We're a little data obsessive. Ok, more than a little. We find and read every report we can find on how businesses are investing their marketing dollars. We then share the best of the best with you, so you can make more informed decisions about your marketing.
While you can't rely on what other people are doing to direct your every move, this data still offers some great context and can be helpful as you plan your budgets.
A recent study done by Demand Metric and Act-On software surveyed several midsize B2B companies to figure out which marketing tactics work best and how they see marketing budgets changing in the future.
This study shines interesting light on how companies balance the "inbound vs. outbound" approach.
The following highlights some key findings of report, along with how you should think about your own inbound and outbound marketing approach.
Should You Focus On Just Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
Less than one out of five respondents agreed just inbound or just outbound is responsible for driving business. This means around 84% of mid-size B2B’s feel a combination of inbound and outbound marketing are responsible for generating revenue.
How about you?
Do you favor one approach versus another? Are you loyal to outbound because of what it’s done for you in the past, while shying away from new technologies? Or have you shifted your focus and budget from outbound to inbound? If you still favor one over another, consider investing time to understand how they work best together.
Does Inbound or Outbound Generate More Leads?
There is no consensus on whether inbound or outbound is more effective at generating leads. 32% of respondents felt inbound marketing was more effective at generating leads while an equal 32% felt outbound was more effective. The remaining either felt a combination of the two generated more leads or wasn’t able to tell.
How about you?
Are you able to track lead generation back to their source? Using a CRM makes it easy to document and track lead activity from the start through to sale. Knowing which performs best will help you decide where to invest in the future.
Does Inbound or Outbound Generate The Most Revenue?
Similar to lead generation, there is no overwhelming consensus on whether inbound or outbound marketing generates more revenue. Respondents reported 41% of annual revenue was derived from inbound marketing compared to 43% of revenue derived from outbound marketing.
How about you?
Are you able to track revenue back to marketing activity? This level of accountability can take businesses to the next level, but not all track ROI to this degree. Rather than hiring new vendors or deploying new marketing tactics, invest the time to measure ROI by channel. Only then can you make smarter, more informed decisions.
Which Inbound Marketing Tactics Are Used The Most?
Social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and blogging are the top three inbound marketing tactics used, with more than four out of five respondents using both social media and SEO. Despite the importance of blogging for search rankings, only 60% of respondents claimed to use it as part of their inbound marketing portfolio.
Which Outbound Marketing Tactics Are Used The Most?
Email marketing is by far the most popular outbound marketing tactic, used by 90% of respondents. Tradeshows, conferences, and media relations are deployed by about 60% of respondents, with webinars and other virtual events used by about 50%.
How Much Marketing Budget Is Spent on Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
Inbound and outbound marketing receive similar shares of the total marketing budget. Inbound marketing tactics receive 44% of a marketing budget compared to 48% for outbound marketing. This isn’t necessarily an indication of its importance, but rather the costs associated with execution.
How about you?
Are you focusing your budget on the channels that generate the most lead activity? While it’s important to invest in underperforming channels with greater potential, it can’t come at the expense of channels that produce results today. Balancing your efforts between what works now and what will work tomorrow is critical for any business.
By How Much Are Inbound and Outbound Marketing Tactics Increasing In The Next Year?
While inbound and outbound marketing are considered equally important for generating leads and revenue, inbound marketing budgets are expected to increase nearly 50% more than outbound marketing budgets. Of those surveyed, 58% expect to increase their inbound marketing budgets in the next 12 months, compared to only a 39% increase for outbound marketing tactics.
How about you?
Reports predict increases to digital, mobile, and content marketing over the next several years. These investments will likely come at the expense of outbound marketing channels. How will you adjust your budgets, if at all, moving forward?
How Important Is Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
Finally, respondents were asked to rate the importance of inbound and outbound marketing on a 10 point scale. Not surprisingly, they were rated almost exactly the same, with inbound marketing scoring a 7.4 compared to 7.3 for outbound marketing.
Key Data Point Summary
84% of mid-size B2B’s feel a combination of inbound and outbound marketing are responsible for generating revenue
32% felt inbound marketing was more effective at generating leads
32% felt outbound marketing was more effective at generating leads
41% of annual revenue was derived from inbound marketing
43% of annual revenue was derived from outbound marketing
60% use blogging as part of their inbound marketing efforts
90% use email marketing
50% use webinars and other virtual events
44% of marketing budget dedicated to inbound marketing tactics
48% of marketing budget dedicated to outbound marketing tactics
58% expect to increase their inbound marketing budgets in the next 12 months
39% expect to increase their outbound marketing budgets in the next 12 months
7.4 = importance of inbound marketing on a 10 point scale
7.3 = importance of outbound marketing on a 10 point scale
Let me say that again to nail home the point...
Stop treating marketing tactics as "old versus new". They both work, but work best when implemented together. We've preached the importance of finding a healthy mix of inbound and outbound marketing tactics for a while now, but still see too many fail due to either stubborness or idealism.
So rather than debate whether the old school or new school is better, consider how the two can work together to produce the best possible result.
You can (and should) download the full report here.
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