HubSpot 2011 State of Inbound Marketing: Long Live Blogs!

Blog classic Hubspot published its 2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report earlier this year.

Survey responses from 644 professionals familiar with their firms' marketing strategy represented diverse industries such as:

* Retail
* Technology
* Professional Services & Consulting
* Banking / Insurance / Financial Services
* Communications & Media
* Others

The survey respondents of various company sizes included:
* Marketers
* Business Owners
* Entrepreneurs
* Executives 

76% of the companies surveyed said their business sell primarily to other businesses (e.g., B2B).

The report describes how companies are using inbound marketing (e.g., marketing strategies focused on "pulling" relevant prospects and customers towards a businesses and its products).  

Inbound marketing influences purchasing decisions by leveraging the Internet and helping consumers make educated decisions on a company's products and services.

Common inbound marketing tools include:

  • Blogging
  • Content Publishing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media

 

Here's the complete report in HubSpot's SlideShare Page:

 

 

Blogs Aren't Dead

Three (3) of the Five (5) Key Takeaways Highlight a Blog's Unique Value.  These key takeaways summarize blogs' importance in customer acquisition, increasing business use, and overall value:

* Blogs and social media channels are generating real customers: 57% of companies using blogs reported that they acquired customers from leads generated directly from their blog.

* More and more businesses are blogging: Businesses are now in the minority if they do not blog.  From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of businesses with a blog increased from 48% to 65%.

* Businesses are increasingly aware their blog is highly valuable:  85% of businesses rated their company blog as "useful," "important," or "critical;" 27% rated their company blog as "critical" to their business. 

Blogs are the Most Cost-Efficient Lead Generation Channel 

* Blogs, social media, and organic search maintained the top slots as least expensive.

* Blogs had the highest instance of being reported as "Below Average Cost."

Blogs lowest cost per lead

Companies are Allocating More Resources to Company Blogs 

* Marketers are allocating more of their lead generation budgets to social media and company blogs.

* The average budget spent on company blogs and social media increased from 9% in 2009 to 17% in 2011.

Blogs get more budget

Small Companies Level the Playing Field Via Blogging

* Social media and SEO (search engine optimization) garner the biggest share of small company budgets. 

* And, small companies plan to spend dramatically more of their budgets on blogging (relative to larger companies). 

Blogs more budget small companies

 

Company Blogs Rank as the Highest Customer Acquisition Channel  

* 57% of firms using company blogs have acquired customers from a blog-generated lead.

* Survey responses show an 11% increase since 2010 in blog-generated leads.

Blogs highest customer acquisition channel

 

And, Customer Acquisition is Directly Correlated to Blog Post Frequency

* At a minimum, successful customer acquisition requires a weekly blog post frequency. 

* 23% more blog users say a weekly blog post frequency delivers a greater return on customer acqusition versus a monthly blog post frequency.

* In addition, 71% of respondents indicated they blog at least weekly.

 

Blogs post frequency

B2B Firms Say You Need LinkedIn and a Blog to Effectively Acquire Customers 

* B2B companies say the LinkedIn is the #1 customer acquisition channel.

* The Company Blog is the #2 customer acqusition channel for B2B companies. 

Blogs great for b2b

 

Blogs and LinkedIn are Top Customer Acquisition Channels for Professional Services / Consulting and Technology (Software / Biotech) Firms 

* Three (3) industries had over 50% of respondents say blogging acquires customers:

  • Higher Education: 72% (Ranked #2)
  • Professional Services / Consulting: 58% (Ranked #2 barely)
  • Technology (Software / Biotech): 58% (Ranked #1)

Blogs by industry

Blogs are the Most Important Social Media Channel

* Blogging Experiences Significant Growth.  From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of respondents with a company blog grew from 48% to 65%.

* Responents Cite Blogs as the Most Critical Social Media Channel.  27% of respondents cited blogging as "critical to their business."  Blogs ranked highest among nine (9) social media channels.

Blogs critical social media channel

Conclusion      

The Death of Blogs is Grossly Exaggerated.  HubSpot's conclusions support the exact opposite of mainstream media speculation (e.g., all you need to succeed in social media marketing is Facebook and Twitter activity).  The data shows blogs are especially important in:

  • Acquiring new customers
  • Providing a lower expense marketing channel
  • Driving customer acquisition in specfic industries
  • Leveling the marketing playing field especially for small businesses
  • Demonstrating significant marketing value for B2B companies

Blogging's Importance to B2B Firms is Huge.  Business-to-business companies say the two most important social media channels are LinkedIn and blogs.  I don't find this surprising.  

Blogs Provide Content Versatility.  More importantly, management consulting firms say blogs play a significant role in customer acquisition.  Consulting firms who publish content via company blogs can quickly demonstrate to future and existing clients their creativity and industry expertise in blog posts, videos, news updates, client testimonials, podcasts, and images.

Can You Afford Not to Blog?  I wouldn't recommend bypassing the benefits of blogging (especially if you're a B2B company).  The data clearly shows your competitors are blogging (and the future numbers are trending upward).  If you're a small company (e.g., less than 50 employees), you can level the playing field against more established competitors.

 

When are you going to start your blog?

 

Photo Credit via Flickr by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

7 thoughts on “HubSpot 2011 State of Inbound Marketing: Long Live Blogs!

  1. Long Island SEO – HubSpot did a great job in their 2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report proving blogging isn’t dead. Blogging’s very much alive and well! Cheers and thank you for stopping by.

  2. The rise of corporate blogging can only do the internet good, as search marketers would find a way to produce quality content to bolster their rankings instead of cheap tricks from the old black hat bible.

  3. SEO Perth – You’re absolutely correct that quality content is what drives search engine rankings.
    Furthermore, your point about corporate blogging sums up one of my favorite paraphrased quotes form David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: Your best SEO strategy is your blog.
    Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  4. Tony, while I support SEO Perth’s viewpoint on this, I don’t think corporate blogging is vital in a company’s success. Sometimes, just their performance and customer satisfaction will speak for them, without the need for them to write a corporate blog, especially knowing how social media can already generate enough leads.

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