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What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a great way to draw customers to your business. But what is inbound marketing?

Successful inbound marketing happens when you create high-quality content that keeps visitors to your site engaged. You need to generate interesting content across all of your platforms. You can choose to promote it, but it'll also generate unpaid, organic traffic through search.

While inbound marketing is about sales, it isn't just about turning a profit. It's about helping people. It's a powerful sales technique that works best when combined with a more traditional approach like outbound marketing.

Understanding inbound marketing

There's a methodology for successful inbound marketing. You use inbound marketing to drive sales and increase revenues by building long-term relationships with your customers. You empower consumers, prospects, and repeat clients with the information they want and need at every stage of their journey with your brand. Inbound marketing pulls customers to your site with relevant content and valuable information that visitors find helpful.

You become partners in their success. Or, put another way, when your customers experience success and satisfaction, your site revenue increases.

Most marketers identify 4 key activities in inbound marketing:

  1. Attract
  2. Convert
  3. Close
  4. Delight

You attract strangers, convert visitors, close leads, and delight customers.

Let's take a look at these four activities in more detail.

Graphic with illustration showing the four steps of Inbound marketing methodology with each step leading to the next


Attracting customers sounds like a simple concept. But there's more to drawing in customers than optimizing your on-page SEO and blasting out new content.

Before you even think about your content strategy or invest endless hours studying how search engines work, you must decide who your ideal customer is. Spend some time developing a buyer persona, an avatar of the kind of customer who will keep coming to your site for information and will think of you first when they're in the market for the types of products you sell.

Consider the kinds of content that you can provide that match what your ideal customer is looking for on the internet. That's the point at which you perform search engine optimization (SEO). When assigning a ranking to your page, Google isn't limited to your keywords, but frequently searched keyword phrases give you a great way to expand your reach. Then, you can build unique content that provides value.


Once you have attracted a visitor to your site, you want to convert them to a lead. A lead is someone who wants more details about your brand and who gives you information (like their name, email address, and content preferences) in return.

How do site visitors become leads?

You can convert visitors into leads with a call-to-action, also known as the CTA. The CTA can be "Buy now!" But it can also be a request to be added to your marketing email list, download an ebook, or schedule a demo. Quality leads also include enough information to power your outbound marketing efforts. Visitors who give you their email addresses and ask to be added to your email lists are interested in what you have to offer.


The whole idea of digital marketing is digital sales, right? Once you have attracted your ideal customer and converted them into a lead, it's time for your sales team (or just you, if you are a sole proprietor working alone) to close the sale.

Keep in mind that you may have to move a prospect through your sales funnel. Many leads won't be ready to become paying customers at first. But polite persistence pays off.

There will usually be a back and forth process until your lead closes the deal and becomes a paying customer. Congratulations! You made a sale!

However, you need to continue delighting them to encourage them to buy more in the future.


The delight stage is where the fun of digital marketing starts. You have successfully guided your customer through the buyer's journey. Now it's up to your content marketing team to keep in touch and give them more information about the solutions they need. Your sales team must make sure your products are meeting their expectations.

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a sales tool that draws customers to your site with content and curated experiences that you have tailored to their preferences.

On the other hand, outbound marketing interrupts your customers with information they don't necessarily want. Inbound marketing matches your content to the intent of an internet search. With the right inbound marketing strategy, your site provides the information potential customers believe they need and the experiences they find satisfying.

There was a time when outbound marketing was all you needed. All you had to do, at least in theory, was buy a list of targeted email addresses and bombard potential customers with sales letters and offers.

Modern spam filters make email marketing without an opt-in process a thing of the past. However, this kind of push marketing was never particularly effective.

Other traditional tools of reaching customers, such as mass media campaigns, conferences, seminars, and print ads, are similarly outdated. Customers don't have to wait for you to come to them. They can actively search for you on the internet. But you can attract, convert, close, and delight your customers with the power of inbound marketing.

Graphic showing an illustrated bar graph and the headline "benefits of inbound marketing"

Benefits of inbound marketing

When done right, inbound marketing can help you:

  • Grow your audience
  • Control your costs
  • Deepen trust
  • Generate qualified leads

Keeping customers delighted with their purchases makes growing your target audience easy. Your customers spread the word about your site through the digital equivalent of word of mouth. They post reviews and comment about your expertise, products, and service on social media.

Gen Z customers may post on Instagram about your products, while Millennials and Gen Xers may comment on Facebook. Older consumers may support your customer retention strategy with old-fashioned face-to-face recommendations. Whether you're working with blogs, whitepapers, or infographics, your inbound marketing strategy can help you meet all of your marketing and revenue goals.

How to create an inbound marketing strategy

To create an inbound marketing strategy, you will:

  1. Determine your goals. It's a good idea to align your business goals with your marketing goals. Make sure to use SMART goals when setting your objectives.
  2. Identify marketing triggers. Marketing triggers are moments in which a site visitor behaves in a desired way, thus prompting an action to occur. For example, when they sign up for your newsletter or provide their contact information for a free ebook.
  3. Outline the buyer's journey. Outlining the buyer’s journey, or sales funnel, can help you determine when to make contact with potential clients.
  4. Invest in the right tools. The right tools can help your team become more efficient and speed up workflows.
  5. Create valuable content. Optimized content that brings value to the reader can attract visitors to your website and eventually turn them into customers.
  6. Use different channels. By using different channels, you can distribute your content and maximize your reach.
  7. Review and optimize. It’s a good idea to regularly review and optimize your content to make sure that it’s the best.
Graphic of a hand holding a pen over a tablet with a website displayed and the headline "examples of inbound marketing"

If you’re looking to use inbound marketing at your business, here are a few examples of content you can create to help you get started:

  • Blogs
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Email newsletters
  • Infographics

10 inbound marketing strategies

Now let's discuss some of the pieces of an effective inbound marketing strategy.

Segment your audience

Divide your audience into categories based on their shared interests. Remember, meaningful audience segmentation relates to your content, not just to the many ways you could classify the visitors you attract to your site in groups.

Conduct surveys

Building surveys and analyzing survey data doesn't have to be complicated. Mailchimp can provide a web link collector that aggregates responses and displays data summaries on a console.

Establish customer personas

We recommend creating an avatar for your ideal customer as the very first step of your inbound marketing campaign. That doesn't mean your ideal customer will stay the same as you grow your company, add new products, and explore new markets. Creating customer personas for all your product pages needs to be a periodic task that you update regularly.


In the digital age, search engine optimization is essential for online success. Keep in mind that Google matches your content to its metrics based on the search intent. As masses of people look for different things, Google will evaluate different aspects of your page for its ranking. SEO is something you keep doing even after you publish your page.

Create great content

Make sure your content is easy to read. Your pages need to be accessible, which means you must add descriptions to images for people who can't see them, and summaries of audio content for people who can't hear it. Make sure your pages are sized for the devices consumers use. Your content should be readable on every kind of screen.

Stay active on social media

Social media isn't just Facebook anymore. Keep up with Instagram, TikTok, and all the new social platforms.

Build email campaigns

Once you have an inbound marketing strategy, then you can make effective use of outbound marketing. Mailchimp has a complete suite of tools for building email campaigns.

Enhance your website

Focus on U/X. User experience keeps leads coming back, allowing you to convert them to customers.

Perform A/B testing

Not sure what works? Don't guess; test! Run A/B testing before you commit to a single strategy for your pages.

Get backlinks

Backlinks are a form of marketing. Backlinks anchored to relevant keywords from quality sites helps Google find and index your pages.

Enhance your inbound marketing efforts with Mailchimp

Inbound marketing can help your business in many ways. Not only is it a cost-effective tactic that can expand your reach, but it can also allow you to build trust and ensure you attract the right type of customer to your brand. To create a successful inbound marketing campaign, think carefully about your goals and segment your audience to ensure you’re targeting effectively.

If you want to enhance your inbound marketing efforts, we’re here to help. With our collection of marketing, automation, and email tools, you can generate more engagement and revenue. Plus, our Customer Journey Builder allows you to easily create trigger emails based on where people are in your sales funnel.

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