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Marketing Investment Benchmarks: What Are Companies in 4 Big Industries Spending?


In an ideal world, marketers would have limitless budgets to invest in experimental initiatives and new programs. After all, the customer acquisition and retention landscape is evolving faster than ever. To see what works, it’s crucial to find new opportunities and test new waters. 

The challenge, however, is that marketing budgets are often limited around what’s “proven” to work — which tends to look different from company to company. That’s why it’s so important to have access to industry data. By knowing where we stand against our peers and competitors, we’re better positioned to uncover areas of opportunity.

HubSpot’s 2015 Demand Generation Benchmarks Report addresses this exact challenge by asking marketers to nominate their top marketing investments by budget. Here are trends and distribution of responses for four industries: consumer products, information technology, financial services, and software.

1) Consumer Products (CPG) marketers rank branding and public relations, social media marketing, and online advertising among their top marketing investments. Inbound techniques like marketing automation/lead management and content creation are a smaller part of the mix. (Tweet This Stat)



Right off the bat, what’s important to note about any of these trends is that budget does not necessarily correspond to effort. CPG companies could be investing a high amount of effort in content creation, even though they aren’t investing a high amount of financial resources. We also know from HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report that inbound marketing tends to cost less than traditional outbound tactics.

At the end of the day, CPG marketers need healthy levels of investment across multiple marketing channels. With search and discovery being the heart and soul of online shopping, it’s critical to reach the right audiences with the right messages at the right times in their buying journeys. Brands can improve efficiencies by nurturing and sustaining their relationships over time, through inbound techniques like marketing automation and content creation.

2) Information Technology & Services companies are investing in content creation, branding, public relations, trade shows, and email marketing. Marketing automation/lead management, however, remain a smaller part of the mix. (Tweet this Stat)



Paths to conversion are often complex in the IT industry. Stakeholders will sometimes spend months — even years — evaluating potential vendors before making a final decision. Website design/optimization, content creation, and even trade shows/events can be steps in the right direction because they provide core, educational value to target audiences.

These initiatives, however, require counterbalancing through marketing automation and lead nurturing. Because prospects are often involving multiple teams to evaluate the compliance and technology capabilities of an IT product, one-off email marketing campaigns won’t be efficient in reducing customer acquisition costs and increasing ROI. The biggest area of opportunity for IT companies is to increase investment in marketing automation and lead management — a channel that connects the dots between website optimization, content creation, trade shows and events, and even branding and PR.

3) Financial services firms have the potential to become inbound powerhouses. (Tweet this Stat)



Financial services firms, according to the data, are already investing in inbound systems through content creation and marketing automation/lead management systems. 

Branding and PR, especially for a competitive industry like financial services, will always be expensive. By nurturing relationships, inbound channels will help marketers make more out of their limited budgets.

4) Software companies are more likely than other industries to rank inbound marketing techniques like marketing automation/lead management and content creation among their top marketing investments. They’re also investing less in traditional advertising. (Tweet this Stat)



Software companies are investing more heavily than other industries in inbound techniques. Inbound marketing through automation/lead management connects the dots between otherwise dissociated marketing efforts like trade shows and email marketing.

Software companies are becoming increasingly dependent on subscription models for customer success, which means that inbound marketing will become an increasingly powerful growth driver. As an acquisition and retention mechanism, it’s one of the most powerful ways to forge relationships at scale.

Looking for more benchmark data to influence your marketing plans? Check out HubSpot’s 2015 Demand Generation Benchmarks Report — it’s full of great stats for each phase of the funnel.

free demand generation benchmarks report




Demand Generation Benchmarks & Trends: Software Marketer Edition


The marketing formula seems simple: Attract audiences, engage prospects, convert leads, and facilitate retention. One of the biggest “wins” you can achieve is the ability to connect your disparate initiatives into a scalable, predictable demand generation engine.

But when you’re in the trenches, you know this process is easier said than done. Marketers, immersed within their organizations, frequently lack access to industry data. The question of what’s “normal” can be challenging to answer — which makes it tough to justify your budgetary needs to your boss. 

That’s why benchmarks are so helpful — they help you figure out where you stand in your industry. Below, we dove into several demand gen benchmarks from one industry in particular: software. Read on to learn more.

(If you’d like to get a deeper look into this industry or check out some others, you can download the full 2015 Demand Generation Benchmark Report here. It features data from a survey of more than 900 marketers in management levels and above, in 11 industries ranging from media & publishing, finance, healthcare, travel & tourism, consumer products, and consulting.)

1) In terms of monthly visitors, leads, and sales opportunities generated, software companies aren’t radically different from other industries. (Tweet This Stat)




While creating the survey for this report, we were interested in whether the different industries had radically different conversion funnels across visitors, leads, and sales opportunities. The charts below feature a comparison between software companies and respondents from all industries. What we see is a similar distribution pattern of responses — imagine plotting two curves against these bar charts, and you’ll see that they take the same shape.

There are probably a number of reasons why this trend exists. For one, there may be a coincidence in how marketers were selected for the survey’s sample. There could also be a hidden trend in what the different industries are doing from a strategic perspective. And of course, if we were to compare all industries on a 1:1 basis, we’d probably see more anomalies.

Despite potential nuances, one takeaway stands out: These patterns suggest that marketing is a predictable process. With more visitors come more leads and more sales opportunities — a trend confirmed by the Demand Gen Benchmarks Report, which found a correlation between companies exceeding their revenue goals and generating a higher number of monthly website visitors, leads, and sales opportunities. Companies that didn’t know their demand gen benchmarks (indicating a lack of structure in their marketing programs) were less likely to be achieving their revenue goals.

2) The software industry is more likely than other industries to rank inbound marketing techniques like content creation and marketing automation/lead management among their top three marketing investments. They’re also investing less in traditional advertising. (Tweet This Stat)



The survey asked marketers to rank their top and bottom three marketing investments to explore the relationships between companies’ marketing strategies and the benchmarks assessed in this blog post.

What we need to keep in mind is that the top and bottom lists from this report don’t differentiate between the levels of budget spent on one tactic over another. For instance, we cannot tell whether content creation received more investment than marketing automation/lead management. What we can say is that content creation and marketing automation/lead management had the highest likelihoods of being ranked among software companies’ top three marketing investments.

We have to be careful to remember that a higher investment in budget doesn’t necessarily correspond to an investment in effort. A company, for instance, could spend millions per year on a billboard but actually put more effort into content assets — dozens of blog posts and ebooks — that cost only tens of thousands of dollars to produce in house. The content investment wouldn’t be as high as the traditional advertising investment; however, the effort devoted to content would be much higher.

What we can see, however, is that software companies are investing more heavily than other industries in inbound techniques. This trend relates back to a key point from the previous section — that structured marketing programs bridge the gap between effort and success. Inbound marketing efforts like marketing automation/lead management help connect the dots between otherwise dissociated marketing efforts (like tradeshows and email marketing) so you better prove ROI. 

3) Software companies are paying higher costs per lead than other industries. (Tweet This Stat)


Across all industries, companies reported paying between $1 and $25 on average per lead, while 44% of software companies reported paying more, at $51-$100 on average per lead. One possible explanation for this trend is that acquisition costs are higher for software than other industries due to higher levels of competition in the market and higher customer lifetime values (LTV).

Regardless of the explanation, there’s a very clear takeaway from this trend: Wasted leads yield wasted marketing investments. Software companies especially need to make sure that their customers aren’t falling through the cracks. Paths to conversion are complex, and brands need to be present in their audiences’ sales journeys. Inbound techniques like marketing automation, lead nurturing, and content creation are crucial for driving ROI on cost per lead investments.

4) Software companies tend to see slightly higher email open and clickthrough rates compared to other industries. (Tweet This Stat)



More than 70% of surveyed software companies reported email open rates of higher than 10%, and close to 80% of software companies reported click-through rates of higher than 1%. Across all industries, the survey found a notable trend: Companies exceeding or achieving their revenue goals reported high open and click-through rates.

One possible explanation for the trend below is that software companies are more likely than other industries to invest in marketing automation and lead nurturing techniques, which rely on segmentation, interest-based personalization, and targeted content.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line for the software industry is clear: Marketing relationships trump one-off tactics. Facing higher than average costs per lead, the software industry can’t afford to let their website visitors and leads fall through the cracks. Inbound marketing investments are crucial to the future of demand generation in this industry. Marketing is about people, and inbound builds structure around this mission-critical perspective.

free demand generation benchmarks report




5 Productivity Tips for Your Next Business Trip


This post originally appeared on the Sales section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

One of the biggest perks of a client-facing role — that you get to travel throughout the year — can also be its biggest drawback. As enjoyable as it is to grab a meal or coffee with your favorite clients, it can be incredibly stressful at times, too. Meetings take time away from deals you could be closing.

I’m writing this post from the 11th floor of a beautiful Manhattan hotel room, after flying cross-country to meet with four of my biggest clients and one prospect. I’ve been here for a few days, am immensely jet-lagged, and — quite honestly — I’m ready to head back home to my San Francisco office. I know that the time I’m spending here is worth it, but there’s always an opportunity cost. (And yes, I’m approximately 48 hours behind on other projects that I need to complete.)

But I understand that productivity is an art that takes practice, and I’m willing to put in the work by iterating upon my travel strategies. I’m continuously looking for ways to be my most productive while traveling. Here are some lessons that I’ve learned from experimenting over my last few sales trips.

1) Always fly wifi-enabled flights.

The last few times I’ve traveled, I’ve opted for less expensive flights — planes that typically ran internet-free. While I saved $150 on each round-trip ticket, I’ve learned that the opportunity cost simply isn’t worth it. For this trip, I splurged on a more expensive round-trip to fly on Virgin America, which I know has consistent internet. While I was skeptical of whether I would get any meaningful work done, I found myself pleasantly surprised at my productivity.

My flight provided me with five hours of uninterrupted time to focus on emails, spreadsheets, and blogging projects — I arrived in New York at midnight feeling happy, productive, and ready for my 8 a.m. meeting the next day.

For some companies, $150 is only a marginal expense, so the decision to upgrade is a no-brainer. To me, the decision was a little more difficult because I’m running a startup. I am very careful about how I spend money and ensure that I am always generating an ROI. For this trip, the $150 upgrade was minimal compared to the incremental ROI.

2) Map your meetings ahead of time.

I am a classic, right-brained salesperson who despises planning trips and meetings. I am happiest when meetings and events happen spontaneously — which is simply impossible when you’re trying to squeeze ten face-to-face meetings into a three-day window. On my last sales trip to New York five months ago, I scheduled 21 meetings into a four-day period and didn’t have the foresight to plan where I needed to be. While my meetings went great, I was stressed, and I fell behind on a few important projects.

This time was different. I finalized my meeting schedule one week in advance and mapped every single meeting to my hotel, and to one another. It was smooth sailing. I felt very calm and spent my “free” time (I actually had some because I was more organized) catching up on projects for my customers back home.

3) Get an external phone charger.

One of my biggest lessons learned as a company founder and sales leader is how important it is to stay in touch with my clients. Whenever possible, I try to respond to emails immediately — as in, absolutely zero delay. It’s an incredibly challenging commitment to uphold because I’m glued to my smartphone, which means the battery drains quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I have been stranded in a new city with a dead phone. Every time it happens, I worry about falling out of touch with my customers.

The solution to this pain point is simple and takes the form of an external smartphone charger that costs roughly $30. This simple device has empowered me with more time. I have not once had to worry about losing touch with my customers, and I’m able to stay on top of my emails.

4) Prepare for (and take advantage of) downtime.

When you travel, plans often change. You’ll find yourself with extra time in between meetings — although you may not want to run back to your hotel room. I always make sure that I am fully up-and-running for these unexpected (yet more than welcome) in-between moments. Here’s how I stay prepared:

  • In addition to my main computer, I have a much more lightweight and handbag friendly laptop that I try to keep with me at all times. If, for some reason, I can’t bring a computer where I’m going, I bring my tablet with a keyboard cover.
  • Before traveling to a new city, I also research wifi-enabled cafés near my hotel and client offices. I’m always ready to find a comfortable work spot no matter where I am.
  • On my next trip, I’ll be experimenting with a wifi card, which will allow me to purchase an internet subscription for my computer. Some cell phone plans also allow for phone-tethering, which can transform a mobile device into an internet-access point.

5) Give yourself a break.

Hard workers often lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, 1) we’re human and 2) our customers have been exactly where we are now. It’s okay if you need to take an extra day or so to respond to non-critical emails — just make sure that your customers know that you’re traveling, and they’ll understand.

Traveling for work is exhausting, but it’s also incredibly rewarding as an opportunity to spend valuable time with your prospects and customers — individuals who will become your closest allies in business. And remember, even if you’re a little behind because of business travel, you’ll catch up. Take a walk, enjoy the fresh air, and treat yourself to something new.

In your experience, what has helped you optimize your productivity while traveling? You pick #6 for this list — share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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