In today’s hypercompetitive world of internet marketing, marketers are more concerned than ever with converting high-quality leads. In fact, 3 out of 4 marketers say converting leads is their top priority, while over 2 out of 3 say that generating traffic and leads is their top challenge. Inbound marketing is becoming more popular as marketers seek out ways to convert more leads. In fact, just 17 percent of marketers say outbound practices provide the highest-quality leads for sales. This suggests that outbound marketing is on its way out while inbound marketing is very much on its way in.
HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound Marketing report only confirms this. “The world is becoming more inbound. It’s growing more authentic, less interruptive,” explained Brian Halligan, the CEO of HubSpot. “And with the findings of this year’s report, I think it’s safe to say that over the next 10 years, we’re going to see an even more inbound world.” As internet marketing becomes more dominated by inbound marketing techniques, sales challenges won’t disappear, but they will shift.
While outbound marketing is all about getting your message out to prospective customers by leveraging techniques like pop-up ads, email marketing, cold calls, and print materials, inbound marketing is all about drawing your audience to online spaces where they naturally want to be. Let’s break down the ways in which sales challenges are likely to shift between inbound and outbound marketing.
Investing in SEO is necessary to grow your organic presence. One of the main challenges when it comes to inbound vs outbound marketing is getting found. With outbound marketing, you don’t need to worry about your target audience coming out to find you, as you’re responsible for bombarding your target audience with your brand’s message. With inbound marketing, however, you need to ensure that it is easy for your target consumers to find you. Unless they make their way to the spaces that your brand inhabits online (i.e., your website, your social media pages, etc.), you will have trouble facilitating natural and organic interactions between your consumers and your brand. A full 66 percent of companies surveyed in the HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing report say that growing SEO/organic presence is a top inbound marketing priority, which is a smart response to this challenge. Investing in SEO presence is an excellent way to grow your organic presence and ensure your consumers can find you online, maximizing the opportunities for these kinds of organic interactions.
The key with inbound is to be nonintrusive. Consumers are bombarded with ads from every direction — and they’re starting to get sick of it. Mobile ad blocking has increased 90 percent year over year, so even if you are spending money on mobile ads, it doesn’t mean your target audience will even see them. According to HubSpot, 70 percent of people have a lower opinion of brands that use pop-up ads and 51 percent of people have a lower opinion of brands that use auto-playing video ads. In addition, intrusive advertising strategies don’t just affect user experience and brand reputation; they can also put a dent in your bottom line. 4 out of 5 of people have left a webpage because of a pop-up or auto-playing video ad. It’s hard to convert users if you can’t keep them on your page.
The main challenge with inbound marketing is coming up with nonintrusive ways to get your message across to your customers. The less your content looks and feels like an advertisement, the better. Part of the way to do this is to tailor content to your audience so that it feels useful and relevant to them. The second part is to develop content that they can interact with in a way that feels natural. Interactive content, which 41 percent of brands surveyed by HubSpot say they are making a priority this year, is an excellent way to accomplish this.
You need to invest in high-quality content. One of the main challenges of inbound marketing is consistently producing exceptional content that engages your target audience. The good news is that consumers have a virtually insatiable appetite for great content. In fact, the majority of consumers want to see more social media posts, news articles, and videos from marketers in the future.
Measuring ROI is necessary. When it comes to inbound vs outbound marketing, there is no doubt that measuring ROI is much easier for outbound marketing than it is for inbound. However, it is well worth the effort, as the better a marketing team is able to gauge its ROI, the more successful it tends to be. According to HubSpot’s report, 72 percent of companies that measure ROI feel their marketing strategy is effective versus just 49 percent of companies that don’t measure their ROI. An added bonus? Marketers that calculate ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets.
Your sales team and marketing team must be closely aligned. Remember, the foundation of inbound marketing is a solid understanding of your target audience. In order to cultivate that understanding, you need input from both your sales and marketing teams. One of the major challenges brands face when it comes to executing an inbound marketing strategy is ensuring that their sales and marketing teams are working in tandem. They need to have clear and direct lines of communication and measurable goals that each team has agreed to make in order to facilitate mutual accountability. Research clearly shows that this is key to success. Of companies that have a service-level agreement (SLA) between the two teams, the overwhelming majority — 82 percent — felt that their marketing strategy was effective. Of companies that felt that there was misalignment between their sales and marketing teams, just 20 percent reported that they felt their marketing strategy was effective.
The good news is that, globally, North American marketers have the highest level of faith in the efficacy of their companies’ marketing strategies. However, even the best of the best could use a little help from time to time. When it comes to tackling today’s most prominent inbound marketing challenges, it never hurts to call in an expert, whether you need help more effectively tracking ROI or your SEO strategy needs a boost. Bringing in a professional can be an excellent way to ensure that you’re maximizing your marketing dollars and your bottom line.