HubSpot just released their annual State of Inbound Report for 2015. If you haven’t read it already, I definitely recommend picking up your free copy immediately.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Do it now.
I love getting the chance to peruse the latest industry statistics and trends. Maybe I’m an inbound geek, but I think it’s exciting to see what’s working and not working around the world and compare that to what we’re currently doing and planning here at home. As an inbound marketing agency with hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing budgets entrusted to us, we take continual education and optimization very seriously.
So, after reviewing everything HubSpot reports on the state of inbound marketing in the last quarter of 2015, what’s the verdict?
I came away from the State of Inbound 2015 report with a very comfortable feeling. What I mean is, there was nothing in the report that rocked me back on my heels and made me slap my forehead like Chris Farley, saying, “stupid…stupid…stupid!”
And that’s a relief, because there have been times in the past when that’s happened.
Instead, what I found in HubSpot’s report was an ongoing reaffirmation of what we here at SPROUT Content have been thinking for a long time now. I’ll explain in more detail in a moment, but here’s why that’s both a relief and encouraging:
While our team of inbound marketing strategists, content developers, sales professionals, and account managers have a ton of combined experience and our track record has always been solid, we are just a mid-size agency working hard for a relatively few number of clients based in the United States.
In other words, we’re good, but we know we can’t know everything.
That’s why it’s so awesome to discover through studies like the new State of Inbound that the best practices we’ve developed and the ideas that are driving our strategies going forward have proven valid worldwide among marketers in numerous industries, sectors, and company sizes.
That feels pretty good.
Some of the key takeaways from The State of Inbound 2015
Below are some of the key takeaways I especially appreciated from the report along with a brief comment or two (in italics).
- On average, ¾ of all marketers across the globe prioritize inbound marketing over outbound, whether B2B, B2C, or non-profit, and regardless of company size or industry. This goes to show that inbound marketing is no longer an “emerging trend.” It is the go-to strategy for most professional marketers.
- Proven marketing ROI unlocks marketing budget. This should be a no-brainer, but only recently have inbound marketers swallowed this bitter pill. The honeymoon is over, it’s time to work for a living.
In the case of both past success and past failure, many inbound budgets are still increasing. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re allowed to fail over and over again. But leadership is coming to realize that inbound marketing is a long game. Sometimes, failure surfaces a ton of great learning and better ideas for the future.
- Demonstrating ROI is the number one challenge marketers face. In some cases, they’re simply not tracking it, in other cases, their efforts aren’t producing it. This holds true across nearly every sector, business type, and business size. (This fits hand-in-glove with Sprout Content’s proprietary Performance Content framework.)
- B2B marketers seem to be placing little to no emphasis on increasing the revenue earned from existing customers. This was the single surprise I found in the entire report, and it’s kind of scary. Existing customers are always a richer source of increased revenue than new customers for any of a hundred good reasons. Marketers seem to be ignoring this tried-and-true growth strategy in favor of finding and converting new leads. Bad move.
- Although lead generation and conversion still top the list of goals for marketers, obtaining executive buy-in and training internal teams have risen dramatically in importance. Executive buy-in is huge. Fortunately, we’ve found that the leaders who drive strategy are generally well aware of the benefits of inbound marketing. But, as they should, they’re especially swayed by real numbers and demonstrable success. Training internal teams to replicate and scale this success is a natural next step.
- More marketers are sourcing content from outside the company than ever before. This is also a natural progression in the industry, and one that is especially close to our heart as an inbound marketing agency. As the necessary volume and diversity of content increases, companies are relying more and more on agency partners and freelance content development to scale effectively while maintaining a high standard of quality.
- The most effective marketers check their marketing analytics three or more times per week. They enjoy a 20% greater likelihood that they’ll achieve a positive ROI over those that don’t check stats as often. Once again, Performance Content comes to the fore. The research proves that those marketers who care about how their inbound efforts are performing – and who actually use the information they glean from the numbers – are more effective in the long run. We love that fact.
- Leading marketers use marketing automation software. As a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, we’ve been preaching the value of a reliable and robust automation system like HubSpot for years now. But whether it’s HubSpot they’re using or not, automation software is now a proven factor in inbound marketing success.
There’s plenty more in the State of Inbound 2015 report that you’ll no doubt find interesting if you’re an inbound geek like me. I haven’t even touched on the second half of the report that focuses solely on inbound sales!
After you have a chance to look it over, come back here and let us know in the comments what insights were particularly exciting or eye-opening for you!