Inbound Marketing Is A Team Effort

N.B. Though this original research was presented as the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, the value of the information relates currently and for ongoing strategic planning… and should not be overlooked as “dated.”  Editor

According to a study by Hubspot in 2013, Inbound marketing not only has staying power, it’s growing. It has proven itself to be much more than the next shiny technology or the latest buzzword. The research shows that nearly 60% of marketers have adopted inbound marketing strategies and more than 80% of those executing inbound marketing have integrated it into broader company goals. People are also investing more in inbound, as budgets for this strategy have grown nearly 50% in each of the past three years. The report includes insight from over 3,300 executives, business owners and marketers on every continent on the globe, just 9% of which were HubSpot customers

Top lessons from the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report

Inbound is real, and it shows remarkable traction for such a new industry: While inbound marketing is a relatively new industry, it shows sizeable market share and impressive budget growth rates.

  • Sixty percent of companies will execute inbound marketing strategies in 2013
  • Marketers allocate 34% of their overall budgets to inbound tactics – 11% more than they dedicate to outbound strategies, like banners, direct mail, and more.
  • This year, 48% of marketers plan to increase their inbound marketing spending – the third year in a row that inbound budgets are increasing at a near 50% pace.

Inbound delivers on its ROI promises, providing more and cheaper leads that convert at higher rates: twice as many marketers say inbound marketing delivers below average cost per leads versus outbound strategies. The survey found that 34% of all the leads generated in 2013 come from inbound marketing sources. In fact, inbound delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.

41% of marketers confirm inbound produces measurable ROI, and a staggering 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing. Inbound leads also deliver superior cost per lead and cost per customer. In fact, U.S. inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year save an average of 13% in overall cost per lead and more than $14 dollars for every new customer acquired versus those relying on outbound strategies.

While traditional marketing models have not completely dried up, we found they are dramatically devalued by all marketers. Seventeen percent of marketers say both traditional advertising and direct mail have become less important in the past six months. Traditional advertising and PPC will deliver the least amount of leads for marketers this year, with just 6% originating from each of these categories.

Some marketers are clearly dedicated to tracking the “hard numbers,” with 15% tying their inbound results directly to revenue or customers/wins generated. 34% of businesses cannot or do not calculate overall inbound ROI.

The alignment of inbound goals makes marketing more profitable. The survey found the following:

  • Companies that establish shared marketing and sales responsibilities see clear improvements in their lead acquisition costs, particularly among enterprise firms. Adopting a marketing-sales agreement saves companies with more than 200 employees an average of $195.84 total cost per customer
  • Inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6% to 12% total. Marketers see an average website conversion rate of 10% industry-wide
  • Companies who test are 75% more likely to show ROI for inbound marketing than those who fail to test their strategies.

According to the report, inbound produces resource efficient leads. 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog this year, though the blog requires roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications and just 7% of their total budget. This means that marketers spend 55% more time than budget on blogging.

Seventy-nine percent of companies who have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year, compared with just 20% of those companies that do not have a blog. 82% of marketers who blog on a daily basis acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who just blog monthly.

25% of marketers cite reaching the right audience as their top priority. All great marketers have always started with an understanding of their consumers. Now more than ever, it starts and ends with that understanding, says the report.

Inbound marketers plan to hire an average of 9.3 people this year, which is 125% more growth than teams not executing inbound marketing. Enterprise companies expect the most growth, expressing plans to hire an average 18.6 full-time marketers this year.

Despite the wealth of recent articles heralding the rise of content produced for marketing, the research shows that only 18% of marketers are purely focused on developing quality content in. Finding and converting quality leads and identifying the right audience rank more important in terms of marketers’ overall priorities.

The data shows that “content marketing” is not quite the panacea some in the industry claim. Content created and distributed by marketers must tie in context on customers, says the report, from how they interact with your channels to CRM information to personalized, dynamic targeting.

While the relative sophistication of enterprise companies’ marketing efforts would suggest their inbound efforts would be more integrated than the general population. However, just 21% of enterprise companies completely assimilate inbound marketing with larger strategy. This data suggests that, while large companies have more resources to allocate to marketing efforts, more moving parts makes it more difficult to ensure all marketing teams move in the same direction.

To discover how many businesses have adopted a customer-centric approach, the study asked marketers whether they consider their company to be primarily customer, marketing, product, or sales-focused.

Customer-Focused Companies Dominate


% of respondents

Customer focused


Product focused


Sales focused


Marketing focused


Source: HubSpot, July 2014

Nearly 70% of marketing focused firms implemented inbound marketing strategies, as opposed to 60% of customer-focused companies. This 10% difference begs the question of whether inbound marketers truly understand that, at its core, inbound is a strategy that puts the customer first.

Similarly, 49% of marketing-focused companies netted ROI from inbound marketing, as opposed to 42% of customer-focused companies, and just 38% of sales-focused companies. Looking at the segmented data, 45% of marketing agencies indicated they were customer focused, though 39% of agencies also noted they were more marketing-focused than most other industries.

According to the research, 73% of the companies that reported a formal marketing-sales agreement engaged in inbound marketing this year, while only 14% of firms with formal marketing sales goals reported no inbound activity for 2013. Among companies without defined lead handoffs, this number drops to 50% executing inbound strategies. While not causal, there is a clear link between adopting inbound marketing and improving communications with your sales team.

Formal Agreement Between Sales And Marketing Teams To Determine Both Teams' Responsibilities Vs. Inbound Marketing


Do Inbound

No Inbound

Don’t Know/NA

Formal Sales Agreement




No formal sale agreement




Don’t know/NA




Source: HubSpot, July 2014

A major key to understanding the state of inbound marketing is learning what marketers are trying to achieve. The study asked both marketing executives and practitioners to note their top priorities for the year. 23% of marketers say their top priority is reaching the right audience, tied with converting leads into customers. Rounding out priorities this year includes 20% of marketers looking to increase total lead volume, 18% citing creating quality content, and 13% looking to prove ROI. 

Prospect Targeting, Lead Conversion Cited as Top Inbound Goals

Inbound Priority

% of Respondents

Reaching the right audience


Converting leads to customers


Increasing total lead volume


Creating quality content


Proving the ROI of our marketing activities


Source: HubSpot, July 2014:

With far more detail than an excerpt can cover, the remainder of the report provides significant insights worth exploring…

The second chapter of the State of Inbound Marketing Report focuses on making the business case for inbound marketing, covering how marketers are calculating the ROI of their inbound efforts, how inbound stacks up against traditional lead gen activities on a cost per lead (CPL) and cost per customer (CPA) basis, and which channels and social media platforms marketers say deliver the best leads and customers.

Chapter three reviews the core optimization design, technology, and testing tools needed to execute inbound marketing, as well as a look at the inbound industry’s current technology challenges and software trends.

The final chapter of the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report looks at key personnel decisions that will help you build a world-class inbound marketing team, and how to best prioritize their day-to- day activities and deploy their resources in channels that best achieve the company’s annual business goals. 


Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to bring customers in closer to the brand. Marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospect’s attention; earns the attention of customers; makes the company easy to be found; and draws customers to the website. (Wikipedia)

For more information, and access to the PDF file with detailed charts and graphs, please visit HubSpot here.

Next story loading loading..