Research: The State Of Inbound 2017

Posted by David Terry on June 14, 2017

Each year HubSpot publishes a global Inbound Marketing survey, called "The State of Inbound", and the results are fascinating as we follow the evolution of the Inbound movement from Inbound Marketing to Inbound Sales to just Inbound.  

As usual there was a ton of survey results, stats, opinion and information to go through in the State of Inbound 2017, so I personally selected what I think is the best for your attention.

Email Is The Preferred Communication Channel - With Messenger Apps Growing

HubSpot concluded this year, that “when it comes to communication channels, email is the clear winner.”  

Of the 6,399 professionals surveyed in 141 countries, 86% prefer email for business communications, no surprise there, but there is a loss of two percentage points from last year, but there is a twist. 

Face-to-face communication is a distant second, falling from 61% to 60% Phone communication comes in third, holding steady at 56%. And social media has fallen from 42% to 39%. The only one to grow and what I see as the twist, was the increase in messenger apps — from 29% to 31%. If our internal agency enthusiasm for using Slack as our chosen messaging app, is anything to go by, I will expect to see email continue to fall. 

At the same time, email was rated the second-most effective channel for sales reps to connect with prospects, falling from 29% to 26%. The telephone, holding steady at 36%, was first, but Facebook came in fourth, having risen from 9% to 12% - now there's a surprise that needs more analysis.

What Was The Most Overrated Marketing Tactic?

The real losers here are the traditional marketing channels - outbound marketing is declining of course!

As one survey respondent put it, “We're abandoning the traditional broadcast channels era, to enter an individual on-demand environment, where places and things that surround users will create more useful, relevant, and customized experiences”, that sums it up.

  • Paid advertising (print, outdoor, broadcast) – 32%
  • Social media organic – 13%
  • Online paid advertising (social media ads, PPC) – 11%
  • Email – 10%

The Most Daunting Sales Tasks?

The most daunting chore for sales was getting a response from prospects when they go dark (38%) - followed by closing deals (35%), identifying good leads (30%) and engaging multiple decision makers at a company (27%). Connecting via phone was listed by 20%, and is a clear indication that only a few people are picking up their phone and answering it.

The Top Marketing Priorities for 2017

Asked about wider Inbound Marketing priorities, 70% mentioned conversion of traffic into contacts and leads, nothing else even came close as driving traffic to the Web site (53%) was next, followed by increasing revenue from existing customers, at (43%). That's basically our agency mantra about why we exist - "More website traffic, more qualified leads, more sales."

Inbound vs. Outbound

B2B prospects are spending more time gathering information before making a decision than ever before. Again this is the B2B Inbound Marketing story we tell, the typical B2B buyer persona completes 57% of their purchase decision before ever talking to a sales rep.

Traditional buying habits no longer align with traditional forms of marketing like print, telemarketing, direct mail and outdoor advertising, and Inbound Marketing is winning the battle. 68% of organizations that have adopted Inbound Marketing say their marketing is effective, while only 48% of companies using outbound marketing say their marketing is effective.


The Top Marketing Challenges in 2017?

B2B marketers are facing these top challenges:


  • Generating traffic and leads — 63%
  • Proving the ROI of our marketing activities — 40%
  • Securing enough budget — 28%
  • Identifying the right technologies — 26%
  • Managing our Web site — 26%
  • Targeting content for an international audience — 21%
  • Training our team — 19%
  • Hiring top talent — 16%
  • Finding an executive sponsor — 7%

The Top Sales Challenges for 2017

64% of respondents are spending more than 30 minutes a day on data entry or other manual tasks, but more than 30% are spending more than one hour. It may be time to get a better CRM and an Inbound Sales process going, to leverage new tools to save sales reps time.


Leadership & Staff

Inbound practices produced the most high-quality leads, and outbound the least. Overall, 61% of the respondents say their marketing is effective, while 39% say it isn’t.

But it depends on the person’s rank. CEOs are most likely to feel that way (69%), and individuals/contributors are less so (55%). Interestingly, check out this HubSpot Video: "Executive Isolation: When Corporate Communication Crumbles" - that explains this data in a little more detail.



Companies That Have Sales And Marketing Aligned Are More Effective

Marketing and sales teams working under an SLA have a better understanding of how each team is driving revenue, and greater visibility into their performance, and are 3 times more likely to say their marketing is effective than those that are misaligned, again adopting Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales strategies can significantly help with sales and marketing alignment.


Sales Team Lead Sources

If your sales team does not trust the leads that come from marketing, than they will be forced to spend more time sourcing leads and less time closing deals. The main goal of your marketing team should be to generate SQL leads that sales can close.  


If you want to view the entire report, check out the source here, The State of Inbound 2017. If you'd like to share any of your opinions to these survey results, just share your comments below, I'd like to hear from you.


Data Source: The State of Inbound 2017 

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Inbound Sales