What Is Inbound Marketing (Strategies and Campaign Guide)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

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Inbound marketing is the process of attracting customers to your brand or company. It is an effective marketing strategy to grow leads, increase site conversions and establish your brand as a trusted authority in your niche. If a career in digital marketing interests you, then understanding how this marketing methodology works can work to your advantage during interviewing and also later at the workplace. In this article, we discuss inbound methodology in marketing, its stages, popular strategies and provide a step-by-step guide to implement a successful inbound marketing campaign.

Related: How To Become A Freelance Digital Marketer: A Complete Guide

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a type of digital marketing that aims to attract visitors and potential customers to your company, rather than outwardly promoting a product or service to target customers. Unlike traditional outbound marketing that advertises to customers, the inbound methodology focuses on creating the right reasons for customers to reach out to your brand or company. It is a strategic approach that pulls in the target audience by creating valuable content that aligns with their needs.

Digital marketers execute inbound campaigns by using a combination of various marketing strategies like search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing, and social media marketing to attract the target audience's attention. Generally, the objectives of an inbound campaign are to increase brand reach, drive quality traffic, increase customer engagement and boost conversions. Here are a few popular examples of inbound marketing channels:

  • creating relevant, valuable and informational content for your target audience by blogging on your company website

  • running social media marketing campaigns with influencers

  • building user-generated content on social media by conducting giveaways, competitions

  • video or blogging content hubs offering how-to-guides, webinars, tutorials, white papers, case studies and other related product information

Related: What Is The Difference Between Sales And Marketing?

Stages of inbound marketing

The inbound methodology creates meaningful content to build long-lasting and trusted relationships with leads and customers. It focuses on producing high-quality content that attracts visitors, nurtures leads and closes deals. It has four standard stages:

  • Stage 1: Attract. This step turns strangers to your brand into first-time visitors. It aims to attract the right audiences who are likely to be interested in your products or services.

  • Stage 2: Convert. In this step, you convert casual site visitors into leads by getting their contact information. Most brands collect customer information by offering them something in return like an introductory discount or a free e-book.

  • Stage 3: Close. The objective of this stage is to close the deal with leads generated in the previous step. This stage also focuses on converting one-time buyers into repeat buyers.

  • Stage 4: Delight. This step aims to build customer loyalty by offering them the best customer experience. Offering free shipping or extra discounts to repeat customers can help in boosting their brand loyalty.

Popular inbound marketing strategies

Here are some of the popular inbound strategies that you can use to build brand awareness, generate leads and close sales:

  • Blogging: Writing relevant and helpful blog articles on your company website can help address the pain points of target personas. It also helps in boosting organic traffic to your site.

  • Advanced content creation: White papers, e-books, how-to guides, interactive calculators are types of advanced content that help in guiding existing leads deeper into the sales funnel. Marketers can create one advanced content monthly, especially in the beginning stages.

  • Video marketing: Videos help spark the interest of leads and educate the audience about the value of your products or services. It can include product demos, usage tutorials, testimonials, video blogs, short reels and case studies.

  • Email marketing: Emails help promote other forms of content to existing subscribers and provide customised content tailored to each user's preferences. Timely emails help progress leads through the various stages of the sales funnel.

  • Search engine optimisation: SEO helps to increase your organic reach. Website user experience optimisation, keyword research, on-page and off-page SEO are popular SEO strategies used in inbound lead generation.

Related: Types Of Online Marketing Jobs (With Salaries And Duties)

How to get started with a successful inbound campaign

The more you invest in high-quality content, the higher the chances of bigger returns. Here are a few steps that can help you build a successful inbound campaign for your business:

1. Identify buyer personas

The buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of the ideal customer. A business can have various buyer personas based on its target demographics. Identifying buyer personas makes it easy to tailor your content marketing strategy to suit different customers. You can then create the right content to identify and solve customer problems.

2. Fix your marketing objectives

The next step is to define what you aim to achieve with the inbound methodology and when you expect to see the results. While setting objectives, you can follow the SMART principle: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Start by measuring the ability of your website and social media channels to attract leads and convert traffic. Some of the key metrics to measure include:

  • number of unique website visitors

  • number of times users clicked a specific call-to-action

  • number of times users filled up a form

  • number of inbound leads per month

  • sources of traffic (whether it comes from SEO, blogs, PPC, email or social channels)

  • number of successful sales from website traffic

Once you have chosen the metrics, you can then compare them with the same metrics after executing the campaign to identify if your marketing strategy was a success.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition And Examples

3. Build a list of keywords

The next step is to understand how people search for your company, brand, products and services. Keyword research helps you identify the search phrases that customers use to discover your products or similar products on the internet. Once you have identified the keywords, you can create keyword-rich content that adds value to your users and solves their pain points. Remember that keywords are used organically in the content and not overused.

4. Create content for every stage of the customer buying journey

Marketing experts divide the customer buying journey into three phases:

  • Top-of-the-funnel awareness: In this stage, customers are searching for general information about a product or subject. They are not actively looking for a specific brand.

  • Middle-of-the-funnel awareness: In this stage, customers are usually aware of your brand and are pursuing what it is like to do business with you.

  • Bottom-of-the-funnel awareness: Customers at this stage are looking for more detailed information about the benefits, features and functions of your product.

Inbound methodology creates content for all these three stages. To reach leads at the top-of-the-funnel, brands can create social media posts, videos, infographics, blogs and white papers to reach out to a large audience. Targeted newsletters, e-books, customised emails, case studies, blogs and white papers work well for leads in the middle-of-the-funnel. Live demos, free trials and discounted deals can help convert leads at the bottom-of-the-funnel to paying customers.

5. Build a lead generation and nurturing process

Automation can help provide leads with the right information when they need it, thereby converting cold leads into paying customers. For example, you can send a series of automated emails at specific times reminding leads of special offers, or you can further educate them about the benefits of your product using email newsletters. Retargeting ads are also a part of the lead nurturing process. It targets relevant online ads to customers who have previously visited your site but left without making a purchase.

6. Build a team of inbound experts

Successful inbound campaigns require a team of marketing experts with diverse skills. Depending on the resources available and budget, you can build an in-house team of marketing experts or outsource the marketing strategy to a specialised digital marketing agency. Irrespective of whether you outsource the campaign or execute it in-house, your inbound team requires the following experts:

  • marketing strategists

  • web data analysts

  • graphic designers

  • blog writers

  • search engine optimisation experts

  • front and back-end developers

  • email marketers

  • social media marketers

  • copywriters for PPC ads

  • email newsletter writers and email marketers

  • project managers

Related: Top 10 Marketing Positions (With Salaries And Job Duties)

7. Create a content calendar

Once you have assembled the team, the next step is to create a content calendar. The content calendar has a schedule of when to publish which content to engage with your target audience continually. By posting a variety of content regularly, you can address customer questions and pain points. This helps make your brand relevant to the audience, establishing your brand identity as a trusted thought leader in the industry. Additionally, identify the right platforms to reach your audience. Popular inbound platforms include social media channels, company blogs, video publishing sites and email newsletters.

8. Execute the campaign, analyse results and optimise

Set aside time every week to analyse the results of your inbound campaign. Measure the campaign's performance based on the metrics identified in step 2. This helps you identify which parts of the campaign are working and which parts require further optimisation. Regular optimisation of campaign strategies can help you improve results and returns.

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