It’s that time of year again; HubSpot has carried out their annual survey of marketers in order to paint a picture of the challenges, priorities, tactics and results they see when it comes to the practice of inbound marketing.

The subsequent report, the State of Inbound, uncovers a heap of insights – some of which are surprising, and some which (especially for those of us who specialise in inbound marketing) are not.

So how has the inbound landscape changed?

The number of those who practice inbound is on the rise – there’s been over 20% increase compared to 2013. It’s also important to note that it’s more widely spread, too; inbound is no longer exclusively the realm of marketers – it’s now interdepartmental. Departments such as R&D, IT, Product Development, Recruiting, Services and Sales are practicing inbound marketing – predominantly for lead generation.

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Fair enough then that nearly a third of respondents were those directly responsible for generating leads; sales professionals, and it would seem that whilst they use both inbound and outbound channels, inbound is the preferred method for generating leads. In fact, far from sales and marketing being at odds in their approaches, the report shows a strong alignment between marketers and salespeople in the channels they use.

Which_lead_sources_have_become_more_important__over_last_6_months_And it’s no wonder, as the report points out, inbound-sourced leads are consistently more knowledgeable about the company prior to speaking with a rep than leads sourced through outbound means. Add to this that inbound leads cost less to generate, and it’s win-win for sales professionals.

As for tactics, it’s no surprise that content is still king: social media, SEO/organic search and blogs are the most popular lead sources for inbound marketers. And following from this, the survey found the projects that deliver the most value are the creation of blog content, growing SEO/organic presence and content distribution/amplification. For example, marketers who have prioritised blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI, and that’s the key to seeing budgets being renewed in the following year, or even increased to allow expansion, experimentation, and creating even more return going forward.

 

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Despite these and the myriad of insights in the full report, the major point to take away from the results is that measurement is imperative. As the report states, inbound marketers who measure ROI are more than 12 times more likely to be generating a greater as opposed to lower year-over-year return – because they can see what works.

In addition, those that measure the ROI of their activities are more likely to benefit from unlocking budget for future inbound activity. In fact, no other factor had a greater impact on budget than being able to demonstrate success with inbound activities.

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All in all, there are some strong results from this survey, which – if you’re not already doing – should help you hone your inbound strategy. Employing tactics which have proven effectiveness, and measuring the results, is the strongest argument an agency can take to clients to enable their retention.

What are your thoughts on the report? Are there any key points which you have / will be implementing into your marketing plan?