Marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of business growth, so ensuring you are using the most effective and efficient tactics is vital.
Hubspot are one of the leading experts (and creators) of the term Inbound Marketing. For the last 7 years they have undertaken a global survey to find out exactly what is and isn’t working in the world of inbound marketing.
The 2015 full report is available for download, however if reading 70 pages isn’t really in your time schedule for today, here are some of the key facts (that I took) from the latest report.
Inbound marketing is a term used to describe the creation, promotion and curation of content in order to attract new customers and retain the interest of existing customers.
It is often viewed as the opposite of outbound marketing, which is the use of outward marketing strategies such as TV adverts, billboard and magazine advertising.
Are COntent Marketing and Inbound Marketing the Same?
The term content marketing has expanded in its use for many people. It now includes using digital marketing and promoting content through various approaches.
In its simplest definition inbound marketing is a clearer term that separates content marketing as the production and creation of content, from the other digital marketing and promotion methods.
Hubspot Annual Inbound Reports
The latest survey (2015) received nearly 4,000 responses from across all the continents. The sizes of businesses that replied varied, ranging from smaller businesses with fewer than 5 employees through to larger corporations with over 1,00 employees.
Annual incomes also varied between those earning less than $250,000 through to companies that were making over a $billion.
Purpose of the report
The annual reports provide a comparison from year to year to see where trends are moving. Unfortunately it does’t compare across all seven years, but it does give valuable indicators between 2014 and 2015. This is important to show how things have changed in the business marketing world over the last 12 months and what future trends are emerging.
The Most Overrated Marketing Tactic in 2015
The Hubspot report showed that an outbound marketing strategy such as using paid advertising was the least effective marketing strategy.
This perhaps isn’t a great surprise however the top four overrated tactics did show some interesting things.
In particular there was a high level of dissatisfaction at using social media and PPC campaigns for both inbound and outbound marketing strategies. This could be due to the increase in ad blocker software that many of the online companies and individuals are now using.
Content is King and Inbound is Best
These findings are possibly to be expected since Hubspot and its partner agencies all advocate inbound marketing approaches. Still if the system wasn’t working these businesses would be naming it.
Many of the larger corporations were using both inbound and outbound strategies and with plenty of money to spend on advertising, they were under no obligation to retain content writers and an inbound strategy as well.
And yet they did, citing that many of the traditional outbound strategies such as PPC campaigns and email marketing were less effective than blogging and content creation approaches.
Who Creates the Content?
One interesting fact that affects freelance writers, is the increased use of external content writers to meet inbound demands.
Who Writes Your Content
As the graph shows staff write the majority of the content at just under 50%, whilst executives, guests, freelance writers and partners account for the rest.
This could be an indication that content is now seen as a vital component in the overall business marketing approach.
The Link Between Proving ROI and Increasing Your Budget
For those using inbound marketing strategies in a company or business, then the single biggest challenge that was cited was trying to prove the return on investment (ROI) of the inbound marketing approach.
In the survey there was a clear link shown between those companies that could prove their ROI and those that had managed to see an increase in budget for inbound marketing purposes.
- If ROI isn’t being measured then …
- You can’t prove value
- You are less likely to secure a budget
Companies were 3X more likely to see a higher return on investment for inbound marketing rather than outbound marketing approaches
This also highlights again that content writers need to have a strong focus on analytics. So that they are clear what content is converting well, and to be able to prove this to others in the company.
Sales Priorities For Companies
Inbound marketing is ultimately about producing sales and this is perhaps reflected in the main sales priorities that the survey results showed.
The main problems are still focused on increasing sales efficiency through improving technology and reducing the length of the sales cycle.
The problem here is that content marketing by its very nature can have a long sales cycle. One of the advantages of the method though is that the process should be quicker for existing customers, who have been kept updated of new products and technology as it emerged.
Key Points from the Hubspot 2015 Survey
The survey report considered a number of other areas in more depth, but the key points that I took from the findings were;
- Smaller businesses and companies tend to rely more heavily on inbound strategies compared to larger companies.
- The top two priorities for all companies were being able to generate more leads and convert potential leads to customers.
- The biggest challenge was proving the ROI on inbound marketing.
- The use of external content writers including freelancers increased between 2014-2015
- Improving the efficiency of the overall sales funnel is still a top priority.
Reports such as this can help to support all content marketers even if your company didn’t participate in this survey. The trend is showing that inbound marketing strategies do work if the resources and skills are given over to it, and this message can be useful for anyone seeking to convince their own company to give it a go.
There are a number of other articles on this site that provide more information on content and inbound marketing and which may be of interest.
- Marketing Through Content Rather Than Adverts
- Are You Measuring Success or Value in Your Content Marketing?
- Why Should I Use Content Marketing Strategies?
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