Inbound marketing software company HubSpot has just released their 2015 State of Inbound Report. This is the seventh edition of the definitive benchmarking report on the use of inbound marketing throughout the world. The 2015 State of Inbound shows that inbound marketing is no longer an emerging trend, it's now the most effective marketing channel for small, mid-sized and enterprise firms throughout the world:
"The biggest change is that 2015’s report doesn’t cover the emergence of inbound marketing as it has in past years -- the principles are now well-entrenched. Rather, this year’s data begins to reveal why leaders lead and laggards lag."
I highly recommend that you download a copy of the report - it's filled with valuable sales and marketing information for businesses of all sizes. In this blog post, we will share 4 must-know findings for SMB companies from the HubSpot report and why they are important.
1. Inbound is the primary marketing channel for SMB companies
Companies with less than 200 employees use inbound marketing as their primary marketing channel by a wide margin. For companies with less than 25 employees, 84% identified inbound as their primary marketing channel while only 13% said they relied on inbound. For companies with between 25 and 200 employees, 71% identified inbound and 27% identified outbound as their primary marketing channels. The reliance of SMBs on inbound marketing stand in contrast to enterprise companies - 49% of enterprise companies rely primarily on inbound while 48% rely primarily on outbound.
What does this mean to SMBs as they start with new business planning for 2016? It's no longer enough just to use inbound marketing; to beat your competition, you need to execute better than them. Here are some tactics to consider to beat your competition.
- Make sure you're using conversion-centered design in your website and landing pages. Many SMBs have built inbound marketing into websites that weren't designed with lead generation and conversion in mind. If you want to beat your competition, maybe it's time to think about re-designing your website to support your inbound marketing efforts.
- Focus your marketing on niches. The more focused your marketing is, the more valuable it is to the niches you're targeting. A focused strategy helps you compete against enterprise companies that are trying to appeal to a lowest common denominator of a very broad audience.
Use content marketing best practices to make your content stand out from the crowd. Using visual cues to help your audience digest your content in bite-sized chunks is a great way to distinguish yourself. Think about mixing up standard blog posts with infographics and videos.
2. Lead conversion is the top priority for SMBs
Increasing the number of leads and converting them to customers is the top priority of SMB companies, according to the HubSpot data. This is not surprising in light of the progression of inbound marketing in SMB companies.
When first implementing inbound marketing, businesses focus on driving traffic to their websites. You can't generate leads if you don't have anyone coming to your website. After 12 to 18 months of inbound marketing, SMBs start generating significantly more website traffic and the focus turns to improving lead and customer conversion.
Farther down on the list of priorities for SMBs are:
Increasing revenue from existing customers
Proving the ROI of marketing efforts
Reducing the cost of customer acquisition
3. Proving marketing ROI is the top challenge of SMB companies
The top 3 challenges for SMB companies identified in the State of Inbound report are:
Proving the ROI of marketing efforts
Securing enough marketing budget
Managing the company website
ROI is actually fairly easy to track with the right tools. With marketing automation software like HubSpot, you can identify which pieces of content generate leads and which leads eventually convert to customers. Savvy marketers set SMART goals that relate down to their company's revenue targets and track which marketing tactics work and which don't.
The survey further found that proving ROI was the key to unlocking marketing budget. Of the companies that achieved a higher ROI than they did the previous year, 67% got more marketing budget.
The lesson to be taken from this data is that using marketing automation software like HubSpot is the key to both tracking and proving ROI as well as generating it.
4. SMBs are increasingly outsourcing content creation
As we've frequently stated in this blog, inbound marketing requires persistent and consistent effort to generate results. The HubSpot report made the same point:
"Leading marketers recognize that inbound is a long game. Both past success and past failure with inbound correlates with an inbound marketing budget increase."
The reality is that it's hard for SMBs to do all of the things they need to do to run their businesses and create marketing content consistently. With the best intentions, many companies let their content schedule lag when other priorities arise.
More and more businesses are looking outside for help with content creation. The percentage of organizations surveyed that use both freelancers and agency partners rose in 2015, demonstrating a commitment to creating consistent quality content.
I highly recommend you download the HubSpot State of Inbound. Inbound marketing is the predominant marketing channel for SMB companies and HubSpot has their finger on the pulse of inbound marketing. If you'd like to learn how you can up your inbound marketing game, schedule a free consultation with us.