Inbound Marketing explainer: how it works, and how to do it effectively


Defining Inbound Marketing is not such a simple task. According to HubSpot (basically the “creator” of the Inbound concept): “Inbound Marketing can be considered any marketing tactic that is based on gaining people’s interest rather than buying it.”

But what exactly is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing is a form of marketing that is based on the idea of creating and sharing content aimed at a specific target audience. You gain permission to communicate with your audience. And, in a direct way, it creates a relationship. Increasingly popular, Inbound Marketing promises to multiply leads.

Through medium and long-term strategies, Inbound Marketing invests in the production of relevant and quality content. Respecting these steps: attract, convert, approach and enchant. That is, the general idea is to attract the interest of a potential customer, turn them into a lead, convert them and, finally, retain them.

But, instead of the traditional and intrusive cold call — for example, the famous Outbound telemarketing — Inbound does not interrupt the customer’s routine. That way, it’s not inopportune. Plus, according to research from HubSpot, Inbound Marketing can be up to 63% cheaper than Outbound Marketing.

Inbound Marketing is a digital marketing strategy also known as “attraction marketing” as it is an effective way to get customers to come to your business. In this way, whoever makes the contact available to you is a potential customer who is really interested in your solutions and who can even become a promoter of your brand.

Inbound Marketing is more effective for 3 reasons:

  1. It has a lower cost with better conversion rates;
  2. Rich content is more engaging and engages people more;
  3. You can track results in real time and modify strategies when necessary.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

As the main benefit of the Inbound Marketing strategy, we could mention reaching the right audience. In addition to producing specific content for each stage of the sales funnel, in Inbound marketing, the audience is well segmented.  This way, money is invested in impacting who your consumer audience and/or potential consumers really are. A radio ad or billboard is heard and seen by many people. But, how many are really interested in your service/product? Inbound works with this assertiveness.

With it you also create a ‘rapprochement’ with the public. You don’t push your product to the buyer, but you solve their pain and help them understand how what you offer can be used to make that customer’s routine easier. The name ‘attraction marketing’ is also appropriate, as it establishes a relationship of trust between consumer and company.

Finally, Inbound Marketing is able to generate greater public engagement with the brand’s content, after all, the relationship established is based on trust and the dissemination of information and content of real value to the persona.

Inbound Marketing: Where to start?

Every Inbound Marketing strategy starts with the definition of persona and sales funnel. Having these two processes well defined is the pillar of an Inbound Marketing strategy. It is through the persona that you will know exactly who your potential customers are. With the sales funnel, you will be able to define what kind of messages and mental triggers you should use to make a sale and delight your customer.

It is worth remembering that Inbound marketing is a strategy built by multichannel and that must be combined with many other digital marketing strategies.

Content Marketing: Differentiate yourself with authority and relevance

According to a survey by Rock Content, the adoption of content marketing as a relationship strategy generates 5 times more leads for companies. Blogs, texts, videos, audios, Youtube channel, eBooks, webinars, newsletters… everything that takes your company’s content to customers should be used. Invest in quality, relevant, interesting content, and bet on different formats. Content marketing is the best weapon of Inbound Marketing.

It is also necessary to be aware of the purchase cycle and understand each phase of the process. Because the more you know your lead, the better the personalization of the content they receive.

Allied with content marketing, take advantage of tools that help improve the indexing of keywords linked to your brand. Website optimization (SEO) and paid ads, such as Google Ads, for example, are tools that will help generate traffic to your website and, consequently, leads and conversions.

The sales funnel and steps

The sales funnel in Inbound Marketing can be understood as a 5-step process:

  • Attraction;
  • Conversion;
  • Qualification;
  • Sale;
  • Loyalty.

Below, we will explain better how to structure your strategies at each stage and what resources and tools you should employ in each of them.

1. Attraction

The first stage of Inbound, attraction, is the gateway for potential customers to your business. At this stage, we can explore channels such as blogs, websites and social networks. In all of them, it is necessary to generate relevant, quality and authoritative content. So, inbound allies here are SEO and Content Marketing.

2. Conversion

Conversion is the time to get your visitor’s contact. Here, an unnamed stranger becomes your lead, providing you with an email, profession, first and last name, among other valuable data for your business. But care must be taken with the way in which this information is collected, stored and processed.

To get some of your visitors to become leads, you can use landing pages (conversion pages, in which the user exchanges their data for some quality content, such as an eBook, a spreadsheet, etc.). Your landing page can be advertised in CTAs (call-to-action), whether in website banners, pop-ups, newsletters, social networks, in short, in a multitude of channels.

3. Qualification

With your lead’s contact details, such as their email address, it’s time to nurture that lead and bring them closer so that, in the near future, they become your customer. Marketing automation is the main channel for this, with it you can customize the contact and send assertive content to lead the lead through the remaining Inbound path in your sales funnel.

4. Sale

The sale is the stage that is usually at the end of the traditional marketing sales funnel. But this is not the case in Inbound. Before we address this, however, it is important to point out that, although the sales process is not the direct responsibility of the marketing team (in most cases), the team still plays an important role in this stage.

This is where we have the connection between your lead management tool like Hubspot or RD Station and the CRM used by the sales team to track the metrics of leads and sales qualified leads (SQL).

You can have a free CRM or use a paid version of the software available on the market, but it is important that this integration is carried out efficiently, since the next step depends on the new data generated by the sales team.

5. Loyalty

Closing the sale does not end the customer cycle in Inbound Marketing. It’s time to charm that person who has already trusted your brand so that they are faithful to your solution and become a promoter of your business.

Here, after-sales service and customer success are key parts. In addition, continuing with content marketing through all the channels in which you captivated your customer is a way to keep the relationship active and show your brand’s differentials, with a focus on offering a complete experience to your customers.

In customer loyalty , it is possible to resume the process from the beginning of the funnel, taking into account the new profile of this lead. The customer can go through a satisfaction survey, receive complementary materials to the product/service and still have a window of communication open for when they have questions.

All this can be done by email and social networks, but be sure to feed your blog with content for this moment of the journey, as it can be useful when bringing the customer closer to a new offer. This cyclical model that takes the place of the sales funnel is called Flywheel Marketing.


The entire Inbound Marketing process must be closely monitored, for that, some tools are indispensable, such as CRM to follow the lead journey. In addition to it, you must have specific software for Inbound Marketing, such as HubSpot or RD Station to measure and track results. From the analysis of results, it is possible to recalculate the route, when necessary, and constantly improve your Inbound strategy.

Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot, creators of Inbound Marketing theory, wrote a book in 2010 on the subject: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs. It is a good reading option for those who want to deepen their knowledge.


About Sonja Ceri

Australian-based CMO Sonja Ceri is a regular commentator on the fast-paced media landscape. With a Masters in economics, 10 years of journalism experience and 7 years of agency Directorship, Sonja's interests go beyond text book marketing theory. Mum of one little girl. Agency Director at - a Byron Bay based agency who works with purpose driven companies, individuals and social impact Organisations. Sonja calls herself a storyteller, because that’s easier than listing social media expert, journalist, digital marketer, entrepreneur, mentor, workshop trainer, keynote speaker and opinionated blogger.

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