Research

23+ Inbound Marketing Statistics [2021]: Essential Reading for Any Marketer

A lot has changed in the marketing world since the concept of “inbound marketing” first became popular.

It was coined by HubSpot Co-Founder Brian Halligan in 2005 and became mainstream around 2012. Since then, the term itself has seen a drop in popularity, but that doesn’t mean the discipline “is dead.”

As we’ll see in the inbound marketing statistics, the tactics and channels that fall under the inbound umbrella are more popular than ever.

Let’s take a closer look at the latest data and see what it can tell us about what works and what doesn’t in inbound marketing in 2021.

Is inbound marketing effective in 2021?

Inbound marketing is still one of the most effective strategies for marketing a product or service in 2021.

Marketers aren’t using the term less because the tactics or channels don’t work. What we see instead is that the label is splitting up based on the media marketers use.

For example, content marketing and SEO cover the general owned media strategy of most companies. A classic case is writing relevant blog posts targeting search phrases popular among potential customers.

Organic social media marketing covers the other aspect of owned media; your company’s social profiles.

Video marketing covers platforms like YouTube and TikTok, as well as on-site video. It’s a subsection of two channels, singled out because the medium has unique requirements.

So far, it looks like inbound marketing is alive and well. Plus, social media platforms are still growing.

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With an influx of smartphone users, the potential audience digital channels can reach is now even more substantial.

  • There were 3.96 billion active social media users in 2020. That includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.
  • 51% of the entire earth’s population is active on social media.

Plus, search engines aren’t going anywhere either.

  • In the US alone, Google had 2 million unique visitors in January 2021

That means that you can reach an ever-increasing share of all consumers with digital media. Inbound marketing is no different. So yes, it’s still effective, very much so, in 2021.

Just take a look at the data.

23 inbound marketing statistics that show what works in 2021

Let’s look at some of the latest data and see which inbound marketing tactics and channels make the most sense in 2021.

Content marketing and SEO are the most popular and effective tactics

If you work with a company that invests even a single dollar in digital marketing, chances are you’ve heard about content marketing and SEO already.

In 2021, the majority of companies either handle it in-house or outsource it to an agency.

  • 70% of all companies actively invest in content marketing.

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  • In 2020, 60% of marketers highlighted content marketing as extremely or very important to their overall strategy.

And it’s a successful strategy for both B2C and B2B marketers. It’s rapidly becoming the foundation of enterprise digital marketing.

  • 75% of B2B content marketers rate their content marketing performance over the last 12 months as at least “moderately” successful. 31% report very or extremely positive results.
  • 82% of B2C content marketers say they’ve been at least moderately successful in the last year. 34% report very or extremely positive results.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the other side of content marketing. It’s how companies reliably drive traffic to the content pieces they invest so much time and money into creating.

  • 75% of marketers single out SEO as the most effective content marketing tactic.
  • SEO tools are the most popular tool for content planning and creation — 78% of B2B and 73% of B2C content marketers use keyword research and other SEO tools.
  • SEO drives over 10x more traffic than organic social media. Organic search generates 53.3% of all traffic, vs. 5% from organic social.

With results like that, why would anyone not invest in SEO and organic search?

Video is the new organic social media opportunity for marketers

Video used to be the domain of outbound marketing teams with big budgets. They forced TV-watchers to sit through an ad before they could watch the rest of their show.

In some ways, it still is outbound-focused, as many annoyed YouTube users can confirm. Even today, Super Bowl ads are a national pastime in the US.

But in 2021, there’s also plenty of potential in video for inbound marketers.

  • In 2021, a whopping 86% of businesses say they use video as a marketing tool.
  • 93% of those who use it as a tool say it’s important to their strategy.

And on social media, it’s a way to drive more engagement with your audience.

  • 50% of consumers prefer to engage with video posts on social media.
  • 3% of marketers say videos drive more clicks on Facebook.

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As a result, video is a lot more popular with inbound marketers these days.

  • With 19% of content marketers singling out video as their “primary” media form, it’s the most popular in 2020.
  • The most popular video format is a simple presentation video (65%), followed by ads (57%) and explainer videos (47%).

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Video is an effective medium for lead generation, nurturing, and even direct sales. It’s the best format to showcase testimonials, your product in use, and other crucial information.

Strategy is vital

Without a strategy, your campaign is doomed to failure. Your team will end up randomly trying inbound tactics without a clear focus in their marketing efforts.

As a result, you can’t build a platform anywhere. You’ll end up wasting time, not spreading your influence.

  • 52% of content marketers with limited or minimal success single out strategy issues as one of the main reasons for their failure.

But thankfully, the majority of content marketers understand its importance today.

  • 73% of B2C and 79% of B2B content marketers have a content marketing strategy.

You need to measure concrete metrics to get results

Focusing on early-stage data like traffic alone isn’t enough. You need to count the money.

  • Sales revenue is the most popular way to measure content marketing results. 23% of content marketers use it as their main KPI.

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The best way to ensure a positive ROI is to track the real numbers.

Respect the shift to mobile

If you don’t want to get left behind, you need to optimize everything for mobile. In 2021, mobile leads in internet usage, social media, web searches, and even eCommerce.

  • 46% of all internet traffic in 2021 comes from mobile phones.
  • 99% of social media users access it via their smartphones.
  • 61% of Google searches happen on mobile devices.
  • Experts project that mobile will make up to 9% of all eCommerce sales in 2021.
  • 18% of marketers highlighted switching to a mobile-optimized site as the most effective tactic for increasing their site ranking and performance.

Automations make it possible to get personal (which is crucial)

If you want to get ahead with lead nurturing and building relationships, you need to get personal.

  • 72% of consumers only engage with marketing materials tailored to their preferences.

But it’s not possible to manually craft messages for every customer. Marketing automation is what makes it feasible. With automated segmentation and triggers, you can send personalized messages on autopilot.

That’s why it’s now a cornerstone of an inbound marketing strategy.

  • 75% of companies use at least one marketing automation tool.

Unlike in traditional marketing, you aren’t interrupting people. You’re trying to attract people organically to your brand and products.

The only way you can build that relationship is by not treating all your customers exactly the same.

Respect their interests and their previous interactions with your company, and you’ll create loyal customers for life.

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Conclusion

Inbound marketing is still alive and kicking in 2021, even if it’s not mentioned as much on industry blogs. It’s just undergone a name change.

If you want to take advantage, you need to double down on content marketing and SEO, video, and aligning your strategy.

If you’re struggling to generate results with your company blog, we can help you effectively implement SEO into your overall strategy.

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