State of Inbound 2015Each year Hubspot surveys thousands of the world’s leading inbound marketers and salespeople to identify the most pressing priorities and challenges they face, and tactics they’re using to meet them.  These findings are released in their annual State of Inbound report, the 7th edition of which was released this morning.

This year’s report further solidified that inbound is on the rise, but also uncovered several other key findings:

  • Companies are worried about increasing leads and conversions,
    but not the cost of doing so.
  • Even outbound marketers say outbound marketing is overrated.
  • Inbound works across B2B, B2C, and nonprofit sectors.

One of the most eye-opening findings of this report was that support for inbound is in many cases coming from the top down, and not from the bottom up, as some might assume.

Senior Executives Favor Inbound More Than Managers

Hubspot’s data showed that the further one climbs up the corporate ladder, the more likely they’ll favor an inbound strategy over outbound to generate a positive ROI. Managers, Directors, and non-executive VPs still favored outbound over inbound considerably, and individual contributors only favored inbound by a single percentage point.

Inbound Strategy ROI Perception in 2015

While the report does not drill deeply into the reasons behind this, it’s not hard to speculate why senior executives may favor inbound more than their mid-level managers:

  • Senior-level executives are laser-focused on the numbers and finding new ways to see a positive ROI, and inbound presents a far less costly way to produce results than outbound.
  • Mid-level marketing managers may be facing strong pressure from their peers in sales to utilize outbound tactics like buying lists, participating in tradeshows, and buying full-page ads in industry magazines; diverting focus away from inbound tactics.
  • Managers may not want to rock the boat while climbing the corporate ladder, instead opting for the “No One Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM” approach, copying the tactics of those who came before them.

Fortunately for those who believe inbound is the way of the future, the numbers can help justify your efforts. Regardless of company size, inbound marketing consistently shows a higher ROI than outbound by a wide margin.

Inbound vs Outbound ROI on Marketing Spend

People Are Fed Up With Outbound

Recent trends in advertising and technology further support the executive’s shift in favor towards inbound over outbound. While marketers begin to shift their budgets to creating value through content, consumers are starting to take action against ads that purely interrupt. The rising level of interest in ad blockers illustrates this trend.
Even outbound marketers think their own tactics are ineffective, with 32% of respondents identifying their companies are primarily outbound rating paid advertising in print, outdoor or broadcast as being the most overrated tactic.

Finding An Executive Sponsor And Training Teams Are Increasing Priorities

Another interesting finding of the 2015 report is that finding an executive sponsor and the need to train teams are now the 3rd and 4th most pressing marketing challenges, just behind proving ROI and securing enough budget. These two areas were also the two largest changes year over year, which could point to a tipping point on the shift from outbound to inbound. Top Marketing Challenges in 2015, Year Over Year Inbound marketing is now a widely entrenched concept, but driving organizational changes to make the shift from outbound to inbound is no easy task. This is where executive sponsorship becomes critically important. Fortunately, those hoping to mobilize their organization to embrace inbound have a growing number of resources available to do so. A pilot project utilizing free inbound marketing tools and a thoughtful content strategy can provide all the data a mobilizer needs to make their case and secure budget.

More Marketers Turning To Agencies & Freelancers To Source Content

Inbound talent is still hard to find. Marketers may have extensive product knowledge, industry-specific expertise, and familiarity with their customers, but many struggle to translate this knowledge into web-friendly content. With 76% of organizations planning on increasing their content production in 2016, use of external talent is on the rise. Sources of Marketing Content in 2015 Important to note is that while more organizations are utilizing agency talent, those organizations who saw the greatest increase in ROI balanced outsourced support with their own staff writers. These companies know that the best content is created when subject-matter expertise comes from within. External resources like an agency or freelancers are the perfect extension of that expertise; merging industry-specific knowledge with inbound marketing best practices.

Organizations looking to make the shift from outbound to inbound should look to external talent to help them lead the way forward. Most agencies will have completed this transformation many times, and can help you navigate around the most common pitfalls along the way.

These findings are just the tip of the iceberg. Download the full report for 72 pages of the latest stats, charts, graphs and insights on the latest trends in inbound marketing and sales.

Download the State of Inbound Marketing & Sales 2015 Report