We all love a good takeaway, and the HubSpot State of Inbound Report for 2016 has given us a lot of food for thought, as well as many facts, statistics and projections to bite into and chew over.
With more than 4,500 respondents from non-HubSpot user companies ranging from the very small to the very large, across 132 countries, the information gathered by the inbound marketing colossus represents a truly global and thorough assessment of where inbound marketing is today, and where it can lead to in the future.
Here's 5 things that stood out for us:
- Conversion is the biggest challenge
The first big item on the menu that really caught our eye is that of the many respondents across a variety of industries from education to tourism to IT and financial services, to name but a few, the top marketing priority over the next year is not growing traffic to a website (that comes in second at 57%), but converting contacts into leads and ultimately customers (74%).
Though followed by increasing revenue derived from existing customers (46%) and proving ROI for marketing activities (42%), this shows that many digital marketing departments have moved beyond the first hurdle of finding and attracting people to their online content, and are seeking better and more effective ways to convert those consumers into qualified leads while there.
To use an analogy, it seems that many companies have gotten over their youthful nerves about meeting a partner, and have finally found a way to secure that first date. However, they are still having trouble getting that person to believe that they are the right one for them by showing their value, and so are seeing a lot of dates, but no real action, so to speak.
This is backed up by more statistics that show while, when specifically discussing inbound marketing, 66% of companies say growing SEO and organic presence (66%) and blog content creation (60%) are top marketing priorities, but when it comes to sales, 70% of companies say their number one priority is closing more deals. This in itself is not surprising – they are salespeople after all – but what does stand out is that more than half of the respondents say their lead-to-customer conversion rate is below 20%.
This means the content is being created, and visitors are being attracted, but that only one in five qualified leads is actually turning into a sale.
Shockingly, 9% of companies say they don’t know how many leads are being turned into sales, but that is another horror story for another day.
Another interesting thing to note when it comes to sales is that while 34% say closing deals is a major challenge, even getting a response from a prospect is higher at 40%, which suggests that these leads are not fully qualified.
- Despite challenges, optimism within marketing departments seems to be quite high, with 61% saying they considered their marketing strategy to be effective, but the point to note here is that those adopting an inbound strategy are four times more likely to be satisfied with their approach than traditional outbound marketers.
The reasons for this are obvious. According to Search Engine Journal, inbound marketing leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to a paltry 1.7% close rate for traditional outbound leads from direct mail or print advertising. This is because inbound marketing strategies involve targeting the right person with the right content at the right time, based on segmentation that uses the data garnered from visitor activity to better understand what a person’s interests are and how sales-ready they might be.
- Marketing and sales teams working in tandem also result in marketing departments having more faith in their marketing strategy. Though only 22% of companies say they have a formal Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the sales and marketing departments, 82% of those that do say their marketing strategy is effective.
Boiling all of that down, the report shows that a combination of adopting inbound and having a tight relationship between sales and marketing results in an effective marketing strategy.
By tight relationship we don’t mean that these departments regularly go for after-work drinks together or high-five in the corridors. What it really means is both departments operating within the same Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that integrates all of your content across all platforms with data analysis and lead conversion strategies.
It means putting in place a strong sales funnel that brings visitors to your online content and moves them through the customer journey, collating and acting upon the data this brings, and measuring what works and what doesn’t so that you can improve.
It goes without saying that effective strategies produce better results, and better results mean higher budgets.
- Calculating ROI is absolutely necessary to a marketing team’s success.
Of the marketers who calculate their ROI, 49% saw an increased budget this year, while of those that don’t, only 30% saw an increase.
The fact of the matter is that if you can’t show your bosses that what you are doing is working, and why, they are unlikely to provide more resources for it. This is why ROI needs to be at the very centre of your thoughts when creating your website and the various pages that will bring people through the sales funnel.
- Video content continues to grow in popularity.
It’s seen a steep rise over the last year and continues to be a favourite content type among marketers, with 48% of companies saying they plan to add YouTube to their marketing mix and 39% also adding Facebook video.
A report by industry experts Cisco predicts that 69% of all global consumer internet traffic will be video by next year (80% by 2019), with the number of videos doubling to 1.5billion this year.
Nielsen also claims that 64% of marketers expect video marketing to be the major player in their online marketing strategies, with more than half seeing it as the best format for increased ROI.
There are many reasons why video is so popular, and you can see some of them here.
There are a lot more great insights and interesting stats in the State of Inbound report, but we couldn’t possibly expect you to digest it all in one sitting, so we will return to take another bite out of it again soon. While many still face challenges in converting leads into customers, this seems to come down to not yet fully aligning the marketing and sales strategy and integrating content, analysis and action across all platforms to create a truly effective and efficient digital marketing plan.
One thing is for sure though – companies who have adopted the inbound marketing strategy are seeing a lot more success than those who are not, and are going to enjoy a bigger slice of the pie.
Find out how an effective inbound marketing strategy can help your business attract visitors and turn them into leads, and how we can help you realise the potential of your business. Just go to the phonebooth and ask us to give you a call: