Hubspot’s recent 2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report makes one thing very clear—marketing budgets are shifting more and more toward inbound marketing, and away from older, traditional models of outbound marketing.
Outbound vs. Inbound
Briefly, outbound marketing is the old method of throwing as much marketing as possible out into the world and hoping it attracts some of the people that see it: e-mail blasts, direct mail, print advertising and so on. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, positions you to capture people that are already actively looking at your industry through internet searches by using techniques like SEO, social media and blogging.
Big vs. Small
The Hubspot report paints a particularly clear line between small (fewer than 5 employees) and medium-to-large businesses. In 2011, nearly 30% of small-business lead-generation budgets will be spent on social media and blogs. The number rises to 45% when we include SEO. Larger businesses plan to commit less than 10% to social media and blogs, and just 26% when including SEO.
These numbers may be skewed a bit by major corporations with massive marketing budgets and a huge presence in traditional media marketing outlets like television, as well as the somewhat arbitrary cutoff of fewer than five employees. We see many local businesses in the 10-20 employee range doing a lot with social media.
You vs. Them
Still, the important takeaway here is that your competitors’ budgets are moving toward the social media universe. Particularly for lead generation, it is critical that you don’t get left behind. People have more and more filters every day that cut down on the effectiveness of outbound marketing. And they also want to be sold to less and less. They would rather feel they are making their own informed and objective decisions about where they shop and what they buy. Inbound marketing using social media is a great way to help them do this.
Acquisition vs. Retention
So far we’ve been talking mostly about acquisition. But another study from Target Marketing shows that social media usage is nearing that of email for both acquisition and retention—which only reinforces the growing importance of social media marketing.
The most salient figure here, we think, is that 65% of businesses are using social media for retention. This is dangerously low. We feel social media, as great as it can be for acquisition, is nearly unparalleled as a marketing tool for retention. This number should be 100%. The ease of two-way communication between you and your customers with social media makes it an incredibly powerful method to build trust and community around your business.
The bottom line is that your competitors are taking greater advantage of the power of social media and inbound marketing every year. If you’re not doing the same, you’re not going to be their competitor for long…