More than twice as many marketers (45%) cited inbound marketing as their primary source of lead generation versus outbound (22%), according to HubSpot’s ‘State of Inbound 2014’ report. The report highlights the increasingly important role inbound marketing is playing in organisations – not just in marketing but also across sales and customer service teams. The survey consist of responses from 1,723 marketers and 631 sales professionals across a diverse range of industries and company sizes.
Below we’ll discuss the main inbound challenges marketers face, the biggest rewards they reap and the most profitable inbound tactics leading the way in 2014.
Inbound marketing is a type of permission-based marketing that draws customers to your website on their own terms. For example, businesses can do this by creating and sharing valuable content like blog posts with the aim of bringing people closer to their brand.
The top inbound priority for both marketers and leaders in 2014 is increasing their number of contacts and leads. The second biggest? Converting those leads into customers. Both marketing practitioners and their leaders seem to agree that the collation and nurturing of customer data is essential for the success of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing budgets have increased for all types of companies with more than five times as many markers reporting higher budgets this year. The survey also revealed that as marketers’ ability to prove inbound success increases bigger budgets become unlocked.
The biggest challenge marketers cited (24%) was calculating ROI. According to HubSpot, this is the only challenge that marketers mentioned significantly more this year than than in 2013. There is a growing pressure placed on marketers to be able to budget effectively and calculate their achievements proportionate to their efforts.
However, even though the main challenge facing marketers is calculating ROI, only 15% ranked it as their top priority. Does this suggest a worrying implication that perhaps, although we recognize ROI’s importance, we’re still unsure of how to calculate it? Regardless, HubSpot says, “If leadership is expecting ROI, marketers need to prioritize its delivery.”
High performers are emphasizing strategies designed to get their content, their website and their company found. This is what the data revealed when HubSpot segmented the top marketers generating positive ROI for their businesses. But what were the most important priorities for high performers? The biggest ROI earners in order of importance were blogging, organic search and content distribution.
84% of inbound marketers report organic, top of funnel sources (such as social media, blogs and SEO) as rising in importance. But what’s the best inbound practice for achieving that much-talked-about positive ROI? Apparently it’s plain old blogging. The report found that marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to increase their ROI year-over-year. However, HubSpot does caution that this figure might not be entirely accurate as too few marketers can report reliably on their ROI.
Does it really pay to push? Or are the best investments we have our time, resources and the valuable relationships we build with our audience? Either way marketers are going to have to find a way to justify their marketing spend – whether that’s through their inbound or outbound efforts. 2014 is all about the ROI – we just need to find a way to measure it.
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