The six essential steps of inbound marketing [infographic]

Posted by Jess Gamble on 26 February 2016 | Comments


If you’re only just starting to dabble in inbound marketing, you’ve probably realised that it’s a powerful and complex beast. The whole thing can be particularly baffling if you don’t see a method to its magic. And that’s the crux of the matter: to ensure high ROI from inbound marketing, you need to adhere to a tried-and-tested process.

In an effort to demystify the inner workings of inbound marketing, Smart Insights created this infographic, breaking the process down into six essential steps:

1. Have a strategy.

You need to think about what you are trying to achieve with inbound marketing, and how you are going to achieve it. An NGO and a marketing agency, for example, will have very different marketing objectives, so they’ll implement inbound marketing very differently. Whereas an agency will aim to convert web users into customers, an NGO might only want to raise awareness around a certain issue or convince people to change their behaviour. This will determine the details of each organisation’s strategy. While the marketing agency will aim to appeal to a narrowly defined set of marketing and sales personas, the NGO will want to cast a much wider net by producing content that has a broader appeal.

Consider the following questions:

About your business:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are your challenges? 
  • What is your budget?

About your intended process:

  • How much of your resources can you dedicate to inbound marketing?
  • Should you outsource?
  • How will you measure success?

About your customers:

  • Who are your ideal customers? 
  • What messages and content will they be most receptive to?
  • What channels do they use? 

Without these answers, your strategy will lack direction, and you’ll end up wasting time and money on actions that aren’t measurable or aligned with your objectives. 

2. Keep an updated and well designed website.

Remember, your website is more often than not the first point of contact between you and your customers. It should be easy to use – so make sure it’s mobile-friendly – and give your visitors all of the information they need in a clear and easy-to-understand way. This is a key part of the process, as your website is the engine for all of your online marketing and lead generation efforts. If your website is visually unimpressive or difficult to navigate, your conversion rates will suffer.  

3. Generate some traffic.

By increasing the traffic to your website, you increase the number of visitors you can turn into leads.


The first step to increasing web traffic is writing blogs on topics of interest to your target audience. Every new blog article gives readers a reason to visit your website, but that’s not the only reason you should blog frequently. By blogging strategically, you tell Google that you are an authority on a particular topic, and raise your organic ranking for a particular set of keywords. This makes it easy for potential customers to find your website when they’re doing online research.

Social media 

If content is the fuel that drives inbound marketing, then social media is the oxygen delivered by a turbocharger. People are much more likely to read and share a piece of content that’s been recommended to them by a friend. And this brings us back to content. It has to be a cut above the rest – visionary insights dressed in the kind of wordsmithy prose that can even make accounting software sound sexy.


The important point here is that your content needs to include targeted keywords. These keywords should not only include terms that directly relate to your products and services, but also terms that potential customers will be searching for.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

If you’re running PPC campaigns, ensure that they’re aligned with your inbound marketing goals and optimised to generate the highest quality traffic for the lowest cost per click. Here it’s worth noting a statistic supplied by Smart Insights: 70% of the links that users click on are organic. 

4. Focus on conversion, Part 1: Turning traffic into leads.

To convert unknown visitors into known leads, you need to create attractive CTAs (calls to action) and content offers. Landing pages need to contain forms that require visitors to exchange their contact details for the asset on offer. To this end, content assets need to be interesting enough to prompt potential customers to give up their details. Again, I can’t emphasise the importance of high quality, original content enough. Everything should shine, but put the very best behind forms.

5. Focus on conversion, Part 2: Leads into customers.

You’re halfway to a sale; all you have to do now is convert your leads in customers. The best way to do this is through a highly targeted approach. Segment your leads according to the data you have gathered, and use it to develop a winning endgame for each of these groups. It’s crucial that marketing and sales are on the same page so that they know how to make the perfect pitch. Sales needs to know how leads have been nurtured so that they know what their leads already know. It’s highly beneficial to integrate your CRM system with your sales and marketing systems to ensure a closed-loop marketing campaign, one in which nobody gets, well, left out of the loop. 

6. Be analytical.

Find out which metrics will give you the best indication of how your inbound marketing process is performing. There’s no point in reporting on vanity metrics, like Facebook shares or likes. Instead, focus on metrics that hone in on conversion and prove marketing ROI. If you’re not a natural number cruncher, you might want to outsource your analytics and implementation to a digital marketing agency so that you can focus on strategy.

To find out more about what you can do to streamline your inbound marketing strategy, download our Executive Guide to Inbound Marketing here.

the inbound marketing process infographic

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Author: Jess Gamble




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