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How to develop an effective inbound marketing strategy

Written by Paul Mortimer

28 | 12 | 19

Inbound Marketing  |  
10 minute read

At the inaugural UK HubSpot User Group (HUG) event, Rikki, our Director, opened up the event and spoke about how to craft an inbound marketing strategy.

You can take a look at the video blog post and transcript of Rikki's presentation.

Although very useful, a lot has changed since then. So, we’re going to give you the updated ins and outs of how to plan and develop an effective inbound strategy.  

  • Recap on inbound
  • Say goodbye to the funnel…
  • Get your buyer personas sorted
  • The buyers’ journey needs some love too
  • SEO
  • Content
  • Social
  • GDD
  • Now to convert all that traffic...

Recap on inbound

Inbound marketing is all about gaining the trust of would-be customers by giving them helpful advice and insights for free. When they’re ready to purchase, they’re more likely to already trust your business as there’s already that familiarity. 

You continue to market your business by earning a lead's trust. When the time comes to make a purchase, they already have a relationship with you so are more likely to choose your company.

Inbound is a better way to market, a better way to sell and a much better way to serve customers - all to help your company grow in the long-term. We recommend that you read this blog to put you in a better position to get started.

Say goodbye to the funnel...

flywheel replaced the funnel in inbound marketing

The Flywheel is in town now. So, how does it work? Well, we Attract people to our business with our wonderful inbound marketing efforts and this gets the Flywheel spinning. 

If the friction during the journey from marketing content to sales conversions is minimal, there’s plenty of energy being put into the Flywheel. The Flywheel picks up pace.

Once there’s a sale, we shouldn’t forget to continue Delighting these customers. Hence, the Delight phase of the Buyer’s Journey is so important. Check out how Brian Halligan explained it at INBOUND 18. 

Why not take a more in-depth look at it by clicking here? You can even have a listen to our podcast where we interviewed Jon Dick, the Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot. He makes it super easy to digest.

Get your buyer personas sorted


Before jumping in, you need some proper buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your best customers.

It's tempting to rush this research process. It's also tempting to create a persona of who you’d like your ideal customers to be. Instead, spend the time making sure your buyer persona is thorough and accurate.

What you’re making is a complete profile of a small number of your customers. Usually, just three is enough. And the content of these personas is based on you or your client's own experience, what you know already about current customers, third-party research that you can find and, if possible, interviewing current and potential customers.

Personas not only define your buyers’ interests, demographic and general behaviour but it can also help to identify their overall decision-making style. Here are some things you need to identify for your buyer persona: 

  • Their roles and responsibilities.
  • Their challenges.
  • The goals they want to meet.
  • What pain points they face daily, weekly and generally speaking.
  • How they discover and learn new things (blogs, videos, downloads, TV, social media habits).
  • Objections they would have to your product/service/brand.

When you've spent some time defining your buyer personas, you can start understanding their journey. 

The buyer’s journey needs some love toobuyers journey important part of the inbound marketing

This is what customers go through in the cycle of realising they have some sort of problem that needs resolving and deciding to purchase a resolution. 

The buyer’s behaviour has shifted - they hold all of the power. Not the seller. Thanks to everybody having a world of information at their fingertips via their smartphone, buyers are now more educated than salespeople.

Think about when you last upgraded your smartphone, bought a car or chose which new restaurant to try…you’ll have done varying amounts of research online. You know reviews, technical info, menus and whatever else is all available on the internet. You also know that a salesperson for each of your options is likely to recommend themselves.

In a nutshell, that’s how the Buyer’s Journey has evolved thanks to the power of a quick Google search.

You need to plan an inbound strategy which targets all four stages of the Buyer’s Journey. Otherwise, you simply won't be able to generate enough leads. So, naturally, plan content which addresses all the stages.

If you neglect this, they’ll find the content from other sources and be marketed to by other inbound-savvy businesses who’ll have a head start on you. Here are the stages explained a little further:


The individual is first aware of their problem.

  • Thought leadership eBooks.
  • Educational blogs.
  • Industry reports and analysis.
  • Downloadable guides.
  • Troubleshooting tips.
  • Infographics.


The individual is well aware of their problem and they’ve suitably defined it. Now, they want to understand what can help them solve their pain points.


  • Podcasts.
  • Webinars.
  • How-to videos.
  • Online Q&A’s.
  • Technical blogs.
  • Expert eBooks with actionable steps.
  • Downloadable tools.


The prospect has clearly educated themselves and defined their problem. They’re aware of solutions and now need to decide on one. They’re far more likely to trust you if you satisfied them in the previous two stages.

  • Free trials.
  • Demos.
  • Competitor comparisons.
  • Client case studies.
  • Product data sheets.
  • Price guides.
  • Service Level Agreements.


This is where you exceed a customer’s expectations to create a positive experience with your brand. It shows you’ve gone above and beyond to create a memorable experience through things like gifts, promotions, discounts or even spontaneous outreach so they become raving promoters about your brand. 

By fostering this emotional connection, customers are more likely to be loyal to you in the long-term.

  • Follow-up emails.
  • SMART content.
  • Surveys.

Delighting customers is an integral part of the inbound methodology and the most crucial part of significant business growth in the 2020s.


digital 22 content team in office

Your blog titles and content should include the searched keywords that you want to target. But they should be included as secondary to the main aim of blogging.

The main aim of blogging as part of an inbound strategy is to provide useful content which users will respect and enjoy. This is how you can then earn their trust enough to move them along the buyer's journey and become a customer.

Always prioritise quality information and value over red herrings and sales talk.

You should also be closely aligning your blog content with your personas:

  • Pain points (empathise with and solve them).
  • Challenges (understand and be considerate).
  • Goals (how to reach them).
  • Interests (be relatable).
  • Research habits (do they have time for a 2,000 word blog post?).

TIP: Make sure to conduct content audits. It's important your content is always relevant, interesting and valuable to your customers - otherwise, they'll stop engaging with your brand. 


seo increases traffic for your inbound campaign

Do you have a website but nobody’s finding it? Search engines are vast places and they’re expanding as more businesses are going online. With SEO, you maximise your chances of being found by customers when they are searching for a product or service. 

We know you already know this but we just need to say it again. It's not all about making sure the content on your website has matching keywords your customers are typing into search engines.

There are so many factors search engines consider when ranking websites; this is why it’s so important to ensure your website is optimised.

Investing in SEO makes sure every aspect of your website is well tuned and helps your business succeed online. SEO is a long term investment so that’s why some businesses prefer an agency to do the work for them because they simply don’t have the resources or experience.

Just like any skill, if you have the time to learn the basics you can do some of your own website maintenance. Here’s how you can do the basic SEO work on your website:

  • Do research and find the best keywords to describe your business. These keywords will be important for the content you write for your website. 
  • Meta tags refer to the title and description of each individual page of your website. You can improve your SEO by including keywords in your meta titles and descriptions. 
  • The content on the pages of your website should include keywords to help search engines understand what your site is about. 
  • A link from one website to another is seen as a vote or recommendation in the eyes of a search engine, so websites with a lot of ‘recommendations’ appear higher in the results.
  • Once you have done the basics, you can work on other features that will help improve your SEO

Social media

social media with inbound marketingFirstly, it should be a given that you need to share your content via your social media accounts in order for people to view it. This is your means of getting your content out there to cold leads and a new audience before SEO starts to take effect.

Again, use your well-researched personas to make sure your social sharing:

  • Is on the right networks.
  • At the right time.
  • In the right tone.

If you know what audiences are discussing and searching, you can create more content which is satisfying their needs.

Rather than constantly (and autonomously) shouting about your latest amazing eBook, become part of the conversation within your industry on social media. You can learn more about making your inbound marketing strategy effective alongside inbound here.

Growth-Driven Design

To get the most out of your website’s marketing efforts, then combining inbound marketing with Growth-Driven Design (GDD) is the route to take. With GDD, you get a website that continually improves using measurable data without losing leads and customer interest.

The GDD process can be broken down into three distinct stages: blueprint, build the engine and performance tuning. You can learn more about its rightful place alongside inbound marketing  or read the entire book on it here.

Now to convert all that traffic...

See what content you already have and make sure it’s in line with your keyword research and buyer persona knowledge. We most often find that if any of our clients have existing content, it’s aimed at the Decision stage users.

What you produce for each stage will be different depending on your services, industry and persona habits. Also, different content types can be used in multiple stages.

CTAs: A top tip for better success is to choose your CTAs to best match the user’s Buyer’s Journey stage and context as much as possible. For example, don’t put a price guide CTA (Decision Stage content) on an inspirational, Awareness Stage blog post. Instead, offer them something which transcends the Awareness-into-Consideration Stage gap.

Online support and chatbots: Connect with your customers on a whole new level. 80% of marketing automation users see increased leads and 77% see increased conversions. By having a chatbot on your website, you’re allowing visitors to engage with you and your team whenever they want. For more information on chatbots, check out this blog to see how they can help. 

Paid campaigns: It brings in quick, short term boosts of traffic and is important for testing out the effectiveness of copy, Call-to-Action designs and landing page effectiveness. You can also target paid ads which catch people using short tail keywords and pick up those who are already in the decision stage. 

Granted, this is pretty much PPC rather than inbound-related-PPC, but it should still be based on the inbound keyword research and buyer persona knowledge. There's lots of scope for using PPC Ads as part of an inbound strategy.

So, I know it feels like a lot but we’ve only just touched on the fundamentals. There’s so much more to learn and to help grow your own knowledge, we’ve got the new and improved Inbound Marketing Handbook.

Develop your own effective inbound marketing strategies now 

To really amplify your efforts and achieve those inbound marketing objectives, download our new guide ‘Inbound Marketing 2.0’. You’ll build upon your knowledge of inbound with key info on things like inbound processes, statistics, personas, goals and much more. 

If you’re interested in knocking your marketing goals out of the park, click the link below to get started. 

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This blog was originally written by Paul Mortimer. It was updated for 2020 by Molly Johnston.