No need to start at the beginning - Inbound Marketing Methodology

Evelyn Wolf by Evelyn Wolf   08 Jun



You’ve heard about how inbound marketing is the way to go for startups. You are convinced that working your digital channels with inbound can yield results. You are raring to go. You sit down and take the first step of looking at the inbound marketing methodology and immediately feel overwhelmed. Do you really need to implement it all at the same time to make it work? Deep breath, you don’t. Let’s talk about how to get your inbound marketing off the ground without stressing out.

Breaking down the inbound marketing methodology

Before we break down the methodology, let’s just take a look at it as a whole:


Each stage of the methodology has its tools (eg. blogging in the attract stage) and each stage has a clear goal (e.g. in the close stage you want to convert leads to customers). The goals and stages are the reason why we can split the methodology and help you choose the right element to start off with.

Starting with the delight stage

Rolling up the field from the back, we start by looking at why you would start your inbound marketing implementation at the delight stage.

The goal of this stage is to turn customers into promoters and repeat customers. If you find that in your startup you have a strong number of existing customers and you believe these customers are great assets of potential brand advocates who can be leveraged, then start at delight. Decide how you can learn from customers, encourage them to share your product or service and consider ongoing customer marketing to ensure you stay engaged with customers. This will lead to repeat subscriptions, simpler upsell opportunities and referrals.

Starting with the close stage

Inbound Methodology Close

Imagine you have leads in your pipeline. A bunch of people who engage with your brand but are simple not converting to customer. This is when you start at the customer stage.

Before you start specific campaigns, evaluate the leads. Are they your buyer persona? Are they the right decision makers? Often, you can have people engaged with your content who will never buy (students come to mind). You need to understand whether your efforts to date actually attract the right persona. If not, your problem doesn’t lie in the close stage but starts much earlier in the funnel.

You’ll want to dive deep into your buyer journey and aim to understand how your buyer persona makes decisions. Try through emails, targeted social media and dedicated landing pages to reach your leads again and perhaps push a little harder for them to complete the journey.

Starting with the convert stage

Inbound Methodology Convert

You have plenty of traffic coming to your site but your lead funnel is empty. Your biggest problem is likely to be right here in the convert stage.

But first, try and gather information about your website visitors. Are they the right type of people? If not, step away from the convert stage and move to attract.

Convinced it is the right audience? Now, look at your offers. Critically examine how you aim to convert visitors. If your only conversion point is to “buy now” or “contact you”, it may simply be too big of an ask too soon. Go back to your buyer persona and how they buy. Your buyer journey is likely to need offers much sooner in the decision making cycle than “buy now”.

Content offers like ebooks, cheat sheets, calculators, whitepapers are needed to get visitors to convert to leads.

If you have content offers but are still not seeing conversions take a close look at your call-to-action buttons. Are these enticing? Do they stand out?

Also look at your landing pages. Are they concise, simple, with no distractions and options to click away?

Finally, check your forms. Are you asking for too many details too soon? A phone number for example is very valuable and people are unlikely to part with it on a first interaction with your brand. Are your forms too long and not attractive to complete?

Starting with the attract stage 

Most people will start here. Not just because it’s the first stage in the methodology but because it generally is the biggest problem. Attracting the right audience to you site can be a big task. As much as you want to jump in with blogging and social media, you need to look at your buyer persona. If you don’t have one, you need to start outside of the methodology altogether.

Work through your persona and their pain points. Translate these into keywords (often, they are the same). Check with free tools such as the Google Keyword Tool whether your chosen term is achievable (how competitive is it and does it get searches?).

Now check whether your chosen keywords are reflected across your website and whether you have blog content written to answer pain points and hit on keywords.

Go back to your persona again and check whether the social channels you are utilising are really those that your persona is using. If so, check your posting times, style and language you use.   

Starting with your biggest challenge

Start with you biggest challenge rather than just starting at the beginning of the methodology because it’s the first stage.

Once you have solved your biggest challenge you can move on to work on other phases. You will often find that as you solve your biggest challenge, elements that need to be amended in the other stages become much clearer.

Identifying your biggest challenge

When you feel like you need to “fix it all”, it can be difficult to identify what your biggest challenge actually is. Here are two tips:

  1. Create a closed loop reporting sheet by placing your visitor, lead and customer numbers over time beside each other with the respective conversion rates.
  2. Dive into your Google Analytics, your social media reporting tools and others you might be using to gather supporting data for your closed loop reporting.
  3. Based on the numbers, you should see the biggest gap (e.g. lots of visitors but no leads = convert stage).

If you are still unsure, it may be time to ask some outside experts to lend a critical eye to your marketing efforts and break them down for you. We offer full inbound reviews as well as HubSpot portal reviews if you are a user. These reviews include outlining your biggest challenge and other gaps, how to fix them as well as what you do well. The result is an action list that will bring actual results to your inbound marketing.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

Evelyn Wolf

Written by Evelyn Wolf

Inbound strategy specialist and content creator. She will turn your web presence into a magnet and always has wind in her sails.