10 Takeaways from HubSpot's State of Marketing 2020 Report

Eric Severstad
Posted by Eric Severstad on April 1, 2020


HubSpot knows a lot of stuff.

Well, they are the world leader in inbound marketing methodology. Each year, the HubSpot state of inbound marketing report is released, providing a huge amount of data and marketing industry trends. The amount of info is head-spinning, really.

You can read the full, 64-page report for yourself here. But, since I thought you might be too busy for that, I’ve grabbed one takeaway from each of the nine sections (plus one bonus), including an eye-opening quote from the subject matter expert for each section.

Before you jump in, a few words about the survey. These trends and data come from the input of over 3,400 global marketers and the progressive strategies of HubSpot experts and partners.

The report title, “Not Another State of Marketing Report,” gives you an idea that this report, created by marketers for marketers, shares uncommon findings and unique thinking that can truly impact the marketing world.

Remember that this report was written before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is certainly changing all aspects of marketing in 2020. These two lines found in the report’s intro — “More change is coming” and “It’s a scary and exciting time for marketers everywhere” — are oddly prophetic as we forge into an unknown future.

With that caveat, here are my top 10 takeaways. Enjoy!

1. Content Marketing Strategy

“To win the content marketing game, brands need to focus more on optimized, personalized, and influencer-activated content experiences.”

— LEE ODDEN, Chief Executive Officer, TopRank Marketing

Did you see that Lee’s quote mentioned “personalized” experiences? One great way to do that is to implement video, which is now the #1 form of media used in content strategy, overtaking blogs and infographics. Because of video’s flexibility, it can tell so many different stories, as seen in this graphic. What a powerful content marketing tool!

HubSpot state of marketing graph of video types

2. Social Media Marketing Strategy

“Small and authentic will win over big and generic every time. Pay attention to private groups, micro-influencers, and social movements that are relevant to your brand.”

— DIEGO SANTOS, Marketing Manager, HubSpot

74 percent of companies actively invest in social media marketing

I’ve got two related takeaways here. First, the big number of 74% — the percent of companies who actively invest in social media marketing. It’s safe to say that if you’re not active on social media, you’re behind. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the most commonly used social media platforms, and most marketers publish 3-4 times per week. LinkedIn is crucial for B2Bs as well.

Second, reread Diego’s quote that focuses on smaller, one-on-one interactions within social media. Be real, be human, show your brand personality. That’s the way to stand out. It’s not so hard, is it?

3. Digital Advertising Strategy

“Tailor your promotional strategy to ensure that audiences are seeing ads most relevant to them.”

— BARB GAGNE, Director of Marketing, Cybereason

Graph of primary goals of paid advertising in marketing

Paid digital advertising — with attention given to design, targeting, optimization, and analysis — is an effective way to get your content on people’s minds (as well as atop their feeds). The top two goals? Marketers use paid ads to increase brand awareness (33%) and to directly impact sales (24%). For example, you can use paid advertising to retarget leads with relevant middle- and bottom-of-funnel offers to get them to reconvert. Here are 5 other ways you can use PPC in an inbound context.

4. Web Strategy

“In the end, our goal must be to provide users with the information they want, when and where they need it. To achieve this, a compelling and straightforward design, adhering to accessibility standards, and personalization are indispensable.”

— MARVIN HINTZE, Marketing Manager, HubSpot

Graph of website optimization tactics

OK, there’s a lot to digest in that graphic. The short story: to improve website performance, the #1 tactic used by marketers is optimizing mobile performance. But, don’t forget about improving page load and fixing broken links and site navigation errors. It’s also important to review your site’s analytics to know what percent of your traffic actually comes from mobile vs desktop so you can prioritize accordingly. While it’s crucial to have responsive website design, the percent of mobile traffic varies greatly by industry, especially for B2Bs.

When considering overall web strategy (including website optimization), the first goal should always be meeting your audiences’ needs by creating a great user experience.

5. Search Engine Optimization Strategy

“In 2020, SEO reports will more effectively tie initiatives to outcomes ... showing the impact of SEO on broader business goals.”

— RYAN VANVALIN, SEO Team Lead, seer

More than half of marketers are trying to rank for Google snippets

Speaking of great user experiences, the content on your website needs to provide a solution to a visitor’s problem; that could be an in-depth article or a one-word answer. The best answers achieve the coveted Google featured snippet. Over half of all marketers actively shoot to grab the snippet for a particular topic.

6. Reporting and Attribution Strategy

“... understanding your users’ intentions to drive change and attributing profits to your marketing campaigns is what will make you successful in 2020 and beyond.”

— MARVIN HINTZE, Marketing Manager DACH, HubSpot

52 percent of companies use marketing attribution reporting

Are you investing in initiatives that are influencing revenue? How do you know? If you can do better, you’re not alone, as just over half of all marketers have a handle on it. As important as profits always are, your marketing reports should go beyond “how you did” and focus on “how you can do better.” One more thing: think of 2020 as the time to make data more human.

7. Email Marketing Strategy

“Consumers continue to prefer connecting with brands via email, and email marketers are seeing their email ROI skyrocket … where should you focus your efforts this year? Integration, segmentation, and experimentation.”

— CYNTHIA PRICE, VP of Marketing, Litmus

Trends in email marketing tactics

Expanding on my “human” comment above, email marketing can (and should) contain honest, human, and personalized content in ways Cynthia mentions above. As seen in the graphic, message personalization is the #1 tactic used by email marketers to improve performance. Also segment your audiences, write powerful copy, and design your emails well.

8. Conversational Marketing Strategy

“Conversational marketing is helping companies bridge the gap from the physical to the digital world and create personal relationships at scale.”

— SARA VARNI, Chief Marketing Officer, Twilio

Percent of companies planning to implement chatbots

This graphic piggybacks another stat: 45% of marketers are currently using chatbots on their website. So, of those NOT using bots, over half will either move in that direction or aren’t sure. Customers should have choices when it comes to how they communicate with businesses, and bots (and live chat) are commonplace, accepted, and oftentimes expected.

9. Market Research Strategy

“Understanding your market is incredibly important. That knowledge enables you to differentiate your messaging from your competitors’ and draw consumers towards your offering.”

— ELLIE MIRMAN, Chief Marketing Officer, Crayon

Graph of tactics for conducting market research

Research is nothing new; it’s been critical to marketing since the beginning. In fact, 72% of modern marketers conduct market research, using various techniques to do it: surveys, interviews, focus groups … whatever it takes to understand where they sit in the competitive landscape and promote compelling differentiators.

10. Bonus Takeaway: Marketing Automation

According to the survey, 68% of marketers say their businesses use automation in some way. Of those users, 23% are automating their content delivery. Why? Because it’s so effective! To dig deeper, check out this blog article of ours: What is marketing automation and how is it being used?

Whew! You made it. And this really just scratches the surface of HubSpot’s report. When taken as a whole, I found that the report confirms inbound marketing’s power big time. Yes, today’s world seems out of control in many ways, yet the current state of marketing keeps evolving and providing opportunities for those willing to go for it.

If you're still getting the feel for all of this, our inbound marketing for industrials page is overflowing with content and resources to help you. If you can handle more stats, they’re there, plus you’ll also see videos, get strategy advice, review infographics, and read a case study. It’s worth a click.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Conversational Marketing

click here to take the state of industrial sales and marketing survey