Startup Marketing | A Beginner’s Guide To Using Inbound

Learn about inbound for your startup marketing- from the basics to awesome tools for you own content marketing campaigns.


Inbound marketing, a term coined by HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan in the early 2000’s, is an increasingly important innovation in current marketing methodologies. Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Blogging, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can all be synonymous with inbound marketing for one reason or another. Simply put, inbound marketing is user-focused, placing high importance on providing value through content creation while meeting the consumer were they are at on their buyer’s journey.  

Common Types of Inbound Content:

  • How-To’s
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Testimonials
  • Worksheets
  • Slideshares/Presentations
  • Exclusive Videos & Images
  • Just about any free download upon completion of a web form

This list goes on and on…

Inbound is a great startup marketing strategy due to its low-cost and high impact results. Although it may take a little more time than a PPC Campaign to show its fancy, colorful feathers of success , the value* and prospect relationship building out performs other methods on conversion rates. Not to mention at a very small fraction of the cost!


Use this Beginner’s Guide to Using Inbound for Startup Marketing to:

  • Decide if Inbound is the right choice for your business
  • How to strategize and develop an initial plan focused on the right things
  • Implement processes to reach your goals
  • Extremely helpful FREE or very low cost tools to help you on your way


Still interested in Inbound? Let’s start!


Step 1: Decide If Inbound Is Right For Your Business & Company’s Culture

With high demands for time and resources, determining whether the juice is worth the squeeze is at the forefront for any startup marketing campaign. Knowing where to look and what to look for can help make this determination. We recommend doing some due diligence on your company and competitors before sealing the deal with inbound.

Is Your Company Culture Ready?

Taking on a new methodology that produces results works best if it’s adopted and loved by the entire team. It doesn’t mean that every team member must crank out blog posts every week and master all social platforms, but it does mean that everyone understands the value, supports the efforts, and helps where appropriate.

If your company isn’t ready (particularly at top level), you may need to start by training and educating your team to ignite some excitement about inbound marketing.

Also, take into consideration that it’s an investigative process. You and your team can’t expect to have all of the answers right out of the gate. In fact, the process of inbound marketing requires you to learn continually about how to efficiently market to your user personas. Everyone involved should be prepared for the long term, not simply one large implementation.

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

Now take some time to look at your competitors. Looking at what your competitors are doing to provide some insight into how creative your organization needs to be to compete on the web.

Start with some of the obvious keywords that are related to your products and services on Google and take note of suggested search terms. See who is ranking and dig in to see how active they are on primary social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google +. Can you determine if they are successful at driving traffic, engagement, or sales? **


Step 2: Identify User Personas (aka Your Target Audience )

Once you have an overall goal in mind, your startup will need customers. It’s your job to make your presence known to the right people (your user personas) and show them that you have something valuable and different to offer.

Inbound defines your buyer personas using your customer base  as the groundwork and adds unique attributes that further describes them. Once your startup has a clear picture of who your target audience is, including the characteristics, motivations, and buying patterns of those users, you can provide content offers that will resonate with what they need and value to draw them to your website.

The inbound marketing process uses defined buyer personas across all stages of the buying process- these are as follows:

  • Attract – Align your content message with what your persona cares about, what they’re interested in, and what they need. Such as proving solutions to their pain points, challenges, or goals.
  • Convert – Transition visitors into leads by gathering their contact information via additional offers comparable to what they find interesting and valuable. A couple examples may include an ebook, whitepaper, worksheet, webinar or something that builds a stronger relationship between your visitors and your company.
  • Close – Use automated software systems to connect with users and help them along their buyer’s journey through additional relevant content offers and top-of-mind email campaigns.
  • Delight – Continue to deliver information users might find useful, especially for those using your product. Send out existing customer discounts and promo codes, or send monthly emails to keep them up to date on products or special deals coming up.

The easiest way to pull this off is to use software like Hubspot, which offers analytics to assist in sending the right messages to your target audience while measuring how those users respond. With an idea of where your prospects are engaging online, in comparison to where you think they are, it can help you improve their user experience (UX).




Step 3: Confirm Your Audience Is Listening & Looking Online

Unfortunately, it’s possible that your inbound efforts will not find your target audience. Whether or not you feel like you know what your audience is and isn’t doing online, it’s a good idea to run some checks to be sure.

Be sure to take some time to double check if your user personas are:

  • Using the web to search for solutions to problems your products or services address
  • Visiting or commenting on related active websites and blogs that are relevant to your business solutions
  • Using social media to engage with other similar organizations
    being drawn in by pay-per-click advertising or higher ranking competitors on Google

Step 4: Determine SMART Goals For Your Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing can be very confusing without a plan. Inbound focuses on content that not only builds on your company’s story but resonates with your target audience. A solid plan can make the difference between treading water and achieve exponential growth. Your plan should result in content that demonstrates that you understand your users’ needs and that you embrace them.

A crucial element of inbound is to create SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. These added components ensure that your time and money is tied to a results-driven strategy. Depending on your focus, your goals should identify the amount of traffic, conversions, leads, or interactions you have coming to your website (or social media platforms) currently as a starting point, and the ways you plan to go about improving those numbers.

SMART Goal Example: “Attract 500 new visitors to your website each month and convert 30 percent of those visitors into leads, resulting in 10 new customers quarterly.”


SMART Goal Tools


Step 5: Strategy Development Meeting

First things first, make sure everyone who has committed to being a part of this new marketing implementation can and does attend this strategy development meeting.

If you haven’t assigned someone to OWN the inbound efforts for your startup, the requests and commitment acceptances should take place long before this initial strategy meeting. Whether it’s an internal employee or a third party, they need to make sure tasks are being handled and always moving forward.

Have the responsible party present the research and initial plan to move forward. Chances are the design will change, but it will make a huge difference to have a starting point and strategy to work from. With the right prep work and diligence, your team will be on its way to successfully harnessing the power of inbound.

Things to consider and identify:

  • Amount of blog posts per week or month
  • Set days & times for publishing
  • Number of content offers to create each month
  • How will social media promotion be handled/executed
  • New or different content types to experiment with
  • Additional external resources needed
  • Assign responsibilities to team members
  • How you will track the progress toward your goals & when


Strategy Development Tools


FINAL STEP: Host A Campaign Kickoff Celebration!

By now you and your team should have a collective understanding of the goals, starting point, and an initial plan to begin Inbound for your startup’s marketing. Make sure to set some time aside to meet as a team and utilize* the excitement of starting a new marketing endeavor for your business. Starting a project on a positive note does wonders for employee moral and motivation. Bring food, treats, coffee, or go out for drinks- whatever is right for your company’s culture (just remember to have fun)!