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Inbound marketing is continuing to grow in importance at the expense of outbound marketing, according to the “State of Inbound Marketing Report” [pdf] from internet marketing firm Hubspot.

Inbound Lead Generation Expands, Outbound Contracts
As a percentage of the overall lead generation budget, inbound marketing expanded slightly from 2009 to 2010 (38% to 39%), while outbound marketing contracted more significantly (29% to 24%). The net effect is that the gap widened from inbound marketing, which had a 9% greater share of the overall marketing budget than outbound marketing in 2009, to a 15% greater share in 2010. Roughly one-third of the lead generation budget is considered “not classified.”

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Inbound Marketing Channels Continue to Grow in Importance
Looking at the last six months, businesses rate every inbound marketing channel as more important than any outbound channel. This is a continuing trend from 2009. In addition, no outbound channel grew in importance, with direct mail and telemarketing declining and trade shows remaining flat.

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However, three of four inbound marketing channels grew in importance between 2009 and 2010: social media, blogs, and search engine optimization (SEO). PPC (paid search/ad words) significantly declined from being rated important by 32% of businesses in 2009 to 22% of businesses in 2010.

While blogs and SEO grew slightly in importance, social media dramatically increased in the percentage of businesses considering this channel important, from 46% in 2009 to 60% in 2010.

Inbound Marketing Budgets are Increasing
Slightly more than half (51%) of businesses are increasing their inbound marketing budgets this year, with another 37% enacting no budgetary change. Only 12% are decreasing their inbound marketing budgets.

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For businesses increasing their inbound marketing budgets, the most common reason given is past success (58%), with 31% citing the economy and 28% citing a change in management. Conversely, 92% of businesses decreasing their inbound marketing budgets gave the economy as a reason, suggesting companies lowering their inbound marketing budgets are doing so due to external pressures rather than dissatisfaction with inbound marketing’s performance.

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Social Media Aids Customer Acquisition
More than four in 10 companies overall have acquired a customer from four major social media channels, according to other findings of the Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing report. Forty-one percent of companies have acquired a customer from both Twitter and LinkedIn. That figure rises to 44% for Facebook and 46% for a company blog.

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