The 5 Inbound Marketing Trends Every CMO Should Know

Scott Lambert

inbound-marketing-trendsDid you know that some have termed “Chief Marketing Officer” (CMO) as the most dangerous title around? How do you keep up with the dynamic nature of the job in an ever shifting and evolving digital market place? 

One starting point is to look at trends and not data points. Taking guidance from the words of the great Wayne Gretsky who said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been,” you need to move to where the market is going, not where it has been.

Trends are our best predictor of where a market is going. Here are 5 key marketing trends on where you are heading as a CMO based upon HubSpot’s report, “State of Inbound 2015.” These insights are the result of surveying nearly 4,000 marketing and sales professionals in 150 countries, primarily in the SMB market.

Trend # 1: Inbound marketing continues to surge in popularity and effectiveness over outbound marketing.

This trend has occurred over the last few years; however, only now is it more predictable. 75% of companies selected inbound marketing to be their preferred marketing approach vs. 25% who preferred outbound marketing. Survey respondents across industries, including B2B, B2C and Nonprofit organizations, agree with this preferred approach.

Paid advertising is ranked as the #1 most overrated marketing tactic. In fact, this was the primary response from companies favoring outbound marketing strategies. Under certain circumstances, it might be a good option to consider outbound marketing. If you have extra marketing dollars to burn, throw some at outbound marketing. Even if you do so, you must have an effective inbound marketing strategy to implement in order to effectively grow future company revenue.

Most of you reading this article understand this thought process and are already moving in that direction. If not, you need to take action quickly and move in that direction.

Trend #2: More marketers are using outside resources to help write compelling content that feeds the marketing engine for lead generation efforts.

Inbound marketing requires consistent creation of compelling content that your ideal buyers seek throughout their evaluation journey, or buying cycle. It needs to be created in a variety of forms and delivered through different marketing channels. In addition, your content must be high-quality.

39% of companies use outside sources to write their content. That’s because it is very difficult to produce the volume and quality of content in the different formats needed and promote it through key marketing channels using only internal resources. The top outside resources used for content writing are guest writers, freelancers, agency partners, writing panels and curation.

Trend #3: Leading marketers with the highest marketing ROI continue to invest in marketing automation software and have more involvement in sales software decisions.

How can you know if you have a positive marketing ROI if you are not tracking it? Marketing automation software allows you to track your marketing ROI so you can make informed marketing and sales decisions on what is working and what is not working.

In the past, CMOs have had to cobble together their website content management system (CMS), blog software, social media publishing and monitoring software, email marketing software, analytics software, CRM software… and still not have everything needed to make smart decisions.

None of these software programs are designed to talk to each other or share data. They are software silos of the past. While you get data from each silo, there is no actionable intelligence on what’s working or not, much less any information on your marketing ROI.

It’s time to consider a more effective platform that delivers most, if not all, of these capabilities for you.

Many CMOs understand this now. In fact, proving the ROI of marketing activities is the top marketing challenge year after year for CMOs. According to the 2015 Chief Marketing Officer Exchange for Middle Market, 84% of CMOs will be investing in marketing measurement, accountability and ROI in the next 24 months. 57% will be investing in the next 6 months.

Trend #4: The emergence of integrating marketing and sales teams into a Revenue Team.

We are quickly moving away from the “throw it over the wall to sales” approach. It’s losing its effectiveness and something needs to change – quickly.

According to the HubSpot report, the top two challenges for the sales team are closing more deals and improving the efficiency of the sales funnel. Overcoming both of these challenges is heavily dependent upon the volume and quality of the leads generated through the marketing channel.

In the same report, the top two priorities identified by companies are converting contacts/leads into customers and increasing the total number of contacts/leads. CMOs play a key role in both of these priorities.

While marketing may not be closing deals or “selling” directly to clients, they must develop a strategy and plan that is implemented effectively to help maximize the opportunities for the sales team. That’s because the sales team is no longer in control of the sales process - the buyer is in control.

The buyer will use online marketing channels including search, social media and email to research their options before they decide who to contact. The Google ZMOT study reveals that the average buyer consumes 11 pieces of content before they decide who they are going to contact.

Do you know what those 11 pieces of content are for your ideal buyer? If so, are you providing it to them right now through their preferred marketing channel?

Marketing has to deliver the compelling content your ideal buyer seeks throughout their evaluation/buyer’s journey in order to be in the game.

In addition, most companies’ marketing and sales departments operate with no set rules. Each team has its own ideas and expectations for how things should work, and typically they are vastly different from each point of view.  

However, a service level agreement (SLA) changes that.

An SLA is an internal contract between the two departments that aligns their goals and identifies their agreed-upon expectations. These are goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be tracked and measured. The SLA typically outlines how each department will define, measure and engage with marketing-qualified leads. 

Companies that have a service level agreement between the marketing and sales departments have one of the highest return on investments (ROI) for the company.

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Tweet This: You need to move to where the market is going, not where it has been

Trend #5: The emergence of the New Best Practices model for CMOs who want the highest ROI on marketing dollars.

The top performing CMOs with the greatest ROI commonly do these 5 things:

  1. Focus on Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing achieves a higher ROI than outbound marketing regardless of company size or total marketing budget. This includes resisting the allure of paid advertising.

  2. Track Marketing ROI – Best-in-class marketers invest in marketing automation software and marketing methodologies to track, report, and optimize ROI. They prove its effectiveness in increasing leads and sales every year and they secure the budget they need as a result.

  3. Secure budget increases through successful inbound marketing results – Past success with inbound marketing is the single biggest factor that drives budget increases for marketers.

  4. Use both internal and external resources for writing content – Typically a CMO does not have the ability or resources to produce the volume of compelling content needed to drive inbound traffic, convert that traffic to leads, and nurture those leads until they are sales-ready opportunities for your sales team.

  5. Check your marketing analytics at least 3 times per week –You need the capability to track your marketing efforts to recognize what’s working and what’s not working. You cannot wait until the end of the month to find out what happened. But, you also need to be receiving actionable intelligence, not just volumes of data.

CMOs have a very hard job in an ever-changing digital market place. Don’t continue to remain where the market has been. Move to where the market is going.

Get more details on what you need to do by downloading this free-research report on the “State of Inbound 2015” by HubSpot. 

Download State of Inbound

Scott Lambert

Written by Scott Lambert

For 35 years, Scott has been at the forefront of digital transformation and how it is effectively applied in businesses and organizations to market, sell, and support customers and members more successfully and cost effectively. Scott is President and Co-Founder of Xcellimark, an award-winning digital marketing agency serving clients throughout the U.S., Canada, Central America, and Germany. Xcellimark helps businesses succeed through the implementation of its unique digital marketing and sales approach specifically designed to meet their specific goals and objectives. Scott’s marketing, sales, and operations experience have included key management positions at industry leaders including AT&T, iXL (now SapientRazorfish), eSchool Solutions (now TalentED), and BellSouth, where he led the product development, marketing efforts, and market launch of BellSouth.net, the second public ISP developed in the U.S. Scott is the author of articles highlighted on leading online publishers such as LinkedIn, Business 2 Community, and he was recently featured by LinkedIn in the Entrepreneur magazine article on “No Time for Marketing? Hire a Freelancer.” His engaging personality and wealth of real-world and business experience make Scott a frequently requested speaker. Some of his engagements include being the featured speaker in a series of Orlando Business Journal seminars on Digital Marketing, speaking at the WSI London conference, and at international conferences in Belize. Scott has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Mississippi and a Master’s of Science in the Management of Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Scott has been active in global mission efforts and is a board member of Global Teams, a Christian outreach organization. He lives in Winter Springs, FL with his wife Nancy and dog Sadie.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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