Inbound marketing – or bust

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HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 report reveals that three out of four businesses now prefer inbound marketing to outbound. How do you reach your customers?

Ryan Bonnici, Director of Marketing for HubSpot in Asia Pacific, believes inbound marketing is displacing what HubSpot has deemed the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads and email lists, and hoping for leads.

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be,” he says.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 Report reveals that three out of four businesses now prefer inbound marketing to outbound. How do you reach your customers?

You can read the full report here:

And here’s the logic – directly from Ryan Bonnici …

The way customers shop and buy has undergone a radical transformation, and businesses around the world are starting to follow suit. Search engines and social media have enabled customers to research products on their own, making many traditional sales and marketing tactics obsolete, or worse, annoying to the customers they are trying to target. The result: 84% of small businesses now attract leads with some combination of “inbound marketing” tactics that focus on creating and sharing quality content that pulls customers in.

This methodology is gradually replacing “outbound marketing”, which involves strategies like cold calling, billboard advertising, and direct mailing to grab a customer’s attention. And thanks to technologies like ad-blocker and video-on-demand, customers can insulate themselves from these unwelcome and intrusive tactics.

HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound report, which tracks trends in marketing and selling, revealed that inbound marketing is now preferred to outbound marketing 3-to-1. The report, which involved nearly 4000 participants from 150 countries, told us that inbound marketing and sales have become the norm rather than the exception to it.

NZ responds
The report – which this year includes findings from ANZ for the first time – features responses from organisations belonging to a range of sectors, to reveal how inbound marketing has positively impacted sales practices and is no longer emerging, but is entrenching the market.

Having previously generated new business leads through slow and expensive word-of-mouth referrals, Christchurch-based strategic marketing consultancy Concentrate, which has been helping NZ tech companies grow their businesses for over a decade, saw its web traffic spike by 96% when Hubspot introduced the organisation to methods of inbound marketing. The new approach fostered an efficient lead generation solution for Concentrate and its clients, encouraging businesses to engage with consultancy because they want to … not because they’re told to.

Inbound represents a new model of marketing, focussing on creating quality content that pulls people towards a company and product, where they naturally want to be. Inbound content generated by organisations like Concentrate is aligned with a customer’s interests and includes (but isn’t restricted to) social media, blogging, SEO and website content management.

Inbound marketing is making its mark
The State of Inbound yielded a ton of insight into what sorts of challenges marketers around the world are presented with, and how they are adopting inbound strategies to address those challenges and solve for their customers.

For instance, the majority of businesses around the world, regardless of size, ranked lead generation activities as a top priority. In response, businesses in Australia and New Zealand have begun to prioritise blog content creation, growth of SEO and organic presence, and content distribution amplification as ways to try and tackle this problem. These inbound strategies are great for attracting interested customers and filling the sales funnel with people who want to learn more.

In addition to measuring trends in inbound adoption, the study also tracked the challenges and pain points of marketers everywhere. The largest challenge both globally and in Australia and New Zealand was proving ROI of marketing activities, with 59% of marketers in the region citing it as a challenge.

The report also revealed that 36% of marketers in Australia and New Zealand consider “securing enough budget” as a top challenge. However, the report also showed that inbound campaigns achieve a higher ROI than outbound campaigns, and that a higher ROI can unlock a higher budget. For businesses with an online presence, measuring this increase in engagement is as simple as using Google Analytics, an easy-to-use tool for measuring performance across sites and apps.

Traditional ads overrated
As inbound marketing tactics are proving their worth, marketers have become less and less fond of some of the more traditional marketing channels like paid advertising. In fact, traditional paid advertising was the ranked as the most overrated marketing tactic. Billboard ads, direct mailing, and print ads are a huge component of outbound campaigns. Customers hate them because they’re intrusive, and marketers hate them because there’s no way to track ROI or to figure out which ads are actually working.

Inbound campaigns, on the other hand, are three times more likely to have a higher ROI than outbound ones, according to the State of Inbound. And, since inbound marketing relies so heavily on search engines and social media, it’s easier to understand exactly where that return is coming from. Businesses can precisely measure every initiative using closed-loop analytics meaning marketers are able to track customers through their entire lifecycle, measure the ROI on every campaign, and increase funding where it will have the biggest impact on customer experience.

Inbound sales on the rise
The State of Inbound also took a deeper look into inbound sales and sales technology. Most importantly, it showed us firsthand what was working for sales reps and where we have room to help them in the future.

We found that unsuccessful sales teams were twice more likely to use Excel, Outlook, or physical files to store lead and customer data. However, despite the organisational capabilities that CRMs offer to sales reps, manual data entry still represented the leading challenge to their adoption and usage.

The State of Inbound report also revealed the biggest pain points for salespeople. Prospecting proved the most challenging part of their jobs, with 63% of sales representatives in Australia and New Zealand citing it as a challenge – more than in any other region in the world.

Our study found that salespeople in Australia and New Zealand were interested in social selling, an inbound strategy that would help reps source higher quality leads than traditional prospecting methods. Social selling would also help salespeople reach the executive buyer, who cited a lack of trust in reps and encouraged them to build a social following and use more supportive content to sell more effectively.

Finally, the State of Inbound report revealed the power that sales and marketing cooperation can have on a business’s efficiency. We found that businesses with a marketing-sales service level agreement had a significantly higher ROI, and the presence of an SLA also correlated with budget and staff increases. “Smarketing”, or the convergence of marketing and sales, has become easier as sales teams continue to adopt technologies that are compatible with marketers’ automation tools, allowing a freer flow of information and a better alignment of goals.

Ultimately, the State of Inbound showed a lot of positive progress in moving towards full adoption of inbound marketing. As consumers become more adept at blocking traditional outbound marketing tactics, inbound gives marketers and sellers a way to reach a wider audience, source higher quality leads, improve ROI, and secure more budget. It makes businesses leaner, smarter, and more effective, and ultimately helps your customers find quicker and easier solutions to their unique problems.

The latest State of Inbound report
This week HubSpot releases its State of Inbound (SOI) report, highlighting that ANZ is leading the world with its inbound preference.

Now in its sixth year, the SOI report – which this year now includes ANZ research and will be available for free online – revealed that inbound marketing is preferred to outbound marketing by a ratio of 3:1 in all seven global regions, with 78% of ANZ  respondents celebrating the impact of inbound.

In the report, HubSpot debunks marketing myths about paid ads, whichare  the single-most overrated marketing tactic – 84% of small businesses are predominantly using inbound marketing.

Key marketing takeaways from the study include:

  • Inbound is the norm rather than the exception, as businesses now prefer inbound to outbound 3-to-1
  • Companies are 3x as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound campaigns
  • Paid ads are the single-most-overrated marketing tactic, according to both inbound and outbound marketers, signalling a great opportunity for a better way to do ads
  • 84% of small businesses are predominantly using inbound marketing
  • Inbound is the preferred marketing strategy regardless of company type, meaning B2B, B2C, and non-profits alike are all adopting and implementing inbound tactics
  • Lead generation and conversion are the biggest challenge for marketers, proving the value to be gained from the convergence of marketing and sales

Sales shifting to inbound
This year, the report increased its focus on trends in sales and sales technology. Key sales findings include:

  • Manual data entry is the #1 issue for salespeople when trying to use their CRM systems
  • Sales teams are twice as likely to be unsuccessful if they use Excel, Outlook or physical files to store lead and customer data
  • Salespeople cite prospecting as their #1 challenge when ranking the most difficult parts of the sales process.

About HubSpot 

HubSpot ($HUBS) is a leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 15,500 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpot has been recognised by Inc., Forbes, and Deloitte as one of the world’s fastest-growing companies and HubSpot’s culture of transparancy and inclusivity has made it a 100 Best Workplaces for Women by and Great Place to Work®.

Inbound marketing?

Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and hoping for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.

By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more. Inbound marketing refers to social media publishing and monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics.

For more information:

What’s SOI?
SOI stands for State of Inbound and is a report generated by Hubspot, a leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Tomorrow, marks the release of Hubspot’s sixth annual State of Inbound report, including findings from ANZ for the first time. Key finding of the report is that while this is the first year ANZ has been included, ANZ is in fact leading the world with its preference for inbound marketing solutions.

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