as 53 percent of CEOs and CMOs increased their 2013 inbound marketing budgets.”
When HubSpot surveyed 236 of its customers about time allocations, they found that marketing teams average just 5 to 20 hours per week executing inbound tactics. “This is hardly an overwhelming commitment, despite some industry naysayers’ perception that inbound requires exhaustive effort to achieve results,” says HubSpot.
… and What We’re Getting Back
Inbound marketing ROI is becoming clearer in the eyes of marketers who use content, social media and marketing automation. HubSpot’s survey concluded that inbound marketers enjoyed “more, better quality and cheaper leads.” Let’s break that down.
Inbound marketing delivers 54 percent more leads into the marketing funnel than outbound leads do.
Inbound leads also show superior CPL and CPA. U.S. inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year, for instance, saved an average of 13 oercent in overall cost per lead an more than $14 dollars for every new customer acquired vs. those relying on outbound tactics.
Twice as many marketers say inbound delivers below average cost per lead vs. outbound strategies.
And even HubSpot called it “staggering” that 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI.
Your 2013 Inbound Marketing Top 3 To-Do’s
HubSpot’s annual review is heavy with facts and stats, but you can start realizing great results now by taking on a few vital tasks.
1. Align Marketing and Sales.
The Itchy and Scratchy of the business world, sales and marketing need not be at such constant odds. “Develop a productive relationship between your marketing and sales teams by establishing concrete metrics and mutual responsibilities for both groups,” says HubSpot.
2. Post. Test. Repeat.
Publishing your best content at 10 a.m. may work for one customer, but not for the one who glances at Facebook after work, when your posting has dropped down the page. Regular testing will tell you the best times to post – and re-post – for results. Test everything, then test it again.
3. Take the IT Team out for Drinks.
With 31% of enterprise marketers reporting that their IT teams are unsupportive of inbound campaigns, the time is right to build some new bridges. “Politically,” advises HubSpot, “getting your IT team invested in the promise of inbound marketing is one of the best things you can do to ensure inbound’s success.”
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