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Current Inbound Marketing Trends: 10 Things You Didn’t Expect

Marketing

Inbound is so hot right now. One of the most-discussed topics among marketers right now is the recent release of marketing automation software provider HubSpot’s annual report. Over 3,300 participants from 128 countries worldwide weighed in on how their organizations are adopting current marketing trends, tactics, and practices, and what really drives results. Join us as we reveal the facts, stats and current marketing trends that shocked us in HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report:

1. Inbound Is the New Norm

If you’re under the impression that inbound marketing practices are just another fleeting trend, you may be shocked to learn that the majority of marketers are actually employing inbound principles:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

Further analysis into the types of companies most likely to employ blogs, social media and email marketing revealed that some of the world’s sharpest groups of professionals, marketing agencies, were the most likely to employ inbound tactics, at 73%.

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2. Corporate Integration Has a Way to Go

Aligning your overall marketing strategy with organizational goals is crucial. Without lines of communication between sales and management, marketers are unable to generate a sufficient volume of the right leads. We were a bit disappointed to learn that only 34% of companies believe their strategy is “completely integrated” with their overall goals:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

3. Quality Content Takes a Back Seat

Did you know that 66% of marketers consider lead generation, conversion, and reaching the right audience more important than creating quality content? If we had to pick a single discovery in the report that shocked us most, this would have to be it:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

Given the fact that 91% of B2B marketers are currently using custom content for marketing, and the majority of organizations will be increasing spend on content in the next year, it’s clear that content creation isn’t just a fleeting, current marketing trend. It’s critical to remain competitive.

4. Focusing on Customers Is In

When HubSpot asked marketers to define the focus of their organization, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that half responded that their customers are key:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

While the report wisely points out that it’s “less than ideal” that a full 50% of companies aren’t focusing on their customers, the data is certainly a step in the right direction. Current marketing trends may come and go, but a customer-focused business model allows businesses to have staying power.

5. Marketing and Sales Really Need to Talk

Logically, many companies know that sales-and-marketing alignment is crucial. Unless these two departments are able to effectively communicate, the results can be chaos. It can be challenging to establish a formal service-level-agreement between the two teams, which is why we were unsurprised that the study found that only 27% of companies have a formal plan in place. However, what took us off guard was the fact that it’s apparently really beneficial to establish a plan:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

Enterprises with a formal sales-marketing agreement in place spend 40.12% less on the average customer acquisition!

6. CEOs Care Deeply about Audience

While research has indicated in the past that CEOs are quite interested in proving the ROI, HubSpot’s report indicated that the focus has shifted to identifying the target audience:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

The current marketing trends towards audience research reveals an increasing savviness on the part of business leaders towards the intricacies of inbound marketing. Without vibrant buyer persona profiles or knowledge of target marketing pain points and priorities, marketers simply can’t create quality content that’s going to be relevant to the right prospects.

7. Blogging Has a Wonderful ROI

If you’re wondering whether the growth of blogging for business is among current marketing trends that will be gone by next year, the research indicated that content marketing is every bit as effective as we thought:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

The vast majority of companies who invest in content marketing are able to clearly map revenue to their blogging efforts. Considering that 34% struggled to define ROI, it’s clear that quality content is among current marketing trends that yield big returns.

8. Inbound Is Just More Effective

Many followers of HubSpot’s blog and current marketing trends are aware that inbound marketing is a far more cost-effective option than outbound alternatives. However, HubSpot found that inbound practices are all-around more effective:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

Investing in a website that converts, quality content, and an active social media presence can fill your company’s sales pipeline with 54% more leads, as well as provide cohesiveness which will last much-longer than current marketing trends. This data supports the fact that consumers are turning off their televisions and ignoring billboards in favor of self-directed research online, through sources like Google and Facebook.

9. Organic Search Rules

Wait, isn’t SEO dead? The facts couldn’t be further from the truth, according to the report. When HubSpot asked marketers to reveal which of their leads were most-likely to convert to customers, SEO leads who arrived at the website through a major search engine, like Google or Bing, came out on top with a staggering 15% conversion rate:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

It’s clear that to see the highest ROI on your marketing effort, quality content is key. No form of paid advertising could touch the stellar lead-to-customer conversion rates of SEO, social media, and email marketing.

10. Facebook Is Still King

The world’s largest social media network, Facebook, remains a top source for finding customers. It’s really no surprise, considering that the 1 billion member-strong network isn’t just among current marketing trends. It provides marketers with direct access to more consumers than any platform previously known to humans:

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Image Credit: HubSpot

Despite the fact that LinkedIn can’t compete with Facebook’s extensive membership, the professional networking platform proved a key location for finding leads who eventually convert. Company blogs had an equally strong showing, with 43% of surveyed marketers being able to clearly map revenue to their content marketing.

While current marketing trends may come and go, HubSpot’s 2013 report certainly seems to indicate that inbound practices are here to stay. If your company is still investing in direct mail and billboards, it’s likely time to consider a switch to investing in the platforms where your audience is hanging out, or you risk falling behind.

Did you read HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report? What surprised you the most?

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