Can you believe it's already November?
That means, winter is definitely coming and the 2015 budget rounds are just around the corner.
And I don't know one single person who enjoys budget discussions.
It's an uncomfortable Catch 22: you cannot get budget without showing success, but you cannot show success without the having the budget.
You know every item will be scrutinized over, every line questioned. Carving out some money for Inbound Marketing is especially hard since many C-Level executives are not familiar with the concepts or benefits of it.
To succeed, you need smart marketing goals, a waterproof marketing budget plan and solid arguments of why you need to make the investment in inbound marketing in 2015.
To empower you in your budget discussions, we have compiled five solid arguments backed by the 2014 State of Inbound Marketing Report where more than 3,570 marketers and business executives from all different kinds of industries and company sizes have responded and reported on their marketing budget size, trends and plans.
So, let's get right to it:
#1) Your Competition Is Probably Already Doing Inbound Marketing
There is no getting around the fact that companies are investing in Inbound Marketing in 2015 - including 80% of smaller businesses with an annual marketing budget less than $25,000.
The number of marketers who embrace Inbound Marketing has increased from 60% in 2013 to 85% in 2014. At the same time, the number of marketers who do not practice Inbound has halved to 13%.
This means, your competition is creating content, SEO credits, social media reach and most importantly their lead list. Not investing in Inbound Marketing puts you as a marketer at an unfair disadvantage as you are not able to leverage the benefits of marketing automation, but you are also losing ground to your competitors.
#2) And They Are Likely Increasing Their Inbound Marketing Budget In 2015
Not only is the adoption of inbound marketing going up, the alloted marketing budgets are growing as well.
According to the annual HubSpot survey, five times more marketers have reported an increase in their annual marketing budget rather than taken a budget cut.
This is especially true for B2B; 74% of business to business companies have increased their inbound investment compared to last year.
Some of the budget has been re-allocated from the outbound marketing portion.
When comparing the marketing spending by inbound versus outbound, smaller companies tend to allocate more of their budget towards outbound marketing. This is largely due to lack of internal resources and knowledge, rather than lack of motivation. Many small businesses embrace blogging and social media as an important part of their marketing mix, but find it hard to keep up a consistent stream of quality content.
However, larger companies allocate larger percentages to inbound compared to outbound as they can either hire and train internal staff or hire an inbound marketing agency to run their marketing campaigns for them.
No matter what size you are, your business can benefit from inbound marketing - especilaly if you have long buying cycles and an intense research process.
#3) Inbound Unlocks Return On Investment; ROI Unlocks Budget
Have you heard the saying: Every marketer wastes about half of their budget, they just don't know which half?
That is a terrible pre-requisite to ask for more money. But by investing in Inbound Marketing, guessing is no longer part of your strategic planning.
Thanks to modern marketing automation platforms, such as HubSpot, you as a marketer can show how much each and every blog post contributed to the bottom line, where your best leads came from and what the return on investment was for the last event you organized.
According to the 2014 State of Inbound Marketing Report by HubSpot, inbound marketers who measure their ROI are 12x more likely to a greater year-over-year return and marketers who measure their Inbound Marketing ROI are 17x more likely to enjoy the same or even greater ROI compared to last year.
According to CRM Daily, "nearly half of the companies that implement inbound marketing efforts see a 25 percent greater return on investment (ROI) on those programs than companies that do not."
Even if you have not done Inbound Marketing before and you cannot show ROI numbers for your business, industry benchmarks can help you make a business case for the investment.
#4) Inbound Marketing Is The Primary Lead Source For Many Businesses
No matter the industry or company size, the job of any marketer is to contribute to the company's bottom line by providing sales with a consistently growing stream of high quality leads that they can turn into happy customers.Therefore, knowing where your best leads come from and being able to attribute them to outbound versus inbound marketing will allow you to decide how to allocate your budget.
According to the report, outbound lead sources have drastically lost in importance (22% in 2014 compared to 34% in 2013) for the first time in the past 4 years.
More than 40% of respondents in B2B in B2C increased their inbound investments this year. Why? Half of the respondents have ranked Inbound Marketing as their primary lead source. Non-profits enjoyed a disproportionately high lead generation success with 58% of their prospects generated through content, search engine optimization, social media or blogging.
When setting your marketing goals for 2015, think about where your leads are currently coming from. If you get very little leads from your website but they are very warm leads, use Inbound Marketing to create more conversion opportunities for prospects ealier in the buying cycle.
#5) Inbound Goes Beyond Marketing, Improves Marketing / Sales Alignment
The Internet has drastically changed the way people shop. Instead of asking a sales person, consumers turning to Google as the trusted advisor.
With the adoption of Inbound Marketing, now also sales (25%) and to a lesser extend but nevertheless important services (10%) professionals have stated to practice inbound marketing. Companies, that see these departments as an extension of their marketing team and enable them in their progress, have a greater chance of being successful at inbound marketing as those coworkers contribute to the content generation and help the entire organization adopt the inbound philosophy.
Another way to drive use inbound marketing to contribute to the company's success is a formal Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales. Marketing agrees to deliver a certain number of leads meeting specific quality criteria. In turn, the sales team is held accountable for following up with those leads in a particular way.
But how will this help you, get more budget? Inbound budgets are correlated to the existence of Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales.
So, if you do not have a formal agreement with your sales team, put it on your list for 2015. It is free and a good idea for any marketer, no matter what vertical or business size.