Inbound Marketing Fundamentals, Part 1: Getting Your Clients & Customers “Hunting” For You

Columnist Daniel Faggella explains the ins and outs of inbound marketing and reveals the ingredients you need to make it work effectively for your business.

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I’ve found most effective marketing systems come down to one word, one idea. In many ways, the marketing “race” isn’t won by the swiftest runner, but rather, the most consistent, the most deliberate. And this one word that drives marketing success is clarity.

Clarity about who your business serves. Clarity about what those people really want. And clarity on how to get in front of and reach those people appropriately.

Let’s break this idea down a bit. By the end of today’s article, I want you to have the building blocks to be able to build your own effective “Inbound Marketing System.”

This will be part 1 of a two-part series on the topic, and in this article, we’ll dive into some of the underlying ideas that make inbound marketing work and learn how you can put them to use in your business.

The Problem With Advertising Today

When most people think of advertising or marketing today, they think of commercials, Facebook ads, Google and other types of what we call “push” marketing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these types of advertising, but there are real, tangible reasons to practice the opposite — something we call “pull” marketing.

Think of this idea like a dating relationship. You can go about it a million different ways, but it could be said that certain methods will be more fruitful than others.

For instance, you could go hunting, showing up everywhere a potential match could be found with the explicit purpose of finding a partner and taking them home with you. Or you could cultivate relationships and “hang out” in situations where it’s likely they’ll be drawn to (or attracted) to you as a person.

One produces (usually) more trust than the other; and while the first option might produce results, you’ll burn through a lot of time and resources to do so.

It’s just like this in the marketing space. You can either go hunting for people who would be a good fit for your product or services, or you can set yourself up in a way so that they are drawn into your universe.

The people who are drawn to you on their own are going to be of higher quality than any other type of lead, because they were pulled in by your marketing, rather than having your marketing shoved on them.

So how do we set up this “pull” system?

Inbound Marketing 101

The premise of inbound is really “education.” The most likely to buy are the ones who see you as the figure responsible for educating them, coaching them and helping them the most.

With paid traffic, you have the ability to drive a lot of leads in a relatively short time frame, but you miss out on a key trait that is present in your inbound leads…

The leads delivered to you from an effective inbound marketing process are most likely extremely cultured and indoctrinated to your philosophies, your processes and your opinions and beliefs. That means they come pre-qualified at a much higher level than leads who are simply driven from a paid ad on Facebook.

Again, if you are driving PPC profitably, continue at it — however, you should still be building the “long and steady” inbound marketing regime, as well, because done right, it will deliver your highest-quality leads organically for a long, long time.

Let’s talk about the “big three.” These are the main areas that we’ll be focusing on and installing in your Inbound Marketing Regimen.

Social Networking

This is the “outer” realm of our inbound marketing regimen. Listen, if you are going to win the inbound marketing game, you are going to have to become prolific at moving people from the outer world of your system to the inner circle.

That means people encounter you through things like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and are enticed to come a bit closer and find out more. Provided you have the next three areas of your inbound machine dialed in, a certain percentage will always be transitioning from one stage to the next — each leading closer and closer to your main core offer, and thus, the sale.


The next stage in will be your “conversion device” — or your blog. There are a few best practices that will need to be dialed in to effectively convert people into the next stage. For the most part, though, it will look like this:

  1. Give people great content on your social networks that leads to your blog.
  2. Give people even better content on your blog — and give them opportunities to access useful gated information, requiring some kind of opt-in. (HubSpot has written some very good articles about the various approaches to obtaining an email list; this one is a good start for most inbound marketers.)

Given you do this, you will find a percentage of your visitors entering the next stage of your process…

Email Marketing

You have the lead, they are obviously interested in what you’re doing, and now you can transition your messaging (which we’ll get to in more detail a bit later).

Your email marketing is what will drive the conversion from lead to buyer, and in most cases, your income can be directly correlated to how many leads are being added to your email marketing system on a daily basis.

Not only can email marketing tangibly boost your SEO (I’ve written about using email marketing for SEO extensively), it’s a key factor in retaining the leads you acquire with inbound marketing and continuously delivering on what attracted them in the first place.

What To Say, When To Say It

So what kinds of things should you be putting in front of people at the different stages of your inbound marketing? Well, it depends — quite frankly it depends on a lot of different factors, but there are three (my favorite number) distinct stages that you can target for this…

There’s a correlation between the medium and the message in most cases. What I mean by that is that your social messages — and the people who consume them — are usually going to be toward the outer realm of the cycle.


This isn’t set in stone, but most often what we’ve found is people move from one column to the next. They will often feel comfortable going from your social messaging to your blog…

Then, they feel comfortable going from your blog and joining your email marketing. Again, back to the dating analogy, they want to “get to know” you first, then go out on a few dates. Then, and only if they like what they see, they might move into more serious discussions of marriage and whatnot.

Similarly, you are going to want to give educational, “not asking for anything” messages about twice as much as “sign up for this lead magnet” messages. Occasionally, people will jump around, signing up for your email list straight from Twitter or Facebook, but not often.

Once somebody hits “green,” they are typically considering options, which is the first stage of the “Buyer’s Journey.” If you give people sales-oriented messaging when they’re not yet on the buyer’s journey (They’re just somewhat interested), you could lose influence by “going in for the kiss too early.”

The Blueprint For Content Creation

The best inbound marketing systems have consistent content that speaks to each of the stages above. Use the regimen above to make sure you’ve got content speaking to all of the potential prospects and buyers in your audience.

In the next article (part 2), I’m going to break down the process we use for our clients to create results from all of the stages here. Stay tuned, and happy marketing.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Daniel Faggella
Daniel Faggella is an email marketing and marketing automation expert with a focus on the intersection of marketing and artificial intelligence. He runs TechEmergence, a San Francisco-based market research and media platform for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in business.

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