Remember the days when inbound marketing efforts were limited to one or two channels?

Not too long ago, email was one of the only inbound marketing channels to reach customers. Today, marketers have dozens of inbound channels to choose from — Messaging apps, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Slack, to name a few. This growing importance of social media to marketing efforts is highlighted throughout Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017.

“The way people do business has changed, and companies are rising to the challenge to meet consumers where they are—whether that’s on Facebook, YouTube, in a messaging app, or on a mobile device.”
— Hubspot State of Inbound 2017

With 90 pages of fascinating marketing statistics, it’s easy to get lost exploring the report. Here are a few highlights and interesting stats that caught my attention. You can download Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report here.

1. Video is taking over the space of writing and editing

Cited as Hubspot’s main disruptor of the year, video is becoming an increasingly important part of a business social media strategy. One contributor said, “Video is just going to get bigger and bigger. I think more people want raw, honest connection. They want to know you and the company in a way that feels personal.”

2. Websites are the new Gatekeeper of Sales

In previous writings, we discussed the website’s important role in telling a brand story. Salespeople, in particular, are seeing a shift from being the gatekeepers of their businesses’ information to their websites being the gatekeeper to their companies’ websites being the gatekeeper of its sales.

“Our industry is going through a seismic shift. Gone are the days of the salesperson being the gatekeeper for information. Our website has now become our primary mode of marketing where it used to be our brick-and-mortar locations. I think in the next three to five years we will see a shift to brand selling and concierge-like service.” — Hubspot State of Inbound 2017

3. Snapchat’s importance increases, but its utility continues to be a mystery to Marketers

Barely 5 years old, Snapchat’s prevalence invaluable demographics has exploded in the last year. It’s base of over 150 million daily users and dominance of the Millennial demographic present a target market too promising for marketers to ignore, but its tools for businesses present a problem.

In an environment where Facebook and Google are building incredible platforms and tools for marketers, Snapchat’s lack of specific targeting tools and analytics makes it difficult for businesses to justify the ROI of investing resources into it.

“Snapchat is still a mystery for many businesses, and we see a dip in focus as marketers opt to spend their time on large emerging channels.” — Hubspot State of Inbound 2017

4. 2017 could demand larger marketing budgets

As marketing analytics tools improve on the big 4 social platforms, it will become easier to see the ROI of your company’s investment into social media. The State of Inbound Report asserts that this signals for an increase in marketing budgets, writing, “Effectively managing the rapidly growing and changing social media landscape warrants a significant resource allocation.”

“The 2016-2017 survey confirms the third consecutive year of budget increases. Larger companies (>$5 billion revenue) spend 13% of revenue on marketing versus smaller companies ($250 million to $500 million revenue) that spend roughly 10% of annual revenue. Scale, innovation spend and competitive pressure reflect the difference.”
– Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2016-2017

5. Marketing Automation is a must

Budget constraints necessitate the use of marketing automation, which is also reflected in Hubspot’s report. Participants indicate that their top priority in 2017 continues to be converting contacts/leads to customers, an area which can specifically benefit from marketing automation as generating and converting leads is automation’s #1 benefit. Regarding this, an Autopilot survey details, “Marketers using automation software generate 2X the number of leads than those using blast email software and are perceived by their peers to be 2X as effective at communicating.” (Learn more about the conditions for marketing automation success.)

Marketing Automation can also help salespeople and marketers in the areas of manual data entry and incorrect data entry, areas that Hubspot cites as being two of the top challenges people face when using CRMs.

6. There is a disconnect between CEOs and individual contributors regarding ROI

Overall, CEOs interviewed were much more inclined to believe that their companies’ marketing strategies provide an effective Return on Investment than individual contributors. Specifically, 14 percent more CEOs interviewed believe that their company’s marketing strategy is effective than individual contributors. Companies should work to narrow this margin and encourage transparency between their team members in order to accurately measure ROI.

Communication is constantly changing in the marketing space, and it is important to place your efforts where that communication is most effective. When marketing to consumers, that means meeting them where they are on social media and creating the content they want. Within your company, that means developing transparency between upper management and individual contributors so that everyone is on the same page regarding the effectiveness of the company’s marketing strategy and ROI.

From the increased presence of social media in inbound marketing to the ever-growing importance of marketing automation, it is important to understand the trends in marketing as they evolve each year. As Hubspot accurately stated, “If a company is slow to capture a new mode of communication, it might as well stop the business.”

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