What 4,000 Marketers Say Isn’t Worth the Budget Spend

And What You Should Be Spending on Instead

Have you finished planning your Q1 marketing budget yet? We have good news for the advertising allotment—you can go ahead and slash it.

Seem drastic? Not according to the nearly 4,000 marketing professionals across more than 150 countries from small and midsized businesses surveyed in HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 marketing report that was just released.


One of the takeaways that can help you save your company money starting now: 

Both inbound and outbound marketers rank paid advertising as the #1 most overrated marketing tactic. [Click to Tweet]

Most overrated marketing spend by ROI (chart)

Considering the long history of paid advertising, why the change of heart? For one thing, with ad blockers on the rise and people spending more time than ever looking at a screen—from smartphones to tablets and computers—there is less tolerance today for disruptive ads or popups, not to mention an ad that is too broad or poorly targeted to them in the first place.

As Nielson reported in their "Global Trust in Advertising" article, there is a significant gap between what a customer seeks out themselves verus what is presented to them. “While advertisers have started to follow consumers online, about a third of online advertising campaigns don’t work—they don’t generate awareness or drive any lift in purchase intent,” said Randall Beard, president, Nielsen Expanded Verticals. “As consumers are in control of how they consume content and interact with brands more than ever, understanding ad resonance across screens is the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift today.”

So what should that advertising budget go towards instead? The flipside to reconsidering your ad spending in your 2016 marketing budget is that if you weren't budgeting for inbound marketing, it's time to make the switch. Inbound marketing has transitioned from rising phenomenon to an integral part of any marketing strategy. Every company surveyed for the State of Inbound report, regardless of marketing spend, was three times as likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound. That’s big.

inbound vs outbound ROI (chart)

Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that will attract your audience to you organically, instead of relying upon a temporary traffic boost due to paying for views. By aligning this content (blogging, white papers, an optimized web site and solid SEO) to your customer’s interests, you will naturally earn inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time. As the report reveals, companies with the highest return on their marketing dollars are doing these things:

  • Inbound efforts achieve higher ROI than outbound regardless of company size or total marketing spend.
  • Leading marketers resist the allure of paid campaigns and recognize outbound as being overrated.

Now in its seventh year, the report presents results from marketers and salespeople worldwide on their pressing priorities, the challenges their companies face, and the tactics (both successful and not) they’ve used to address those challenges. Read the full report for more marketing and sales trends, insights and insider tips.

Download the State of Inbound Marketing & Sales 2015 Report from HubSpot