The marketing landscape continues to evolve, and leading marketers are working hard to ride the wave. So what does it take to stand out from the pack?
Inbound marketing is no longer the small companies’ answer to big marketing budgets and is being embraced by bigger businesses to attract more bite to their marketing spread, a recent report found.
Hubspot’s State of Inbound Report released today revealed three out of four marketers across the globe now prioritise an inbound approach to marketing, and that inbound is the preferred marketing strategy regardless of company type. In fact, companies are three times more likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound, the report found.
The global survey, which covered more than 3500 respondents from 150 countries, showed inbound marketing is not only the norm, but actually preferred to outbound marketing by a ratio of three to one in all seven global regions. In A/NZ, this rose to 78 per cent of respondents, showing this region to be leading the world in its inbound preference.
Meanwhile, 84 per cent of small businesses are already using inbound marketing to better engage with their audience.
Interestingly, both inbound and outbound marketers rank paid advertising as the number one most overrated marketing tactic. The report showed this holds true across different company sizes and budgets, meaning B2B, B2C and non-profits alike are all adopting and implementing inbound tactics over traditional advertising methodologies.
“Over the last few years especially, we’ve seen inbound marketing and sales methodology continue to take root around the world,” HubSpot’s director of marketing in Asia-Pacific, Ryan Bonnici, said. “As an industry, the State of Inbound Report can be used to determine which facets of inbound people are gravitating towards and which elements, or markets, remain nascent. The latest report shows that businesses prefer inbound to outbound tactics 3-to-1, and the movement has proven itself as a success.”
Traditionally, Bonnici explained you would have to go to a sales person to find out more about a particular product or service. But today, you can go to Google and do as much research as you like. This has seen inbound change the way we engage with different products or services, he said.
“The reason why it works, particularly in the A/NZ region, is that it is so measurable and it delivers in the way in which customers and prospects in our region want to be spoken to,” he said. “Inbound is all about the soft-sell, it’s about educating your customers and your prospective customers about something that they do.”
According to Bonnici, inbound marketing effectively allows SMBs to have the power of an enterprise without the big advertising budget, by leveraging a much more accumulative and organic approach.
“So if you think about it, big enterprises are putting a ton of cash into paid these days, which works well, however the moment you stop putting in that budget, it turns off,” Bonnici said. “Inbound marketing is all about engaging content on your website and Facebook pages. It sits there and you own it permanently, as opposed to ‘renting’ it. So you’re owning your audience, as opposed to renting your audience.
“And SMBs absolutely love that, because if they’re a true expert, a thought leader and truly know their trade or product inside and out, there should be no one better than them to create content around things in relation to that.
“That’s why it is a beautiful way to democratise marketing and businesses, because it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can still create content if you know what you’re talking about.”
Bonnici claimed that if you look at the stats, people are now clicking less and less on paid ads on search engines or social networks. Overall, organic searches on Google get about 70 per cent of clicks.
“If you’re doing paid, you’re only getting a slither of the audience that’s out there, because people are now savvy enough to see the difference,” he said.
Reckon: Making the switch to inbound marketing
Matthew Butler, group marketing manager at Reckon Limited, said the ASX-listed software company has moved away from traditional ‘pushy’ advertising strategies to leverage more effective inbound marketing tactics.
Previously, the team employed traditional marketing tactics such as brochures and direct mailing to generate demand. However, Butler said he wanted to adopt a new marketing strategy that would enable him demonstrate the ROI of marketing activities and, in turn, provide insight to make informed business decisions.
“We’ve had a radical transformation of our business over the last two to three years,” he said. “We found that we were being very pushy with our advertising, we were almost annoying customers, in a way, by giving them messages that they didn’t necessarily want to receive.
“What we realised is we’re a big company, with over 450 people, and we have a lot of smart talent with a lot of expertise within our market, so it has been fantastic to tap into that wealth of information and get people from within the business and partners to comment. The best idea wins with inbound marketing, so if we deliver a good piece of content, we get far greater engagement than if we just try and push our own products directly.”
Butler said engaging with inbound marketing solutions like Hubspot allowed Reckon to more effectively build brand awareness and generate leads, especially when the company underwent a name change in 2013.
“We saw an opportunity to work more effectively and an opportunity to increase our conversion rates and sales,” he continued. “I liked HubSpot because it seemed to be a blend of functionality and simplicity. Some of the other solutions were impractical and I was trying to make it an easy enough tool for the whole marketing team to get their heads around, and HubSpot met that.”