How to develop an inbound marketing strategy

Overcoming pain points and building trust with prospective customers is the basis for any inbound marketing strategy. But where do you start?

Think of an inbound marketing strategy like building a house. You need to plan and set goals as a foundation to build on or you’ll be faced with obstacles. Then you can open doors for your brand to engage with a target audience.

Inbound Marketing Strategy goals

It’s important to set SMART goals or objectives. Then you and your team can work towards achieving your inbound marketing strategy. These goals should be:

Smart goals building blocks
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound


Goals should list exactly what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. Be clear on objectives because vague goals are hard to track and therefore goals must be…


Set key performance indicators (KPIs) for each goal you have. By looking at key metrics for your business you can measure value and progress towards each goal. Goals may include increasing content downloads, newsletter subscriptions, blog views, social media engagement and qualified leads for your sales team to engage with.


Ambitious goals are great but should be realistic, so they are achievable. Otherwise, you risk failing and being able to move onto bigger targets. If you have a newsletter subscription rate of 5%, increasing that to 40% by next quarter isn’t realistic. Instead, doubling that to 10% is a large increase but more likely to be met.


Goals that do have a positive impact on your business now, should be set aside. Look at your biggest immediate challenge and set goals to overcome that. For example, if you need to increase sales by a certain per cent, consider opportunities to convert leads more efficiently rather than increasing vanity metrics like social media followers. Social media plays an important role in customer engagement and complements marketing communications but may not need as much attention as sales do.

Time Bound

Setting timeframes lets you work towards deadlines and track success as you progress. Short-term goals are easier to achieve and motivate you as you evaluate wins today. Then continue to think about business objectives from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective.

Remember SMART goals keep everyone focused and act as a compass to help you assess marketing efforts and navigate success.

Create marketing momentum with a flywheel.

Traditional marketing funnels lose energy once leads reach the bottom. This is because they don’t consider how customers can lead to the continued success of your business. By focusing efforts around customers, you are able to continuously leverage the momentum of your flywheel to keep it spinning. Your inbound marketing strategy efforts will attract and engage customers by reducing friction between internal teams. Once you’ve converted a customer, continued service will delight them and feed your growth. And as they return and become advocates they help attract other happy customers to your business.

Inbound Marketing Flywheel infographic

The flywheel model attracts strangers that become prospects, then customers and promoters of your brand.


Define your buyer personas.

Before you dive in, it’s important to understand who you are creating content for. Buyer personas semi-fictional portrayals of your ideal customer and the focus of your inbound marketing.

To tick off the right boxes for your content marketing efforts, you need to know what makes your customers tick. You need to understand their ambitions, attitudes and priorities so you can create meaningful and engaging content that overcomes their pain points and helps them at every stage of their buyer journey. Creating a few personas for your main customer types is sufficient and you do this by using your own experience, asking colleagues in all departments for their insights, relying on external resources and if possible interviewing existing customers to understand their own decision-making processes.

Personas identify an ideal customer’s demographic traits, the industry they work in and their role and responsibilities. They look at the characteristics of their job to understand the goals they are trying to achieve; challenges they face and what they need to overcome these so you can align your product or service to assist them. By understanding how they seek out and consume information such as blogs, videos and social media you know exactly who your audience is, where they are and what they need so you can tailor communications to make your inbound marketing resonate with them to achieve desired results.

Three stages of the buyer’s journey

The buyer’s journey process is where people become aware of a problem and start to evaluate options before committing to purchase. This is where inbound plays a vital role in establishing your brand because consumers have an unlimited source of information at their fingertips. From online searches to customer reviews and everything in-between.

To generate leads, your inbound strategy and content plan needs to target each stage a potential customer goes through during their buyer’s journey.

Stage 1: Awareness

During the awareness stage, individuals have realised they have a problem and have begun searching for a solution. Here we don’t actively promote because viewers only need help in understanding how they can overcome the challenge they have with the information they can easily access on your website. This could include:

  • Topical blog posts
  • Troubleshooting tips
  • Infographics
  • Content downloads and eBooks
  • Industry reports

Stage 2: Consideration

Once an individual wants to understand what’s the best solution to help them overcome their problem issue you provide additional solutions for them to engage and work through such as:

  • Technical blog posts
  • Step-by-step downloads
  • Demonstration videos
  • eBooks
  • Download tools
  • Questionnaires
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars

Stage 3: Decision

After a person has researched options and chosen a solution, they know will solve their problem they’re ready to make a purchase decision. The more you’ve assisted them in making this decision with valuable content at each stage of their journey, the more likely they will buy from you. To reassure their decision you can also offer supporting evidence from previous customers with testimonials and consider:

  • Client case studies
  • Free trials
  • Pricing tiers for product and service options
  • Product data-sheets
  • Demonstrations
  • Onboarding and service level agreements

With your inbound marketing machine in place, delight your customers

By embracing the flywheel inbound methodology, you keep the momentum going and continue to delight your customers. You nurture relationships with them and create positive brand moments that they want to share with others. Customers become promoters and help your inbound marketing machine attract, engage and delight more customers.

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