What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing means enticing buyers to come to you. It’s a way of meeting them where they are and engaging with them on their terms.

This strategy aims to increase the volume and quality of your leads by attracting like-minded potential buyers. It’s a method of aligning your marketing content to offer value to buyers without overtly selling a product or service.

Inbound marketing has gained popularity in recent years as buyers have taken more control over the sales process. The fuel for this strategy is helpful, creative, engaging content that nixes the sales pitch in favor of brand awareness, conversation, and shareability. Good inbound marketing should educate, inform and entertain, providing true value to the readers. When used properly, inbound marketing can be a key component of a successful marketing campaign that drives leads and sales.

Who Should Use Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing can work for most B2B marketers as a part of your well-balanced strategy. While you may not call it by the same name, inbound marketing is likely a tactic you already use. Many marketers today utilize a mixture of different types of content, across multiple platforms to connect with their buyers at each stage in the buying cycle.

So how does that relate to inbound? The idea is that creating content like whitepapers, infographics and eBooks, and blog posts and social media profiles will orient customers to your brand, bringing them *in* with targeted, subtle marketing efforts aligned to their general needs and pain points, instead of more traditional methods of 'outbound' marketing such as ads or email blasts that go *to* your buyers.

Marketers who create search-friendly content, and then promote that content through social media, opt-in email campaigns, and other methods are practicing inbound marketing.

One of the reasons inbound marketing works in the first place, is because today's buyers are demanding a more personalized, customized relationship with the businesses they buy from.

They want you to know not just their names, and where they work, but what they need. These buyers control the buying cycle, and have high expectations for brand interactions, so it's not enough to leave it at 'we're already doing inbound.' Marketers who want to build stronger relationships their buyers and drive greater revenue need to also be able to say 'we're doing inbound *well.'*

That said, don't ignore other marketing strategies when you're implementing inbound. The buying cycle is increasingly dictated by educated buyers with less time and attention to spend on research. Reaching them requires the right blend of strategies for your business, industry, and target audience.

Signs that Inbound Marketing might work well for your business:

  • You use your website to sell, or you want to
  • Your target audience uses the internet to conduct research or learn about topics you have some expertise on
  • You are looking for new ways to reach your target buyers
  • You have time — and maybe a little bit of budget — to invest in creating quality content that educates or entertains your audience
  • You understand your target buyer well enough to create personalized, relevant content that will provide a great customer experience and portray your brand as a thought leader

"Inbound Marketing yields 3 times more leads per dollar than traditional methods."


How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

Inbound Marketing uses thought leadership and education and resources to help your buyers develop a relationship with your brand. The focus is on providing helpful information, offering fun or useful tips, and generally providing content that demonstrates how much you care about your prospect's success. It offers tricks and tips, best practices, and industry guides, and it's job is to draw prospects who may or may not be looking for your company at that point in their buying cycle by appealing to them on an informative level.

These aren’t the only types of content that work for inbound, but what they have in common is that they work well at a high level to educate a prospect about the potential for a product, rather than a product or service itself. This is why you need to combine your inbound marketing methods above with the hard-sell, or ‘outbound’ marketing methods that will move prospects through the sales funnel.

Common Content and Channels Used for Inbound Marketing:

Blog posts

E-books and white papers


Social media

Guest blogging or articles

Research studies



Using inbound marketing methods with outbound marketing methods can help you better target segments of your audience, from prospects to existing clients, to specific industries and job levels.

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How Do You Implement An Inbound Marketing Strategy?

Inbound marketing is all about strategy, so start by looking at your overall marketing strategy: are you using advanced tools and software like marketing automation and data analytics? How closely aligned are your marketing and sales teams? Is your marketing multichannel? All of these things play a role in how well you can integrate an inbound marketing strategy into your overall marketing efforts.

Start with Sales

Inbound marketing is about building customer relationships, so talking to your sales team about what helps them connect with your buyers on an individual level will give you good insight into what you can do at scale to build a strong relationship with your customers, and create a streamlined buying cycle with your sales team.

Get Tech-Savvy

If you're not on board with marketing automation and data analytics, you're not only missing out, but implementing inbound marketing will be much more time consuming and much less easy to manage. Marketing automation takes the headache out of managing the more complex, multi-channel campaigns that inbound requires. Because it's so content-heavy, inbound marketing needs a robust marketing automation platform to help marketers keep up with the demands of content generation, and campaign management. Once you're automated, data analytics becomes a must. Your inbound strategy will hinge on creating the types of content that best resonate with your target audience. Tracking engagement then, becomes critical in order to gauge where prospects are in the buying cycle, what content to send next, and when to move them into your sales funnel.

Go Digital

While the idea behind inbound marketing is to draw prospects to you, you still need to be able to promote your content out in the first place. Strong web and social media presences become very important here. 66% of B2B marketers rank LinkedIn as the most effective social media platform for their business (co. You don't need a profile on every social media platform to be good at inbound - instead, focus on the platforms where your audience is most engaged with your content.

Your website is also an important asset to inbound marketing. It's the face of your brand - 94% of B2B Buyers research online before making a purchasing decision (Brafton), and more than likely, their first introduction to your brand will be your website. Test your CTAs, experiment with the placement of your content, and make use of interactive or visual media whenever possible.

Want to learn how inbound marketing can work with your overall marketing strategy?

You can use these resources to help you learn more about inbound marketing, as well as tricks and tips for getting the most out of your inbound strategy.

Marketing that can do both: Combining Inbound and Outbound Strategies

Read Blog Post

How to Maximize Inbound Marketing with Techniques you already use

Read Blog Post

The Dos and Don'ts of Inbound Marketing

Read Blog Post

The B2B Marketer's Lead Generation Field Guide

Download e-book

The Guide to Inbound Marketing and Automation

Download e-book

60 B2B Marketing Tips You Can Try Right Now

Download e-book