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Where to Start with Inbound Marketing

As the owner of an inbound marketing firm and a longtime HubSpot partner, I get asked a lot of questions about inbound marketing, such as how it works and what it means.

However, the most common question about inbound marketing that I hear is:

Where Do I Begin with Inbound Marketing?

Getting started can be the hardest thing to do when it comes to inbound marketing.It’s a simple question, but an important one. Knowing where to start with your inbound marketing process is the first step creating an awesome marketing campaign and pushing your lead generation through the roof.

The Answer:

The best place to start your inbound marketing efforts is to identify your #1 target persona so that you can craft your marketing efforts around your ideal customer.

To do this, you create a fictional profile of what your ideal customer would be like based on your best customer accounts. This profile is called a persona document, and it is the foundation on which your marketing efforts should be built.

Step 1: Crafting a Persona Profile

To create a top-notch persona document that you can use to improve your marketing, there are a few things you have to ask yourself:

  1. “Who are my best customers?” It seems like an obvious question, but it’s one that you need to have a financially provable answer for. I emphasized the word “financially” because these should be the customers who bring your company the most money, not the ones you like personally. Your #1 target persona is the group that will bring your business the most dough.
  2. It's important to take a good, close look at your customers when crafting a persona profile.“What are their challenges?” Once you’ve identified the customers who bring you the most money, it’s time to dig in and learn about them. Finding out what these customers are looking for when they find your company is what will allow you to draw more customers like them later.
  3. “How does my company fix these problems?” After identifying the problems and challenges that your customers are trying to overcome when they find your company, it’s time to find out how your products or services address your customers’ needs. While it is tempting to simply say, for example, “I’m a food company, my customers are hungry and want food,” there’s more to it than that. What kind of food do you serve? Are customers coming to you for a specific flavor, a buying experience, or because they trust the brand name? Being specific here helps you target your advertising to emphasize what brings customers in your doors as opposed to your competitor’s stores.
  4. “What is their buying process?” Now that you know your customers’ needs and how your company addresses them, it’s time to really get inside their heads. Find out what channels your ideal customers use to get to your products, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Google searches, etc. If you don’t already have a way to track this information, get one. Once you know where your customer’s watering holes are, where they go to learn about what they need, you’ll be able to align your sales process to their buying process.

After clearing each of the above questions, you can turn the information that you’ve collected into a persona document that you can use to target your marketing to the segment of the population that can bring you the largest profits. Creating and using this persona document is the first step in optimizing your online marketing efforts and boosting sales.

Keep in mind though, the persona document is meant to be a generalization, an aggregate based on information that many customers have in common, not a case study of any single person. Case studies have a place in optimizing marketing, which is to be used to underscore the validity of a persona document, not be the document.

Step 2: Create Three Offers

Now that you have an idea of who your best customers are, what they’re looking for from you, and how they find what they’re looking for online, it’s time to create some specialized content to draw them to your company.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll want at least three offers. For these three content offers, you’ll want to make sure that each one is targeted at customers in different phases of the sales funnel:

  • Your TOFU, MOFU and BOFU offers are like three pieces of a puzzle that come together and become a solution to your online marketing efforts.Top of the Funnel (TOFU): TOFU offers are content offerings that are largely stripped of references to your company’s brand. Content that is for the top of the funnel is meant to provide customers with information and showcase your company as a subject matter expert. Content that can be classified as a TOFU offer includes eBooks, how-to guides, and whitepapers that give visitors to your site information about a specific problem. You can use TOFU offers to draw visitors in and get them to volunteer to become leads.
  • Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): MOFU offers are those offers that specifically reference your brand or products as a solution to the customer’s challenges. These offers are targeted at potential customers who are in the comparison phase of their buying process. In these offers, your company is positioning itself as the best way to accomplish a specific goal or task, and encouraging customers to use your solution.
  • Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): BOFU offers are designed to speak to customers who have made the decision about which company to buy from. Here, the customer is near the end of the cycle, and just needs that final push to complete the process and claim your solution. One example of a good BOFU offers would be a free consultation offer.

It is important to create an offer for each phase of the buying process so that your website’s visitors have a complete experience. With one of each kind of offer for your workflow, you can guide customers to the final purchase decision and minimize the chances of losing that customer to a competitor.

Step 3: Place Offers on Your Website

Naturally, once you’ve made the three offers, you’ll want to make sure they’re placed somewhere where potential leads and customers can find them. Exactly where you place each offer is up to you, but here are some helpful guidelines for your first content offers:

  • Make sure that your offers are on your website so that potential customers can find them.Tweak your website to make room for the offers in the design. Over time, you’ll be constantly changing out and modifying offers as you discover what responds well and adjust to new marketing trends. Creating space in your web pages for the content offers and CTAs leading to the content offers will go a long way towards making life easier later.
  • Place TOFU offers and CTAs on the home page. This is the content that gets you customer goodwill, make it easy to find and visitors will appreciate it. You want visitors to remember your website as a convenient resource for useful information, not a labyrinth where they had to trudge through three miles of useless dross for every nugget of helpful advice.
  • Place MOFU offers on interior pages. Customers who are already interested in your products or services are more likely to put up with looking through your entire website, so put your MOFU offers on the interior pages that match up to the offer. Make sure to update your CTAs on these interior pages as you add new offers and update old ones.
  • Place BOFU offers on interior pages and in your follow-up emails. Just like MOFU offers, your BOFU offers are designed for people who are interested in your products or services already, so it’s okay to put them on interior pages. As an added piece of advice, these offers are perfect for lead-nurturing follow-up emails, as they can entice a customer into making a snap purchase decision fresh after they have given you permission to email them.
  • Create workflows for lead nurturing. Keeping in touch with your leads by using lead nurturing emails is a great way to improve sales and close rates. A well-optimized workflow enhances the overall buying experience for the customer, making them more likely to use your company’s services again. This is one reason why marketing automation tools are a must-have for any company that wants to market itself online.

If you don’t already have marketing automation tools, you’ll want to acquire them ASAP. Every day, new tools are being made to help improve your marketing automation, such as HubSpot. Considering that the right automation tools can have as much of an impact on your sales as an entire 10-person sales team, there’s no reason to avoid automated marketing software.

Using well-made content and offers can have a huge impact on your online lead generation and customer conversion efforts.


So, the road to perfecting your online marketing is to:

  1. ID your target customers by making a persona document.
  2. Create three content offers to entice your target persona.
  3. Place these offers on your website and integrate them with your workflows.
  4. Go sell like a CHAMP!

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Eric Baum

Eric Baum

Eric is the CEO / Founder of Bluleadz. His passion is growing businesses and listening to Jimmy Buffet. Oh yeah, and golf when he can find the time.