Inbound Marketing: 2024 Walkthrough

Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing: 2024 Walkthrough

Using SEO and PPC to Build a Full Inbound Marketing Funnel

Inbound marketing is a holistic marketing approach that brings leads and customers to a business. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, which interrupts the audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections the audience desires and solves audience problems.

SEO and PPC are two of the primary digital marketing channels that are used in the formation of a well crafted inbound marketing strategy. 

The essence of inbound marketing can be distilled into three interconnected principles that form a continuous cycle aimed at growing your business:

– Attract: Not just traffic, but the right traffic. Attracting involves creating and sharing content tailored to the personas of your ideal customers. It’s about providing value through insightful blog posts, social media content, and search engine visibility that resonate with the needs and questions of your audience.

– Engage: Engagement is when you communicate with meaningful interactions. Engagement only occurs once you’ve attracted your audience. Engagement can take the form of well-crafted articles, email campaigns, search ads,  interactive tools, and providing solutions that fit your audience’s goals and challenges, ultimately leading to a purchase decision.

– Delight: Delighting customers involves offering exceptional post-purchase support, fostering a community, and continuing to provide valuable information.  The inbound methodology doesn’t stop at a sale, which is a common mistake marketers make. When you optimize marketing around ‘delight’, you turn one-time buyers into loyal advocates, creating a self-sustaining loop of attraction through their positive word-of-mouth.

 

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, which interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have. Inbound marketing is most effective when you combine multiple channels to form a consistent stream of messaging. 

 

Why is Inbound Marketing Important?

Inbound marketing is important for three reasons. Inbound marketing  is a more efficient way to spend marketing dollars, a powerful strategy for building strong customer relationships, and it has a measurable ROI.

  1. Cost Efficiency: Maximizing Marketing Budgets

Inbound marketing is renowned for its cost efficiency. Statistics show that inbound leads can cost up to 61% less than outbound leads. HubSpot found that content marketing, a key inbound strategy, generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. By focusing on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company, you spend less money on trying to push messages out to an uninterested audience, as is common with traditional marketing methods.

Inbound strategies like SEO and content creation often require a more substantial time investment upfront but lead to continuous returns over time, reducing the cost per lead and maximizing the impact of marketing budgets.

  1. Customer Relationships: Building Long-Term Loyalty

Traditional marketing often interrupts consumers, but inbound marketing is built on the foundation of relationships. It’s about initiating a dialogue and nurturing that connection through personalized content and interactions. By providing value beyond just the point of sale, inbound marketing fosters trust and loyalty, turning customers into repeat buyers and brand advocates. This long-term relationship not only sustains a steady revenue stream but also creates a community of supporters who amplify your marketing efforts organically.

  1. Measurable ROI: Tracking Success with Precision

One of the most significant advantages of inbound marketing is the ability to track and measure the return on investment (ROI) with precision. Web analytics platforms, native ad platforms, and omni-channel marketing tools offer real-time data on how well your content is performing, who is engaging with it, and which strategies are driving conversions. This data-driven approach allows for informed decisions and strategic adjustments to ensure that every marketing dollar is well spent. With inbound marketing, the guesswork is taken out of the equation, allowing for a clear view of the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

 

What Types of Inbound Marketing Strategies Can be Used?

Inbound marketing strategy involves content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, and email to deliver messaging to audiences. 

 

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic approach within inbound marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. The goal is to establish expertise, promote brand awareness, and keep your business top of mind when it comes time for a customer to make a purchase.

Content marketing involves various formats such as blogs, ebooks, videos, infographics, and more, each designed to address the specific needs and interests of the target audience. It is a fundamental aspect of inbound marketing that helps businesses engage with potential customers, build trust, and develop long-term relationships. By aligning content with the interests and problems of potential customers, businesses can organically pull them toward their products and services.

 

Content Planning: What is It and How to Do It

Content planning is a strategic process within content marketing that involves aligning your content creation with buyer personas—detailed profiles of your ideal customers. It requires understanding the preferences, pain points, and search behaviors of these personas to tailor a content calendar that produces material resonating with the audience at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

The content planning process includes:

– Researching Buyer Personas: Gathering data on the audience’s demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.

– Topic Research: Identify the topics that are related to your niche and target audience. Each marketing channel focuses on different topics. For example, in SEO, search engines want to rank authorities on a topic, which means that entity SEO strategies must be used to be seen as an authority.

– Content Mapping: Aligning content topics with the stages of the buyer’s journey, such as awareness, consideration, and decision. In SEO, the content mapping process involves tagging the thousands of keyword ideas with the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey. As a content campaign unfolds, you must track the keywords that are ranking and make sure that you lead your audience through the funnel.

– Editorial Calendars: Scheduling content publication to ensure consistent and timely delivery that matches the audience’s informational needs. The number one issue we’ve seen companies struggle with is an optimized editorial calendar. Many people create calendars that are never followed. Editorial calendars are important because your inbound marketing funnel is broken if you don’t have the right messaging in front of the right people in the right ways.

Effective content planning ensures that the content provided is not only consistent and well-timed but also strategically designed to attract, engage, and delight the target audience, ultimately guiding them towards making a purchase.

 

The Importance of PPC Search Campaigns

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) search campaigns are a form of digital advertising where advertisers create ads and bid on specific keywords for which they want their ads to appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). When a user performs a search that includes these keywords, the search engine displays the ads alongside the organic search results. Advertisers are charged a fee each time a user clicks on one of their ads, hence the term “pay-per-click.”

PPC Search campaigns need to target commercial and transactional keywords in order to achieve a healthy ROI for ad spend. Informational keywords are much better suited for SEO campaigns.

Websites that rank organically for informational keywords should use retargeting to deliver content that is more aligned with commercial and transactional intent. Retargeting is incredibly cost effective and you’re able to consistently get in front of the same audience that learned from you on your blog. 

 

How to Get Leads and Convert Them Using Inbound Marketing

Digital marketing is no different from sales in many respects. Every person is the same when it comes to their psychological dispositions. Before someone buys, they need 4 things:

  1. Value (what can they get from you – preferably at no cost to them)
  2. Trust (why should they listen to you or spend the little time they can afford engaging with you)
  3. Demonstration (what do you offer, why is it important, how does it relate to them)
  4. Call to Action (You need to lead the person to a decision and make them say yes or no)

When you target these 4 elements of the buying cycle through digital marketing, you are creating a sales machine that isn’t limited to man power. With SEO and PPC, every marketing asset, every landing page, every image, every video and every blog becomes a salesperson that is scalable, measurable, and repeatable. 

An example of value content is a free resource that educates someone for the purpose of helping them solve their problems. 

An example of trust content is a message that conveys that you are a reputable business. By using reviews, awards, testimonials and press releases, the prospect will eventually trust you as a reputable company.

An example of demonstration content is a landing page or social media retargeting ad that communicates what you offer, why it’s important, and connects your service or product to a prospects pain points.

An example of call to action content is a landing page or a banner ad on an article that has no distractions from the core messaging that is optimized around eliciting an action from the prospect. PPC is often the most effective CTA method.

PPC gives you quick data insights, which can then be leveraged by SEO to make better content. Better content can be used to increase the cost per acquisition of your ads. Better CPAs on ads allows you to increase brand awareness by showing your ads to more people using an efficient budget. As you increase your impression of market share, your content on organic becomes more trusted. In a sea of options, humans want to click on options that are familiar.

The entire system is cyclical. PPC feeds SEO which in turn feeds PPC. PPC is flexible, scalable, and offers quick insights. SEO is incredible at delivering high ROIs (13x vs 3x on ads). The research of SEO feeds PPC and the data from PPC feeds SEO. At Helium, we love to work with clients on both channels because it allows us to leverage this incredible lead engine and deliver amazing results to our clients.

 

Example Inbound Marketing Campaign

Begin your inbound marketing campaign with a topic map. Topic maps help lay the groundwork for the entire inbound campaign and it helps align the many aspects of your campaign with your audience.

Here is an example of a topic map for the topic of Inbound Marketing:

Inbound Marketing Fundamentals

  • Definition and Core Concepts
    • Attraction Marketing
    • Permission Marketing
  • Principles of Inbound Marketing
    • Content Value
    • Personalization
    • Integration across Channels
  • Importance of Inbound Marketing
    • Cost-effectiveness
    • Long-term Relationship Building
    • Brand Authority and Trust
  1. Content Strategy in Inbound Marketing
    • Content Creation
      • Blogging
        • Topic Selection
        • Writing and Editing
        • SEO for Blogs
      • Video Content
        • Production Techniques
        • Platform Optimization (YouTube, Social Media)
      • Infographics and Visual Content
        • Design Principles
        • Data Visualization
    • Content Distribution
      • Social Media Sharing
      • Email Marketing Integration
      • Syndication and Guest Posting
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • On-Page SEO
      • Keyword Optimization
      • Content Quality
      • Meta Tags and Descriptions
    • Off-Page SEO
      • Link Building Strategies
      • Social Signals
      • Brand Mentions
    • Technical SEO
      • Site Speed Optimization
      • Mobile-Friendliness
      • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates
  3. Social Media and Community Engagement
    • Platform-Specific Strategies
      • Facebook Marketing
      • Twitter Engagement
      • LinkedIn for B2B
    • Community Building
      • User-Generated Content
      • Brand Advocacy Programs
    • Social Media Analytics
      • Engagement Metrics
      • Follower Growth Analysis
  4. Lead Generation and Management
    • Lead Capture Techniques
      • Landing Page Optimization
      • Form Design and Fields
      • Lead Magnets
    • Lead Scoring and Qualification
      • Behavioral Scoring
      • Demographic Information
    • Lead Nurturing Campaigns
      • Email Drip Sequences
      • Personalized Content Recommendations
  5. Email Marketing Integration
    • Email Campaign Types
      • Newsletters
      • Promotional Emails
      • Transactional Emails
    • Email List Management
      • Subscription Options
      • List Segmentation
    • Email Personalization and Automation
      • Dynamic Content
      • Trigger-based Emails
  6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
    • Campaign Setup and Structure
      • Keyword Research for PPC
      • Ad Group Organization
    • Ad Copy and Design
      • Writing Effective Ad Copy
      • Visual Elements in Ads
    • Conversion Tracking and ROI
      • Setting up Conversion Goals
      • PPC Metrics and Analysis
  7. Analytics and Reporting
    • Web Analytics
      • Traffic Sources
      • User Behavior Analysis
    • Conversion Tracking
      • Goal Setup in Analytics Platforms
      • Funnel Visualization
    • Reporting and Insights
      • Custom Reports
      • Actionable Insights from Data
  8. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
    • CRO Techniques
      • A/B Testing
      • User Experience (UX) Improvements
    • CRO Tools
      • Heatmaps and Session Recordings
      • Conversion Funnel Analysis
    • CRO Metrics
      • Bounce Rate
      • Conversion Paths
  9. Inbound Marketing Strategy and Planning
    • Developing an Inbound Marketing Plan
      • Goal Setting
      • Budget Allocation
    • Implementing Inbound Marketing Campaigns
      • Campaign Execution
      • Cross-Channel Integration
    • Measuring and Adjusting Strategies
      • KPIs for Inbound Marketing
      • Iterative Process and Feedback Loops

 

After the topic map has been created, the buyer personas are next. At Helium, we specialize in creating code to solve our marketing problems, so we created a script that provides a great starting point for this information. If you run this code, you’ll get a great summary of information on buyer personas by using python and AI.

The result provides you with information about demographics, psychographics, behavior, and quite a bit more.

Buyer Persona Example
Buyer Persona Example

Code for Buyer Persona: Feel Free to Copy. Make sure to install openai pydot graphvix and openai==0.28.0 to run the code

import os
import pandas as pd
import re
import time
import concurrent.futures
import openai
openai.api_key = os.getenv("OPENAI_API_KEY")
if openai.api_key is None:
    raise ValueError("No OpenAI API key found. Please set the OPENAI_API_KEY environment variable.")
# Define the keyword
keyword = "Inbound Marketing"
num_personas = 3
# Start a chat session with GPT-4
chat_log = [
    {"role": "system", "content": "You are a helpful assistant."},
    # {"role": "user", "content": "What is the weather today?"},
    # {"role": "assistant", "content": "The weather is sunny."},
    # ... additional messages as the conversation continues
]
def add_message(role, content):
    chat_log.append({"role": role, "content": content})
def format_prompt(chat_log):
    """Formats the chat log into a prompt for the GPT model."""
    formatted_prompt = ""
    for message in chat_log:
        role = message["role"]
        content = message["content"]
        formatted_prompt += f"{role}: {content}\n"
    return formatted_prompt
def get_response(prompt):
    add_message("user", prompt)
    response = openai.ChatCompletion.create(
        model="gpt-4-1106-preview",
        messages=chat_log,  # Pass the chat_log list of message objects
        max_tokens=1000
    )
    message_content = response.choices[0].message['content'].strip()
    add_message("assistant", message_content)
    return message_content
# Predict the intent of the keyword search
intent_prompt = f"What is the most likely intent of someone searching for '{keyword}'?"
intent = get_response(intent_prompt)
# Generate 3 personas for the keyword/intent
persona_prompt = (f"Given the searcher is using the keyword '{keyword}' with the intent '{intent}', "
                  "please generate 3 different but unique personas with the following format. "
                  "Each persona should be separated by '########':\n\n"
                  "1. Demographics\n"
                  "- Name:\n"
                  "- Age Range:\n"
                  "- Gender:\n"
                  "- Marital Status:\n"
                  "- Income:\n"
                  "- Education Level:\n\n"
                  "2. Psychographics\n"
                  "- Personality Traits:\n"
                  "- Values and Beliefs:\n"
                  "- Interests and Hobbies:\n"
                  "- Lifestyle Factors:\n\n"
                  "4. Behavior and Decision-Making\n"
                  "- Information Sources:\n"
                  "- Influences on Purchase Decisions:\n"
                  "- Key Behaviors and Habits:\n\n")
personas_text = get_response(persona_prompt)
# Parse the personas
personas = personas_text.split('########')
personas = [persona.strip() for persona in personas if persona.strip()]
# For each persona, generate the responses to the questions
results = []
with concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor() as executor:
    tasks = []
    for persona in personas:
        questions = [
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the most important features or benefits that a given persona is looking for when searching for {keyword}, given a persona of: \n Persona:\n {persona} ?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the most common questions or concerns before making a purchase related to {keyword}, given a persona of: \n Persona:\n {persona} ?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the biggest challenges that someone faces when searching for the right product or service related to {keyword}, given a persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona} ?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. How does the given persona typically research their options related to {keyword}, and where do they go to find information, given a persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona}?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the most effective ways to convince the following persona to make a purchase related to {keyword}, given a persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona} ?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the most common objections when considering a purchase related to {keyword}, and how can they be addressed given a persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona}",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are some unique or unconventional ways to market products or services related to {keyword} given a persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona} ?",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. How does the given persona typically compare different products or services related to {keyword}, and what factors do they consider? \n Persona: \n {persona}",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are the most common misconceptions or misunderstandings related to {keyword}, and how can they be corrected? given the persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona}",
            f"For the following question please answer with a list. What are some emerging trends or developments in the market for {keyword}, and how can they leverage them to gain an advantage given the persona of: \n Persona: \n {persona}?"
        ]
        for question in questions:
            task = executor.submit(get_response, question)
            tasks.append((persona, question, task))
    for persona, question, task in tasks:
        answer = task.result()
        results.append({
            "Persona": persona,
            "Question": question,
            "Answer": answer
        })
# Output the results
for result in results:
    print(result)

 

Phase 2: Attract Prospects with Content

By targeting the topics associated with the topic map, the work of achieving relevance and topical authority in the eye’s of Google are achieved, which leads to organic rankings. By integrating answers to your buyer’s problems and challenges, you build the foundation of a relationship of trust with your prospect.

(The content calendar and content mapping tasks go in this phase. For a more detailed look into the content calendar and our mapping process, contact us and we’re happy to demonstrate in detail)

Strategies: Blogging on Your Site, Guest Blog on Authority Sites or Sites w/ Traffic, Data Studies and Pitch to Journalists

 

Phase 3: Retarget Traffic and Deliver Precise Messages

Use social media ads and search ads to strategically deliver messages to your target audience. By tailoring your messages around the 4 pillars of digital sales (Value, Demonstration, Trust, CTA), you form a chain of messages that build trust and convince the prospect that your brand is the best option to solve their problems.

Platforms: Google, Bing, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok

 

Phase 4: PPC Keyword Campaigns

Campaigns that trigger based on high-intent keyword searches are the bread and butter of an effective inbound marketing campaign. The PPC campaign should be working in tandem with your content marketing and retargeting efforts.

Note: Be careful when you are evaluating the success of your content marketing campaigns. If you don’t set up the right tracking, you’ll let the retargeting and PPC campaign take all of the credit for your content marketing.

Platforms: Google and Bing

 

Phase 5: Nurture Leads with Email Marketing

Once a visitor has engaged with the content and provided their contact information, they are entered into an email marketing campaign. This campaign delivers personalized content, such as additional articles, special offers, and product information, tailored to the user’s interests and stage in the buyer’s journey. The goal is to nurture the relationship, provide further value, and guide the lead toward making a purchase.

Tools: Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Active Campaign, HubSpot

 

Phase 6: Analytics and Data

Throughout the strategy, analytics are used to track user behavior, campaign performance, and conversion rates. This data informs ongoing optimization of the content, targeting, and overall approach. Additionally, customer feedback is solicited to refine the strategy further and ensure it continues to meet the needs of the audience. 

You can use quite a few tools to help with data collection.

  1. Microsoft Clarity for Heatmaps
  2. Google Analytics for Web Analytics
  3. Search Console for Google Search Data
  4. Native Ad Platforms
  5. Omni-Channel Platforms or CDP Tools (SuperMetrics and Segment for example)
  6. Dashboards (Agency Analytics and DashThis for example)

Typical Problems Helium Solves with Inbound Marketing

  1. We Don’t Know How to Target Our Ideal Buyers
  2. Our Content Isn’t Ranking for Any Keywords
  3. We Don’t Have a Documented Strategy in Place
  4. We Don’t Know the ROI of Our Campaigns
  5. We Need Help Improving Our Website
  6. Our Ads Don’t Generate Quality Leads
  7. We Need to Generate More Leads
  8. We Need to Improve the Cost Per Acquisition for Leads

Helium’s Inbound Roadmap

Create Buyer Personas > Document Buyer’s Journey > Document Current Sales Process > Funnel Stage Definitions > Content Gap Analysis > Goals, OKRs, and KPIs > Competitor Analysis > Keyword Research and Keyword Analysis > Content Production Calendar

FAQs

Inbound Marketing for a Helium partner is based on creating educational content for your target buyer segment that pulls them toward your website, where they can learn more about the benefits of what you sell on their own accord. You want to attract people that will potentially become quality leads. Attract your ideal buyer by creating content that’s valuable and easy for them to find based on their buyer persona.

Using context and personalization to deliver tailored messages, continue to engage with, delight, and upsell your current customer base into happy promoters of your company. Analyze the success of your marketing campaigns and determine which areas need further optimization or personalization for future success. Know which marketing efforts are performing best and whether your sales team is focused on the most qualified leads.

We’ll provide ongoing strategy and monthly reporting of our progress so you can feel confident that things are moving forward. We’ll provide this counsel through a monthly 60-minute phone call/web meeting. We’ll also spend time helping you analyze your existing results and strategizing for each next step outside the time frames of these meetings.

We’ll recap this monthly meeting with marketing performance, optimizations, strategy, recommendations, Helium activity review, and next steps.

How Long Does It Take?

Typically, a full inbound marketing program is a minimum 10- to 12-month program. Months 1-2 are goal setting and foundation setup. By Month 3, you should be seeing significant improvement in your reach, engagement, and traffic growth due to the paid acquisition channels. Months 4 through 9 are build-out of lead-generating funnels and ongoing campaign optimizations based on what is working.

If you’re in B2B and see five- to six-month sales cycles, you can expect the same timeframe for inbound marketing, if not slightly longer.

If you’re in B2C or B2C eCommerce, you can expect a boost from ads by month 2 or 3, once we nail the target and messaging, if not slightly longer.

Can I Cancel Anytime?

Yes, you can upgrade or downgrade your program for the coming month at any time. Most programs are Good-Til-Canceled (GTC), otherwise agreed upon.

How much does it cost?

To support products, divisions, or specific funnel goals and focus on demand generation with fully integrated campaigns across search marketing, social media, content marketing, strategy, analysis, automation, graphics, and more—programs range from a $8,500–$25,000 monthly retainer. 

This price does not include the cost of buying the traffic from Facebook, Google, or other networks. Ad spend is on your own account, which is separate from our program fee. Whatever you pay for ads on Facebook, Google, etc. goes directly to them. We don’t mark it up.

Why is the program investment so high?

According to Salary.com, just to hire one marketing manager costs well over $100k with salary and benefits.

Add that to the cost of an SEO expert, a writer (or two), a web designer, a developer, a social media manager, an analytics person, and a marketing operations person, and you’ll be spending upwards of $500k a year just for the people that are doing the marketing.

Then add the tools they’ll need to get their jobs done, the training time needed to stay current, and the expense of replacing any of these employees who don’t work out. It’s our responsibility to recruit, train, and provide you with an experienced and skilled marketing team. Uhuru’s program, for example—say, $12,500 per month—gives you the combined experience of an entire marketing team—$500k in skilled comp, for $150K per year.

Do you offer a Separate SEO or Paid Media Campaign?

Yes, SEO and PPC can be chosen separately.

Andrew Ansley
Andrew Ansley
Andrew is the Director of Marketing at Helium SEO. Andrew loves a challenge and has done SEO for SaaS, Healthcare, Home Services, Ecommerce, and more. Andrew moderates for SEO Signals Lab and won 1st place for SEO writing in a group of 30,000 people. He loves to hike, spend time with his wife and dogs, and mess around with AI.

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