Content marketing trends special edition: HubSpot’s state of inbound report

Welcome back for the latest edition of Content Marketing Trends! This week, we thought we’d try something a inbound marketinglittle bit different.

In honour of the publication of the eighth annual instalment of HubSpot’s influential ‘State of Inbound’ report, we’ve compiled the most compelling findings for content marketers into a single, digestible resource.

HubSpot’s unique research is from a global sample of 4,500 respondents from the marketing and sales spheres. It shines a light on the working practices of content marketers today and provides a window into the practices we’ll need to think about in the year ahead.

Read on to find out how your content marketing efforts stack up against the rest:

Content marketing is maturing like a fine wine

As the industry becomes au fait with the intricacies of inbound content marketing, the model is being increasingly used as more than just a top of funnel means of facilitating awareness of a product or service.

58% of respondents cited “Growing traffic to website” as their main marketing aim. Attracting clients to your business site is an aim that sits top of the sales funnel. This would have once have been the most important facet of marketing content.

However, “Converting contacts/leads to customers” was highlighted by 72% of inbound marketers as their top priority for the next 12 months. “Closing more deals” was highlighted by 60% as their top sales priority. This shift of onus (from attracting traffic to closing deals) suggests that digital content is now being relied upon throughout the centre and bottom of the sales funnel too.

Email marketing’s resurgence is writ large

HubSpot’s report indicates that email isn’t just hanging on by its fingernails; it’s thriving as THE go-to means of business communications.

When asked “How do you prefer to communicate for business purposes?”, respondents ranked their top four preferred methods as follows:

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As you can see, email is streets ahead of the other business communication methods. While social media may steal the limelight in terms of rich media and viral content, email remains the most potent and practical option for disseminating your marketing content and communicating with your clientele.

Inbound marketing increases blogging efficiency

Have you ever sat and thought about how long it takes you on average to compile a 500-word blog? If you haven’t, then working out your average might just teach you a little something.

HubSpot have found that your approach to marketing may affect the length of time you spend on writing pieces. They asked “How long does it typically take you to write a 500-word blog post”

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36% of inbound marketers stated that a piece of this size would take up to two hours to complete whilst only 26% of outbound marketers stated this as an adequate amount of time. In fact, 18% claimed that a 500-word blog could take over 4 hours to complete.

Inbound marketers were also four times more likely than outbound marketers to rate their strategy highly. This suggests that adopting an inbound approach is both more profitable and efficient than outbound methods.

Inbound marketing relies on presenting influential information targeted at specific topics. In many cases, this requires an experienced writer with a clear grasp of their subject area. This enables them to write in a way that’s both natural and fast to compose.

Content marketers are turning away from long-form prematurely

Inbound marketers appear to be giving up on long-form before it’s had the chance to get off the ground.

Long-form content has been known to be more effective than shorter blogs for a while now. We’ve been holding our breath for the time when this method is given the priority it deserves.

Sadly, the pendulum has swung the other way.

HubSpot’s report indicates that long-form content is used as a primary means of content production by just 9% of marketers.

When asked “How long is the average blog post for your organisation?”, respondents from the EMEA region stated that blogs with fewer than 500 words are the norm. While this can be fine under certain circumstances, Google won’t index anything below 300 words.

So, all you short blog writers, it’s time to think again. Warm up those typing fingers and aim for something a little more substantive.

Inbound marketing must improve approach to consumer products

It’s not quite all coming up roses for inbound marketing. One element of the report highlighted a major discrepancy when it comes to consumer products.

Across 10 of the 11 sectors listed, a significant proportion (between approximately two-thirds and nine-tenths) of respondents cited inbound as their primary approach to marketing. For consumer products, this gap was only 20% in favour of inbound.

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This sector was also the only one where growing website traffic (66%) was touted as a more important priority than converting leads into customers (53%).

There’s work to be done when it comes to perfecting the art of inbound marketing for consumer products. This process will require a concerted effort by content marketers to make consumers feel that they’re having a tangible experience with the product via the supporting content.

The increasing amount of accurately targeted automated content, and – at some point over the horizon – through the implementation of experiential VR or rich media technology that can make buyers feel like they’re down on the shop floor.

Inbound marketing recognises true importance of blogging

In terms of marketing priorities for the coming year, both inbound (65%) and outbound (62%) marketers recognised the importance of “Growing SEO/organic presence”.

66% of inbound marketers cited “Blog content creation” as a top priority. Just 37% of outbound marketers stated the same.

This suggests that both groups recognise the importance of their online presence. But, inbound marketers are far more likely to see informative, non-sales orientated blogs that provides a service to the end user as the best means of establishing authority and converting leads into sales long-term.

To wrap up…

HubSpot’s ‘State of Inbound 2016’ report is an absolute gold mine of in-depth marketing insights.

If you can spare the time, it’s well worth poring through this document in detail to find out how these trends work in relation to your industry or local market.

Should this report have anything like the same effect as last year’s edition, you’re likely to be seeing these stats cited in the majority of your favourite marketing blogs until the 2017 incarnation comes along.