Get Found using Inbound Marketing




This is part of my series on Building a Sales and Marketing Machine. In this post I provide advice for building your own Inbound Marketing machine- a requirement for most businesses today.

The web has forever changed people’s buying habits. Instead of needing to rely on sales people to send them information, buyers now have Google and other search engines to research products, find competitors, and see how other people rate those products in blogs and reviews. Furthermore they are greatly influenced by individuals that have emerged as experts in particular subject areas who use social media to get their messages across.

This sea change in buying behavior requires vendors to re-think how they go to market, and optimize to make sure that they will get found by buyers using search engines, blogs, reviews, and social media. The term Inbound Marketing was invented by the crew at HubSpot, to describe the techniques that are needed to get found by buyers, and to make sure that the reviews and blogs around your industry segment cover what you are doing. (HubSpot is a SaaS company that provides great software tools, plus education to help you automate Inbound Marketing. The founders, Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan have also written a great book about the topic: “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media)”. Full Disclosure: I am an investor and board member at HubSpot.)

HubSpot produced this great humorous video that highlights the hopelessness of the old techniques in this new world:

As further evidence of this change in buying behavior, I was recently talking to the CIO of a large pharmaceutical company, and he told me how he hates spam emails from vendors, and how he had developed a canned email response to them. I asked him to forward me a copy of that email, and have excerpted a couple of paragraphs from it that quite clearly describe the change:

“Please understand that I get dozens of these types of messages a week. I simply do not have time to read them, dig into them, follow-up on them, or reply to them. The most effective solution to this problem is for me to ignore the messages, which is what I usually do. …

… Finally, a small comment. As a customer, I find this type of approach to sales to be largely annoying to me and unproductive for you. We learn far more about what we want to purchase by searching the web, looking for customer references in blogs and forums, word of mouth, and by finding white papers on your site that concretely describe solutions to problems we are having.”

Remarkable Content is King

A key part of getting found is making sure you show up on the first page of a Google search. The lazy marketer’s approach to doing this is to purchase Google Adwords, and pay by the click (referred to as SEM, Search Engine Marketing). However 85% of people ignore the paid ads, so to be really effective, you will need to perfect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.

SEO requires you to develop great content that your buyers will find sufficiently interesting, different or insightful, that they will want to remark on it. (The authors of Inbound Marketing refer to that as remarkable content.) When your readers remark on your content on-line, using tools like Twitter, Facebook etc., they spread the word virally to other readers and broaden your reach. These comments lead to links back to your site, which lead to ever increasing page ranking in the search engines.

To be successful at this, you will need to keep the content fresh. Traditional web sites don’t work in this regard, as they don’t change frequently enough. What is needed is a blog that you update regularly.

Your blog cannot simply be a sales pitch for your product, but needs to be about topics that your buyers care to read about. The tone could be educational; or humorous; or controversial. But above all it needs to be highly engaging and relevant to them – i.e. remarkable.

When you post a new blog entry, you will see your site traffic surge for a few days, then die back to a level slightly higher than before.The more you post, the faster your traffic will build. But in the end, it is the really great articles that you post that will have the most impact.

Once you have interesting content, you can use social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to get the word out. Your goal is to get other bloggers to link to you, and to have people tweet about your content.

An interesting thing about a marketing department that focuses on Inbound Marketing: it will place a high value on people that know how to write and develop content that draws in an audience. A silver lining to the damage that the internet has inflicted on the publishing industry, is that there are plenty of very talented journalists seeking employment, and they possess the perfect skills for this job!

SEO versus SEM

Like most of things that are good for us in life, SEO requires work and patience before it will payback. So it can be tempting to take shortcuts, and just use SEM (paid search ads). However if it is done right, the results will continue to build, and you will start to build your own audience, and own your own traffic.


We have also seen that the cost of paid search increases as the need to scale the lead volume grows.

The Power of Free

Another extremely powerful way to create inbound traffic and qualified leads is to use a free product or service. A great example of this is the WebSiteGrader service from HubSpot. (If you haven’t tried this, I recommend giving it a try now. It will only take a few minutes.) WebSite Grader has a couple of interesting attributes that are worth studying:

  • It is free of charge
  • It takes very little work by the customer to get some very valuable results
  • It provides its results in the form of a score out of 100. Human beings are very competitive, and when they don’t get a good score, they want to find out how to improve their score. That leads them to wanting to find out more about HubSpot which can help them improve their score.
  • It allows them to compare themselves to their competitors. All businesses care about how they are doing relative to their competition. If they are doing worse, this is a powerful motivator to drive them to change.

Think hard about your audience and whether there is an opportunity to build a similar free web service that would draw them in, and provide great value.

If you are interested in learning more about how Free products and services can help your marketing, please refer to this section: The Power of Free.

Building your reach

Once you have great content and possibly a free product/service, you will want to find ways to drive the maximum traffic to that content. In the last couple of years we have seen some powerful new tools emerge to help with this process in the social media space. Get yourself accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and join in the conversation. (For Twitter, I also recommend downloading the Tweetdeck application.) Start by listening. Watch what people are talking about in your topic areas, and take note of their interests. Once you have an idea of how the conversation works join in. Be careful not to take a sales stance to promote your products, as that will rapidly lose you your audience. However you can draw your audience in with short url’s (see that link to your blog posts and other non-sales oriented content.

This short paragraph is not going to be enough to fully educate you on the ins and outs of using social media to build your audience, so if the topic interests you, I recommend going here to learn more:

Internet Marketing Webinars (see the section on Social Media Marketing).

Influencer Campaigns

In every product area, there are usually already influencers that write the most about that area, and have the largest audience that follows them. To conduct a successful social media campaign, you will want to identify those influencers, and reach out to them to get them to write about your product/service.

To get them to pay attention to you, you will first need to understand what they care about. Read their blog posts and tweets, and try to get inside their minds. Try to determine what appeals to them, and what has clearly turned them off. Then prepare your pitch, and use social media to engage with them.

You will then want to monitor the results by tracking their blog posts, links to the articles, tweets, etc.

For more information…

Inbound marketing is a rich topic area that would take more than a single article like this to describe. For more information, try these links:

Inbound Marketing University

Marketing Resources

I also highly recommend the book:

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This is part of my series on Building a Sales and Marketing Machine. Here is the full list of posts in this series:

  1. Building the Machine
  2. Instrumenting the Machine
  3. Solving Blockage Points
  4. Refining the Process
  5. How JBoss Rose to the Top
  6. Get Found using Inbound Marketing
  7. Focus and Market Segmentation
  8. Where it all started: The One Day Sales Cycle
About the Author

David Skok

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  • sid

    The music from the video is eerily similar to apple's ads

  • Great video. I am still looking for a post detailing the costs of social marketing (time to develop content). If anyone has seen a good analysis of this, I would appreciate the link.

  • It all depends on what you're trying to develop. Tweeting takes seconds. Creating a Facebook fan page for your product takes minutes. Writing a good blog post is a half hour investment every other day. Making a good video about the benefits of your product takes a few hours. All of these can be done for free, or very cheap (in the case of a demo video or similar).

    Now go get started! 😉

  • I would guess you're better at it than I then. Tweeting takes seconds, but finding something useful to tweet about is slightly more time consuming for me. (I do not like to tweet about my latest sandwich.) I have set up infrastructure than links everything together and it is easy now to push messages out based on blogging, but the time to write a blog post is not indicative in the time it takes to develop and gain a serious following. I would imagine there is more serious literature as to development time for typical social marketing campaign, but I have not had time to dig into it yet. Please let me know if you've seen anything along those lines.

  • It's a fundamental understanding of social marketing that comes with time.
    It's not an overnight thing.

    You're right, no one cares about your latest sandwich… unless you are
    marketing yourself as an expert in sandwiches and this is ultimately the
    point of inbound/social media marketing. You have to join in the discussion
    that is relevant to your product.

    Yes, the time to write the blog post is not how long it takes to gain a
    following, but you're going to have to get that following somehow… might
    as well start today.

  • lorenean

    Great information!

  • lorenean

    great information!

  • A great post with much relevant and valuable information. No doubt about it, the tools are good – some even great – but without an understanding of the Process involved in using them, they do not live up to their potential.
    The process of implementing an Inbound Marketing Automation system must begin with a marketing strategy. May seem “old fashioned” when thinking about Inbound, but unless you know what you are selling, to who, and how and when and where, and something about your competitors and a fair amount about your ideal prospects, your chances of success are not good.
    Yet for many high tech start-ups, the above is sadly true and looking to Inbound Marketing won’t help unless you correct the above first. Today 92% of B2B buyers begin their search for a solution on line – hence the shift to Inbound is inevitable. But choosing the right keywords, the ones which you hope your prospects type into Google, begins as a marketing exercise. These keyword phrases are in essence your online brand identity and must be based on the answers to the questions posed above. When you have your strategy, it may be easier for you to design the Process of using your Inbound Marketing Automation into 4 sub-processes.
    1) Attract more visitors to your website through SEO, Social Media Marketing, and, if needed, PPC
    2) Engage their attention with industry leading content (website copy, white papers, videos, podcasts)
    3) Convert them by getting their names and email addresses in return for valued content. Grade their profiles (each time they visit ask them a few more questions) and score their digital footprints (their activities on the site), to rack up points. Keep them in your funnel by automatically nurturing them around their buying cycle, educating them automatically with multi-touch drip email campaigns cultivating them from cold lead to hot prospect.
    4) And when their Grade and Score reach your target levels, automatically feed these prospects directly into your CRM and notify the assigned sales rep (based on product or territory or whatever…). No more cold calls as they person they call knows them from the emails, and the sales person knows the prospect from the Profile and activity on site.
    Our website contains a library of white papers, tools, videos and an extensive glossary, all covering the above in more detail.

  • Eric, your comment provides great additional color to post. I strongly agree with the point you make, and the methodology you describe. Thanks, David

  • This could not be more true. We found on ROI from in-sourcing our inbound marketing was greater than old fashioned sales rep teleprospecting. That even goes for attracting the largest Fortune 100 clients. How people source products has changed tremendously.
    Joel Lessem

  • akivabernstein

    Just today we were contacted by a 30,000 person food services company to pitch SharePoint services. Simple SEO techniques like getting listed with free local business directories and publishing relevant content did the trick.

  • Nice example!

  • akivabernstein

    Just today we were contacted by a 30,000 person food services company to pitch SharePoint services. Simple SEO techniques like getting listed with free local business directories and publishing relevant content did the trick.

  • Nice example!

  • What about using inbound marketing for B2B?Do you think the above principles will work for a CEO?

  • Passion = Great Content

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  • Anonymous

    Blog very informative and reliable. Please keep updating with great posts like this. I booked marked your site and I will e-mail to some friends that I know would be reading.
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  • Guest

    Great post. I am a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the
    time to maintain the nice site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a long time.

  • Mark, thanks for your support!

  • Emily

    I like this post, you have gone into a lot of detail on the subject and have given me confidence that inbound marketing is a better strategy to have. I like the graphs you have on SEO and PPC, I work for a small company with a small budget and so we only use SEO methods, it’s good to see that hopefully that will pay off soon as we haven’t been working on it for too long. We used to post only one or two blog posts a month, but last month we managed to get that to 11, and when looking at Google Analytics, it had made a difference to our visitor numbers.
    I really do feel that a lot of outbound marketing strategies will be a thing of the past in the near future, especially cold calling and emailing, I think companies will soon realise that they’re ineffective. We wrote a blog recently on inbound/outbound marketing and there are some stats showing how ineffective outbound marketing can actually be, it’s impressive to think companies had been wasting so much time and effort. If you would like to read, I’ve attached the link

  • Thanks Emily. Your blog post is a nice reinforcement of the strategy!

  • Its really a great post.I really like the concept of this post and I feel that this is a very unique and rare information that you have managed to compile.You have done a great job by sharing this post with us.I like this post.Keep sharing with us in future too.

  • Nice post about sales marketing.I think for good business your site should be design well enough to attract your clients & visitors.The content of your website should be unique & relevant.Site of any company represent the pictorial view about company services & products so design well.    

  • Carl

    Great video, speaks for itself. we like 🙂
    London Escorts

  • Rickquote

    This is a expert characters, wow, it is wonderful wild salmon ,I’m worried in these right,I have found it very useful, looking give self-assurance to you as soon as likely to update your works! we will always maintain.

  • bullwinklerocky

    Remarkable! Where were you a couple of years ago when I built a similar model from scratch. Excellent. Will come in handy, for sure.

  • Lukasz

    As title says, inbound marketing is extremely useful when it comes to communicating your presence to potential customers. Anyway, Colibri Tool offers a huge ocean of possibilis regarding internet marketing phenomenon.

  • Katrina Gaya

    Thumbs up with this post! I have to agree, quality over quantity makes a great content strategy on blogs. Actually, i’ve been using Colibri tool, It measures the customer sales funnels and goal conversions you get from each keyword and traffic source. I encourage you to try it too, it worked great for me. Keep your post coming!

  • joy

    Its very informative for Online marketers which having great
    demand of “Seo tools” for enhancement of their seo work.Here is one more tool
    which meet their demands for best seo work and that is Colibri Tool .It is the
    Effective SEO tool since it helps in performing the numerous tasks. This tool
    is really doing well and showing the unexpected results. It provides you fast
    result and give you the appropriate results to which you are looking for like
    traffic estimations, keywords analysis etc… I think you all should try this
    tool even once.

  • akhter

    Marketing through Social media also allows you and others to gauge the popularity of your company.

  • Jason

    Great Advice Dave Quality is the only way to go now a days. If you try to beat the system your site will pay the price. I look at building a site like owning a piece of real estste now. You have to be patient and add one brick/link at a time. Build for the long run. niche profit classroom

  • I’ve been a long time user of social media and have had my own personal and company web site since 1997, but there are always new things to learn. Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah are the co-founders of an upstart marketing firm called HubSpot and their book Inbound Marketing is essential reading for anybody who wants to get serious about using social media as part of their marketing strategy. Halligan and Shah are passionate about inbound marketing and their company HubSpot is one of the ringleaders in building out the statistics that back their concept that inbound marketing is on track to replace many of the tools of the traditional marketing toolkit.

  • Miin


    After five years, the cost of implementing inbound marketing is important too.


  • Andrea, do you have any worthwhile experiences to share?

    Thanks, David

  • Hi David,

    Sure. We are in the process of finalizing two detailed case studies. I will inform you here as soon as we publish them on our website.


  • jdor

    Hi, for a dissertation I am doing on the role o social media in entrepreneurship, I
    would kindly ask you to complete the following questionnaire

    Your help would me much appreciated.

    Kind regards,

  • Hi David,

    We’ve been doing some serious inbound marketing for ourselves and our clients since June of last year. I actually committed before we launched the site to the public that I would spend ZERO dollars on Paid Advertising. It’s a very niche site, we do virtual assistant services, and search engine optimization – but over time we’ve seen an increasing trend of inquiries for marketing automation, and inbound marketing.

    We actually just published our official “Inbound Marketing Services” page out of pure demand. We also put a screenshot of our own personal case study showing us with 60 Top 20 Keywords in Google, and $4,900 USD in traffic cost (how much we would have to pay Google to rank using CPC instead of organic).

    You can check out the case study & how we focus this for our clients here:

    I’ve attached the image to for you!

    Anyways, great post, and thanks for sharing your insight,
    J Hunter
    CEO & Social Entrepreneur
    VA Staffer (Virtual Assistant Staffer)

  • Also, ironically, it was right about the year mark when we really started to see traffic kick in. The last few months it has skyrocketed. I believe that Google gives domain age a lot of priority in what it thinks will be “reliable” good content.

  • Very cool info 🙂

  • Allan Fernandes

    Hey David, just thought I’d let you know that is broken. Anyway, thanks for the post, lot of learnings for me.

  • Many thanks Allan. We’ll ll look into it immediately.

    Best, David

  • Sam

    As always, great content for the entrepreneur community. David your work is very much appreciated.

    We’ve used Social Media to drive inbound traffic and slowly after weeks and months we see the traffic build-up. As pointed out above, it takes time for information to trickle but it does happen. We are at

    Thank you David for all you do!

  • thansks for the post

  • Great video. I am still looking for a post detailing the costs of social marketing (time to develop content). If anyone has seen a good analysis of this, I would appreciate the link.

  • VIvek Vadakkuppattu

    David, this is a great writeup! I couldn’t agree more with you on the fact that content is king, and many (including myself) sometimes take a shortcut of paid adwords or greater focus on the product..

    I can personally attest to the benefits of switching to an inbound strategy. I run marketing for a hi-tech SMB, and we have seen a significant improvement in the quantity, quality, diversity, and velocity of leads ever since we moved to an inbound approach –
    * Grew our leads by ~15 percent yearly, an order of magnitude higher from previous years
    * Increased website traffic by 53 percent in the first two months and 5–10 percent subsequently
    * Helped us do more campaigns than ever in company history – We did ~6x the number of campaigns we had done even when we had a much bigger marketing team
    * Increased how often we touched our customers – We increased the number of times we touched our customers (outward or in response to an inbound interest) by 5x
    * Built a brand in segments where previously we had no presence—and more importantly generated real business

    This transition to a different approach required
    * Developing new skills around developing generic, relevant content as opposed to product content
    * Getting over the organizational inertia against a new approach – our field team, channel partners wanted to know why were reducing our trade show, ad spending and focusing more on content
    * Developing a content generation engine – Being a hi-tech company with products focused around engineers, we had to embrace novel methods such as marketing – engineering tag teams to generate content

    I am of the strong opinion that inbound marketing is THE key for small companies to win the battle against larger incumbents with more resources at their disposal and hence the graphic.

    I saw one of your comments asking for specifics; I have some specifics and details I am happy to share with you. I shared these with the Hubspot team for a customer case study, but I am not sure if it was used.


  • 7 years on, and this blog post is still so relevant and spot on. Great work David!

    We utilise all channels listed above for our company (would love a feedback if you could see anything we can improve on), but the most effective for us has been SEO so far. It’s not our biggest channel in terms of traffic, but the quality of traffic is so much greater than other channels.

  • Telefon Takip

    great article on marketing. Every entrepreneur have to be aware of importance of seo and smm

  • Joseph Cortale

    If you wants to get information about Marketing & Sales you can visit we gives you the best information about Marketing & Sales.
    Joe Cortale

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