It's easy to look at marketing statistics and think, "Wow! These are awesome," chew on the stat for a minute, and then move on. The numbers are compelling. But what do the stats really mean for your marketing strategy, and are you implementing their takeaways?
After all, inbound marketing is about reacting to data and improving your approach often. What better playbook for improvement than recent stats? Since statistics are gathered by large-scale research organizations, they have a bigger sample pool — and therefore can tell you more about industry trends than data you could gather yourself.
Without ado, here are ways to really act upon 14 intriguing marketing statistics.
Organic traffic and SEO
1. 60% of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results. (Business2Community)
Ah, the infamous Google "Top 3." They're covetable spots that clearly lead to high traffic — but how can you get there? The key is ranking for relevant long-tail keyword opportunities.
A short, high-traffic keyword like "project management software" is a long shot. We call these "broad" keywords. Broad keywords are tricky to rank for, and unless you have a giant industry leader of a website, you'll probably never crack the front page.
But don't despair: Something more specific to your company, like "affordable project management software for small business," might earn you a top search spot if you really hit home with SEO optimized content. (And, as a bonus, you're drawing in more qualified leads with a tighter focus.) We call these "long-tail" keywords, and they're a good shortcut to the top.
2. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal)
They key difference between "inbound" and "outbound" lead generation strategies here is targeting. Traditional outbound methods push out a broadly sweeping sales message that falls on many deaf ears. Inbound, however, targets qualified traffic with highly specific and strategic content.
That being said, SEO-generated leads will mean nothing (and won't close) if they aren't the right SEO-generated leads: You need to take full advantage of targeting with your keyword strategy.
Inbound marketing works by targeting content to the buyer personas.
Choose keywords that closely correlate to your buyer personas and the research you've gathered about them. What are their pain points? What questions do they have about how to do their jobs better or make their lives easier? Answering these questions can show you keyword opportunities that pull in qualified traffic.
3. 86% of consumers stated that using a search engine allowed them to learn something new or important that helped him/her increase his/her knowledge. (Pew Research Center, Search Engine Use 2012)
This stat astoundingly demonstrates the power of search in our daily lives, but it shouldn't be a surprise. What was your strategy last time you had a quick question? Statistically speaking, it was probably a Google search!
Digging deeper into this stat reveals a big business opportunity. Searchers looking to better understand their problems or misconceptions are a captive audience for your product or service. They're Googling in search of content just like yours. It's up to you to be there with the right keywords and information.
There's a key to finding these keywords for your content: Follow this secret sauce for better blog post ideas that generate qualified leads.
Blogging and content
4. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
Unlucky 13 is, in this case, a pretty lucky bet on blogging! What does "prioritized blogging" mean, though? This stat might be misleading because it implies that blogging should take the forefront compared to other lead generation strategies... and that's actually a losing bet.
A better stat would have answered the question, "prioritized above what?" This may mean it's prioritized over outbound methods, like direct mail or blast emails — which would make lots of sense! But a strategy that's leaned heavily on a blog will fail.
Why? A purely prioritized blog is bad for two reasons: One, content for content's sake generates bad blog topics and fails on lead generation; and two, your lead generation strategies must all be cohesive and united to work at their prime. Without a solid email marketing strategy, for example, your blog content will miss out on a valuable traffic opportunity.
Your blog might be king, but it's not strategic without other key players.
So, while this stat is essentially true, it isn't true without some other considerations. Namely, don't prioritize a blog at the expense of your other marketing strategies. Better yet, use blogging to formulate a strategy that ties all of these pieces together.
5. Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less. (Demand Metric)
Content is king for lead generation. But the implication here is to make sure you're generating the right content, and ensuring your content strategy is cost-effective.
If you are slow or cumbersome at producing content (or if your content isn't hitting the mark for consistency and quality) it's likely you could actually lose money on a strategy. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 57% of B2B marketers report that producing content consistently is their biggest struggle. This is one of the 8 signs it's time to hire an inbound marketing agency — check out the eBook for telltale signs your blog needs an agency boost.
6. 94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others. (Customer Insight Group)
Inbound marketing revolves around "remarkable" content. Remarkable content is content earning, well, remarks! Every piece of content should aim to be original, high-quality, and helpful. That means: great grammar, no typos, actionable takeaways, and a tight focus.
Your audience is more likely to share content that speaks to them directly and addresses their specific problems versus a general solution. Why? Because the solution probably applies to their network, too.
Check out this post on how to blog effectively for tips to target buyers (and their networks) with remarkable content.
7. 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business. (Social Media Examiner)
This is a big "do" that you should jump on! But social media isn't just about promoting yourself — in fact, that kind of social presence will earn you bad marks. If you aren't utilizing social media throughout the buyer's journey, you're missing out on an opportunity that many businesses overlook.
In the attract stage, you should be posting helpful content (80% curated, 20% your own) to pull potential leads towards your business. You should be listening to conversations to find out what your industry is pondering — this insight can guide new content offers. And when your followers become leads, they might start interacting with certain offers or posts on social media... this can help you qualify and nurture them further. Finally, when people become customers, you should use social media to keep in touch and maintain a relationship.
8. 53% of social media marketers don't measure their success. (Awareness, Inc.)
This is a big "don't" that you should avoid. How do you measure social success? The answer doesn't lie in clicks and interactions. The real trick is having tools to track ROI.
Marketing automation gives you access to a full set of tools for measuring ROI.
Marketing automation software like HubSpot, for example, can show you touch points customers took with your brand. If their first source of contact was social media, or if it nurtured them down the purchase path, you can report that social media played a big role in generating this lead and eventual customer. In HubSpot, you can track your "sources" dashboard and see data on which percentage of traffic is coming from your social channels, and how that traffic is converting. Voila — a proven social media benefit that justifies more (or less) investment.
Lead acquisition and nurturing
9. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)
Why do nurtured leads make better purchases? It's not just the fact that they were nurtured at all — it's that they were thoroughly educated in your services and the benefits they could provide, and were more ready to buy in fully.
In the early nurture stages, this education is a third-person approach. For example, don't begin talking about your company, but rather explain general pain points and possible solutions. Later down the line, introduce your product and made a compelling case for why they're the best solutions — especially if they're fully invested in or packaged in a certain way. Leads will tune out a hard sell on your value statement. That's why a gradual nurture process shows them the benefits of investment slowly but surely... leading to bigger sales and better educated customers.
In our own example, we educate leads with eBooks, blog posts, and case studies throughout the buyer's journey about the value of an inbound marketing strategy for web design. When it comes time for a website redesign, customers are better prepped to view strategy as a vital component, rather than a "nice-to-have" add-on. Thanks to education, the experts dictate the scope, not vice versa.
10. 79% of B2B marketers have not established lead scoring. (MarketingSherpa)
Lead scoring is a process for qualifying leads based on a number value. If your best customers come from the United States, for example, you can assign a high positive value to this contact property.
Scoring leads by hand is cumbersome, especially if you have too many to do manually — and you first need to have valuable intel on your contacts, like where and how they work. Your first step to lead scoring is actually just gradually gathering information on your leads using forms.
Then, you can automate lead scoring with a powerful marketing automation tool (like HubSpot, which is what we use.) Choose values that apply to your best customer or detract from him. If you want to go even farther, HubSpot has built-in predictive lead scoring, which uses predetermined algorithms to identify your very best leads. Your result is a list of highly qualified leads that deserve faster and better attention.
11. Case studies reveal that integrated customer journeys provide a competitive advantage, in some cases doubling sales year over year. (Kapost)
You might be wondering, what's an integrated customer journey? The buyer's journey is a framework for identifying leads as they get ready to purchase. Its three stages are awareness (identifying a problem), consideration (considering solutions), and decision (deciding where to purchase).
We advise that every piece of content should be tied to a stage of the buyer's journey, as well as the nurture paths between your content. This lets you gradually nurture leads from point A to point B, guiding them down the funnel with educational materials. The result is better sales from customers who stuck with your brand from beginning to end: first question to final purchase.
Content for each stage of the buyer's journey creates a "stepping stone" kind of lead nurturing.
12. Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner Research)
What's the big deal about automation? It doesn't necessary generate more traffic and leads... it just allows greater cohesion between your lead generation strategies, leading to a tighter and more effective buying cycle. With marketing automation programs like HubSpot, your marketing elements "talk to each other" and work together like a team. This means fewer leads falling through the cracks.
Another factor to revenue growth is the ability to analyze your data meaningfully, allowing for better, faster tweaks in your lead generation and nurturing strategies. Constant refinement means a better marketing process overall — and more revenue, of course!
13. Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Jupiter Research)
You might think all emails are relevant. But truly "relevant" emails are targeted to contacts based on previous interests or actions taken. So, if you're clicking on an eBook about "Best ways to entertain small dog breeds," you might trigger an email action that sends to your inbox a blog post, "Small dog breed chew toys." It's tailored to your experience, and therefore stands out among the clutter.
To send relevant emails, you need a system to gather meaningful data on your contacts. If you don't know what they're engaging with, you can't respond with something specific! With marketing automation software, you can send targeted emails based on particular actions or form fields. This kind of triggered email message gets 119% higher click-through rates than "business as usual" messages (Epsilon).
You can also set up smart content on your website and in emails that adapts based on the sender's contact properties.
14. 60% of companies exceeding their revenue goals had an above-average email open rate. (Demand Gen)
This stat proves the close link between email marketing and lead conversion. Email is an integral part of your marketing strategy. Why? Leads aren't clicking around your website every day, but an email lets you appear right in their inbox and top of mind. (Here are benchmarks for above-average email open rates for your industry.)
Don't overlook email as part of your strategy, and don't let your email operate in a silo! Your email strategy should "talk with" your other lead generation strategies, and react to metrics on which topics buyers are engaging with. This will ensure more targeted and engaging topics, therefore better subject lines and — ta-da! — a better open rate.
Marketing statistics are interesting, but when they exist within a vacuum, it's easy to oversee the real value they can provide. Oftentimes stats are rattled off to reaffirm a point, but rarely show a reader how to act upon them.
It's up to you to make them actionable, and these deeper explanations can show you how. Dig into the data and utilize the free marketing advice offered by researchers. Don't forget to view stats together in the scope of a detailed plan, and move your strategy further towards success.