Setting priorities as a marketing team is the hardest part of executing effective marketing plans in the 21st century. Online tactics have only increased the number of daily activities competing for top priority, because today, campaigns are more determined by regular activity (and less dominated by set advertising schedules) than ever before.
Marketing managers at companies that have opted for an inbound marketing approach feel this pressure more than most. In inbound marketing, the goal is to generate an ever-growing, predictable flow of leads for your sales team. To do this, marketers have to actively (and intelligently) manage a website, create regular content, produce lead conversion opportunities, and promote everything they create as much as possible to attract traffic back to their website. All of this must happen all the time with regularity, consistency, and constant innovation.
It's no wonder that whole automation systems—e.g. HubSpot—have been developed to help manage the process.
What Are Inbound Marketers Prioritizing Today?
Recently, State of Inbound 2015, a report by HubSpot of mostly B2B marketers, took note of the many competing priorities for marketing managers, and assessed how they plan to prioritize in the year ahead. The results are revealing.
The 5 major inbound marketing priorities are:
Increasing basic lead conversions
Closing leads into customers
Proving the ROI of marketing activities
Increasing the revenue derived from existing customers
Reducing the cost of lead/customer acquisition
None of these likely surprise you. In many ways, they reflect the ideals and goals of inbound marketing at-large.
But consider the fact that getting more leads is still the number one priority for companies that have already adopted inbound marketing. These aren't amateurs that HubSpot surveyed; they're experienced adopters of the inbound marketing methodology. They have landing pages; calls-to-action, blogs, good web design—all the elements that make lead conversions happen. Yet, still their top priority is for more leads. Why is that?
Why Do Many Experienced Inbound Marketers Still Prioritize More Leads?
The reason most inbound marketers continue to prioritize generating more lead conversions over anything else is because it's the hardest aspect of inbound marketing to maintain over time once you de-prioritize it. If you decrease blogging, creating content, and attracting leads to your website, then it will be much harder to ramp up that speed and regularity again.
But the same isn't true with other components of inbound business growth.
For instance, once you figure out how to show the ROI of your marketing efforts, it shouldn't be too hard to evaluate the return on new tactics, if they fall within your same overall inbound approach. Adding video to your mix of content may seem like a big investment, but if you get 2x the visits per video as every blog, and your videos take twice the time to produce as a single blog, then it's fairly straightforward to understand how it contributes to overall marketing ROI.
Similarly, the #2 priority, closing leads into customers certainly must weigh heavily on many business development directors, but there's a reason sales and marketing are considered separate fields of work. If you're supplied with lots of leads, a good sales team will figure out how to close them into customers efficiently—that's their job. However, if there simply aren't enough leads—and for most sales teams there aren't—then the biggest worry will always be how to find more leads.
How to Prioritize the Scaling of Lead Generation
While it's all well and good to prioritize lead generation tactics, it's also all too easy for inbound marketers to stick with the status quo of their marketing efforts. It's much more of a challenge to actually accelerate how you execute and generate more leads.
In order to scale inbound marketing, the constant pressure for inbound marketers is to (1) increase content output, while (2) becoming ever more efficient. Sometimes, it means outsourcing help. In other situations, you might mean adding a new software element to your toolkit. Or perhaps, it's time to hire a new addition to your marketing team.
The State of Inbound 2015 walks through a variety of trends facing inbound marketers as we head into 2016. Take a closer look by downloading the full 72-pager below.