Val Stepanova
By:  Val Stepanova

Published: March 22, 2023

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Last Updated: October 16, 2023

Why Inbound Is My Favorite Form of Marketing

In this article

I often hold consultations with startup founders. The usual conversations start like this — they tell me: “We are product people. We have no ideas what to do. Where do we start?” Here’s what I tell them:

Since its formal inception in 2005, inbound marketing — a concept Brian Halligan helped shape and define — has proven to be a game changer. Nowadays, many progressive companies make it a priority. We'll explore why.

What is inbound marketing?

According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.

With inbound, you guide potential prospects through the marketing funnel with relevant content. By gradually exposing them to this content, you build up interest in your brand and increase the likelihood of converting them into customers.

What elements go into inbound marketing? As Joe Chernov writes in his eloquent article The Difference Between Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing, content is inbound’s lifeblood.

Other components necessary to build a successful inbound strategy include website optimization, lead nurturing, analytics, SEO, and social media.

Keep in mind that inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing. The latter interrupts the audience with often not-so-relevant content (think TV commercials and paid ads). Since we're all bombarded with advertising messages throughout the day, we learn to tune out the noise.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, involves using helpful and relevant content to engage your audience and provide answers to their problems. In essence, for a successful inbound strategy, you need to:

  1. Understand your target audience
  2. Identify what keeps them up at night
  3. Offer valuable content on how to solve their challenges
  4. Be timely in delivering this content

For the latest and greatest on all things inbound, check out HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Trends Report.

How does the flywheel fit into inbound marketing?

The HubSpot Flywheel is a marketing approach highlighting the critical role of providing exceptional customer experiences in building organizational momentum.

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  • The mechanics of the HubSpot flywheel

A key part of this approach is propelling the flywheel by developing and implementing strategies that concentrate on customer acquisition and retention, which creates the driving force for the flywheel.

By contrast, friction refers to elements that interfere with the movement of the flywheel. One of the major causes of friction is the lack of smooth interactions between teams. This means that focusing on effective communication and collaboration across various departments is crucial to maintaining a continuous smooth motion of the flywheel.

  • The inbound methodology's impact on the HubSpot flywheel

Employing the inbound methodology allows marketing, sales, and service teams to create momentum and minimize friction throughout the Attract, Engage, and Delight phases. To achieve this, you should pay close attention to reducing the friction that slows down the flywheel.

During the attract phase, marketing typically takes the lead by creating content and running various PR and advertising campaigns. The sales team can contribute at this stage by participating in social selling, while the customer service team can reach out to existing customers for potential referrals.

  • HubSpot’s flywheel as a driver for long-term growth

Once you acquire your client base and consistently engage and delight them, these customers can maintain the flywheel's momentum by endorsing your organization and drawing in new customers.

If the flywheel is in motion and operates smoothly, it enables your company to continue to grow without continuously investing in customer acquisition.

With inbound, you build credibility

Audiences are aware that traditional advertising (i.e., TV Ads) can make exaggerated claims.

In contrast, an article written from an objective perspective that offers valuable advice and provides a solution to a problem carries credibility. You're saying to people, "Hey, we're here to help you. We want you to have all the information at your disposal. Here are some solutions to your problems."

Informational content shows your audience they can trust your brand. It also establishes you as a subject-matter expert without resorting to hard-sell tactics.

Here’s a personal example – early in my career, when I was just getting started with content marketing, I was hungry for information. I discovered HubSpot articles that offered in-depth information on content marketing and SEO. HubSpot’s content helped me build my career.

At the time, I didn’t know that HubSpot offered a marketing automation system, CRM, CMS, and other tools. Once I learned and test-drove HubSpot’s products, I started recommending them to my clients. I took HubSpot from company to company and implemented HubSpot tools to help companies grow.

What HubSpot did is they earned my trust first. Since that time, I’ve been following the inbound marketing strategy. Also, I’ve been recommending HubSpot to all my clients (it is an exceptional product, including HubSpot CMS, designed for marketers).

Why is inbound marketing effective?

Inbound marketing is a departure from more conventional marketing (tradeshows, paid ads, etc.) and is much more effective. According to Outbrain:

  • Leads generated by inbound marketing are 60% cheaper than leads generated by outbound marketing.
  • Also, 80% of business decision-makers say they'd prefer to learn about a brand through articles more so than an ad.
  • A properly executed inbound marketing strategy has a 10x higher conversion rate.

I always say that inbound is the gift that keeps on giving. When built out correctly, you generate leads and customers for free while you sleep (and during the day, for that matter :).

It's about give and take. But first – give a lot

Clearly, selling your product is essential to the success of your business. However, it's equally important to demonstrate to your potential customers that they are more than just a means to an end. By providing valuable content that isn't solely focused on making a sale, you can establish a deeper connection with your audience and show them that you genuinely care about their needs.

With inbound, your customer is in control. They are free to choose whether or not to use your product or service without feeling pressured. It’s on you to build high-quality content that encourages a reader to take action.

Think of inbound marketing as an investment in your brand's future. The benefits might not be immediately apparent, but over time you'll start to recognize the benefits and the cost-efficiency are hard to beat.

HubSpot CMS makes it easy to build an inbound marketing machine

HubSpot CMS is a great tool for building an inbound marketing strategy for several reasons:

  1. HubSpot CMS is the only CMS on the market designed specifically for marketers. Packed with built-in features to support an inbound marketing strategy, it allows you to easily create landing pages with drag-and-drop modules, track CTAs for effectiveness, and add in forms so you can optimize for lead generation and conversion. It comes with all inbound marketing bells and whistles, including SEO recommendations for content and in-depth content analytics.
  2. HubSpot CMS is built on top of HubSpot CRM, a free tool that enables teams to easily track their leads, prospects, and customers. The platform records every action visitors take on your HubSpot website in their CRM records. This allows you to determine how visitors found your website and what products spark their interested. Based on that, you can create a custom approach to every lead in the Marketing Hub.
  3. HubSpot CMS integrates with HubSpot's marketing automation software, which lets you easily track and analyze the performance of your inbound (and other) marketing campaigns. This gives marketing teams the ability to make data-driven decisions and continuously improve the strategy. For example, you can automatically add a lead to a particular nurture path in the Marketing Hub based on the form they filled out.
  4. HubSpot CMS has an intuitive UI. This means that your content creators can build a landing page, publish a blog post, and make changes to the website without having to rely on web developers for simple updates.
  5. Finally, HubSpot CMS provides content personalization options for your website visitors based on their interests and behaviors. This can improve engagement and increase the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy.

Wrapping it up

Inbound is a fairly subtle form of marketing. It aims to add value to your prospects every step of the way. The approach has proven highly effective in building brand awareness and generating leads. By providing valuable information that aligns with the interests of your target audience, you establish your company as a reliable source of information, making them more likely to consider your products or services when they are ready to make a purchase.