What is Inbound Marketing? A Beginner’s Guide

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Inbound advertising and marketing is a advertising and marketing technique that goals to drag clients in with related and helpful content material.

Coined by HubSpot’s founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah—who seen {that a} new advertising and marketing paradigm was wanted for the Internet age—the purpose of inbound advertising and marketing is to get discovered by prospects and clients whereas constructing a powerful relationship with them.

In this submit, we’ll study:

Inbound advertising and marketing vs. outbound advertising and marketing

Outbound advertising and marketing is an interruptive type of advertising and marketing the place you push a message or product out to a prospect by way of chilly calls, chilly emails, unsolicited mail, and so on.

Inbound advertising and marketing is the alternative—you create helpful content material on your viewers which they search out once they want it.

How inbound advertising and marketing works

According to HubSpot, there are three steps to inbound advertising and marketing:

  1. Attract. Bring in the precise individuals.
  2. Engage. Help these individuals with their ache factors and objectives so they’re extra doubtless to purchase from you.
  3. Delight. Go above and past for them. Help them discover success along with your product.

Together, they work like a flywheel.

You entice prospects to your organization. These individuals interact along with your content material and are finally satisfied to purchase, turning them into clients. After receiving stellar outcomes along with your product, plus wonderful customer support, they develop into “ambassadors,” selling you to their associates.

It’s much like a advertising and marketing funnel, besides that it doesn’t cease on the final stage. Rather, the ultimate stage propels the primary stage, which propels the second, and so forth—aka a flywheel.

How to get began with inbound advertising and marketing

You’ve seen how inbound advertising and marketing works in principle. But how is it really executed in actuality?

Well, inbound advertising and marketing is actually our complete advertising and marketing technique right here at Ahrefs. We spend a big portion of our assets on creating useful content material that teaches our clients Web optimization and digital advertising and marketing whereas selling our product—just like the submit you’re studying proper now.

Our weblog receives 600K+ guests per thirty days. And that is simply from Google alone.

Our YouTube channel has ~209,000 subscribers and will get ~355,000 month-to-month views.

Together with an industry-leading product beloved by our clients, inbound advertising and marketing has helped us develop into one of the common Web optimization instruments in the marketplace.

Here’s how we use inbound advertising and marketing at Ahrefs.

1. Attract

If individuals don’t know you exist, they’ll’t purchase your product. So, step one is to draw potential clients.

For inbound advertising and marketing, that is carried out primarily through creating and publishing content material, aka content material advertising and marketing.

Web optimization

At Ahrefs, our acquisition technique is centered round Web optimization-driven content material advertising and marketing, i.e. content material designed to rank excessive on search engines like google.

Why Web optimization-driven?

While you may publish any content material so long as it’s fascinating to your viewers, most of those articles received’t get site visitors long-term. They might get an preliminary burst in site visitors (“spike of hope”) when first revealed, however curiosity wanes (“flatline of nope”) when individuals are not .

However, in the event you create content material round matters that individuals are continually trying to find in Google, then there’s assured continued curiosity. For so long as your article ranks in Google, you’ll obtain constant, passive natural search site visitors.

This is why our site visitors continues to develop yr after yr:

Here’s how we create Web optimization content material at Ahrefs:

Find matters with search site visitors potential

Every submit we publish on the Ahrefs weblog targets a time period with search site visitors potential.

To discover these matters, use a key phrase software. For instance, let’s say you personal a website in regards to the paleo eating regimen. Enter a related subject like “paleo” right into a free key phrase analysis software like Keyword Generator and it’ll counsel subject concepts, plus inform you how common these matters are.

Scroll by way of the checklist to see if there are any good matters on your web site.

Recommended studying: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

Optimize your pages

Once you’ve recognized a subject you want to goal, you’ll must create content material that deserves to rank. This means your content material must go 4 “checks”:

  1. Relevancy. Align your content material with search intent, i.e. the “why” behind a search question. Learn learn how to match search intent on this information.
  2. Thoroughness. Cover all of the issues searchers anticipate and wish to see. Analyzing search intent gives you a fundamental concept, however you also needs to analyze related top-ranking pages to get clues.
  3. Uniqueness. If your content material is identical as any rating article, then nobody will click on and browse it. You’ll should deliver one thing new to the desk.
  4. Clarity. Make your content material clear and straightforward to learn. Follow the ideas right here to enhance your content material’s readability.

Once you’ve carried out this, then the “technical” optimizations like inserting your key phrase within the title tag are available.

Read the submit beneath to get a whole information on optimizing your web page for search engines like google.

Recommended studying: On-Page Web optimization: The Beginner’s Guide

Build hyperlinks

Google’s Andrey Lipattsev says hyperlinks are one of many three main rating components in Google. So, if you wish to rank excessive in seek for something aggressive, you’ll virtually definitely want hyperlinks.

For instance, we just lately ran a hyperlink constructing marketing campaign the place we constructed hyperlinks to our web page about Web optimization statistics. We acquired a complete of 36 hyperlinks from 32 distinctive web sites.

This propelled our web page to the highest, and we’ve held pole place since then.

Want to discover ways to get began with hyperlink constructing? Watch this video:


Recommended studying: Link Building for Web optimization: The Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Video advertising and marketing

Content advertising and marketing isn’t simply in regards to the written phrase. There’s additionally video content material. YouTube is the second hottest search engine within the world.

Here’s how we do video advertising and marketing.

Find video matters with search site visitors potential

Like Google, to rank on YouTube, you’ll have to focus on matters individuals are trying to find. To discover these matters, use our YouTube Keyword Generator.

Enter a related key phrase after which scroll by way of the checklist to see if there are any related matters.

Create optimized movies

You solely have 30 seconds. If you don’t seize their consideration by then, the viewer is gone. So, until you may riff like Dave Chappelle and nonetheless hold individuals , we suggest you script your video.

That approach, your movies will likely be concise and it’ll stop you from going off on a tangent. Then, as soon as recorded, strategically edit them so that they’re fascinating and proceed to carry consideration.


Recommended studying: YouTube Web optimization: How to Rank Your Videos From Start to Finish

Promote your movies

Ranking on YouTube isn’t the one approach you will get extra views to your movies. Read this submit or watch this video for extra ideas:



We’ve lined textual content and video. Of course, we are able to’t miss audio. The hottest format is the podcast.

Here’s one thing fascinating. Even although we’ve by no means created a podcast of our personal, we’ve gotten loads of sign-ups from them.

How did this occur? Simple: we seem on them.

Since there are many podcasts, they usually’re in want of visitors, we figured it’ll be simpler to show up on an present one moderately than make our personal.

Here’s how we do it.

Find podcast alternatives

The easiest way is, in fact, to go looking Google for podcasts in your area of interest. But in the event you’re simply beginning to seem on them, it’s doubtless the Tim Ferriss Show received’t be your first port of name.

So, another technique is to determine somebody of comparable calibre in your {industry} who’s been a visitor on a number of podcasts. For instance, within the private growth area of interest, Scott Young is comparatively well-known.

So, we’ll enter his website into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, go to the Backlinks report and kind his title within the “Include” field. We’ll additionally filter for less than “Titles of referring pages.”

As you’ll discover, the hyperlinks within the “Referring page” column are largely podcast interviews.

Pitch your self as a visitor

Find the e-mail of the podcast host and attain out to allow them to know you’re taken with being a visitor.

Recommended studying: 12 lessons I learned from doing 20+ podcast interviews in 4 months

2. Engage

Just as a result of individuals at the moment are visiting your web site, that doesn’t imply they’re routinely shopping for. That’s the place the “engage” stage comes in.

You’ll have to grasp their ache factors and objectives. Then, you’ll should current insights and options that assist them clear up their issues.

Here’s an instance of how we do it at Ahrefs.

A searcher desires to know learn how to discover who hyperlinks to their web site. They seek for that question on Google and discover our content material. Guess what? Our product—Site Explorer—solves that drawback. So, we embrace it as a possible software they’ll use in our article.

This isn’t pressured. Our toolset was principally created to unravel that drawback. So, it’s naturally a part of the narrative.

When you focus your efforts on matters that:

  1. Have search site visitors potential;
  2. Is an issue your clients wish to clear up;
  3. Is an issue your product solves

You hit two components of the flywheel without delay. Not solely will your content material rank on Google and purchase new prospects, you’ll additionally interact them proper away.

But that’s not the one factor we do. Here are just a few different engagement techniques we use as a part of our inbound advertising and marketing technique.

Email advertising and marketing

Not everybody will purchase as soon as they’ve learn your content material. Sometimes, they want extra time to judge. Or perhaps they’re in a unique stage of the customer’s journey—maybe they only found they’ve the issue.

Whatever the reason being, you’ll want a solution to attain them so you may proceed to interact. The finest approach to do this is to construct an e-mail checklist.

At Ahrefs, we hold it easy by displaying an e-mail sign-up field beside the article.

It’s not the one approach in fact. You may also supply an incentive for signing up—a free eBook, a worksheet, PDF model of the article, and so on.

Don’t go away them hanging as soon as they’ve signed up. Keep the connection going. For us, we ship a welcome e-mail showcasing one of the best articles on the weblog:

You don’t have to repeat what we do. The world’s your oyster. You can take a look at completely different emails and see which of them work finest along with your viewers.

Free instruments

After studying our content material, some individuals wish to test-drive our toolset. They wish to see the way it works for themselves. So, we assist them.

They can enroll with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools, which supplies them free entry to Site Explorer and Site Audit for their very own web site:

Or they’ll use any of our free Web optimization instruments:

The better part? Each software is designed to focus on a key phrase with search site visitors potential. Like our weblog posts, they’re deliberate for each the “acquire” and “engage” levels.

Two birds, one stone.

Want to discover ways to use free instruments as an inbound advertising and marketing tactic? Read this submit (bounce to #4).


Our Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Tim Soulo, as soon as informed me:

My principle is that individuals don’t join your software after which discover ways to use it. My principle is that individuals first discover ways to use your instruments, they usually enroll as a result of they know learn how to use your software.

Tim Soulo

Our weblog teaches them learn how to clear up Web optimization and digital advertising and marketing issues with our toolset. If they wish to go additional, now we have an academy the place potential clients can watch any of our two free programs:

These programs give potential clients confidence. It’ll be like what Tim stated—once they join our product additional down the road, they’d already know learn how to use Ahrefs from our content material.

But it doesn’t simply work to interact with prospects. It additionally “seeps” into the subsequent stage—delight. Existing clients, who may have additional coaching on the product, can refer to those coaching applications anytime.

This helps retain them, since they’re all the time studying learn how to do extra with our toolset.


3. Delight

After a prospect turns right into a buyer, it’s not the tip. Remember: it’s a flywheel. Each delighted buyer can unfold the phrase to their family and friends. This, in flip, will get you extra clients, who can refer extra individuals. The loop is probably infinite.

But the flywheel solely strikes in the event you excel on this stage—delighting your clients.

The finest approach to do that is to truly have an incredible product. As the adage goes, “you can’t put lipstick on a pig.” If your product doesn’t work, or doesn’t assist your clients clear up their issues, then no quantity of “delighting strategies” will make your clients completely satisfied.

So, that’s the very first thing you must do. Once you’ve gotten the inspiration down, you may take into account making use of any of the methods beneath, which we use:

Live chat

If any of our clients encounter points with our software program, or they’re uncertain learn how to do sure issues, they’ll attain out anytime through stay chat.

This retains frustration down, as they’ll obtain assist virtually instantly.


A giant a part of how we go above and past for our clients is constantly educating them on two issues:

  1. How to do Web optimization;
  2. How to make use of Ahrefs to do Web optimization.

We do that with our weblog, YouTube channel and programs. But we perceive that not everybody has the time to undergo our content material to determine how our experiences work.

So, we determined to construct tutorials throughout the toolset itself.

Click on them and it’ll present you all of the other ways you should use the report.

If a person is caught, they’ll undergo the tutorial and determine what to do.

The takeaway: determine how one can embed tutorials inside your product to show your clients learn how to use sure options.

Customer-only group

Every new Ahrefs buyer is invited to hitch our customer-only group, Ahrefs Insider.

Making it customer-only retains the group high-quality. Each member is aware of that each individual has pores and skin within the sport—they’re subscribed to the product and are severe about Web optimization.

This creates high-quality discussions, plus members who’re more than pleased to assist one another out with digital advertising and marketing issues.

They’re additionally allowed to present suggestions and enter to the product’s growth, and are sometimes given a primary have a look at new options. This solidifies the connection between our clients and us, and reveals that we’re keen to pay attention.

Want to understand how we’ve constructed this 14,000-member robust group? Watch this video:


Final ideas

HubSpot, whose founders coined the time period, does inbound advertising and marketing very in a different way. While they’ve executed related techniques to us, they’ve gross sales groups. This signifies that their focus is on producing sufficient site visitors and certified leads for his or her gross sales groups to shut.

Ahrefs is generally self-serve and doesn’t have a gross sales staff, so that is how we’ve chosen to execute our inbound advertising and marketing technique.

Your firm will likely be completely different. After all, you’re doubtless in a unique {industry}, goal completely different clients, constructed in a different way and have completely different assets.

Which signifies that the techniques you’ll use will likely be completely different. But the rules of inbound advertising and marketing will stay the identical: entice —> interact —> delight.

Did I miss out on something necessary about inbound advertising and marketing? Let me know on Twitter.

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