HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2014 report – 5 key takeaways for marketers

HubSpot is one of the companies I most enjoy following, and one which every marketer can learn from. This inbound marketing software vendor walks its talk by providing some of the most useful, free content for marketers available.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2014 report - 5 key takeaways for marketers

The sixth annual HubSpot State of Inbound 2014 report is no exception. In this post, we discuss the key findings and offer five key takeaways for marketers.

Key findings from HubSpot

  • Inbound unlocks Return on Investment (ROI); ROI unlocks budget – HubSpot found that inbound marketers who measure ROI are more than 12 times as likely to be generating a greater rather than lower year-over-year return.
  • “Getting found” is priority #1 (and #2 and #3) for high performers – The report found that blogging, organic search and content amplification are highest on the list of marketers’ priorities, with blogging said to have had the most substantial impact on performance.
  • Data facilitates alignment – The report found that there is tight alignment between marketing practitioners and their leaders about their top marketing priorities.
  • Agencies are leading the pack – HubSpot found that “inbound marketing performance is up across the board. More companies are running inbound than ever before,” but it’s marketing agencies who are setting the standard.
  • The era of “inbound selling” has arrived – Inbound is no longer limited to “just” marketing. More than 25% of respondents reported that their organisations’ sales teams practice inbound.
  • The belief that European marketers trail their North American counterparts is unfounded – Despite many marketers believing that the US leads the world in terms of marketing innovation, the report found minimal variance between respondents in North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The 54-page report expands the key findings across sections such as budgeting, planning, executing and measuring for inbound. It contains a slew of facts, figures and charts that could help to justify a business case to transition your organisation to an inbound model.

5 key takeaways for marketers

Here are my thoughts about what this report means for young marketers:

  • Get up to speed on inbound marketing – Inbound marketing is here to stay – which means that you need to learn as much about the tools and techniques of inbound marketing as possible. Whether or not you actually practice inbound techniques in your current role, the more you can get across how it works, why it works and how you can contribute, will help you to stand out as a marketer. HubSpot offers a free Certification Program which runs through the inbound marketing process. I highly recommend you spend the time to do this program. We’ll look at more inbound resources in future posts.
  • Monitor how other companies are doing it – Plenty of companies are doing a great job of inbound marketing. Pay attention to Calls to Action which compel you to hand over your email address. Is it the offer of a white paper, a competition, free course, discount or any number of incentives? Keep a file of emails from companies that both delight you and annoy you, and see how regularly they contact you. If you come across great landing pages or websites, think about why you like them, and keep them on file for future inspiration. Consider the brands you follow on social media, and see which techniques they use to engage you and their audience.
  • Start a personal blog – HubSpot found that marketers who prioritised blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive ROI. Of course, not all companies have blogs or want to create them – but as a marketer, if you can talk about blogging from your own experience, you will stand out. Starting a personal blog is great way to practice writing – a critical skill for any marketer. It’s also a great way to learn about content strategy. Coming up with ideas for regular posts, and sticking to a writing schedule improves both your creativity and discipline. Finally, it’s a great digital asset to build over time – we’ll cover this more in future posts, but I can’t stress enough how useful blogging is as a learning tool for marketers.

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  • Skill up on search engine optimisation (SEO) – SEO is one of the key elements of inbound marketing, and while it’s a fairly broad and specialist area, it’s worth getting your head around. Running a personal blog forces you to think about SEO. I use the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast for this site. It’s a great tool which embeds all of the SEO items I need for each page and post, and uses a traffic light colouring system to show which pages are well optimised and which need work. HubSpot offers a range of templates to help with SEO planning and there are plenty of blogs like The Moz Blog, which offer current news about SEO.
  • Consider getting some agency experience – HubSpot found that marketing agencies are sourcing nearly half (47%) of all leads through inbound channels, compared with vendors who are sourcing just under a third of all leads this way. While life in agencies can be chaotic and pressured, agency experience is very well regarded in in-house roles. As well as gaining technical marketing experience across a range of clients, working for an agency can give you the edge by getting you up to speed with the latest marketing techniques.

I really encourage you to read HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2014 report. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments below.