Survey of 100 Inbound Marketers: 73% Say Their #1 Blog Metric Is…
Want to learn what 73% of inbound marketers say their #1 metric is?
Or do you want to find out if you fall into the same categories as a typical inbound marketer?
Well, you’re in the right place. We had some questions about the process of inbound marketing, as we wanted to know how often they create content, what challenges they encounter, what problems they wish they could magically solve, and how they measure success on both the blog level and blog post level.
So, we decided to find 100 inbound marketers and ask them the same 5 simple questions. Check out the results below!
Key Findings and Analysis
- 93% of inbound marketers create content weekly, while 7% don’t create any content.
- Most inbound marketers are creating content for either 1–5 hours (33%) or 6–10 hours (33%) per week.
- Only 7% of inbound marketers are creating content 31+ hours per week.
Analysis: Most inbound marketers create content
According to the survey results, most inbound marketers not only create content, but they do so every week. The middle hours (1–10 hours) are the most popular, and it’s not very common for inbound marketers to spend an overly long amount of time on creating content (21+ hours).
The fact that most inbound marketers create content every week is not that surprising, especially when studies show a connection between the frequency that marketers create content and customer acquisition. For example, HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report found that “82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly”.
The fact that only 7% of inbound marketers don’t create any content is also not surprising, as other studies have shown that a higher priority is being placed on content marketing as a marketing strategy. For example, according to the results of a 2015 survey by Gleanster Research, collaborating with Kapost, only 3% responded that content marketing was a future priority and 8% responded that it was a low priority.
Assuming that those who create content for 31+ hours per week usually work on more than one post, and assuming that those who spend less time on creating content don’t have enough time to work on as many posts, this might suggest that most inbound marketers don’t publish a large amount of content all the time, but they do publish consistently.
So, the results seem to suggest that, even though inbound marketers may want to create content more frequently, they are more concerned with creating consistently.
2. What is the greatest challenge you face as Inbound Marketer?
- The top two greatest challenges inbound marketers face are “time for writing” (9%) and “ideation & strategy” (8%).
- The 9% who said “time for writing” is their greatest challenge also gave varied answers for how much time per week they spend creating content (i.e., the previous question).
- 35 different challenges were named – 20 of them were each named once, and the other 15 were named more than once (64 times in total).
Analysis: There’s never enough time
The obvious point that these results are suggesting is that there are a variety of different challenges that inbound marketers face, and most of them encounter the same or similar challenges. It is interesting to note that those who said “time for writing” is their greatest challenge don’t all spend the same amount of time creating content. Those who spend 1–5 hours per week and even those who spend 31+ hours all agree on the same challenge. So, this suggests that despite how much time they already spend on creating content, they all still feel that there is not enough time.
3. What is the greatest challenge you face as Inbound Marketer?
Answering the same question as the previous graph, this graph shows the aggregated data, grouping together similar answers. For example, “fresh content” and “great content” are counted together.
- The majority of inbound marketers (19%) find “writing great content” the greatest challenge.
- The top 5 greatest challenges are as follows: writing great content (19%), ideation & strategy (9%), time to get things done (9%), conversion and leads (8%), and staff & resources budget (8%).
Analysis: Creating great content is hard
According to the results of the 2015 survey by Gleanster Research, collaborating with Kapost, “3,408 B2B companies indicated the most significant challenge with content marketing is managing the overall content production process.” Both this survey and our survey results reveal content creation to be the greatest challenge inbound marketers face. The difference is that the challenging part of content creation in the 2015 survey is the overall process, while in our survey the challenge is the quality.
Along with the previous findings, this focus on writing “great” content shows a shift from writing a lot of average content towards writing better content – quality over quantity.
4. If you had a magic wand to solve one problem in Inbound Marketing, what would that problem be and how would you solve it?
- The top answer was “amazing writers/content teams” (8%).
- 42 different problems/solutions were named – 29 of them were each named once, and the other 13 were named more than once (39 times in total).
Analysis: Inbound marketers face many hard-to-solve problems
These results suggest that there are a variety of different problems that inbound marketers wish they could magically solve, and there isn’t as much agreement on which specific problem is the most important to solve first.
5. If you had a magic wand to solve one problem in Inbound Marketing, what would that problem be and how would you solve it?
Answering the same question as the previous graph, this graph shows the aggregated data, grouping together similar answers. For example, “get more people” and “more customers” are counted together.
- “Customers and conversion” (9%) was the most popular answer, closely followed by “amazing writers/content teams” (8%) and “get rid of noise and clutter” (8%)
- Many of the problems involve some part of the content creation process.
Analysis: Inbound marketers wish creating content was easier
The results show a number of different problems and solutions, but there wasn’t one that was clearly more popular than the rest, as the results were so close. What’s interesting is that multiple content-related solutions kept coming up in different ways, suggesting that the problems most inbound marketers want to magically solve are problems associated with the content creation process – they want content that is easier to create, easier to promote, quicker to create, better quality, and guaranteed to convert.
The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report presents similar results, as 4 out of 6 of their top challenges for B2B content marketers included content-related challenges: producing engaging content, measuring content effectiveness, producing content consistently, and producing a variety of content.
6. How do you measure the success of your blog? Which goals are the most important for your blog?
- 40% of inbound marketers say their #1 metric for their blog is “social shares”.
- Only very small minorities say their #1 metric for their blog is “downloads” (1%), “ROI” (1%), “reach” (1%), “referral traffic” (1%), or “clients” (2%).
- Most inbound marketers gave more than one answer.
Analysis: The most popular blog metrics involve action and interaction
The results show that inbound marketers use more than one metric to measure their blog’s success. They also suggest that most inbound marketers consider the most important metrics to be the ones that involve action and interaction.
7. How do you measure the success of your blog? Which goals are the most important for your blog?
Answering the same question as the previous graph, this graph shows the aggregated data, grouping together similar answers. For example, “traffic” and “referral traffic” are counted together.
- 70% of inbound marketers say their #1 metric for their blog is “engagement (social shares and comments)”.
- Only a minority (21%) say their #1 metric for their blog is “SEO (rankings & backlinks)”.
Analysis: Blog success is all about interaction
It’s not enough to just have readers who visit your blog; You need to convince them to take action and encourage interaction.
According to the survey results, the top two most important blog goals and most common ways to measure success are “engagement (social shares and comments)” (70%) and “action on CTA/conversion” (63%), which both involve convincing readers to take action, while the bottom two answers are less focussed on action.
These results are not surprising, as other studies have revealed the important that marketers place on engagement. For example, in the 2015 survey by Gleanster Research and Kapost, they state that “A great deal of today’s content marketing tactics focus on the customer engagement side of the equation”. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report also found that “Enterprise marketers say engagement is their most important goal (82%)”.
In addition, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report reveals a similar order of the most important metrics B2B content marketers use: higher conversion rates (82%), then website traffic (71%), then SEO ranking (67%). Although the order is similar, the difference is that their report revealed “sales lead quality (87%)” as the most important metric for B2B marketers.
8. How do you measure the success of a single blog post you publish on your blog?
- 37% of inbound marketers say their #1 metric for single blog posts is “traffic”, but a close 36% also say “leads”, and another 36% say “social shares”.
- Only very small minorities say their #1 metric for single blog posts is “CTR from search engines” (1%), “visitors per day” (1%), “exit rate” (1%), “scroll” (1%), or “clicks in content” (1%).
- Most inbound marketers gave more than one answer.
- The same number of metrics were named for measuring both blog and blog post success.
Analysis: The most popular blog post metrics measure traffic, leads, and social shares
Similar to the previous results, these results show that inbound marketers use more than one metric to measure the success of single blog posts, and that the metrics that are not focussed on action are not used as often. It’s interesting to note that the same number of metrics were named for measuring both blog and blog post success, and that “social shares” was a top answer for both.
9. How do you measure the success of a single blog post you publish on your blog?
Answering the same question as the previous graph, this graph shows the aggregated data, grouping together similar answers. For example, “visits per day” and “visitors” are counted together.
- 73% of inbound marketers say their #1 metric for single blog posts is “action on CTA/conversion”.
- Only 11% say their #1 metric for single blog posts is “SEO (rankings & backlinks)”.
Analysis: Blog post success is all about action
The top two most common ways to measure the success of a single blog post are “action on CTA/conversion” (73%) and “engagement (social shares and comments)” (71%), which are the same top two for measuring overall blog success. Although, this time, “action on CTA/conversion” was slightly higher.
Summary: Meet the Typical Inbound Marketer
According to the results, the typical inbound marketer consistently spends 1–10 hours creating great content every week. They wish the whole content creation and promotion process was easier, quicker, and guaranteed to be successful. Getting social shares is an important goal for their blog. Their #1 metric for blogs is “engagement (social shares and comments)” and their #1 metric for single blog posts is “action on CTA/conversion”.
Thanks to all the inbound marketers who contributed to this survey.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this survey. Please let us know in the comments below.
Great Blog and very interesting Statistics. Well Done and thanks
Alan, thank you for helping and contributing!
Thanks for including me in your research Helen. Its a great post indeed.
Muhammad, thank you for contributing :)
Thanks so much, Helen. While not surprising, it’s certainly enlightening and empowering to see the data aggregated in this way. Well done!
Mike, thank you very much for contributing!
I suspect that the reason many find creating great content difficult is that they have read somewhere that it can be done in 20 minutes or an hour or two. That simply is not true. Great content takes many hours – sometimes 12-16 or even 40+.
Once writers realize that developing quality content is going to mean investing many more hours than they thought, they can just focus on making it the best it can be and stop trying to do it in some ridiculous time-frame that is totally impossible.
There are exceptional writers and there are highly productive writers. These are often mutually exclusive so you have to decide what your priority is and focus on that.
Personally, we (many of my collaborators and I) believe it is important to publish less often and invest many times more hours promoting great content than spitting out quantity over quality. One great post a week heavily promoted will attract more traffic than 5 average or mediocre posts a week.
Most people do not want to hear from you every day. They would much rather anticipate a great piece of content from you once a week or even a couple of times a month than feel guilty or overwhelmed because they get behind in reading daily content.
Gail, agree on that. A well researched, thorough and useful piece of content has much higher chances of ranking well in Search and generating backlinks, social shares, and sign-ups. Quality over quantity – for sure!
Nice report, also shows the opportunity that is open to Content Creators as a career. Thanks for sharing this great report !
Gary, yeah, the opportunity is definitely out there. Thank you for contributing :)
Good to see the outputs, happy to be of help.
Nice article / information.
Simon, thank you to the moon and back :)
Thank you for inviting me and message me after the complete the survey to know more about content Marketing. Thank you Helen.
Fantastic piece Helen. Filled with rich and interesting stats. Happy to have helped!
Great insights Helen.
The statistics were interesting.
Thanks for highlighting the importance of content writing and future opportunities it can offer.
Thanks for sharing about this useful information regarding blog metrics. It’ll be useful for me to get good rankings for my blog
Nicely written article. These are very useful to get our blogs easily to the google first page results
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I’m a little surprised that so many inbound marketers measure success by social shares. I feel this is a very misleading metric. Social traffic is rarely well targeted.
I reckon this is something managers and clients want to see – it looks good on paper, even if it doesn’t yield any results. Cue the curse of the vanity metrics.
As Gail commented below, the reason so many marketers struggle to create content is, again, the expectation of what “good” content is and how long it takes to create it.
We’ve come to expect good content to be something that takes a few hours to create. But for pretty much all of the history of publishing, “good” content would take days, weeks, even months to create.
Think of a TIME journalist trailing a political candidate for months before writing a biography about him. Or a NatGeo writer traveling through remote wilderness for weeks before writing a photo essay.
THAT’s good content.
A 1,000 word article on “10 more SEO tactics” that takes 1 hour to create isn’t it.
I think marketers need to realign what they expect good content is, what it can achieve and how much time/resources it should take to create.
Thanks for sharing all these information Helen! :) It really takes time to create quality content. I was wondering, what your best tip to make writing more efficient?
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