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Inbound Marketing Inroads in Europe: What You Need to Know

By Patrick McCaffreyJul 19, 2013

The state of inbound in marketing in EuropeAs the resident European at Kuno Creative, I was asked “What is state of inbound marketing in Europe?” My overly simplistic answer was “Great!” Little was I aware of the leaps and bounds European companies have taken to adopt and incorporate inbound marketing practices into their marketing mix.

This shouldn’t be totally surprising. The ComScore report ‘Europe Digital Future in Focus 2013’ reports Europe represents 27 percent of worldwide Internet users with an actual audience nearly double that of the US. In one year (between 2011-2012), Europe saw Internet user growth of 7 percent to a 2012 high of 408 million users. From a technical perspective, Europe has faster Internet speeds and greater population penetration levels than the US. They also utilize Internet technology at a deeper societal level, e.g. Estonia in 2005 became the first country in the world that enabled online voting for national elections.

With this level of user growth and societal adoption, supported by a superior technical infrastructure, it is not surprising Europe is quickly becoming the happy hunting ground of inbound marketers.

In its recent report titled “2013 State of Inbound Marketing, Europe Report,” HubSpot confirms this reality. From interviewing 443 marketers across Europe, HubSpot recognized Europe is adopting inbound marketing at a similar rate to the US, with 42 percent of European marketers set to increase marketing expenditure next year.

Currently, European marketers dedicate 37 percent of marketing budgets to inbound marketing, outpacing corresponding budget allocation by US companies by 4 percent.

European Challenges

In a generally stagnant European economy, inbound marketing has become recognized as an excellent source for lower cost leads. From a high level perspective, Europe looks like it’s doing well. Scratch that surface and it becomes even more interesting. (For greater insight, check out HubSpot’s report).

While it seems that Europeans have embraced the technical/tactical aspect of inbound marketing, they have yet to fully manifest inbound marketing’s philosophy/science. With a predominant focus on top of the funnel leads, European marketers have yet to fully invest in lead nurturing campaigns like their US counterparts. They test their campaigns less (49 percent admitted to no testing at all) resulting in an average conversion rate half of what you would expect in the US (5.7 percent vs 10.7 percent respectively.) They understand the main concepts but have yet to deploy the full feature set.

This HubSpot research is supported by Forester Research, which, in its research, recognizes that “while North American marketers focus more on demand generation and sales, European marketers focus equally as much on loyalty and relationship marketing.”

Looking to the Future

So what does this mean for the future of inbound marketing in Europe? In the short-term the more focused European companies will reach out and work with US inbound marketing companies for what they can offer beyond their European counterparts. Equally this is the perfect opportunity for US inbound marketing companies to establish in Europe and claim a portion of this growing market, e.g. HubSpot opened its first European office in Dublin, bringing their extensive expertise to the European market. Overall, though, the European inbound marketing industry will regionalize to successfully address the unique cultural and linguistic challenges that only Europe can offer.

On the off-chance you get asked “What is state of inbound marketing in Europe?” your answer should be “Great, and only getting better.”

Have you any experience with either conducting inbound marketing for European companies or are considering expanding into Europe? Share your experience in the comments below.

photo credit: GlasgowAmateur 


Patrick McCaffreyPatrick McCaffrey is a Marketing Technologist with Kuno Creative. Outside of work, he's typically reading, drawing or cleaning up his son's most recent mess. If you want to talk digital marketing, marketing strategy or simply what is it like to be an Irishman in Cleveland, connect with him on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.


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