How Does Inbound Marketing Work? [5 minute read]

This quick, five-minute read will give you a heads-up about the basics of Inbound Marketing and what you can do to make it work profitably for your business.

We’ve also included some quick “Things to watch out for” points, to keep you on track.

First up, the jargon…   who’s who in the zoo:

  • Some people call it Inbound Marketing.
  • Some people get it mixed up with Content Marketing.
  • Some people get it mixed up with SEO.
  • Some people don’t give a fat rat’s clacker. They just want more leads to grow their business.

 Inbound Marketing includes ALL those things — though not so much of the fat rat’s clacker.

To keep it short, we’ll take a broad-brush approach, so you can at least understand the basics and get something going to start getting some traction.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing

This is pretty simple.

Outbound marketing is YOU reaching out with newspapers, banging on doors, direct mail, TV ads, radio, your call centre or whatever.

It is called ‘disruptive’ marketing because you are trying to disrupt people from doing something, (Watching TV or reading the paper for example) and get them to pay some attention to your message.

Inbound Marketing speech bubble.jpg

Inbound Marketing is THEM finding you by looking on the Google Machine, on forums or blogs to find information they are looking for.

It is non-disruptive, because looking for info is exactly what they are doing. So, if you provide the RIGHT kind of info, the chances for you and your potential buyer to be besties are high right from the start.

Inbound Marketing means joining the dots. Here’s how you do it…

Here’s where most people fall flat on their faces and then feel sad.

  • They “Get some SEO work done.” and think that’s it. Or …
  • They “Put an eBook on the site.” And think that’s it. Or …
  • They “Send out some eDMs” and think that’s it.

Each of those things by themselves isn’t “it”.

But it is getting close.

The missing part is that they didn’t have all the steps in place. For Inbound Marketing to work, you can’t just do ONE of them. You need to do ALL of them.


You need to join the dots — with a path to bring people through the Buyer’s Journey from the top of your sales funnel to the bottom.

Otherwise, you’ll get them part of the way there, but leave them hanging.

They’ll get bored and drift away to talk to someone more interesting. Your competitor, for example.

For Inbound Marketing to work, we need to change the “ors” into “ands”, so let’s unpack those three bullet points above, and see how we can join the dots to pull it all together.

That way, you can make some money.

1. You got some SEO work done

Great. Assuming you’ve hired an honest, upright citizen to do the job things will be bubbling along SEO-wise.

You’ll have a logical, Google-friendly content structure for your site (with pillars and clusters), you’ll have a range of long-tail keywords in your sights and your search visibility will be coming up.


Three quick things to watch out for with your SEO

  1. Go for the Long Tail. These are the longer keyword phrases that reflect what your potential buyers are ACTUALLY looking for. There is money in Long Tail keywords.
  1. Think about the Buyer’s Journey. Remember that in the early stages, your potential buyers will know very little, and will be searching for the basics.
  1. Google looks for pages, not websites. Plan your main ‘pillar’ pages around specific services or products — don’t lump them all on one generic page.

So far, so good.

Your SEO is taking shape, people are finding you, and landing on your site.

SEO is at the top of your sales funnel. It is called the “Attract” stage because you are attracting people to your website.

But don’t stop there. Or you’ll be missing out on the money-pot.

You need to keep going with your Inbound Marketing strategy to the next stage…

2.You put an eBook on the site

Yep, another good move.

You have now put something in place to get people more deeply engaged. It could be:

  • An e-Book,
  • An Explainer,
  • A Checklist,
  • A Fact Sheet,
  • A Comparison table,
  • A ‘How To’ guide
  • Or whatever else you can offer

You can see an example of a fantastic eBook by clicking the link below …New Call-to-action

This is the “Convert” stage of Inbound Marketing, because you are getting micro-conversions such as sign-ups and downloads.

You are now starting build your lists. The excitement is palpable.

Three quick things to watch out for with your eBooks and other Premium Content

  1. Don’t publish light-weight, useless rubbish. You want to bring people back again and again. If their last experience with you was a waste of time, you’ll lose them.
  2. As with SEO, think about the Buyer’s Journey. Offer as range of Premium Content resources to meet a wide range of needs.

Think about how you can connect with people who know stuff — AND with people who know stuff-all.

  1. Use your Premium Content as leverage to get info from your potential buyers. “I’ll give you this awesome e-Book if you just tell me your role on this iddy-biddy form. It won’t hurt, and it will be worthwhile. I promise!”

Each person who downloads one of those resources fills out a form to do so — thus giving you their email address and some other information so you can stay in touch.

NOTE: We have a free eBook about this. It’s called “Turning Prospects Into People” and it will give you a better understanding of how the people you want to reach are thinking.

To get it, just click this banner…

Want to be heard? Take the time to listen!

You are changing them from just being ‘traffic’ to being people — with problems that you can solve, pains that you can soothe and miserable lives you can cheer up with your amazing products and services.

If you are smart with your forms, you’ll begin to profile these people and put them onto different lists, based on their problems, or their business size, or their role, or their stage in the Buyer’s Journey.

(You can learn some important stuff about how people will fill out website forms here)

You have now joined two of your Inbound Marketing dots.

Now here’s the next one.

3. You “Sent out some eDMs”

eDMs (Electronic Direct Mail) play an important role in your Inbound Marketing strategy — if used correctly.

But you are thinking, “Hang on bro… isn’t an eDM an OUTBOUND strategy? Isn’t this article supposed to be about INBOUND Marketing?”

Well yes. We are going to blur the lines here a tad. (This is, after all, ‘marketing’!)

We are not talking about those hideous ‘e-Blasts’ that go out to all and sundry and their dogs to ‘try and sell, them some stuff’. (Please. Do NOT do this).

(You can learn more about email marketing — and “Why you shouldn’t send out “Email Blasts” here)

We are talking about taking the lists you created in the stage above, and nurturing those potential buyers with helpful and relevant information that they will find…   well…   helpful and relevant.

It forms part of your Inbound Marketing strategy, because you are working with the people who first came to you.

What you want to do now is to bring them back — by offering more yummy reasons for them to click the mouse in your direction.

Three quick things to watch out for with your eDMs

  1. Your potential buyers do not want to feel like they are being ‘sold to’. Tread carefully with your email content. Use email to promote something of value.
  2. Try sending eDMs that don’t look like a ‘sales email’. Just using your normal email format can produce WAY better results.
  3. And on that subject, as you write, write to ONE person, not to ‘the list’. Keep it personal and friendly.

Above all, you must respect the people on your list. If they think that you are trying to sell them too hard, you will be unceremoniously zapped off their subscriptions list.

Zap comic speech bubble.jpg

Don’t do this. Don’t get zapped.

Be smarter.

Remember how this all began — Inbound Marketing. They came to you looking for answers. If you are to bring them back for a second dip, you must show that:

  • You understand them.
  • You understand their challenges.
  • You understand their pains.
  • You understand their frustrations.
  • You understand their objectives.
  • You understand their dreams.
  • You understand their hesitations.

Walk in their shoes.

Use email to give them reasons so come back.

Send out an eDM to promote your next insightful eBook or helpful Explainer.

Or to tell them about a great new blog post that answers some of their questions.

Do this. And do it well. Your conversion rates will begin to climb. Your costs/per/sale will begin to drop.

Happy Days Will Be here again.

Final words about Inbound Marketing — and an offer from Crockford Carlisle

Inbound Marketing is awesome stuff. If your business ticks the boxes (e.g. If yours is a considered purchase, you have a lot of competition, and an appropriate customer Lifetime Value) then you need to look at this closely.

It is powerful because it is logical — and measureable.

Each of the steps above can be tweaked, fine-tuned and optimised over time, so you can see the weak spots and improve your ROI.

And remember…

As you build out your Inbound Marketing sales funnel, you’ll be creating assets that will work for you for years. And years.

Next steps…

Now you and I know that you don’t want to feel ‘Sold To”. (It says this just a few paras back up this page.) No problem. We’re not going to try and sell you our services.


We will offer you a great ‘next step’ that has value for you. It’s a phone call or a meeting to talk about your Inbound Marketing strategy — and to help you to see through the jargon so you can apply current thinking and digital marketing technology to your business.

You’ve already got a feel for our approach from this article.

We are down to earth, we don’t muck about and we tell it like it is. If you are half interested in Inbound Marketing, we can promise you’ll get great value, insights and ideas from your phone call or meeting.

If you like, you might want a proposal from there. But if not, that’s fine too. We love what we do and the difference it makes for business owners, so we’ll be happy to just give you some money-making insights and leave it at that if that’s what you want.

Just click the link below to request a call. Or phone (07) 3891 3800. No matter where you are in Australia, we are here to help.

Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share.