How to Adapt to the Future of B2B Inbound Marketing

Posted by Wendy Marx

How to Adapt to the Future of B2B Inbound Marketing


(We recently updated this popular post to reflect the latest inbound research). 

The idea of a B2B inbound marketing strategy started some 10 years ago in response to growing frustration with traditional, outbound marketing tactics. What started as the runt of the litter has grown into a must-have for many businesses. 

Meanwhile, the methods and priorities of b2b marketing strategies grow and evolve. It is our job to grow with them. Otherwise, we face the dim prospect of being left behind. 

With that in mind, every year Hubspot releases its State of Inbound report, which monitors the changes facing inbound.  

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Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2018 report delves into the details of B2B inbound marketing tactics, ferreting out the details of 6,200 marketers, including both inbound and outbound marketers, who were polled.  

6 Important Changes to B2B Inbound Marketing and B2B Marketing Strategies You Don’t Want to Miss

1. Inbound is (Not Surprisingly) on the Rise

State of Inbound 2018

Although it’s still in its infancy, inbound marketing is quickly taking the lead when it comes to effective B2B marketing strategies. 75% of those whose organizations use inbound marketing think that their strategy is effective -- up from 68% just last year!

On the other hand, 38% of those whose organizations use outbound marketing do not think their marketing strategy is effective. Clearly, inbound marketing is poised to become a staple in many B2B marketing strategies. Because of its clear benefits, we see more organizations adopting this marketing strategy in the future. 

2. Inbound Marketers See More ROI Than Outbound

When asked which marketing approach has generated the highest ROI, the majority (53%) said inbound. This is in contrast to the 14% who said outbound, and 18% who could not or do not calculate ROI.

This gives an added incentive to anyone who's been on the fence on inbound vs. outbound to choose a primary side. 

If you haven't yet, it's time to cultivate a dedicated inbound marketing strategy for B2B that will help your business to see a solid return on its investment. 

3. Marketers Are Getting the Budget They Need

State of Inbound 2018 (3)

Over the past few years, there's been a gap between what marketers can do and what they can afford. Happily, this gap has been narrowing and more marketers are getting the budget they need.

When asked how their company's marketing budget compares to last year, 46% noted an increase. Only 32% noted no change and 8% noted a decrease.

This opens up many opportunities within the inbound marketing B2B arena. It will be exciting to see the possibilities and growth going forward.

4. Video Becomes a Priority

Many recognize that video is surging as the leading means of cultivating relationships with and educating customers. 

State of Inbound 2018 (2)

When asked what channels they planned to use in the coming year, the majority chose video distribution channels. This included YouTube with 45% and Facebook video with 41%. The other channels with top ratings  -- professional networks such as LinkedIn, 43% and Instagram, 39% -- have video as a strong component of their features.

Now is the best time to get on board with video and other visual content. Get in while it's early and you will be able to fully utilize its power in your marketing.

At the same time, video should not be viewed as a “one size fits all” solution. Look at areas within your company where video will be effective -- but don’t let it be your only focus. Maintain other forms of content -- blogs, infographics, and white papers to name a few -- in the mix. 

5. Paid Print Advertising May Be On Its Way Out

When asked what marketing channels they considered to be overrated, the majority of marketers (30%) said paid advertisements, especially print, outdoor, and broadcast advertising. 

This was followed by social media organic with 14% and online paid advertising and email marketing, both with 11%. Even with these numbers, however, paid print advertising takes a wide lead.

This growing aversion to paid print advertisements comes as no shock. After all, it has been on a steady decline for the past few years. As audiences shift online, it makes sense that print media would lose its hold. 

This leaves marketers more time to focus on online tactics where they're most likely to see a return on investment, mainly blogging, SEO, and social media.

6. Instagram is a Surprising Addition to the B2B inbound Toolset

Previously, a B2B marketing strategy had its three favorite, go-to social networks: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. And this made sense. These had the B2B audience base that B2B marketers wanted and the tools to reach them.

But Instagram has made its entrance into the B2B sphere, and has steadily grown in its perceived effectiveness. HubSpot has been rating marketers' use of Instagram since 2016, when only 33% of marketers used the network. Now, in 2018, 39% have begun to use this channel, and plan to use it more in the next 12 months. 

Not only has Instagram entered the B2B stage, but it also plays surprisingly well. With features like Instagram Stories, B2B marketers have found a new and fun way to engage their audience. They use it to announce new products, humanize their brand, and build brand awareness. 

In Review...

6 Developments That Will Impact Your B2B Inbound Marketing

Changes are inevitable -- and no B2B inbound marketing strategy is exempt. As the face of inbound marketing for B2B changes, we need to change with it. Otherwise, we will be left in the dust. What marketing changes are you looking forward to in the future? Please share your insights in the comments.

Click here to get the free ebook: 30 Proven Tips and Tactics to Get New Leads.

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May 28, 2017

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx