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Trends and Challenges of Inbound Marketing for Small Businesses

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  • PostedOctober 31, 2014

#1 – Budget versus Return on Investment

Marketing budgets are up, to the tune of about 74 percent of B2B companies increasing their budgets in 2014. While the driving force behind marketing budget has always been increasing sales revenues, demonstrating positive ROI has always been a retardent, or at least a question mark. Paradoxically, in this year’s HubSpot survey, marketing executives rank proving ROI as their top challenge while giving ROI a lower priority compared to lead generation and sales conversion efforts.

This is particularly true for small companies (with fewer than 25 employees) focused on building inbound marketing programs and increasing traffic and leads and less concerned with proving the viability of inbound. Marketing departments in larger companies are generally more accountable for their budgets and results and compete with other parts of the organization in regular budget reviews. Regardless of company size, it remains difficult to demonstrate ROI if Sales and Marketing aren’t well aligned in terms of goals, processes and data. Then there’s actually measuring ROI. While HubSpot is creating easier ways for linking marketing activities to revenues through its CRM and Analytics, inbound marketers may not yet have the knowledge or experience to put best practices to use.

#2 - Inbound is becoming a primary source for lead generation

Inbound marketing continues to drive more and more leads and overtake outbound marketing as a primary source for lead generation. In 2014, half of marketers (B2B, B2C, and nonprofit) ranked inbound as their primary lead source, exceeding the average (42%) of all other channels combined. And more than twice as many respondents cited inbound (45%) as their primary source of leads versus outbound (22%). In fact, outbound marketing as a primary lead source dropped sharply in this year’s survey, from 34% down to 22%.

#3 - Inbound leads are consistently more knowledgeable about your company

According to the survey results, inbound-sourced leads are consistently more knowledgeable about a company prior to speaking with a sales or business development representative than leads that originate through outbound means. Research from the Corporate Executive Board Company found that today’s B2B buyers go through nearly 60% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales. So this makes the role of content and inbound marketing efforts critical to engaging prospects before they engage you and providing the information they are searching for.

#4 - Blogging is the single activity most commonly associated with success

The benefits of blogging are universally known and blogs are a primary component of nearly every content marketing and online marketing program that leverages inbound methodologies. But in spite of the shear growth of blogs and content in general, blogging remains a powerhouse of inbound, generating more ROI than any other single inbound activity or tactic. According to the report, marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to experience positive ROI.

#5 - Non-profits are benefiting from inbound

While B2B seems to primarily get the inbound spotlight, non-profit organizations are seeing incredible results. Non-profits are seeing inbound (58%) is responsible for procuring nearly twice as many leads as the roll-up of all other channels (31%). And in addition to non-profits’ success using inbound for lead generation, they also outperform B2B and B2C companies in ROI growth.