Sales & Marketing | 8 min read

The top marketing statistics for 2018 and why they matter

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There are few functions where the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings truer than in marketing.

For instance, the fundamentals of good marketing haven’t changed: crisp writing, a compelling story, strong brand, and of course, a great product to market. At the end of the day, nothing you do as a marketer will land without those elements; as Copy Hacker’s Joanna Wiebe once told us, “People will not read anything, anywhere that is boring, ever.” Amen.

At the same time, consumers are complex creatures – we’re constantly evolving and tuning out marketing noise. The best marketers evolve alongside their audiences – experimenting with new tactics, revisiting assumptions about who their buyers are and how they buy. But there’s an overwhelming amount of literature out there on the “Hottest Marketing Trend You Can’t Ignore”. At Intercom, we pore over benchmarks and studies to try to keep our fingers on the pulse. In this article we’ll share some of the most influential marketing statistics we’ve seen in the past couple of years.

Table of Contents

    1. Messaging: Ignore at your peril
    2. Content Marketing: Quality matters, performance matters more
    3. Video Marketing: Sooner or later, everything old is new again
    4. Email: Still relevant
    5. Paid advertising: Still relevant?
    6. Social Media: Noisy and fragmented
    7. Future trends: Soon, none of this will matter

Messaging

As marketers we’re always yearning to understand how consumers want to engage, and increasingly, that’s through the personal, real-time, device-agnostic medium of messaging and live chat. You could say we’re biased, but the evidence became clearer than ever when messaging apps surpassed social networks in popularity in 2016:

messaging beats social media

Reach

  • 10 minutes: The average daily time US consumers spent in a messaging app in 2017 was 10 minutes, up 15.2% from 8 minutes in 2016 (eMarketer, 2017).

Engagement

  • 1.5X: In-app messages are 1.5 times more likely to be opened as emails, and 6.7 times as likely to receive a response (Intercom).
  • 2x: In 2018 our end users were sending 500 million messages a month, double the previous year (Intercom).
  • 4X: Based on an Intercom analysis of 1 million anonymized conversations, people are four times more likely to respond to a message containing an emoji 😲 (Intercom, 2016).

Conversion

  • 7X: You’re 7 times more likely to win a deal if you respond to prospects in less than an hour versus responding in two hours (HBR, 2011).
  • 53%: Consumers are 53% more likely to shop with a business they can message (Facebook Nielsen report, 2016).

Content marketing

“Great content is table stakes these days,” MarketingProfs’ Ann Handley once told us. “We’re past the age where if you build it, they will come. You have to have some sort of promotional program in place.”

As content teams scale they invariably hit a crossroads: how do we go from creating good content to creating good content that performs and generates revenue? That’s where content marketing comes in – when done well, it quietly reduces the inherent tension between quality and performance. Typically that involves SEO, distribution and promotion.

most popular social

Reach

  • 96%: The vast majority, almost 96%, of bloggers drive traffic through social media, with 64% through SEO and 58% through email marketing (Orbitmedia, 2017).

Engagement

  • 3 minutes: The average “dwell time” – time spent on page – for a top 10 Google search result is 3 minutes; for text-only blog posts, that’s just shy of 1,000 words (Search Engine Land, 2016).

Conversion

  • 3x: Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing (Demandmetric, 2016).
  • 76%: Buyers are most willing to exchange their information for white papers (76% were willing), eBooks (63%), webinars (79%), case studies (57%) and third-party/analyst reports (66%).
  • 19%: Buyers are least willing to register for podcasts (19%), video (19%) and infographics (24%). (DemandGen Report – 2017 Content Preferences Survey).

Ready to up your content marketing game? Check out these posts:

Video marketing

Video content is being produced and consumed at an incredible pace. But it’s not just entertainment that people are looking for. They want to solve problems and learn new things. For software businesses this could mean doubling down on short video tutorials, roundtables, best practice webinars and more.

Online video audiences by age

Reach

  • #2: YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world (Alexa, 2018).
  • 82%: Online video traffic will make up 80% of all traffic by 2021, largely driven by streaming on social networks. (Cisco, 2017).
  • 80%: Roughly 80% of all consumers can remember the video ads they’ve watched online in the last week. This is in contrast to 14% who remember the last display ad they’ve seen (Digital Content Next).

Engagement

  • 2/3: Two-thirds of consumers prefer videos under 60 seconds. The most important types of videos for consumers are how your product is made, customer testimonials, and about your company (Animoto, 2015).

Conversion

  • 11%: Trial users who watched our demos were 11% more likely to retain past the two week trial period (Intercom, 2017).

Improve your video marketing:

Social media

Getting social media right isn’t easy, but increasingly it does more than simply increase brand awareness. According to social selling expert Dan Swift, it’s more effective than email and cold calling as a means to nurture potential buyers. “I always want to align to how buyers want to be engaged, and a lot of the research says they want to be engaged on social media.”

most popular social media platform

Facebook

  • 68%: Facebook is used by 68% of all U.S. adults, making it the most popular social network in America. However, this figure hasn’t changed since 2016. About a third use Instagram, which is the fastest growing social network (Pew, 2018).
  • 1.1: Businesses post 1.1 times a day on average. (Rival IQ, 2018).

Twitter

  • 93%: According to Twitter, 93% of all views happen on mobile (Twitter, 2017).
  • 2x: Tweets running over 140 characters long get twice as much engagement (likes, RTs, mentions)– good microcopy gets read, period (Socialflow, 2017).

LinkedIn

  • 3x: Nearly 3% of people who click on LinkedIn posts convert to leads. This is three times higher than the conversion rates of both Facebook and Twitter, which were both less than 1% (HubSpot, 2017).

Instagram

  • 60%: Over 60% of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook.
  • 70%: of the most used hashtags are branded (Simply Measured, 2015).
  • 52: The average Instagram post from a software company gets 52 interactions, more than any other social network (TrackMaven, 2017).

Email marketing

Despite Slack’s best efforts, email isn’t dead. Far from it. Augmented by machine learning, marketers are experimenting with personalized messages. However, there’s still a chasm between personalizing messages for audience segments, and true personalization, with messages tailored for individuals.

Reach

  • 4.4%: The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will reach 269 billion, and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.4% over the next four years (Radicati, 2017).
  • 121: The average office worker receives 121 emails daily, almost 50% of which is spam (Radicati, 2017).

Engagement

  • 32%: The average email open rate across all industries is 32%, but this varies widely by industry. Software has one of the lowest averages (28%) while Arts & Entertainment has the highest (45%) (HubSpot, 2018).
  • 10-2pm: Emails sent between 10-2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays have the greatest chances of being opened, but in-apps have a remarkably consistent open rate throughout the entire week (Intercom 2017).
  • 38: The character limit for email subject lines on iPhone displays is 38. The average subject line for brands in L2’s UK study contained 42 characters (L2, 2017).

Conversion

  • 61%: of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands via email. However, their stated preference is for marketing emails that are less about promotions and more about providing information (Adobe, 2017).
  • 2x: A survey of email marketers found that marketers are twice as likely to tailor their messages or promotions by audience segment (52%) than by individual (25%) (Evergage, 2018).

Read our best advice about sending effective emails:

Paid advertising

Paid advertising continues to be an effective way to reach specific audiences, but marketers need to get more creative with how they capture low attention spans. That doesn’t necessarily mean punchier ad copy; Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2017 report shows that incentive-based ads, mobile app rewards and skippable video ads are viewed positively by more than half of consumers surveys.

paid advertising

Reach

  • 71%: That’s the percentage of respondents said that ads are more intrusive now than they were three years ago (eMarketer, 2017).
  • 16%: And that’s the percentage of internet users who account for all display ad clicks (Adroll, 2018).

Engagement

  • 1 second: The average viewer spends less than a second looking at digital ads (NewsCred, 2017).
  • 3%: The average click-through rate of paid searches is 2-3%, vs 47-57% for organic searches (Moz, 2017).

Conversion

  • 50%: People who visit a website after clicking on a PPC (pay-per-click) are 50% more likely to make a purchase compared to those who clicked an organic search result (Wordlead, 2018).
  • 9%: The average conversion rate for Facebook ads across all industries is 9%. Fitness brands have the highest average conversion rate for Facebook ads (14.3%), while technology brands have the lowest (2.3%) (Wordstream, 2017).

Get started on paid advertising:

Future trends

What are the major themes affecting marketers in the months and years ahead? As a company that makes a business messenger, we keep our eyes peeled for things that will influence messaging, such as voice, chatbots, artificial intelligence and personalization.

  • 20%: A fifth of all searches on mobile are voice searches (Google, 2016).
  • Real-time marketing: Of all digital marketing buzzwords, Gartner thinks “real-time marketing” is the least overhyped – for now (Gartner, 2017).
  • 5x: Native advertising spend will reach $21 billion in 2018 from just $4.7 billion in 2013, an increase of more than 500% (Hubspot, 2017).
  • 2/3: That’s the proportion of smartphone users that are more likely to purchase from organizations whose mobile sites and apps customize information to their location (Google, 2016).

Additional research: Evelyn Clinton

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