Every year inbound and outbound marketers anxiously anticipate the annual State of Inbound report to dig into what's going on in the inbound world, and now, we finally can.
This time, Hubspot surveyed marketers from B2B, B2C and nonprofit sectors, although the majority of almost 4,000 respondents (69%) were from B2B companies, a pleasant surprise for those who believed inbound marketing is not for B2B. To save you time for scanning through the 73 pages of diagrams and numbers that might look like a set of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, we are giving you the key marketing takeaways. Both inbound and outbound marketers rank paid advertising as the #1 most overrated marketing tactic.
1. Inbound is More Effective Than Outbound
"If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing." ~ Guy Kawasaki
You might think this takeaway is obvious, as it's coming from the State of Inbound report, but as many respondents of the survey announced about employing both inbound and outbound techniques, this data might be decisive for some of your future marketing decisions.
According to the State of Inbound 2015, "of the nearly 4,000 people [HubSpot] surveyed, inbound had a 75% likelihood of being the marketing approach of choice, while outbound had only a 25% chance. " Most importantly, this trend is maintained across all 3 sectors surveyed—B2C, B2B, and nonprofit, which means inbound marketing can be a good strategy for any company. In fact, many companies who enjoy larger than average marketing budgets go with the "best of both worlds" strategy, blending together techniques from inbound and outbound marketing.
If this is the case at your company, you should be interested in finding out the effectiveness of each technique you're using, as doing everything just because you are unsure of what works and what doesn’t might be counter-productive. To give you some idea about it, the report states that "approximately 32% of survey respondents whose companies identify as primarily outbound organizations called paid advertising the most overrated marketing tactic -- the number one answer by a wide margin."
So, wait ... companies that rely on outbound marketing consider one of its main tactics useless? If paid advertising is useless in gaining long-term ROI, why should you engage in it in the first place, let alone base your entire marketing strategy on it? According to the report, outbound marketing is considered ineffective even by outbound marketers themselves. We think this ineffectiveness is caused by the ever-shifting Buyer Mentality and the way we make purchasing decisions today. Outbound is simply not convincing enough.
Receiving an adequate Return on Investment (ROI) should also be taken account of, as "every company [HubSpot] surveyed -- regardless of marketing spend -- was three times as likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound." And this brings us to the most important takeaway, which should not even be in this report anymore; it should be a sacred rule for all companies.
2. ROI Matters More Than Anything
Results-driven marketing is always aimed at receiving and showing ROI. Return on Investment is what drives businesses forward and allows companies to grow their marketing budgets. Most of the companies that took part in the survey identified lead generation and closing customers as their #1 marketing priority. If this is an important criterion for measuring their marketing success (and it is!), calculating the ROI regularly and presenting it to the client or supervisors should also be a regular ritual.
As we find more ways of acquiring data and insights, it is unforgivable to not use them for proving the ROI (no matter how big it is). If you have 0 indicators of ROI, then the best option is to make changes immediately, rather than hiding data under the carpet and hoping tomorrow will be a better day … because it won’t. To make things even harder for marketers, this year's State of Inbound report mentions that proving ROI was more important for large-scale companies (71%) than companies with less than 25 employees (42%). Big budgets bring more expectations that must be met.
But look at the bright side!
Marketers that tracked ROI were 20% more likely to receive a bigger budget than those who didn't. Marketing automation also played a role in increasing and proving ROI, as "those who saw a higher marketing ROI in 2014 were more likely to have used marketing automation software than not." And if this is not a good-enough reason for making a step forward towards technology, here are 5 other reasons why you should.
So, keep an eye on those numbers, track them daily and make data-based decisions. As of the report, best marketers (North America being the most active region) check their analytics more than 3 times per week. What's your rate?
3. Team Training is an Emerging Trend
One of the emerging trends we loved seeing is the increased attention towards team training. The realization that a skillful team results in much more fruitful marketing campaign has finally set in. In 2014, only 6% of respondents mentioned this as a challenge. This number has doubled in only a year.
However, know that team training should also refer to writing for all marketing employees, as companies that employed their staff and executives for content creation saw more ROI than companies who didn't. If your marketers can't write, you will lose content value by outsourcing it to freelancers that don't know the subtle details about your industry.
If your in-house team can't manage the load of content that is required to support your inbound marketing strategy, outsourcing it to an industry-experienced marketing agency will be more productive in the long run than switching freelance writers, who are not aware of marketing and SEO criteria. Marketers should be able to write … and write well. Needless to say, lack of time can't be an excuse due to the dozens of tech opportunities you have, including marketing automation.
So, to sum up what we talked about, here are the main takeaways from the State of Inbound 2015 report:
- Outbound tactics are less effective than inbound tactics.
- Inbound marketing campaigns produce more ROI than outbound campaigns.
- ROI should be tracked regularly.
- Proving ROI might open doors to bigger marketing budgets.
- Using marketing automation increases your chances of receiving ROI.
- Marketing automation and other technology is great, but a well-trained team that can handle that technology to bring positive results is even better.
- Including your staff and executives in the content creation process will add value to your content.
- Marketers should write and never stop writing.
Hopefully, you now know why we enjoy inbound marketing so much. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your inbound marketing campaigns pay back with results that make your clients smile.
Ready to see what inbound can do for your business? Request a free inbound assessment to learn about your current state and the opportunities that are knocking on your door right now.