At HubSpot, we have definitively strong opinions about inbound marketing, but we’re always interested in learning what the larger marketing community has to say about the matter. Every year since 2008, we’ve asked organizations small and large -- and from around the world -- to provide insight into what inbound marketing means to them and their companies.
Today, we’re excited to share the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report. In this fifth anniversary edition, our largest survey ever, we asked 3,339 marketing professionals from 128 countries to share their perspectives on everything from strategy and organizational alignment to budget and channel management. Because of the breadth of survey respondents and depth of questions asked, some results may look different from what you're used to from past years. We're excited about how robust a data set we had to work with, and think these insights are the most revelatory on the current state of inbound marketing.
And here are 10 quick insights from the report, followed by 10 bigger takeaways that we found to be quite remarkable.
1) Inbound marketing is being taken seriously by the industry, and it’s gaining traction.
58% of companies plan to execute inbound marketing strategies in 2013, and 48% of marketers plan to increase their inbound marketing spend this year. (Tweet This)
2) Inbound delivers on ROI promises, providing more and cheaper leads.
41% of marketers confirmed that inbound marketing produces measurable ROI, and a staggering 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing (tweet this). Twice as many marketers say inbound marketing delivers below average cost per lead versus outbound strategies, and inbound marketing is estimated to deliver 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound methods. (Tweet This)
3) While inbound is on the rise, traditional marketing is fading.
17% of marketers say both traditional advertising and direct mail have become less important in the past six months. (Tweet This)
4) There’s opportunity to better define, measure, and track marketing activities.
While 15% of respondents were tying their inbound results directly to revenue or customers/wins generated, a surprising 34% of businesses cannot or do not calculate overall inbound ROI. (Tweet This)
5) Establishing an agreement with Sales is as important -- possibly more so -- as simply measuring the effectiveness of inbound.
Adopting a Marketing-Sales agreement saves companies (with more than 200 employees) an average of $195.84 per customer. So in addition to tracking how effective inbound marketing is with metrics like doubled website conversion rates, companies can benefit from endorsing closer alignment. (Tweet This)
6) Content is a critical, but not considered a standalone, inbound marketing component.
Anyone who has spent time with me lately knows that I am a big believer that content alone does not transform your marketing. The data agrees. Only 18% of marketers are purely focused on developing quality content in 2013. Finding and converting quality leads and identifying the right audience ranked more important than developing content in terms of marketers’ overall priorities, showing that a more holistic inbound strategy is the path to success. (Tweet This)
7) Inbound has shifted where marketers spend resources, and enables them to work smarter.
43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog this year, though the blog requires roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications and just 7% of their total budget. (Tweet This)
8) It’s a great time to be a customer.
50% of the 2013 survey respondents said that they consider their companies to be primarily customer-focused. As inbound marketing focuses on customer needs and behaviors, the approach clearly aligns with the customer-centric approach. Given consumers have more options than ever for engaging with your brand, it’s important not to focus on any single method of interaction but to think about the customer experience across all channels of customer engagement. This customer-centric strategy ensures integration across platforms, so the sum of marketing efforts is greater than its individual parts. (Tweet This)
9) It’s also a great time to be an inbound marketer -- if you are up for the challenge.
51% of all inbound marketing teams contain fewer than six people. This small team environment is pervasive at every level of the industry; even at the enterprise level, 31% of marketing teams contain five or fewer full-time employees. (Tweet This)
10) Overall, inbound marketing works when it is integrated with your strategy, not as a side project.
81% of companies reported some level of integration between their inbound marketing strategies and overall company goals. Marketers that succeed with inbound marketing dedicate a high level of time, commitment, and resources to getting it right. Inbound marketing is not a quick-fix, nor will your company succeed at inbound by hiring an “inbound expert” and sitting them next to your email, trade show, and website staff member. Successful inbound execution requires a strategic change in how you focus your end-to-end marketing practices, such as building and staying true to your core customer personas and relentlessly tracking your lead gen goals. (Tweet This)
Given this is our fifth year of producing the State of Inbound Marketing, we also thought it was time to experiment with how we share the data with all of you. In addition to producing the in-depth research report with a complete review of the data, we’ve captured the highlights on StateOfInboundMarketing.com. And over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to provide deeper dives into the data and what it means for the industry; Inc. got started yesterday with its advice on how marketers can attract customers that want to buy from your brand.
We’re honored to have the opportunity to conduct this research annually, to track the transformation of marketing as it occurs, and to contribute to this remarkable industry. We’d love to hear if what we found in the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report is useful to you and if you were surprised -- or not -- by what was uncovered.
For the love of marketing, Mike Volpe
Originally published Apr 24, 2013 9:05:00 AM, updated July 28 2017