Attract, Engage, Delight:

Inbound Marketing Can Transform Your Business. Here's How It Works.

by Omi Diaz-Cooper

Table of Contents

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is different from other types of advertising: instead of working to grab the attention of the public at large, inbound marketing works to develop lasting relationships with your ideal prospects and customers, building trust in your company or brand.

When your company uses inbound marketing, you'll find that you're spending time getting to know your consumer persona on a deep level, understanding not only their demographics, but more importantly, their buying insights, likes and dislikes, as well as the type of content that appeals to them. You'll consider where they spend their time online, what other companies they're likely to show interest in, and how you can use your platforms to delight them when they interact with our brand.

With inbound marketing, you're creating content that makes your customers feel seen and heard. By tailoring experiences to your customers, you're showing them that you're on the same page and that they can believe in your brand to provide the services or products that are a good fit for their lifestyle.

Download the CVJ Optimization Guide

Why Inbound Marketing Matters

In today's digital world, consumers are bombarded with advertising, with the average American being exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day, so it's easy to turn a blind eye to pop-ups, banners, digital billboards, and other types of ads. Inbound marketing works to draw prospects and consumers in with information that's relevant to their pain points and helps them to build a sense of trust in your company.

Inbound marketing provides your prospects and customers with the information they want, allowing them to build a connection with your brand. When prospects are able to get to know your brand before they make a purchase, it can be easier for them to take the next step.

When you use inbound marketing, whether on your website, on your blog or on social media, you boost brand awareness and build thought leadership, helping your customers to feel familiar and comfortable with what you have to offer. This type of marketing is especially effective for B2B brands that have a considered buying cycle. Inbound helps you inform your ideal prospects, so they can see how your solution solves their pain points. This also makes it easier to get in front of prospects who are more likely to make a purchase, as you're catering your content to an audience who mirrors attributes of your current customers.

How Inbound Marketing Works

Inbound marketing uses content to draw potential customers in. Content can take many forms: social media posts, blog articles, podcasts, white papers, videos, guest posts on websites of other companies, and more. When your company engages in inbound marketing, you aren't just working to sell your product – you're working to build a genuine connection with both existing and potential members of your audience.
Inbound marketing isn't just about putting out content that pulls in prospects–it's also about engaging with potential customers and current customers on social media and in comments to help them get to know your brand. This can include answering direct messages and responding to comments on social media posts. When you engage with potential customers, you aren't just getting your message across to that person–you're also showing others who are reading your social media how you care for and converse with your followers.

The Inbound Methodology: What You Need to Know

If your company is just getting started with inbound marketing, it can be hard to figure out how to dive in. 

You'll need to follow the buyer’s journey using the flywheel model: Attract, Engage, Delight. Inbound can help you to attract prospects, nurture leads into customers, delight customers and get referrals, turning the old funnel model into a flywheel. We’ll take a look at each step in the flywheel  in this section.



The Flywheel: Attract, Engage, Delight

This three-phase model is simple, and helps you get to know your audience one step at a time.

Here, we'll take a look at each stage of the flywheel, as well as the different types of tools you'll use to draw your target market to your brand.


During the attract phase, you'll work to develop a content strategy. Here, you'll use the information you have about your target market to begin the development of content that will help them identify their pain point and get to know what your brand offers to solve their challenges.

During this phase, customers are just beginning to become aware of your company. Social media posts and ads tailored to a specific market are smart ways to draw prospects in during the attract stage. Blogging and video blogging are also smart choices for the attract stage, as these methods allow for long-form content that meets a need or solves a problem for your target market.


After you've attracted your target prospects and they've started to become familiar with your brand, they'll cycle into the engage portion of the flywheel model. During this stage, your customers will engage with your brand through email marketing, conversational bots, and automation that allows them to continue to learn about how your brand can solve their problems and make their lives easier.

The engage phase allows you to continue to build trust while also providing your potential customer with informational materials tailored to their specific needs.It is during this stage that leads are nurtured and converted to customers.


Here, your customers will learn that they can count on your brand. This portion of the model shows both your prospects and current customers that they'll be able to count on you to support them after a purchase is made.

In the delight phase, customers may simply be satisfied with the great customer service that they receive. Others who have yet to make a purchase may experience the delight phase by reading customer reviews or viewing customer testimonials on social media.

The bottom line: the delight phase shows that your company follows through on what it offers customers.

Buyer’s Journey

Thanks to the abundance of information at their fingertips, consumers are better informed than ever. As a result, in the majority of sales dialogues, the buyer now holds the majority of the power. Because of this, pushy sales techniques are no longer as effective as they once were.

Instead, sales representatives must change their perspective from selling to helping in order to succeed in sales in the modern era. And the best approach to begin this process is to gain a thorough understanding of the buyer's profile and the route they travel to make a purchase: the buyer's journey.

A buyer's path to purchase is described by the buyer's journey. In other words, consumers don't suddenly decide to buy out of the blue. They follow a series of steps to learn about, consider, and decide whether to buy a new good or service.

Sales representatives can more effectively relate to and position their product or service for the consumer by recognizing the buyer's journey, the issues and challenges they encounter throughout that journey, and the influencing circumstances that affect their thinking. Now, let's probe a little deeper.

The Three Stages of the Buyer’s Journey

The awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage are the three stages that characterize how a buyer moves along their pathway to purchase.

Here is how to think about each stage:

Awareness Stage:

The buyer realizes they have an issue and wants to resolve it.

Consideration Stage

The customer evaluates their issue and assesses potential solutions.

Decision Stage

The buyer assesses and selects the ideal provider to carry out the desired solution.

How the Flywheel and Inbound Methodology Work Together

The HubSpot-adapted Flywheel model describes the momentum you achieve when your entire business is focused on providing a fantastic customer experience. A flywheel both stores and releases energy, which adds momentum to the model. Its size, the amount of friction it experiences, and how quickly it spins all affect how much energy it can hold.

How does the inbound methodology fit into all of this?  We are so convinced that the flywheel model and inbound methodology work collaboratively together in ensuring business results that we use it ourselves.  The three stages of your flywheel when using the inbound methodology as a basis are attract, engage, and delight. You deliver a fantastic customer experience by using the right content and tactics during these three phases.

In the attract phase, you draw visitors in with helpful material and remove obstacles in the way of their attempts to learn more about your business. Gaining people's attention is crucial. Content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, social selling, targeted paid advertising, and conversion rate optimization are some of the strategies you can use.

By letting customers communicate with you on their preferred timelines and channels throughout the engage phase, you make it simple for customers to browse and buy from you. Instead of just closing deals, concentrate on building connections. Personalization of websites and emails, database segmentation, marketing automation, lead nurturing, multichannel communication (chat, phone, messaging, email), sales automation, lead scoring, and programs that offer customers product trials are some of the elements at work.

Lastly, during the delight phase, you assist, encourage, and enable clients to realize their objectives. Always keep in mind that happy customers mean it was a success. Self-service (Knowledge base, chatbot), proactive customer service, multichannel availability (chat, message, phone, email), ticketing systems, automated onboarding, customer satisfaction surveys, and loyalty programs are among the strategies you can use.

Why Inbound Marketing Works

When you use inbound marketing, you're showing your customer that you care about them–not just about the sale. Inbound marketing allows customers to get to know your brand on a personal level and form the connections required to enjoy an ongoing solid customer-business relationship.

Inbound marketing ensures that you aren't just attracting any prospects to your content–you're attracting the prospects who are most likely to engage with your brand and get on board with what you have to offer. While other types of marketing cast a wide net and hope to catch the eye of potential customers, inbound marketing works to give customers the information they already want, providing them with high-value experiences through your content.

How Buyer Personas Interact with the Flywheel

Creating buyer personas allows you to get to know your target market–even before you meet them. By creating personas of the demographic you'd like to attract, you're able to carefully create content that's right for a specific market, even before those customers begin to interact with your brand.

Your prospects will funnel through several steps as they move from a stranger to a customer to a promoter of your brand. It’s important to recognize how the personas travel through the flywheel, in order to provide relevant content for each stage:

  • Strangers: Here, the customer has no brand awareness. In this step, the goal is to promote content that's valuable to your target prospects, allowing them to interact with your brand and get curious about what you have to offer.
  • Visitors: At this stage, strangers have turned into visitors after reading your blog or checking out your social media pages. Your next step is to use calls-to-action and forms to help you get their information, converting visitors to leads.
  • Leads: At this stage, you have the information that you need to continue providing your leads with information that's beneficial to their lives. Next, you'll use email marketing and lead scoring tools to convert your leads into paying customers.
  • Customers: Here, you'll work with your paying customers to ensure that they have a top-notch experience, with the goal of turning them into promoters of your product.
  • Promoters: In this final stage, customers are so delighted with your product or service that they're sharing what you have to offer with others. This can help you bring new potentials into the top of the funnel–prospects who already have a sense of trust in your brand due to seeing or hearing about success stories from friends or acquaintances.

Inbound marketing keeps your conversion funnel running strong as those you have converted into promoters begin to do the work of attracting strangers to your brand. If you're ready to get started, click to learn more about how to run an inbound marketing campaign.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing:

What's the Difference?

Outbound marketing is what most people think of when discussing traditional advertising. Billboards, commercials, print advertising, and other types of advertising that are designed to catch the eye of the public at large are considered outbound marketing. With outbound marketing, brands work to catch the eye of anyone who ends up with the ad in front of them – which means outbound marketing ads are ignored by many. Unless a billboard is particularly eye-catching or a print ad is particularly provocative, most people don't notice what's being sold.

Inbound marketing is different. Since inbound marketing starts by attracting people who are more likely to engage with a company or purchase a product than the average person, the process creates the possibility of a better ROI from the start.

With inbound marketing, customers aren't getting advertisements, rather, they're getting valuable content that would be helpful to them, whether it came from a company or another source.

Inbound marketing doesn't take the place of outbound marketing. It's smart for companies to use a combination of both types of marketing to maximize growth. Creating targeted inbound marketing content can help to draw in customers who are most likely to engage with the company based on their demographic, while high-level, strategized outbound marketing can help promote brand awareness and trust by getting your name in front of new audiences.

What Does an Inbound Marketing Agency Do?

If your company is just getting used to the idea of inbound marketing, it can be tough to figure out where to start. Working with an inbound marketing company is a smart way to draw in your target prospects without having to do the dirty work of figuring out how to find them.

An inbound marketing agency works with clients to help them align with their target prospects and create and distribute information that's most likely to attract, engage, and delight their audience, helping them to grow their customer base.

There are many different strategies when it comes to inbound marketing and working with an inbound marketing agency can help your company utilize the strategies most likely to promote growth, rather than going through an internal trial and error process.

When your company works with an inbound marketing agency, you'll be able to outsource the creation of buyer personas, content development, form creation, development of landing pages, creating thank you pages for customers, chatbots that can interact with prospects, and more.

Many agencies find that creating content is the toughest part of developing an inbound marketing strategy, especially if they aren't familiar with the niche interests of their target market outside of what the company has to offer. Working with an inbound marketing agency can make it easier to create the type of content that draws in your target market. Find out more in the article 7 Signs You Should Hire an Inbound Marketing Agency.

How Inbound Marketing Agencies Support Businesses

It can take some time to figure out the best inbound marketing strategy for your business. If this is your first time veering away from an outbound marketing strategy, you may find that utilizing an inbound marketing agency makes it easier to transition to an inbound model.

If you don't have a social media or marketing manager on staff, working with an inbound marketing agency can also help take content development and other strategic marketing decisions off of your employees' plates. One of the most important parts of an inbound marketing strategy is figuring out where your target market hangs out online. An inbound marketing agency stays on top of social media and other digital trends. The world of social media changes quickly, and it's key to meet your target prospects where they're at online.

It's important to note that it takes time for an inbound marketing campaign to get up and running, and you'll want to work closely with the agency you choose to get a clear timeline on what to expect. Your agency will also work with you to help you develop your inbound marketing goals, and can help you understand how the results you'll get will be different from the results of more traditional marketing campaigns that you've used in the past.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

In order to develop a solid inbound marketing strategy, it's important that you understand the different types of inbound marketing content that will allow you and your team to draw in your ideal customer.

Types of inbound marketing content include:

  • Blogs: Easy to update blogs are a simple way to constantly provide your audience with the content they're looking for. Whether you decide to produce blogs in-house or hire an inbound marketing agency, daily or weekly blog posts that are high-value can help your users both get to know your brand and keep them coming back to your website or social media platform(s). The Honest Company does a great job providing their target market–parents of young children–with the content they need.
  • Videos: Offering your prospects video content that appeals to their interests and needs is a great way to help them get to know your brand. There's not necessarily a need to feature your products or services in videos, rather, use the opportunity to provide potential clients with the chance to get to know your brand's personality. Precision Nutrition's YouTube channel provides their prospective customers–people in the health and fitness industry, and those who are looking to improve their overall health–with valuable video content.
  • Pillar pages: Pillar pages don't offer super in-depth content, rather, they cover topics that appeal to your target prospects with a broad scope, allowing them to get a general understanding of a topic. This can be a great way to show off your brand's communication style, drawing in potential customers by offering easy-to-understand information that provides them value. This pillar page from The Atlantic provides potential customers with a solid overview of the topic of population health without diving into content in such a deep way that makes it tough for users to understand.
  • Guides and eBooks: Sometimes referred to as "freemium" content, free guides and eBooks can be a great way to provide your prospects with information that's useful in their day-to-day lives. When you provide your prospects with information that's helpful to them at no cost, you're building trust and brand awareness and making it more likely that they'll come to your brand when they're ready to make a purchase. This free eBook from TrendToFit provides their target market with weight loss tips, which helps to build trust in their brand and help their users consider their paid offerings.
  • Social media: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can be the perfect way to reach your target prospects. As social media platforms change, it can be tough to stay on top of where your target market hangs out. Working with an inbound content marketing agency can be helpful to be sure you're promoting your content on the right social media platforms. The National Academy of Sports Medicine, a personal training certification organization, uses social media to provide users with information that's useful to anyone interested in getting fit or pursuing a career in fitness. By building trust in their organization through social media, their target market learns that they can trust the NASM brand, increasing the likelihood that they'll choose NASM if they decide to move forward with a certification.
  • Infographics: Many people prefer getting statistical information in the form of an infographic instead of in a list of information. Whether you choose to publish infographics or send them out as a part of an email marketing strategy, infographics provide your target market with key information in an easily digestible way. This infographic from Nissan shows potential Juke buyers all that they can expect from their new vehicle, and includes social media handles that make it easy for potential customers to learn more.
  • Email marketing: Using newsletters, bulletins, and other forms of inbound email marketing strategy options can help you stay in touch with prospects who signed up for more information during the engage portion of your marketing strategy. In your email marketing, you can delight customers by providing them with the information they need–before they even realize they need it. Clothing giant Modcloth does a great job of keeping signed-up users in the know with their email marketing.

Inbound Marketing Goal Setting

Whether you're working to handle your inbound marketing strategy in-house or you're working with an inbound marketing agency, it's key to set goals that let you know that you're moving forward.

Goals allow you and/or your marketing agency to change your strategy if necessary, and to ramp your strategy up if a particular part of what you're doing is going exceedingly well. It’s important that your marketing goals be aligned with your business and revenue objectives. We have found that one of the best ways to do that is through the SMART goal process. A solid inbound strategy will work to achieve your goals and objectives rather than focusing on vanity metrics.

Inbound Marketing Lead Generation

Inbound marketing lead generation is also known as attraction marketing. When you release content that's targeted toward your ideal prospects, you're beginning a relationship that allows the customer to make the choice to interact with your brand throughout your process of lead generation in marketing. This is different from outbound marketing, in which brands reach out to customers directly to try to get them on board with what they have to offer.

When customers have to make the choice to interact with a brand, they're more likely to pay attention to marketing materials. Take a look at our 30 Inbound Lead Tips and Tricks to learn more about how to get the inbound marketing leads that can drive your business forward.

Who Uses Inbound Marketing?

Not sure whether inbound marketing is the right fit for your company? Inbound marketing makes it easier to transition strangers to visitors to leads and provides the valuable content necessary to help customers build trust in your brand. Many large companies and middle-market enterprises are recognizing the ineffectiveness of outbound, often seeing outbound as the most overrated marketing tactic. The importance of adding inbound will help offset the  inefficiencies of big budgets containing traditional media and help them to achieve meaningful, measurable results.

Take a look at these examples of inbound marketing campaigns:

  • Patagonia: The outdoor clothing brand offers prospects interesting stories that don't mention their products, rather, they pull readers by creating rapport.
  • SAP: The global software company utilizes inbound marketing while preserving a unified feel and design for all consumer segments. They developed customized communications for each industry, enabling them to reach all of their target audiences.
  • Salesforce: A well-known CRM company had issues sustaining constant traffic and leads. To improve the search results, they had to implement an inbound marketing approach, among other things. They used innovative marketing and sales videos as part of their content marketing strategy.

Inbound Marketing

Your Next Step
Whether you're working to improve an existing inbound marketing campaign or you're ready to dig into inbound marketing for the first time, you don't have to go it alone. Reach out today to learn how we can help you attract, convert and delight the customers you want.