If there is one form of marketing that has really coincided with the digital explosion, it has to be the inbound marketing.
The growing popularity of content marketing among businesses of all sizes speaks to the virulent influence of digital in this present age.
Billions of people come online to meet and interact with friends, family, and everyone in between.
But even much more number of users visit the internet to collect vital information that will help them improve on what they are doing.
The internet has proven a worthy place to fetch ideas, of course, thanks to its ease of information management and the new paradigm shift among researchers and knowledge seekers that until they document their findings in the web-based library, it is not done yet.
The web is stocked with a lot of information and activities that are enough to engage its endless users and gain new ones.
Based on this data from Internet World Stats, it shows the internet has already penetrated about half of the entire world population (46.1%). Even that figure would have been much higher if it were not for regions like Africa and Asia that host 71.5% of the world population but with less than half of the population are using the internet.
The top brands understand the potential of this crowd, hence why they have positioned their businesses in the familiar landscape with the digital marketers taking the leading role.
Practically, there are two different methods that any business can use to reach their potential customers on the internet: the inbound and the outbound.
The latter is a form of marketing (which involves print, ads, TV, billboards, outdoor) that has been in existence from the time immemorial. It is a traditional method of marketing which many people believe are going out of date (even among the big companies that are known as outbound organizations):
This is added to the 32% of the respondents of that survey whose companies identified as outbound organizations but still called paid advertising the most over-rated marketing tactic (by a wide margin).
The figure like this (and a lot more) shows how businesses are gradually ditching the outbound marketing for inbound. This is because people are more attracted to businesses that offer them quality information that is helpful to improve themselves. They frequent such businesses and are more likely to buy from them. Inbound marketing is simply a content marketing that is used to lure people to your business and get them taking steps that you want.
It is concerned with all sorts of online marketing tactics (content creation, SEO, blogging, email, social media, whitepapers, podcast, etc.) that fall within the premise of what businesses can do (by themselves) to extend their reach and increase sales. No involvement of the third party (Ad Company), just between the business and its customers. Inbound marketing has taken its prominence over the last decade thanks to the phenomenal growth of internet users and the influx of modern devices that have made the internet accessible to all. This has positioned the web content crafters as one of the most in-demand people in the market today. And it is a development that has come to stay at least to a distant future.
We are going to look at how the leading marketers strut their stuff to achieve inbound success. What are the things that keep them above other marketers? How have they been able to secure a higher budget and get more headcount to their team? And then, what are the challenges you should expect if you aspire to attain their feat. These and some other areas we are going to be analyzed using statistical data.
First and foremost, the difference between leading and less successful marketers boils down to the toughness of the job and the ability to surmount a pressure. What I mean by this is that the enormity of challenges at hand will determine how many people can make an impact with the inbound marketing, and those who are able to weather the storm are termed the leading marketers.
According to the State of Inbound 2015 by HubSpot, demonstrating the ROI is identified as a number one challenge for an inbound marketer. This is a survey of nearly 4000 leading marketers across the world from 150 countries:
Top Marketing Challenges By Company Size
Proving ROI and subsequently securing budget increase are
cited as the biggest roadblocks
The underlining thing here is that marketers need to prove their ROI is worthy of a higher budget to get it the following year, as advertisers want to see the result of every dollar spent. That is why a demonstrable ROI is identified as their biggest challenge. Looking at this over a two-year span also shows the same outcome but with a slight fall.
There are emerging trends that are also worth noticing in the above result: “Finding An Executive Sponsor” and “Team Training”. These two show a significant push over the last year to now. This shows a new phase of development in inbound marketing.
What is clear about all the survey respondents is that everyone wants a higher budget and being able to get that rests on proving a positive return on investment. You can see the relationship between the two (ROI and Budget) in the figure below:
As you can see, it is almost certain that you are safe from any shortfall of a lower budget if you can prove a positive ROI. The result is, even, more telling if you look at it conversely: It shows that demonstrating a positive ROI will reduce your chance of having a lower budget by nine times the following year compared to when your team failed to show a positive return.
The key thing here is to always track your ROI in order to prove it and justify a budget increase. This is what you will find common with leading marketers and how they have been able to achieve their inbound success. Now let’s see what the stats have to say about them:
Leading Marketers Track and Prove ROI to Secure Budget
Though it was indicated earlier that proving of ROI is one most daunting task for inbound marketers, it does not seem the hurdle is difficult to scale for leading marketers. They take the job by its head, track their ROI, check their progress over time and prove positive return to secure a higher budget the following year. According to the survey, “respondents had a 20% more chance of getting a higher budget in 2015 just by tracking their ROI alone, and would double up that chance if they were are able to prove the tracked ROI was greater than in 2014”.
2015 Budget By ROI
Tracking ROI gets you Budget. Simple
Successful Marketers Let The Results Speak For Them
This is no different from tracking and proving the ROI that we have been emphasizing on. It was revealed in the survey (as was the case years before) that no single factor was more important in driving higher inbound budget than the past success with inbound marketing. Here is a surprise, past failure also resulted in a higher budget. The reason for this is because advertisers understand that even if they are not making the expected returns through inbound at present, there is a huge possibility of reaping good returns in future to cover their initial loss, so long they are able to track and monitor their progress. They see inbound as a long game, so they want to position themselves for the promising future.
2015 Budget By Budget Change Factor
Past success with inbound marketing is the best way to nail budget
This shows why it is important to devoting extra efforts into matching marketing activity with a tangible result – even if the result will show red.
Top marketers Write Their Content as well as Outsource
To make sure they are dishing out quality content that will meet the need of their audience, leading marketers don’t rely on their in-house writers alone. They employ the services of outside writers like guest contributors in their content creation process. As it is shown below, inbound marketers who were using guests for content creation were more likely to see greater ROI than their peers who were not.
Content Creation Sources By ROI
Use of guests and staff writers for content creation correlates with a higher ROI
Leading Marketers Check Their Analytics religiously
This is one specific area that is known to take seriously by leading marketers. They keep tabs on their marketing analytics as they keep tabs on their wrist watch, so they check their marketing for improvement frequently. According to the data, “respondents who achieved greater ROI in 2015 than in 2014 were approximately 20% more likely to have checked their marketing analytics three or more times per week.” Watched pots do boil indeed!
Marketing Automation Software helps tremendously
Considering the number of customers they will need to engage with often time, leading marketers do bear some marketing automation software on their effort. They employ mostly the software to handle complicated tasks in their team. According to the survey, the use of the marketing automation software correlated with a higher ROI for marketers in 2015. More tellingly, the same number of respondents who indicated how the use of software unlocked more budgets for them also claimed they were much less likely to have a lower budget by the use of the marketing tools.
Marketers are More Successful When Involved in Sales Software Purchase Decisions
As we already know that the use of marketing automation software gives a lot of mileages to inbound marketers. Chances are even better when marketing and sales are combined in the software purchase decision process (for both CRM systems and marketing automation software alike). Marketers who partook in sales software selection had 13% higher chance of seeing positive ROI, and 11% higher chance to get a budget increase.
Service-level Agreements (SLAs) Mean Success For Inbound Marketers
The success with inbound tactic does not exclusively rest on the shoulders of marketers alone. It is a team effort that requires a good partnership between the sales and marketing. The leading marketers who have been able to achieve success with inbound tend to work hand in hand with the sales. According to the survey, “those who had a formal agreement between the sales and marketing were more likely to see higher ROI on marketing budgets in 2015, receive more budgets, and expand their sales team”. So you may want to consider SLA if you don’t have one already.
Inbound marketing is a long game that will continue to dominate the digital marketing landscape to a distant future. Leading marketers understand this and they have moved to position themselves to reap the rewards of the ever-increasing internet users of today. As a starter or a growing marketer who aspires to attain the top echelon with inbound. You will need to dedicate time and resources into measuring your ROI consistently for you to be able to have a documented marketing journey over time. Your use of marketing automation software will help you cover much ground quickly and save you a lot of important time.
You should understand the fact that no any marketing activity is complete without being able to prove your results or demonstrate your ROI. Not only that, you should keep a constant watch on your progress by checking your analytics as frequently as possible. Bear in mind that a good knowledge of this metrics will help you form the basis for collating final results that prove a positive ROI.
ROI Tracking = Demonstrable ROI = +ROI = Budget Increase = Growth
Over to you?
How about you? What is your experience with the inbound marketing and how has it been helpful to your business? What is your take on the comparison of the inbound and outbound marketing? Care to share your thought about these or do you have any question, suggestion, or recommendation concerning this article, let us do the talk in the comment below.
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