The Beginner’s Guide
To Inbound Marketing
What is Inbound Marketing?....................................1-5
How Does Inbound Marketing Work?.....................6-8
How Do You Know it’s Working?.................................9
What’s All This About Content?............................10-15
Content Management Software…………………16-18
Inbound Marketing: The Plan and Process.…….19-23
Table of Contents
What is Inbound Marketing?
ou’ve heard plenty of buzz about it. You’re pretty sure you should be doing it.
But what—exactly– is inbound marketing?
It’s a holistic, fully integrated approach to building your business via the
internet, based on the Law of Attraction—the belief that like attracts like.
Using this principle, your marketing is specifically aimed at potential customers who are
already attracted to you. You have something they want or need—something they’re
searching for online. And your marketing speaks directly to that, to draw them in.
Inbound Marketing is all about connections
It’s a mosaic of techniques that use your website, blogging, social media and
email to generate and nurture leads and, of course, close sales. Everything is
interwoven, just like it is in the “real world”.
With traditional—or outbound– marketing, you’re advertising products or services
in a somewhat-targeted way — hoping someone takes notice and follows up to
connect with you.
With inbound marketing you don’t waste effort or money
“selling” your products or services to audiences that aren’t
Instead, you can specifically tailor your messages and delivery formats to reach
different segments of your audience, whether they’re in the very beginning
stages of their search for information or they’re on the verge of a final purchasing
decision. That buying cycle—sometimes called a sales funnel—follows a
predictable course with four stages:
Why are the four stages important?
Someone at the first stage needs different information than someone who’s farther
along in their decision-making process. Because inbound techniques allow you to
tightly target your marketing, you can provide the information your audience wants,
when they want it.
“Inbound marketing techniques help coordinate your internal sales and
marketing efforts, but more importantly, they connect your business with
prospective clients or customers.”
You can establish and develop ongoing relationships that retain customers and turn
them into active promoters of your business. You can even use those connections
to improve your customer services or product research/development.
The engagement process establishes your company as an authoritative, go-to
resource, far more than just a sales outlet. That reinforces your overall branding and
builds the trust that gives prospects confidence to buy.
You can sell more, more often, rather than waiting for them to
come to you.
Inbound Marketing Works. Period.
It works for B2B and B2C businesses.
It works whether you’re a global enterprise or neighborhood gem.
It works no matter what you sell or do.
According to industry giant HubSpot,
Of companies that use inbound
techniques improved lead
statistics show more than 92% of
companies that use inbound techniques
improve lead generation. Of those, 40%
improved lead generation by at least
And those aren’t just any leads. Thanks to
the Law of Attraction, they’re people
already interested in your products and
services. People can engage, and get to
know your business. You can use your arsenal of inbound marketing tools to connect and
converse with them, converting them into not just customers, but customers-for–life.
Inbound Marketing Works. Period.
Of marketers are maintaining or
increasing inbound budgets
57% of marketers acquired
customers from blogging
44% of marketers acquired
customers from Twitter
52% of marketers acquired
customers from Facebook
62% of marketers acquired
customers from Linkedin
57% of marketers acquired
customers from their blog
Inbound vs Outbound Cost Per Lead
With inbound marketing you don’t waste effort
or money “selling” your products or services to
audiences that aren’t interested.
Marketers are shifting their budgets away from
Inbound Marketing tactics don’t just generate
leads. They generate revenue
Source: HubSpot “120 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts & Graphs”
How Does Inbound Marketing Work?
There are two things for certain:
People don’t like to be pestered. They want to gather
information when they want it, rather than having sales
messages pushed at them, as is generally the case with
Whopping numbers of people now ignore TV and print
ads, and are on the “do not call” list.
Inbound marketing attracts prospects because it meets
them at their point of interest, on their schedule. It puts
them in control, where they’re more comfortable.
The other reason is trust.
People won’t buy from you unless they believe you’re a respectable business with reliable
products or service.
T R U S T
Inbound helps you systematically establish a comfortable, trust-based relationship with your
target audience, to build traffic and generate sales. Here’s how:
It attracts online users, drawing them to your website—
usually via search results. Effective content strategy and
well-researched SEO techniques ensure your business
shows up as close to the top of the page as possible in
Just like any marketing, you can use those calls-toaction (CTAs) to encourage visitors to take the next
step—”sign up here” or “click here” — encourages
visitors to take the next step. They share their contact
data and become a lead — a warm one at that.
You’ll convert each lead from shopper to buyer by giving
them what they want in the form of relevant, timely,
context-appropriate content. You can nurture leads and
convert them to buyers entirely online or pass qualified
leads to your sales reps at the right time.
Building loyalty is the key to profitability.
Attracting new customers is important. But where inbound marketing really shines is its
ability to create ongoing conversations with existing customers that build strong, lasting
relationships and drive additional sales (both repeat purchases and value-added products
You re-attract and retain interest by providing continuing relevant content via your blog, enewsletter, emails, etc.—all of it personalized, just the way your audience wants it.
Inbound marketing needn’t be an entirely-internet-based process. Millions of businesses use
it to drive traffic into their stores and offices. And you can very effectively use inbound to
cross-sell with your in-store promotions or traditional print or broadcast advertising.
It’s the definition of “versatility”.
How do you know it’s working?
How do you know it’s working? Inbound marketing gives you highly detailed
analytics you can use to track how people respond to your online marketing. You
can see the different sources:
Search Results Page
You can also see how long they’re there, which pages they visit after, and so on.
You can see exactly what’s working for you and what isn’t, based on your specific
goals. Not driving traffic from social media? Try posting a few times a day or posting
a new article multiple times...
And you can see all this information in real-time, to quickly make alterations that
drive even more traffic and attract people farther into your sales pipeline. Inbound
gives you agility you can’t get anywhere else.
What’s all this about “Content”?
Shopping is actually an information-gathering process, whether someone’s looking
for a new outfit, a new accountant or parts suppliers for their manufacturing facility.
“Content” is the material you make available online to provide shopping information
your prospects want.
The most important thing to remember is that content value is in the minds of your
prospects and customers. It’s not about what you want to say or sell. You have to
think like your audience to provide delicious, timely content that’s exactly what
they’re hungry for.
And you have to put that content where they’re looking, so it’s literally just a click
away when they’re ready for it.
How do you know what they want?
A popular trend is to create a “persona” for each of your key types of customers.
Personas are imaginary individuals who represent each customer’s relevant attributes.
To create a persona, ask yourself:
Who they are—typical age, gender, where they live, pertinent lifestyle or workrelated functional details
How they consume information—written work, pictures, video, or all three
How they’re searching—from their desktop, from mobile devices?
You also want to consider where they are
in the purchasing funnel. Using your
personas as a guide, you can formulate
content that educates, to satisfy their
initial research. You can engage
prospects with ongoing conversation and
participation, guiding them through their
decision-making stages toward a point of
And once they buy, you can continue to
embrace them with personalized
engagement, so they become repeat
There are different types of content delivery channels
You have to provide a comfortable user-friendly experience
for visitors, or they’ll quickly leave. Make sure your website’s
navigation is easy to find and follow, without visual clutter.
Include obvious links to your blog and social media sites.
If people can’t easily find you when they’re searching online,
you’re out of luck. That’s where search engine optimization, or
SEO, comes in. When you type something into your browser,
search engines like Google scour the internet almost instantly,
using a complicated algorithm to find citations that best
match whatever you type. That’s why keywords are so critical.
If your online content doesn’t include the words people use to
search for your products or services, you’ll never show up in
the results. End of story.
Blogging is widely considered the single-most valuable
inbound marketing technique, beyond having a good
website. You can use your blog to discuss news about your
company or industry, provide useful tips and how-to
information about your products and services. You’ll want to
include links leading to and from your blog content. Once you
“humanize” your company you will find more customers and
social media contacts who are willing to share your story.
Social media interactions are great for sharing snippets of
information and links. Your posts should be things people can’t
resist sharing. Social media interactions also help build
ongoing engagement with prospects and customers. You can
learn more about them, conduct surveys, collect content
topic ideas, etc.
You can utilize mass emails to broadcast your message to a
certain list of your customers and prospects. You can also
create nurturing campaigns leading them down the funnel to
the next stage and ultimately to a purchase.
There are different types of content formats
Aside from your blog, popular content options are:
While original content is important, you don’t have to create everything
Curation—re-sharing someone else's content– creates links to other thoughtleaders and authority sites, which reflects well on you.
Repurposing your own original content is another smart way to get more
mileage from good material. Turn a series of related blog articles into
whitepaper or e-book or webinar content into an infor-graphic. Curation saves
time and builds relationships with other content producers.
Content success comes from diversity and balance. Changing it up with
different formats keeps things interesting.
Content helps other people sell for you
For all the marketing you do yourself, third-party
recommendations always carry more influence with shoppers.
After all, people expect you to say good things about your
company and products, but an “outsider” appears unbiased.
The reviews and referrals you attract online are a tremendous
Of companies that use
inbound improve lead
You don’t have to do it all at once.
You don’t even want to. Content marketing is an ongoing
process, so it’s constantly evolving. And there is so much
Of those companies,
40% improved lead
generation by 75%
opportunity, it can be overwhelming when you’re new to it. The
key to success and sanity is to start small and work your way up.
Start a blog. And pick a major social media platform—Google+,
Facebook or Linkedin—that reflects your customer profile. Set up
a publishing schedule that’s not over ambitious, so you can stick
Quality and consistency trump quality and randomness.
Content management software is your new best friend
Thankfully, some savvy techies have created content management software that
can make your online marketing life so much easier. These applications are
comprehensive and fully integrated,. They allow you to create great content,
target it and publish it when and where it will be most attractive to and engaging
to prospects in those all-important conversations (that ultimately lead to sales
and lasting loyalty).
Content management software is automated and
coordinated, making your online and in-person
marketing efforts more efficient and more
But the best part is analytics—the critical area
where traditional advertising falls woefully short but
inbound marketing truly stands out.
Your software choices
You can see what’s working and what isn’t. If you
pay attention, you can’t go wrong. You can gather
detailed, useful information, right away. Use it to
keep refining your marketing content and delivery
choices. Ditch what’s not working and do more of
what’s producing tangible results.
There are several content management software
can keep your online
and on-track to save
packages available. To varying degrees, they all
include components that help you improve SEO, create
content, build landing pages and contact forms and
nurture leads using email. And they all have extensive
HubSpot is widely used by both B2B and B2C
marketers. It includes blogging and social media
Marketo is a popular program that includes a social
media component, along with a tool that helps
market your events.
Pardot and Eloqua are strong B2B oriented programs
with components that focus more on scoring leads
and managing online marketing campaigns
“29.8% of companies using
HubSpot have increased the traffic
to their site more than 100%”
Source: HubSpot 2013
The platform you choose for your inbound marketing must be open-source
and dynamic. Requirements include:
Ease of internal updating
Analytics and CRM integration
We recommend HubSpot for inbound marketing software. For comparison
HubSpot vs Eloqua
HubSpot vs Pardot
HubSpot vs Marketo
You Need a Plan
Remember Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat? He wisely informed Alice that if she
didn’t know where she was going, any road would do. If he were here today, he
would tell you that a strategic plan can do more to improve your marketing than
any amount of clever content.
Because your content can’t be effective without being strategically focused. And
you can’t take advantage of inbound marketing’s outstanding targeting
opportunities unless you know who you’re trying to reach.
You need a plan that’s tailored to your needs and scaled to fit your business. Scale
matters because you have to work your plan to see the results. So, implementing it
has to be manageable based on the time and personnel commitment you’re able
Start with your goals in mind
What are your overall business goals? Increased sales? Expansion, either in terms of
products or services you offer or in terms of geographic distribution? The point of
marketing is to achieve those goals, so your marketing plan has to be aligned with
Remember that inbound marketing is based on relationship-building,
not just racking up immediate sales. Remember, too, that you have
several different customer segments, based on your various personas
as well as where they are in their buying cycle. Your marketing plan
should reflect that, so you’re working to build ongoing engagement
and long-term customer loyalty that will drive future sales.
Most importantly, your objectives have to be actionable and
measureable so you can evaluate your progress. Whether you call
them benchmarks, key performance indicators or something else,
you need specifics against which you can compare your marketing
results. Inbound Marketing provides you with a wealth of information,
but all analytical data in the world won’t help you if you don’t know
what success looks like.
Inbound marketing is a process
Armed with your strategic plan and implementation tactics,
you’re ready to put inbound marketing to work. The key to
success is creating great content and regularly reviewing and
analyzing how that content is performing for you, based on the
metrics you’ve chosen.
Because you can see this information almost immediately,
you’ll quickly know if you need to make changes. Over time,
you can learn a great deal about your target audiences—
information that will help you further refine your marketing
and even your products.
So, while you can see right away if you’re attracting and
engaging the right people, the greatest value will come from
the long-term relationships you create with customers. This is
where inbound marketing succeeds and traditional
marketing falls off.
You don’t have to go in alone
You probably don’t do your own legal or accounting work. In the
same way, teaming up with an inbound marketing professional can
bring you better results, fast. Digital marketing is a highly complex field,
one that’s constantly evolving and understanding the nuances takes
With an expert at your side you can focus on your own core business
responsibilities, confident that you’re getting sound advice—and any
amount of assistance you need—to build a productive inbound
Even if you have an in-house sales and marketing team, an outside
expert can work with them to devise an online plan that strategically
supports the rest of your marketing, ensure everything you do online is
exactly on target, and evaluate the results. They can help you avoid
common mistakes and make the most productive use of your time.
Inbound marketing is not just useful…
It’s essential for success in today’s marketplace. Any marketplace,
whether your prospects and customers are very local or they encircle
It’s a building process, so you can expect to make incremental
progress—attracting friends and fans, engaging them with your
content and getting to know them better—as you guide them to buy.
As time goes on, you’ll be able to turn those customers into dedicated fans who
not only continue to buy, but become a new sort of marketing team, sharing their
excitement about your content, your company and products with their own
networks of friends.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed. You can start small and expand your
inbound marketing program as you become comfortable with the process. But be
And have fun with it.
Scott A. Miller
Scott Miller is an Inbound Marketing
Author, Strategist and Consultant.
He founded Marketing Matters in 1996
and leads a team of Inbound
He invented the Einstein Inbound
Assessment & AGI Pyramid.
His clients realize unusually high,