What Is Inbound Marketing and How Does it Work?

Meg Hoppe
Posted by Meg Hoppe on June 18, 2020
What is Inbound Marketing


We’re often asked, “So, exactly what is Inbound Marketing?” For answers, we have an elevator speech; a painfully long version; the version for those who know a little; one for those who know a lot; and a version for those who are just being polite.

To all, my favorite reply is, “Inbound Marketing is creating an online vacuum that sucks in qualified leads by helping them.” 

If that’s not quite enough information to satisfy your curiosity, here’s a nutshell that explains inbound marketing and how it appeals to your ideal buyer personas. For a complete overview, check out our guide, What is inbound marketing for complex industries?

Inbound Marketing Definition 

Inbound marketing focuses on helping customers while simultaneously driving business growth. It revolves around a specific set of marketing tools and processes that allows you to attract, engage and delight prospects and customers — in short, to grow your business better. 

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

The inbound methodology matches the way today’s buyers make purchase decisions by requiring you to:

  • Look at the facts. Recognize that today, the internet is how people research, decide and buy — not just consumer purchases, but complex B2B products or services, too.
  • Focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Continually improve your best-performing content through keyword research and other inbound methodologies to help your website rank higher in search engines.
  • Emphasize user experience. Make it easy for your prospective customers to navigate your website and get answers. Eliminate friction from your prospects’ and customers’ experiences and provide interactive, personal touches so they’ll continue to look to you for answers.
  • Create valuable content that demonstrates your expertise. Make sure what's on your site answers your target audience’s questions, "What's in it for me?" and “Why you?” Add to it often. Here are some ideas that will be helpful as you develop content.
  • Convert traffic into leads, then nurture those leads. Execute a turnkey process that targets, then responds, to prospects' interests and guides them along their buyer’s journey until they’re ready to buy and beyond.
  • Build trust and credibility. Over time, prospects need to identify your company as a go-to resource for information and, by providing content that is focused on their needs instead of your own, you’ll earn their trust (and hopefully their business, too).

All these marketing methodologies are executed seamlessly with the help of marketing automation software (the best was developed by HubSpot, a highly respected leader in the field) that is fully integrated with your website CMS and CRM. 

An integrated marketing automation platform will help you attract, engage, and delight customers by creating quality content in ways that outbound marketing simply can’t. Even though much of the engagement and nurturing process is automated, it can still be highly personalized to the needs of customers through a holistic approach and customized workflows.

If you're looking for a way to visually convey the inbound marketing definition to your leadership and sales teams, here's a helpful infographic from our friends at Easel.ly. (And if you're wondering why you need organizational buy-in, we've got a resource for you on that too: What Does Organizational Buy-In Have to do With Inbound Results?)

inbound marketing definition infographicInfographic Design By Easelly

Common Online Content Marketing Strategies

The foundation of any successful inbound marketing strategy is relevant content. But even that can be broadly defined. Here are the most common types of inbound marketing content.

  • Blog posts. Connect with potential customers regularly by demonstrating your industry expertise and ability to address their pain points.
  • Case studies. Share success stories of others who’ve relied on your product or service to meet their needs.
  • Guides, eBooks. Provide in-depth information on a topic to educate and maximize lead generation.
  • Tip sheets and checklists. These quick-win pieces provide fast, actionable tips for prospects.
  • Landing pages. Entice leads to exchange their contact information for additional helpful content or relevant offer with a compelling call to action.
  • Infographics. Use visual representations for content that contains quick-win tips and supporting statistics.
  • Videos. One of the best marketing methods for capturing the attention of prospects is explainer videos, customer testimonials and more.
  • Email marketing. Nurture prospects down the sales funnel through email nurturing that’s tailored to their needs.
  • Social media. One of the best ways to spread the word about your content is through organic and paid social media campaigns.

With an Inbound Marketing agency at your side to help develop a strategy and do SEO, web design, content creation and more (Hey! I know one you should talk to!), you’ll have turned your website into the hardest working sales tool you have — and the one with the greatest ROI.

Want a deeper dive into the world of inbound marketing? Check out our online guide with everything you need to know. Just click the link below.

The life of an inbound marketing lead. Nurture your leads at every stage in the lifecycle. Download your guide.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Starting an Inbound Program

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