Lessons from HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report

April 29, 2013

HubSpot last week released its 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report,  this year weighing in at a massive 175 pages. But as always, the report is crammed with useful facts, interesting stats, and vital tips, tools and techniques for inbound marketing success.

Given the report’s heft, no blog post (of any reasonable length) could it justice as a summary, but here are a sampling of the highlights. To get the full story, download the HubSpot report here.

HubSpot-2013-Inbound-MarketInbound marketing (a subset of though not to be confused with web presence optimization) is big, and growing.

  • • 60% of companies will execute some form of inbound marketing strategies in 2013 (and that’s likely understated; another 19% of marketers weren’t sure if certain tactics they use qualify as “inbound”).
  • • Companies spend, on average, about a third of overall marketing budgets on inbound tactics.
  • • For the third straight year, nearly half of marketers plan to increase spending on inbound marketing activities in the coming 12 months.

And it works:

  • • According to the report, “inbound delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.”
  • • 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.
  • • Inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6% to 12% total.

Inbound marketing teams tend to be small—but realize the need to grow in order to scale.

  • • Even at the enterprise level, 31% of marketing teams contain five or fewer full-time employees.
  • • While marketing teams will begin 2013 with an average five or fewer people, most will at least double by the end of the year.
  • • Inbound marketers plan to hire an average of 9.3 people this year, which is 125% more growth than teams not executing inbound marketing.

The report is careful in how it defines “inbound marketing,” noting that “Inbound marketing is not a channel or a technology, it’s a strategy” (much like web presence optimization, or WPO)  and further stating that:

“While it’s easy to explain why direct mail and PPC banner ads are ‘outbound,’ it is more complicated to define more flexible online strategies as purely inbound versus outbound. At HubSpot, we see the distinguishing factor as how people are using a specific channel more than the definition of the channel itself.”

This further distinguishes WPO from inbound marketing, as tactics like media relations, SEM and banner ads are elements of the WPO framework (because they are key elements of overall online brand visibility) but would not be considered part of inbound marketing.

But the report also notes that despite its widespread and increasing adoption, “Executives and sales functions not quite buying in to inbound marketing…only 17% of sales teams and 11% of company executives lend their full support to inbound marketing efforts.” If inbound marketing truly is a “customer-centric” approach to the market as the report also contends,  one would expect these numbers to increase in coming years. To encourage this shift, marketers will need to be able to tie their efforts to strategic business objectives (like market share and brand loyalty) beyond just lead generation.

There more—much more—in the report,  covering topics ranging from ROI, metrics, and testing, to inbound marketing tools and tactics. The new HubSpot report is must-reading for anyone who needs to justify market-driven digital strategies, understand what competitors and peers are doing, and gain insights on how to generate more leads, of higher quality, at least cost than with traditional interruptive marketing methods.

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4 Responses

  1. Thanks Tom for attempting to condense this valuable report. At Market Pipeline we work only with B2B manufacturers and industrial suppliers and from an anecdotal stand point I would agree with the findings in the HubSpot Report. Typically the industrial marketer is slow to “party”. However, many are starting to see this unique window of opportunity changing their attitudes. HubSpot’s report validates what I hear from our industrial owners and marketing execs. “By Tom Repp”


  2. Tom 

    Thanks Tom. I think the arguments are so compelling for some type of content/inbound strategy that this will just be called “marketing” very soon.

  3. Thank you very much for sharing! As a social media enthusiast, I’m really learning and obtaining strategies and tactics about marketing thru this kind of report.


  4. Tom 

    No problem Steve, thanks for the feedback! There’s a lot of great info in the HubSpot report.

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