State of Inbound 2018 Report: Key Alchemise Consulting Insights

The State of Inbound 2018 Highlights

The State of Inbound 2018 has just been released in June from HubSpot based on the latest global survey data around the current state of sales and marketing.

Here are some interesting statistics from the global survey report which may resonate with you and your current business, sales, and marketing challenges:

Hubspot State of Inbound 2018

Reference: Hubspot State of Inbound 2018 Global Report

Marketers prioritise converting leads into customers:

Bottom of the Funnel content is CRUCIAL across all global surveyed regions.

  • 69% of survey respondents highlighted converting leads to customers
  • 54% of survey respondents highlighted growth of traffic to the website
  • 44% of survey respondents highlighted increasing the revenue from existing customers
  • 42% of survey respondents highlighted the need to prove ROI from marketing activities.

Our comments:

From these statistics here the need for more initial digital contact engagement for top of funnel lead generation activities typically requires much time, cost and effort to work on producing leads. However the findings highlights a more pressing urgency and challenge for more effort working the middle to bottom of the funnel with sales conversion. What this means is that consistency working through the full funnel is required not just considering the top, middle or bottom focus.

Are you delivering enough “decision stage” content in the buyers journey to help close the sale?

If you start to focus on the sales outcomes first and reverse engineer your sales enablement to marketing lead activities needed to support to the goal, this will help qualified sales engagements with investment in aligning sales and marketing goals as a first step.  When you can consider the flow, efficiency and impact of the full funnel approach will deliver more consistent results and higher conversion rates from top to bottom of the funnel.

Without following the sales and marketing alignment process first, the measurement of tangible ROI can be difficult. We have just released an ROI calculator to help with the first step of that process.


Sales always wants to close deals which requires making the funnel more efficient:

  • 75% of survey respondents highlighted closing more deals
  • 48% of survey respondents highlighted improving the efficiency of the sales funnel
  • 32% of survey respondents highlighted reducing the length of sales cycles.

Our comments:

Sales targets are getting more difficult to meet, so the emphasis on driving a more efficiency sales funnel and more stronger and consistent qualified leads. Business owners and sales managers are telling us this is their priority right now. This Marketing to Sales engagement can be aided with delivering effective sales enablement to help support the sales team.


Prospecting has gotten harder in the last 2 to 3 years:

  • 40% of survey respondents highlighted getting a prospect to respond
  • 31% of survey respondents highlighted engaging multiple decision makers at a company in the buying process
  • 30% of survey respondents highlighted closing deals
  • 29% of survey respondents highlighted connecting via phone
  • 28% of survey respondents highlighted identifying and prospecting good leads

Our comments:

Our clients discussions definitely reflect the increasingly more difficult prospecting efforts year on year.

There are answers to these challenges on a whole which requires a stronger and more focussed strategic approach. If you can integrate your sales and marketing methods using Account Based Marketing with Target Account Selling in planning and segmentation process then the execution of the inbound methodology for engaging the full funnel will deliver higher conversion success.


Customers are advocates – word of mouth helps people make buying decisions:

  • 55% of survey respondents highlighted word of mouth referrals
  • 46% of survey respondents highlighted customer references
  • 38% of survey respondents highlighted media articles
  • 38% of survey respondents highlighted vendor authored materials & content

Our comments:

We have spoken to many business owners who still say referrals are their main way of generating leads. This is great to hear and obviously reflects the quality of customer services and client relationships built up. However is relying on consistent referrals enough to generate a strongly qualified pipeline which is large enough to meet sales targets? There needs to be multiple channels in driving lead generation for maintaining a healthy pipeline.

Content development with taking client references and authoring valuable content will still help drive inbound leads to you if it resonates and is relevant toward being customer centric.

If you want to understand from our perspective why marketing campaigns can fail, feel free to get your white paper below.


Preferred business communication channels:

  • 83% of survey respondents highlighted email channel
  • 59% of survey respondents highlighted face to face meetings
  • 55% of survey respondents highlighted phone calls
  • 41% of survey respondents highlighted video conference calls

Our comments:

Email is NOT dead as a business tool. Some pundits some years ago predictted that collaboration and social tools would take over email as a business tool. However this is proof that email is preferred with more options from Microsoft, Google and Amazon in the cloud now. Our suggestion is to ensure you do assess your customer preferences and make available an omni channel communication approach. Of the three preferred communication channels, technology has made it more difficult to engage face to face from phone calls and emails.


Respondents’ typical size and revenue:

  • 42% were SMBs (less than 10 staff)
  • 23% were SMEs (between 26 to 200 staff)

In Australia, there is a significant representation of small to medium business who are at different stages of the business lifecycle right now which is posing challenges whether you are in start up, mature stage or exit stages due to disruptive technologies impacting many industries to change. Every dollar invested must generate a solid ROI and business owners don’t have excess budget to spend without a solid strategy and plan in place.

Average company revenue:

  • 32% of survey respondents worked for companies less than $250K USD average revenue
  • 14% of survey respondents worked for companies between $250K to $1M USD average revenue
  • 16% of survey respondents worked for companies between $1M to $10M USD average revenue

Our comments:

It seems that typically organisations are still not investing enough budget in effective marketing. However the ROI of investment for many SMB’s and SME’s need to be more targeted and strategically planned to start with. What we have found is that many business owners who aren’t marketers have expended a significant budget with ad hoc marketing activities that hasn’t generated a solid and tangible Return on Investment. Why is this the case? Typically we have found that a lack of integrated strategy for sales and marketing can be a cause or not understanding the relationship and interdependencies between both functions.


Our key insights:

What does this summary of highlights and trends mean for your business planning in 2018?

Firstly many of these survey statistics align to what we have been seeing in the A/NZ market and feedback from business owners who have been speaking to us about their challenges.

It is evident that strategic thinking and planning needs to incorporate the process of aligning marketing and sales goals. We are also seeing however the reality is that many people simply don’t have time or aren’t willing to make the time to work ON the business than just in the business also.

Short term thinking and behaviour is also proving a hinderance to achieving consistent sales targets and marketing ROI. The strong demand for Business Development Management and Account Management resources highlight in certain sectors the strong demand for new business to keep driving revenue.

This requires the capability to drive sales qualified leads as well as experienced client facing sales skills to generate new business revenue. The role of Account Management is also important to retain existing customers as the increased market competition or transactional nature causes more churn if a supplier can’t add value in the client relationship.

Our visit to the 2017 HubSpot Inbound Event in Boston last year provided validation of the rapidly shifting nature and importance of digital marketing automation. The advancement of using Account Based Marketing and marketing analytics vendors like Terminus. Voice Call Analytics such as CallRail can help generate and report on providing deeper insights and visibility to help drive outcomes.

Every marketing plan requires consideration of using the inbound methodology to respond to the ways in which buyers make purchasing decisions today compared with a more traditional approach. This has been proven between traditional business and newer progressive business who realise they need to shift their mindset and change their business approach to survive and stay competitive.

The reality of the rapid digital transformation shift and web presence truly allows even small businesses to flourish with global clients via online and ecommerce marketing approaches. Even without large sales teams the power of globalisation is clear and represents a significant opportunity for small businesses to leverage this period in time.

If you would like to understand better how you can close more deals and also generate more consistently qualified leads, then feel free to contact us.

Find out how you can be more sales effective using an effective digital content and and inbound sales strategy approach by contacting us. If you would like an independent review or diagnostic of the gaps in your sales and marketing activities and areas to improve your sales ROI, we would suggest you consider registering for our complimentary Business Growth Assessment.

How inbound marketing and HubSpot marketing automation helped win a new client in 10 days

Introduction

We used inbound marketing and HubSpot marketing automation to help win a new client in just 10 days.

If you are not from a traditional marketing or digital background there may be some skepticism that marketing automation using digital channels and content can actually work. Companies who invest marketing dollars in digital content marketing and specifically using a leading marketing automation platform such as HubSpot does help generate more qualified leads. Higher ROI for lead generation can be achieved using inbound marketing and sales methodology than traditional methods like telemarketing.

This article from Marketing Mag: Is Australia ready for inbound marketing? highlights an good example of the kind of results it can help a professional services business increase their sales and marketing leads with prospect engagement.

“The best part about inbound? Customers love it. Look at a business like CFO On-Call, an Australian-based company comprised of skilled CFOs that offer insights to struggling businesses. Just six months after implementing inbound marketing, they saw nearly 10 times as many leads, a 200% increase in traffic, and 153% increase in sales-qualified leads.”
Ryan Bonnici, HubSpot APJ Marketing Leader

If you asked me twelve months ago about the digital marketing approach as a sales person, I would still assume that many of our sales opportunities are still developed through the traditional channels of network referrals, direct sales engagement and picking up the phone to talk to prospects.

Now, if I fast forward twelve months later now, the first step was shifting my mindset to using content driven Digital Marketing channels with the concept of Hubspot inbound sales methodology. The second step was understanding how using the Buyers Journey can drive quality leads and data capture to help filter your prospects and find your more compatible prospective clients.

funnel showing buyer's journey from the buyer's perspective and lifecycle stages from the marketer's perspective

Source: HubSpot

See below how using the HubSpot CRM, marketing automation and lead data captured helped us sign a new client deal in just 10 days ( which would normally take about 30 days).

This was demonstrable proof of how it helps lead generation, lead nurturing using marketing automation to generate quality leads. An important point to note is this is only one method out of the multichannel approach. This doesn’t replace other lead generation strategies which are still working, however an integrated approach has been proven to work best.

It starts with a visitor to the website, then a getting a lead conversion via a landing page, the relevant published content and form triggers the prospect buying stage to a marketing qualified lead. Once this can be seen, the prompt for a sales representative to initiate a follow up call can be made.  Lead scoring or qualified can be verification has been made from their digital interaction with us and associated reporting available.

Summary of how marketing automation helped qualify and close our new client deal in 10 days

So how did the inbound process help with the automation flow and visibility of the marketing lead progress?

  • HubSpot Marketing Automation was setup over a period of one month and content developed tailored to a persona of a Business Owner.
  • We increased web site visits organically through release of relevant blogs.
  • The blog content published were attracting visitors through the landing page, form and Call to Action offer – in this case was an E-book download for 7 profit multipliers.
  • The form was filled out and registration noted for the prospect contact history
  • Statistical data provided visibility of when and how the prospect interacted with our web site, digital assets and content offers
  • Track the MQL to SQL activities history and details with all online engagement tracked from Awareness to Consideration and Decision.
  • Helped engage the prospect at the right buyers’ journey stage.
  • Had an initial phone call with qualification and MQL (marketing qualified lead) then progressing to SQL (sales qualified lead) information handy which the marketing automation system provided depth of insight, timing and details on areas of interest.
  • Arranged first face to face meeting for discussion
  • Proposal/quote sent after understanding the requirements.
  • Received sign off from first meeting 1 month since prospect all within 10 days.
  • In contrasting this with a traditional sales approach, it may have taken at least 30 days to reach an agreed contract and required multiple interactions from first contact with no validated knowlege when or if the prospective buyer was actually ready to purchase.

The inbound marketing outcome achieved in 10 days from visitor to contact to new customer

Firstly the impact of the buyers journey for those who aren’t familiar is best summarized by the simple illustration below for the inbound process

four steps of inbound process illustrated

Source: HubSpot

The impact of marketing automation and the creation of a landing page, form and call to action offer demonstrated in the first 3 months of using HubSpot.

marketing automation flow diagram

This can be illustrated below from our first 90 days statistics which was generated from the Hubspot marketing automation platform.

First 90 days of using HubSpot – Visits, Contacts and Customers Report

All reports (screenshots) can be viewed on a mobile HubSpot client for Android or iPhone.

1. Visits

With the release of about 10 blogs articles, an E-book offer and form were published organically via social media channels of Linkedin, Google + and Facebook. This organically generated a 100% month on month increase in page visits.

2. Contacts

website traffic by source bar chart

From the website visitors, we could see who filled in the registration form for the purpose of accessing our E-Book offer.

The registered contacts can be used for lead nurturing, lead scoring or subscription for newsletters or updates depending on the content offer shared.

increase in inbound contacts graph

3. Conversions

We attracted our first conversion via this process and converted in the first quarter of implementation of marketing automation.

Our hope is that upon regular content driving leads, further conversion will be more effective than outbound lead generation alone.

I hope this shows that unlike the traditional demand generation process, lead generation with digital content inbound marketing does work to generate a higher return and potentially a shorter sales cycle if you can identify where the prospect is at in terms of their buyers’ journey stage and they are looking for assistance.

graph showing effect on total customers from inbound marketing

To find out how using the HubSpot marketing automation system and lead data captured can also help your business find and close your more deals, just click below to register for more information.

sales and marketing alignment planning CTA 

sales-marketing-alignment

ICT Vendor marketing automation process bridges the gap between Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads

CASE STUDY
Business Problem

The APAC Marketing team has limited resources spread between Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney for driving and executing the global marketing strategy and go to market for a specific campaign that isn’t generating enough lead generation from warm lists via events and other outbound material

So being people resource short and reactive as opposed to proactive, the existing use of globally developed content and use of existing Salesforce CRM and Eloqua Marketing Automation Tools.

In reality the use of tools, alone without people, process and sufficient time is a common cause of lack of ROI from the use of an Enterprise marketing automation tool to drive the correct results. Typically it’s the complexity of maximizing the functionality and investment in training required to get the effectiveness out of the solution.

In speaking to the Regional APAC Event and Campaign manager, provided some depth of insight into the challenges internally encountered.

Current Situation

A global campaign needs to be executed at APAC level, and the content is ready, however two older lists went cold and needed to be warmed up for exploring leads to hand across to the sales team.

All current MQLs and SQLs activity are being performance reported back to global management via Salesforce CRM and Eloqua marketing automation tools.

Primarily the challenge was a poor level of qualification with MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and handover to the sales team.

So what was happening was that the digital landing page asset for a white paper was being downloaded from one touchpoint and then automatically tagged as a MQL. This MQL was then passed onto the Sales Representative to follow up on.

The desired outcome was to accelerate the sales process with the marketing assets and prospect lead conversation through inbound marketing automation.

There are two other assets that ideally the qualification requires interaction or content marketing engagement for a benchmarking survey.

The request was to warm up the list and increase engagement with MQLs from promoting through outbound calling and inbound content engagement from the prospect with a list of about 500 contacts.

Recommendations

After some initial consultation, we very quickly uncovered the business problem for the client’s marketing process was a gap in not mapping the extensive specific content catalogue developed to the buyer’s persona and aligned to the buyer’s journey.

We proposed a marketing consulting exercise to review the existing campaign content pieces and map that to the buyer’s journey of Awareness, Consideration and Decision stage to enable a stronger lead nurture campaign.

The objective was to try to accelerate the MQL to SQL process and phases with sales process improvement.

Marketing-and-Sales-Consulting
Buyers Journey for MQL to SQL

Outcomes

We deliver a trial campaign to warm up the old leads but we are providing a HubSpot based service to track the marketing and sales funnel from developing a separate campaign landing page and form to be able to access the key three digital assets with white paper, e-book and benchmarking survey participation with prospects.

This project was to run over three months initially.

We have managed to provide more visibility depth into the MQL and SQL activity to connect closer to obtaining more prospect engagement through a consolidated and customised reporting from HubSpot and use its CRM as a lead generation outbound activity tool.

Inbound-Marketing-Automation

Once budget in the new financial year will be approved to complete the buyer’s journey content mapping project in order to increase the quality and lead scoring for the lead generation and prospect engagement.

This was setup and ready to commence within two weeks of approve to start this project.

This case study highlights that typically a solution to a marketing challenge such as this involves a holistic approach with People, Process and Systems to address this issue and allow for more effective integrated marketing and sales engagement focused on the sales outcome.

For a more detailed appreciation of what we provide in a digital readiness assessment, please read the following Digital Readiness Assessment services description

If you are exploring a digital marketing automation system or process improvement , contact Alchemise Consulting for an obligation-free discussion.

Digital-Readiness-Assessment

4 Key benefits of Inbound Marketing for lead generation

How can Inbound Marketing generate more leads consistently?

Inbound marketing may still be a new term to you, or it might sound familiar without you knowing quite what it means, and how it interacts with a traditional marketing model…

Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.

Unlike outbound marketing, inbound does not need to fight for potential customers attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business.

 

Inbound-marketing
Quoted Source: https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing

So what are the benefits of inbound marketing for lead generation, as a part of a broader marketing strategy and investment?

Here are some key areas to consider in generating leads with an investment in inbound marketing:

  • Organically sustainable higher quality lead generation

Inbound methodology is proven to increase digital online engagement from targeted prospects, throughout the stages of landing page visits to contacts to converting to customers. The ability to track and report allows for an automated lead generation method that reduces inefficiencies and the higher costs associated with traditional outbound marketing methods. As well as the cost savings, inbound marketing ensures time and people resources are used more efficiently and with higher rates of success.

Inbound process offers content-driven insights to help make ongoing assessments on digital marketing campaign budget and ROI across different social media channels. Once published, online content does not have an ‘expiry date’, and with some repurposing and shaping, the material can be designed to appeal on an ongoing basis to the target audience.

The most common challenge in the lead generation process is to gain more new contacts in order to generate more qualified lead conversions. Customizing content and writing towards a target persona or audience can initiate a new source of contacts and leads, including from new markets where you had no previous reach.

An example of this from one of our clients’ scenarios of where the content mapping process is key can be found here: Case Study: Digital Marketing Automation Process Improvement

Typically inbound content development needs to be an ongoing, organic approach to lead generation marketing, which complements other forms of marketing activities and channels. We recommend testing a campaign across three to six months in order to gain momentum, target, and track to establish a benchmark of KPIs and/or lead generation. Once the campaign and internal process is refined, then firmer KPIs can be determined.

  • Marketing automation streamlines lead generation process

Traditionally the cost of outbound telemarketing methods present a low rate of return, is resource intensive, and largely timing based for a push approach.

Digital marketing automation is the vehicle for delivering an inbound marketing strategy that eliminates the higher overheads of a traditional outbound call centre resource. It is less invasive and more personalised, and better suited to modern consumer behaviours throughout the buying journey.

Automated tracking of marketing activity provides historic reporting as well as selected and more personalised outreach strategies to attract the ideal prospects. These days, the key to marketing effectiveness is utilising data analytics to determine what is working and what is not, and presenting the data to enable management to make informed decisions about sales and marketing engagement, resourcing and budgeting process to drive growth.

  • Higher ROI from inbound marketing

Ongoing research supports the suggestion that inbound marketing automation generates a higher ROI than traditional outbound campaigns. Companies are 3x as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound.

Inbound marketing is the dominant marketing strategy for companies with fewer than 200 people and has delivered proven higher ROI.

84% of small businesses are predominantly using inbound marketing.

Digital-Readiness-Assessment
Data from State of Inbound Marketing 2015
  • Reduced overheads from sales resourcing.

It’s typically challenging enough to secure or allocate budget in a sales and marketing department, or to justify a business case unless there is a guaranteed ROI.

The cost of headcount and FTE for experienced sales resources is prohibitive for many, considering both cash flow and timing-wise with a chicken and egg approach… do you build capacity and they will come, or sell first and build sales and marketing resourcing as you need it?

A transfer of budget to a highly targeted inbound marketing campaign may alleviate some of these challenges and disconnect, while delivering consistently well-qualified leads without the resource heavy requirements of the traditional outbound approach, and in turn a higher ROI. Inbound creates a smoother lead generation, nurture and handover process across the marketing and sales functions, and a more streamlined buyer’s journey.

For an independent review of one leading marketing automation tool in the marketplace, please read  Independent Review – Hubspot Marketing Automation Tool.

For an obligation free discussion or assessment on how inbound marketing could help boost your lead generation strategy and increase ROI, feel free to contact us at info@alchemiseconsulting.com

Digital-Readiness-Assessment

Selecting Marketing Automation Tools – An independent review of HubSpot

Alchemise Consulting would like to acknowledge and thank you to our guest independent reviewer Jamie Strachan for providing this article.


One of the key technology trends of 2016 in small-to-medium enterprises (SME) is the increasing adoption of sales and marketing automation tools to help businesses retain and grow their customer base and increase sales revenues.

A recent SME Directions survey suggests that more than 60% of businesses plan to use automation technology in the next financial year to help cut costs and streamline existing processes. 

A benefit of this technology is enabling businesses to better understand their growing volumes of customer data with the use of customer relationship management technology (CRM), SEO and online and social analytics. This in turn helps to identify buying trends, devise targeted campaigns and revise and improve inbound sales and marketing strategies over time.

Marketing automation tools allow both marketing and sales teams to work together more seamlessly. A lot of manual processes around content creation, management and personalisation are removed, while creating more qualified and targeted leads for sales reps to engage with. Lead and customer data is updated and shared by both teams and stored in the CRM.

According to Forrester Research, companies that implement marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their sales pipeline contribution.

HubSpot, a US-based company, is looking to lead the way in this market with a cloud-based platform offered to SMEs.

5 Benefits of the HubSpot offering:

  1. For small businesses needing an “all-in-one” online strategy, HubSpot will host your site, publish landing pages and blog content, while optimising it for search engines with keyword research relevant to your content and market.
  1. Manage your social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with scheduled posts, and report on brand mentions and social engagement with your content and services.
  1. Grow your inbound audience by creating simple search and social media advertising all from within the HubSpot dashboard. Track and optimise your ads as you go to increase your traffic and conversions.
  1. Create targeted email campaigns to new and existing customers with strong call-to-action (CTAs) offers.
  1. Use HubSpot’s native CRM or integrate with Salesforce to track engagement with your campaigns, CTAs, and record all customer interactions with plug-ins for common email clients. Integration to your existing CRM via the HubSpot API is also available.

HubSpot in the Cloud

Taking advantage of the today’s growing Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, HubSpot has built a robust, secure and highly-available service for its 18,000 plus customer base.

Basic HubSpot CRM subscriptions are free for up to 100 contacts. As extra functionality is added for content creation, analytics, optimisation, CRM integration and more, subscriptions can range from AUD $300 – $3000 per month.

With digital strategy becoming evermore critical to business success and revenue growth, HubSpot offers a compelling turnkey solution for traditional small business content management and hosting. Added to this sophisticated inbound strategies, marketing and analytics provide the secret sauce that can add real business value, grow the bottom line and makes sales teams and marketers more productive.

Please contact us if you would like to continue the conversation about marketing automation and inbound marketing, and how it can help to grow your business.

Thank you once again to our guest independent reviewer Jamie Strachan for providing this article.

For further information about the current data and future of sales and marketing, feel free to register to download your FREE copy of the State of Inbound 2017 Report published by Hubspot.

State of Inbound 2017 Report