8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Faced Globally [New Data]

Every marketer faces different challenges. Although we typically share similar goals, some teams are stuck on hiring top talent, while others are having trouble finding the right technology for their needs.

Whatever the case may be, there’s always at least one area that you can stand to improve. In other words, there’s always room to optimize the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator.

Throughout the past few years, HubSpot has kept up with a number of global marketing challenge trends. We've also polled thousands of marketers on the challenges they face, as well as the tactics they’ve used to meet those challenges head-on.

While you might think that global marketing issues have changed drastically in past years due to evolving media platforms and emerging technology, you might be surprised by the trends research has actually shown.

In fact, we've found that today's most common global marketing struggles haven't actually changed much in the past few years.

In 2019, when we dug into the research of global marketing challenges, such as this survey from Attest, many of the results we found were fairly similar to what we found back in 2017 and 2018, when we surveyed thousands of marketers for our State of Inbound Reports.

Between 2017 and 2018, our State of Inbound Reports found that the top five challenges continued to stay the same, with some slight fluctuations in non-American regions.

According to research from 2017-2019, generating traffic and leads, as well as proving ROI continue to be leading challenges marketers face

While the unchanging list of challenges is a good sign that marketers aren't facing unprecedented barriers, it's still important to take stock of the factors that continue to hold back marketers. Why? If marketers face the same problems today that they did in the past, it's likely that these major challenges will continue far into the future.

So, what's happening in 2020?

Below, let's review the current global marketing issues impacting the industry.

1. Generating Traffic and Leads

Generating enough traffic and leads was the top global marketing issue, according to the 2017 and 2018 State of Inbound reports.

A 2019 survey from Vital shows that more than 35% of marketers face challenges related to leads and/or traffic, showing that this trend still continues.

In fact, the top priority for marketers in 2020 is generating leads.

Why It's a Challenge

Clearly, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the years progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. With so many options of platforms for marketers to publish their content and even more ways to promote it, it's hard to know where to focus your efforts.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to creating content that produces enough traffic and leads, marketers should ask themselves two questions: Are you truly creating high-quality content -- the type of content people would pay for? And, do you know the type of content your audience actually wants?

In 2020, the most common customer marketing tactic is creating exclusive content for customers.

For example, HubSpot Research has found that 53% of consumers want to see more video from marketers in the future, while only 14% want to see more blog posts. To learn more about how the way people are reading and interacting with content is changing, check out this HubSpot Research report.

Once you know you're creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice. More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don't have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notification.

2. Providing the ROI of Your Marketing Activities

Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge globally year-over-year.

In fact, only 53.85% of marketers surveyed say they even measure Customer Acquisition costs.

It continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign or piece of content.

Plus, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.

Why It's a Challenge

Although return on investment is a crucial stat that shows your campaigns success or progress, tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn't always easy, especially if you don't have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to providing ROI, there's a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results. This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot's free CRM), and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.

We've found there's no better combination than having an SLA and doing inbound marketing. According to the 2018 report, inbound organizations with SLAs had twice the ROI of misaligned organizations.

(Use this ROI calculator to simulate the potential ROI you could realize by conducting inbound marketing.)

3. Securing Enough Budget

How can you create a winning marketing campaign without a budget? The truth is, it's pretty hard. But, even when you have a great, revenue-generating idea, you still usually need to get your budget approved by a higher-up.

For 2020, 64% of marketers said their marketing budget has increased.

Why It's a Challenge

Securing more budget is a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And often, getting more budget is easier said than done -- especially for smaller organizations that aren't working with sizable nor flexible marketing spend.

But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here's what you can do.

What Can You Do?

The key to unlocking budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. According to our report, organizations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.

Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results, and our data shows those who feel confident in their marketing strategy are more than 2X as likely to get higher budgets for their marketing teams. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. If you get off to a slow start, you shouldn’t back off -- in fact, you might consider doubling down.

To learn more about how to understand and leverage marketing ROI, check out this simple guide.

4. Managing Your Website

Although managing a website is consistently a challenge to marketers, it seems to be growing less threatening.

Throughout the past few years, less and less marketers have been worrying about it as compared to other challenges like "identifying the right technologies," which rose from the fifth to fourth biggest challenge in 2018's State of Inbound Report.

In 2020, 63% of marketers are looking to make a website upgrade.

Why It's Still a Challenge

Managing a website was the fourth biggest challenge for marketers in 2017. And chances are, your website's performance is high on your list of priorities. It's an asset that works around the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you hit your goals, after all.

Issues with website management include a variety of different factors, from writing and optimizing the content to designing beautiful webpages. Here are a few things marketers can do to deal with this challenge.

What Can You Do?

First, read this report to see how your website stacks up against over 1 million other websites. It also includes a deep analysis on the four most critical elements of website performance and design, from average load time and website security to mobile friendliness and SEO.

If your primary challenge with managing a website has to do with the skills and resources you have available, you aren't alone. This is especially true for small companies who don't have all the talent in-house required to cover content, optimization, design, and back-end website management.

One solution? Hire freelancers and agency partners. To find freelancers, we recommend:

  • Tapping into your personal and professional network by posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks with a description of what you're looking for.
  • Browsing freelance writers and designers based on their portfolios and areas of interest. For writers, check out Zerys and Contently. For designers, check out Behance & Elance.
  • Browsing HubSpot's Services Marketplace, which lists a wide variety of designers from partner companies and agencies we've deemed credible.

Overall, you can make website management easier on your team by hosting your website on a platform that integrates all your marketing channels like HubSpot's COS.

Finally, for the projects you want to keep in-house, here is a list of ebooks and guides that might be helpful to your team:

5. Targeting Content for an International Audience

Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing.

With 59% of marketers surveyed currently marketing internationally, it's important to have an international strategy.

To be more effective at targeting, one of the first things any marketer needs do is identify their buyer personas to determine who it is they should be marketing to.

Why It's a Challenge

If you're expanding internationally, it can be a big challenge not only to figure out the best ways to market to an international audience but also to organize and optimize your site for different countries.

However, exchange rates are marketers’ biggest challenge with international marketing.

HubSpot Research recently analyzed the difference in content preferences across the world.

What Can You Do?

Download our free ebook, The Global Marketing Playbook. There are some really helpful tips in there that'll help give you some direction on global marketing, including how to identify your top three growth markets, how to explore local trends, and tips on choosing the best localization providers.

Additionally, when marketing to a new region, the most common tactic marketers use is to shift their product offering.

Remember, your website visitors might speak a plethora of different languages and live in totally different time zones. To make your content appealing to a wide audience, you'll need to keep your global visitors top-of-mind when creating all your content. This means being aware of seasonal references, translating units of measure and monetary references, and giving translators the tools and permissions to customize and adapt content for a specific audience when they need to.

Finally, be sure you're optimizing your website for international visitors, too. For more tips and resources on global marketing expansion, browse our international inbound marketing hub.

6. Training Your Team

As companies scale and technologies continue to evolve, training your team will become a greater challenge for marketers.

Why It's a Challenge

Whether it's training them on the concepts and tools they'll be using every day or making sure they're achieving their full potential, the struggle is real across the board.

To combat this, I’ll share some tips I’ve used during my trainings to make sure the concepts and tool tips stick and have a lasting effect on your team and your marketing.

What Can You Do?

To get an overall idea of where your team stands, take a few minutes to assess each of your team members' marketing strengths and weaknesses, levels of expertise, and passion/commitment to your company. Then, objectively rate the priority (or level of importance) of their expertise and their contribution to bottom line objectives (ROI) to date. Here's a simple assessment tool from Lean Labs to help you evaluate your team so you can figure out who needs recognition and who needs coaching.

You also might consider requiring your team members to rack up some online marketing certification. HubSpot Academy, for example, offers certifications, documentation, and training programs to help people master the basics of inbound marketing. Google also offers training and certifications on analytics with their online Analytics Academy.

What about new hire training, specifically? We recommend creating a training plan for new team members. Here at HubSpot, each new marketer is given a 100-day plan like this one to lay out specific goals and help new hires demonstrate their effectiveness.

7. Hiring Top Talent

Hiring top talent is another challenge marketers commonly report experiencing.

Why It's a Challenge

Many companies are shifting more resources to inbound marketing, which means higher and higher demand for top marketing talent. But supply simply isn't keeping up. From sourcing the right candidates to evaluating for the right skills, finding the perfect person could take months ... or more.

What's more, the type of marketing talent companies are looking for is changing, too. According to a 2020 report from LinkedIn, employers are seeking marketers with soft creative skill sets as well as hard technical skills. And the quick rate at which the demand for these jobs are rising has caused a marketing skills gap, "making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing."

What Can You Do?

Employers are looking for marketers with a diverse skill set that includes digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. To find the best inbound marketer for your team, the first thing you should do is decide what that person needs to be able to achieve for your business.

Ask yourself: What will the new marketer's tasks and duties include? What skills do those tasks and duties require? What goals or challenges will the new marketer face? Use your answers to these questions to write a compelling job description. (Here's a long list of pre-written marketing job descriptions to help you get started.)

Next, post your jobs where talented inbound marketers will find them. While traditional job sites like Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, or LinkedIn will help you cast a wide net, we recommend checking out Inbound.org, which is the only job listing service in the world that's exclusively focused on inbound marketing and sales jobs.

Finally, focus your job description and new hire 100-day plan what people value most in their careers.

LinkedIn data from 2020 shows that 87% of active and passive job candidates will consider new job opportunities. Additionally,  the number one reason candidates will consider or accept a job is career growth. This means that job listings and company culture's that offer employees a plan for growth will see the most interest from talent.

8. Delivering an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a new trend, which is a growth strategy in which marketing and sales collaborate to create a personalized buying experience for an identified set of accounts.

However, interestingly, the most common challenge with ABM is delivering a personalized experience.

Why It's a Challenge

Currently, there aren't a lot of software that are focused on account-based marketing. Many companies that are implementing ABM strategies are using manual methods, which means some accounts are getting lost in the cracks.

However, marketers strongly agree that personalized content (56%) and advanced data management (43%) are keys to ABM's success.

What Can You Do?

To deliver a more personalized experience, you should use a software that helps you combine your sales and marketing information.

For example, HubSpot's ABM software help unite your marketing and sales teams with collaborative, intuitive ABM tools that create seamless buying experiences for your highest-value accounts.

This software can enable collaboration among teams and personalize content.

Additionally, HubSpot's software has account-level targeting added to the LinkedIn Ads integration, giving you the ability to target companies by target account status or tier, and contacts or subsets of contacts at target accounts. The account overview sidebar, the ABM playbook for sales reps, and a native integration to link your HubSpot and LinkedIn Sales Navigator accounts, help further deepen your relationships with people over time, helping build more authentic connections with stakeholders within each account.

Does Your Company Face Any of These Marketing Issues?

A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.

If you're faced with a challenge and want ideas on how to best tackle it, you can always consider getting some help by any of the various types of marketing training that are available

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.



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