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What is Inbound Marketing? And How Does it Work?

Summer Nguyen | 03-16-2020

What is Inbound Marketing? And How Does it Work?

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You are trying to sell and advertise your products to customers desperately, but there is a little or no sales even when you are introducing your products via many cold calls and other media. The cost is high, while the benefit you acquire is too low. That is time you should put yourself in customer’s shoes to understand what they are caring about rather than make every effort to push their products to them.

It is the thought of inbound marketing. The marketing strategy is proven effective to both prospects and businesses by the vast offer of valuable knowledge, advice, and solution. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of inbound marketing, the way this method converts customers successfully, and clear guidelines.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is the technique to draw visitors and potential customers to your site and then to your products by using a combination of various marketing channels - content marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and branding.

Inbound marketing focuses on building a close relationship between the company and its prospects or customers by providing them with useful knowledge/ experience and other value without asking for anything in return.

What is inbound marketing?

Types of Inbound Marketing

Different types of inbound marketing Inbound marketing is considered a business strategy that focuses on attracting potential customers via content and experiences that are suitable to their needs and interests. Inbound marketing strategies come in various types, including:

  • Content Marketing: This is one of the most popular and successful types of inbound marketing strategies. It involves creating and sharing valuable content that is designed to attract the audience. Examples of content marketing consist of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts.

  • Social Media Marketing: This form of inbound marketing entails using various social media platforms to promote your brand, interact with your audience, and improve traffic to your website. Social media marketing is a great method to increase brand awareness and force a strong online presence.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO includes set of practices for optimizing your website. The purpose of SEO is to improve your appearance and rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is implemented by focusing on relevant keywords, contributing to attracting organic traffic, and increasing online visibility.

  • Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the inbound marketing types that involves sending targeted emails to your subscribers. This can include newsletters, promotional emails, and other content types that help attract your audience and drive traffic to your website.

  • Video Marketing: Video marketing involves creating and sharing videos. Video marketing can be an useful and effective way to showcase your items or services, provide educational content, and build brand awareness.

  • Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is related to partnering with influencers to promote your brand. Influencers are social media stars who have a large following on social media. Influencer marketing is an effective way to make more people know about your brand, establish credibility, and build beneficial relationships with potential customers.

  • Press Releases: Press release is a written statement that is created and shared news or announcements about your company or brand with the media and other relevant outlets. This way can help you generate buzz and attract attention to your business.

  • Affiliates: Affiliate marketing is considered a marketing arrangement. This approach partners with other businesses or individuals to promote your products or services. Affiliates contribute to your revenue by earning commissions for each sale they generate, simultaneously expanding your audience reach.

  • Ebooks: Ebooks are digital books. They help to attract potential customers and provide them with valuable information. They are a type of content that is used in the attract and convert stages of inbound marketing. Ebooks are created to provide in-depth information on a specific topic. By providing valuable information, ebooks can be used to educate your audience, provide valuable insights, and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

  • Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters: A pillar page is considered a comprehensive website page that covers a specific topic in-depth, and it is linked to a cluster of related content. It is designed to provide a broad overview of a topic and is supported by a group of related content pieces called topic clusters. This action supports positioning yourself as an industry authority, resulting in increased website traffic.

  • Newsletter: Newsletters are a form of inbound marketing that includes sending targeted emails to your subscribers. These emails can have various forms, such as newsletters, promotional emails, or other content types designed to engage the audience. The primary goal is to build and promote a relationship with subscribers, provide valuable information, and encourage them to visit your website or take other desired actions.

  • Research Reports: Research reports are a type of inbound marketing that involves conducting research on a particular topic and sharing the results with your audience. Research reports can be used to establish yourself as an authority in your industry and provide valuable insights to your audience.

Inbound marketing versus outbound marketing

Outbound marketing refers to the kind of marketing where a company initiates an offer and tries to send it out to customers while inbound marketing focuses on driving potential customers to your website, in other words, customers will find you when they need you.

Therefore, the methods of inbound marketing and outbound marketing are sharply different. Outbound marketing includes traditional forms such as TV commercials, radio ads, print advertisements (newspaper ads, flyers, brochures, etc.), trade shows, cold calls, and email spam.

By contrast, inbound marketing includes high-quality content, blogs, SEO, and opt-in email marketing, which are helpful to the readers/ recipients.

Regards to cost, outbound marketing is more associated with paid media; hence, the price for outbound marketing constitutes the majority of the marketing budget. However, regarding the effectiveness, with outbound marketing, it is difficult to track return on investment (ROI), meet blocking barriers, high cost, and low yield.

Great benefits of inbound marketing?

Increase visibility and brand awareness

In the digital world, customers are more likely to do the research themselves via multiple online channels to find out the answer/ solutions to their questions.

By producing content along with the buyer’s journey, your target audience will be able to find you and know you when they conduct their research.

If they find your content interesting or useful, they will share with their social networks, which significantly expands your visibility and brand awareness.

Quality traffic and leads

Because the goal of inbound marketing strategies is to drive customers to find you on their own by offering what they are looking for, so the traffic to your store site is high-quality with the real interest and potential to convert.

When you frequently produce valuable content to the visitors, they are likely to visit more often. And when they do, calls to action, top-notch landing pages, and other offers will help them make their decision and lead them to a conversion path.

Increase trust and credibility

Outbound marketing often interrupts or annoys people because of the sales call or email directly. People would like to research themselves and consume information with their own leisure. Therefore, inbound marketing helps stores to gain customers’ trust and pops in their mind when they are ready to make a purchase.


Inbound marketing is a more cost-effective solution compared to traditional advertising methods because it focuses on attracting customers organically through valuable content.

How does inbound marketing do to convert visitors to buyers?

Inbound marketing consists of four stages: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. In detail, the main purpose of inbound marketing is to create content that attracts strangers to become website visitors. Then, use various ways to switch the visitors into leads. Next, close leads into customers. Finally, satisfy customers after purchase to turn them into your brand promoters

How does inbound marketing do to convert visitors to buyers?

Stage 1: Attract

Attracting visitors to your store site is the first phase in the long path of conversion in inbound marketing and it is the decisive element. How many visitors come to your site, how potential to take further steps to convert them. Below are typical and effective methods to draw visitors to your store site.

Attract with blog

Every time there is one more blog post on your store site, it is more potential for you to show up in search engines and make people find you. The more pages you have, the more chances a user will find their ways to your store site. This is the way blogs draw traffic to your store site in organic search.

Blogs not only attract new visitors to the store site but also:

  • Build up trust and relationship between business and visitors

When the content is free, valuable and useful, helping readers to answer their questions, solve their problems, they are likely to assess your site, your brand is trustworthy. This will give the way for your product/ service to reach those prospects more easily in the next inbound marketing strategies.

  • Really helps SEO Blogs are really effective for SEO in search engines because it supports to improve the factors considerably which determine your rank.
  • Keep your website up-to-date: Google would prefer to index the website which is frequently richer in content.
  • Lengthen the time on site of an audience: That people click on a result and their time to stay on the page is the signal to tell Google whether the content is comprehensive and helpful.
  • Less competitive with long-tail keywords: The fact that the most relevant keywords are also the most competitive one so you have to spend a hard time competing with others to land the top search result page. Most importantly, long-tail keywords are perfectly suitable to blog posts that provide a wide range of information. The post with long-tail keywords are easier to land on page one.
  • Good opportunities to anchor internal links: Internal links help visitors navigate throughout your website. If your content is helpful, the audience will stay longer to discover more, which increases time on site and lower bounce rate. Besides, the more internal links a page has (the page is redirected to), the higher its authority and then the higher its PageRank.
  • More chances with backlinks: Backlinks (or external links) work as an introduction/recommendation of other sites to your store site. Therefore, Google will see your website as authoritative and trustworthy.

If you would like your content to reach as many visitors as possible, you should consider using SEO as a tool to support you reach the top page on search engines like Google. One of the tasks of SEO is keyword analysis to find out what people are looking for and tailor and optimize your content to show up on the search engine results page (SERP) when the users search.

Attract with Social Media

Social Media is no longer a place for people to communicate with each other. In addition, it has become a powerful marketing method to drive traffic to your store site. Consider using the right social channels to do marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on). Social channels are a good way to promote your blog content and easy to get shares, which brings the great opportunities to attract traffic.

Stage 2: Convert

The question is when the visitors come to your blog and visit your store site, how to convert them into leads with their information. The fact that no visitor is willing to share their personal information without any incentives.

At this stage, use the conversion tools such as forms, CTA button, landing pages to motivate prospects visiting your site to leave their information.

Convert with Calls to Action

A Call to Action (CTA) is a statement that encourages the audience to do something. The CTA can invite the audience to subscribe, sign up, try for free, join us or learn more, ask for a callback, etc. The similarity all the CTA types share is the effort to collect the prospects’ information such as email, job, phone numbers to turn them into leads and take care in the next stage.

Convert with lead generation landing pages

Your landing page is the special page wwi on which your visitors are potentially converted into leads with CTAs. Therefore, it is very necessary to create appealing content, eye-catching design for the landing page to motivate the willingness of the viewers to share their information with you.

Stage 3: Close

Because this goal is consumer-focused, the close process is typically a joint sales and marketing effort. Your leads should become “sales-qualified” and ready to buy by the end of this step.

This third stage is the most hopeful one when you turn your collected leads into happy buyers and collect money. At this stage, you are able to do many things to motivate the audience gradually to reach the sales goal.

How does inbound marketing do to convert visitors to buyers


Consider using a CRM Software to engage with your leads instead of using spreadsheets because:

  • Help you to assess a lead as good/ bad
  • Calculate the amount of times to close deals to manage your emails and marketing campaigns successfully
  • Provide the same level of customer data access to any employee to assist clients better
  • Locate solutions quickly thanks to retrieving all available activities of a customer
  • Generate sales reports to see opportunities and challenges to improve sales plan

Inbound Email

You should not miss using email in the inbound marketing path because this is an effective tool to communicate and keep contact with your prospects to make them become your buyers finally.

You should build up a follow-up email campaign with at least six to eight emails queued up. Different from outbound emails which try to push products to the audience, inbound marketing aims to pull users in with valuable content. Nurture your prospects with useful and free content to maintain their attention to you. It should be the content which is relevant to their need/ concern. You can consider including discount and referral codes to the emails which are the key to increase conversion rate.

Stage 4: Delight

Delighting inbound strategies is the after-sale process with the aim to ensure your purchasers to be happy and satisfied. This stage can be used to collect customers’ feedback/ reviews, and especially show that they are keeping taken care and supported well at any point of time, throughout their shopping journey.

This stage will turn your customers into loyal customers or your brand promoters.

How does inbound marketing do to convert visitors to buyers
How does inbound marketing do to convert visitors to buyers

Delight with follow-up emails

Keep going with workflows for your customers. For instance, you can write follow-up emails to offer special discounts or deals or simply aim to listen to their feedback or review. You can create follow-up email rules to send emails to customers automatically.

Continue providing customers with useful content that is relevant to them to maintain the tight contact with them. Besides, do not miss updating on the latest news in your store.

Delight with smart content

Smart content is some kind of personalized content which changes based on who is viewing it.

For example, your 2-year customer will see your homepage different from the first-time visitor. The call-to-action text “Download our tips” can be replaced by customer support text “Contact instant support”. Besides, you can create smart customer forms with relevant content changing with the viewer.

Delight with surveys and events

Create a survey to understand deeply customers’ thoughts and find out if your products/services meet their expectations properly.

The report with answers will be the basement to improve your products and serve your customers better.

Also, hosting an event with your customers is one of the best ways to meet them and listen to them directly. Events are also opening the chance for you to cross-sell and up-sell effectively.

Delight with Social Monitoring

Many businesses use social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to support customers quickly and closely. Make customers happy because they can reach you for help anytime with the most convenience.

How to create an inbound marketing strategy

The way to create an inbound marketing strategy Creating an inbound marketing strategy involves the following steps:

  • Identify your goal: When setting objectives, it’s advisable to align your business goals with your marketing goals. You should consider using SMART goals to ensure that your objectives are measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. SMART goals are goal-setting techniques that can help marketing teams clarify their objectives and identify areas of improvement.

  • Determine marketing triggers: Marketing triggers are specific actions taken by site visitors that promote an action to occur. For instance, when a visitor signs up for your newsletter or provides their contact information for a free ebook, it triggers a marketing response.

  • Formulate the buyer’s journey: By outlining the buyer’s journey or sales funnel, you can identify the right time to contact with potential clients.

  • Invest in the right tools: When you choose the right tools, you can speed up your workflows, reduce errors, and improve productivity. There are many tools available that can help businesses automate repetitive tasks, manage projects, and collaborate more effectively.

  • Build valuable content: It is really to create high-quality content. This way helps provide value to the reader, can attract visitors to your online website, and eventually convert them into customers.

  • Use different channels: By using email marketing and other channels, you can maximize your reach.

  • Review and optimize: To ensure that your content is high quality, it’s important to regularly review and optimize it.

  • Measure and analyze the results: If you want to improve your strategy, it’s important to monitor your progress and make data-driven decisions using analytics tools.

10 inbound marketing strategies

Inbound marketing strategy, which helps to increase conversion rate

  • Audience Segmentation: Divide your audience into categories based on their shared interests and needs. This will help you create targeted content that is attractive to your audience and drives engagement.

  • Survey Conduction: Conduct surveys to gather feedback from your audience. This will help you understand their needs and preferences and create content that addresses their pain points. Besides, you can use Mailchimp’s web link collector to aggregate responses and display data summaries on a console.

  • Customer Persona Establishment: Creating an avatar for your ideal customer is the primary step in establishing a compelling inbound marketing campaign. However, the dynamism of the business context needs a fluid conception of your ideal customer, developing in parallel with your company’s growth, introducing new products, and exploring novel markets. It is necessary to understand that this approach needs to be a periodic task that you update regularly.

  • SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is indispensable for online success. It is crucial to recognize that Google meticulously aligns your content with its metrics, firmly attached to the diverse search intents of users. As the online audience looks for varied information, Google evaluates multiple facets of your page to determine its ranking intricately. Importantly, SEO is not a static task restricted to the moment of publication; it demands continual refinement even after your page is live.

  • Great Content Creation: Create high-quality content that provides value to your audience. Your web pages should be accessible to everyone. This means that you need to add descriptions to images for people who can’t see them and summaries of audio content for people who can’t hear it. You should also ensure that your pages are optimized for the devices that consumers use. Finally, make sure that your content is readable on every kind of screen.

  • Social Media Engagement: Keep up with your audience on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and all the new social platforms. This will help you build relationships with your followers and increase your brand awareness.

  • Email Campaign Creation: Create email campaigns that provide value to your subscribers. This will help you attract customers and convert them into customers. Besides, when you have an inbound marketing strategy, you can use outbound marketing effectively.

  • Website Enhancement: Enhance your website to improve user experience. Therefore, it is essential to focus on U/X. This will help you keep visitors on your site longer and increase your chances of converting them into customers.

  • A/B Testing Performance: Test different versions of your content to see what works best. This way will help you optimize your content and improve your conversion rates.

  • Backlink Generation: Quality sites that anchor backlinks to your pages with relevant keywords can assist Google in discovering and indexing your content. Generate backlinks to your website to improve your search engine rankings. This will help you attract more organic traffic to your website.

Specific examples of inbound marketing

Examples of inbound marketing, which builds trust with customers

When you’re implementing any of these inbound marketing tactics into your strategy, you need to provide value to your customers. Therefore, you can establish your brand as a credible source and build trust with your customers. Let’s take a closer look at some specific examples to have a clearer view of inbound marketing.

Company blogs

Blogging is a popular inbound marketing strategy that many companies use to publish content related to their mission or purpose. Blog articles prioritize a reader’s wants and needs by providing valuable information that can help them learn something new, gain insights about industry trends, and stay updated with business events.

The best thing about writing a blog is that it’s incredibly effective, regardless of the industry.

For instance, if you own a camping and sporting goods store, you could write a blog post on hiking essentials for beginners instead of writing about your new line of hiking boots. This way is effective because although you’re not directly promoting your product, you keep the readers interested by providing valuable information. Then, you can provide helpful context about how a good pair of hiking boots can enhance their experience.

And that’s the reason why blogs are so compelling. By showing your customers that you care about them and their interests, you can establish your brand as a credible source and build trust with your customers. This can help you attract more visitors to your website, generate potential customers, and grow your business.


Although blogs are a significant part of a content marketing strategy, people consume content in various forms across the internet. One compelling example is the use of infographics, a visual medium that significantly contributes to inbound marketing.

A creative infographic design not only improves the content of an article but also becomes a useful tool that helps readers understand the subject. Even if a reader doesn’t delve into the entire article, these visually captivating images offer an insightful snapshot, providing a comprehensive overview of the primary topic. Their visual appeal not only attracts those inclined towards visual content but also reinforces the main point.

Moreover, if your article achieves ranking on Google, the associated infographic becomes valuable for individuals searching for keywords related to your content. A well-crafted and informative infographic, therefore, holds the potential to be used as a resource by others, further boosting the reach of your message.

Email newsletters

Newsletters are a potent catalyst for not only expanding your customer base but also for driving substantial revenue growth.

By consistently circulating an engaging company email newsletter, you keep your community well-informed about the content you create, the latest product news, and overarching updates about your business. This regular announcement, akin to a thread weaving through your audience, aims to create a tightly-knit community that is more likely to return to your website, establishing a foundation for enduring brand loyalty.

Effectively navigating the challenges of content marketing, particularly the limitation of distribution, is crucial. Email marketing is considered one of the most effective solutions because it provides a direct channel to broadcast relevant content to your subscribers. Additionally, when creating high-quality content, you can convert readers into buyers.

Video series

The majority would likely opt for video content if given the option between a 3,000-word article and a 10-minute video. With a compelling and engaging nature, videos have become the dominant form of communication on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter. The informative and entertaining aspects of video content have fueled this preference.

People like to watch others’ explanations, which is a popular trait, which is the reason why creating a video series is an effective way to attract potential customers through inbound marketing.

Take, for example, Moz’s successful video series, ‘Whiteboard Friday.’ In its early days, this series provided valuable tips and tricks on marketing, advertising, keyword mapping, and SEO. Over time, ‘Whiteboard Friday’ has reached millions of views, providing incredible value by providing tons of free information. This approach demonstrates how a well-crafted video series can be an outstanding inbound marketing strategy.

Successful case studies with inbound marketing

Blackline Safety

A safety device manufacturer in Canada which develops and manufactures the products and services for safety and worker monitoring is a bright example of doing inbound marketing successfully.

  • Build up lead nurturing campaigns
  • Upgrade website for better experience
  • Retargeting ads to increase conversion rate
  • Google Ads to drive more traffic and improve SEO
  • Segment email list and distribute content to appeal each persona in each stage of customer’s journey

After launching inbound marketing campaigns successfully, the company achieved impressive results:

  • Traffic to the website increased by 164 percent
  • Cost per conversion decreased by 2,047 percent
  • Conversion rate increased 1,522 % in 6 months

iOFFICE, an management software provider

iOFFICE, an management software provider in the United States focused on inbound marketing to build up customer relationships and target buyers:

  • Create high-quality content
  • Redesign website to be user-friendly
  • Email campaigns to nurture leads

By improving website experience and content strategy, iOFFICE got the increase in:

  • Website leads increased by nearly 50%
  • Marketing-to-sales qualified leads increased by 83%
  • New customer acquisition increased by 66%

Order Of Man

Order Of Man is an e-commerce store which sells items that help men lead a lifestyle of the ultimate man. However, Order of Man does not focus on selling, but they establish a community for men to become better in many aspects of life - family, business, etc. There are a lot of useful blogs and articles on the website of this store. Besides, when you subscribe to the newsletters, you’ll receive the latest blogs, podcasts and any company news to keep you always updated. The email recipients are keen on the emails because:

  • The content is actually useful
  • The email isn’t salesy, nor aggressive
  • Only a subtle mention about the store (but they keep on visiting the store, shopping and buying)

Wrap up

Inbound marketing is proven to be an effective marketing strategy for e-commerce businesses by providing valuable content and experiences tailored to each persona. Therefore, it is very natural and persuasive that inbound marketing is the powerful path to turn visitors into buyers and even promoters. Take care of each stage of inbound marketing (attract, convert, close, delight) with investment in value, and gradually your products/ service will reach your customers’ hearts.

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    A data-driven marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Summer leverages her deep understanding of customer behavior and market trends to develop strategic marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and ultimately, sales growth for our company.

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