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Method to Your Greatness: The 4 Stages of the Inbound Marketing Funnel

Mar 2, '16 / by Mark Loehrke


If you’re like most business owners, you probably spend more time looking for new customers than you do focusing on what you do best.

Wouldn’t it be great if customers were looking for you instead?

If that sounds like wishful thinking (or, less generously, cuckoo talk), you may want to consider the power of the inbound marketing funnel.

As the name suggests, inbound is the art and science of reconfiguring your marketing efforts to make your business so attractive from an SEO and content perspective that customers seek you out instead of the other way around.

This type of marketing is centered on creating marketing that people love. It's guided by the four main stages of the inbound marketing methodology to help turn strangers into promoters:


It starts by attracting new visitors to your site. Sure, you could try to do that with traditional outbound marketing methods such as intrusive advertisements or spam emails, but with the customer-centric inbound methodology, it’s more about having a dialogue with your visitors than shouting at them.

The secret here is an optimized website, one rich in the kinds of keywords that your potential customers are probably already searching for.

Related Content: Why a HubSpot Website Is Your Best Marketing Tool

Those keywords are best put to use in great content like educational blog posts that help answer the questions or provide the solutions for which your target audience is looking. And if they don’t find you by search, maybe they’ll notice your terrific content as a result of your ambitious social media outreach.     


You’ve attracted visitors to your website! Great! Now what? Now it’s time to turn those new visitors into leads by getting their contact information.

Of course, most savvy Internet users (and who’s savvier than someone who came to your site?) know better than to just hand out their email address or phone number without getting something in return.

Fortunately, as a budding inbound marketer, you’re prepared with the right offer on a well-designed landing page, form or call-to-action. A great eBook, an insightful whitepaper or a helpful tip sheet – particularly when aligned with the specific content that a visitor came to your site to read – can be a perfect way to get the contact information you need to transform that visitor into a lead.


Leads are wonderful, but customers pay the bills. Working under the auspices of inbound marketing, you purposely avoided mentioning your own attributes in the early stages of attracting and converting, but finally it’s your time to shine.  

Now that they know what an expert you are based on your blog content and maybe a whitepaper, your visitors will surely want to know how you can help them solve their problems and build their businesses.

Capitalize on this with a targeted email strategy that drills down to the specifics of how you can put your expertise into action to help fulfill their vision.

But email is kind of old-fashioned, right? That’s one of the hallmarks of inbound marketing – it’s not about trashing everything to do with traditional marketing; it’s just a matter of reconfiguring some of the same elements into a better, more holistic relationship between marketer and customer.   


The fourth and final stage of the inbound marketing methodology may sound like a simple warm-and-fuzzy aspiration, but it’s actually crucial to your ultimate success as an inbound marketer. You’re not just looking for satisfied customers (although you certainly want that), you’re looking for delighted customers, the kind who are so thrilled by your combination of content and context that they become promoters of the products and services they love.   

How do you delight customers?

  • Solve problems
  • Provide recommendations
  • Be yourself

This doesn’t happen easily and it doesn’t happen overnight. Promoters become promoters because they’re delighted and engaged on an ongoing basis, and that takes work and dedication.

Fortunately, the inbound philosophy is designed specifically to allow you to pay more attention to your ongoing relationships by freeing up much of the time and resources you might have spent trying to acquire those customers in the first place.

While there’s much more to inbound marketing, these four stages form the backbone of the inbound marketing methodology. In coming blog posts, you’ll read more about these stages and the specifics of executing within them. You’ll also discover key elements such as buyer personas and the buyer’s journeys to help you better understand who you’re trying to reach and why.

Before you know it, your customers will be seeking you out!

How does your marketing stack up?




Topics: Strategy

Mark Loehrke
Written by Mark Loehrke

Throughout my career, I've covered a huge range of topics – from asset-liability management to up-and-coming jazz artists. I know what it takes to sell an idea, and I write content that informs and entertains in equal measure.

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