Conversion is the top priority for marketers over the next 12 months, according to Hubspot’s newly released State of Inbound 2017 report.
Seventy percent of the over 6,000 respondents cited converting contacts and leads to customers as their number one priority, followed by growing website traffic (55%), increasing revenue from existing customers (45%), proving marketing ROI (35%), sales enablement (29%) and reducing the cost of customer acquisition (24%).
Globally, there were some differences in priorities: Marketers in Australia and New Zealand and Europe, the Middle East and Africa expressed more concern about increasing web traffic then their peers. ROI was less of a concern for Latin American marketers, but they placed more emphasis on increasing sales with their existing customer base. Sales enablement and reducing the cost of acquisition was also more of a concern for Asian marketers.
Improving organic SEO was the top concern for marketers when it comes to inbound marketing projects, cited by 61% of respondents, followed by blog content creation (53%), content distribution (47%), marketing automation (40%), interactive content creation (38%), visual content creation (31%), online tools (28%), product how-to videos (24%) and webinars (19%).
Closing more deals was the top cited sales priority for the next year (71%), followed by improving the efficiency of the sales funnel (44%), social selling (29%), sales training (27%), reducing the length of the sales cycle (26%) and improving existing sales technologies (23%).
Sales representatives are facing more challenges than ever before. Thanks to prospects being able to do their own research online and a tendency to want to hold off speaking with vendors until late in the decision making process, its no surprise that getting a response from prospects was the top thing respondents cited as being more difficult than two or three years ago (38%). Sales reps also cited the difficulty of closing deals (35%), identifying strong prospects (30%), engaging multiple decision makers (27%), connecting via phone (20%), incorporating social media into the sales process (19%) and keeping someone on the phone (11%).
Data entry was cited as the top hurdle in using a CRM system (23%), followed by a lack of integration with other tools (17%) and difficulty tracking the sales funnel (9%). Only six percent of respondents said getting their sales team to use the system was an issue.
Despite the rise in digital tactics, the telephone was still the most successful channel for sales reps to connect with prospects (36%). Email was next at 26%, followed by other (15%), Facebook (12%), LinkedIn (8%), other social network (4%) and Twitter (1%).
Close to half of respondents (44%) said the their company’s sales and marketing teams were generally aligned. Twenty-two percent said there was “tight alignment,” but 14% said these functions were rarely aligned, and 11% said there was misalignment.