close close

Ultimate Guide

What is inbound marketing?

What is Inbound Marketing? [Definition + Examples]
Inbound marketing is a digital marketing strategy in which a business organically earns the attention of its ideal buyers at different stages of their purchasing journey (awareness, consideration, and decision) rather than having to seek them out and compete for attention through outbound marketing.

Driving traffic, leads, and sales with inbound marketing

Whether you practice inbound marketing yourself or lead a team of content creators who do the work for you, chances are you know that sinking feeling when you generate a ton of content, but you don’t see the results you’d hoped for.

Here you are, hitting publish day after day. And when you check the traffic and sales numbers expecting lots of growth…your metrics have barely budged. 

What could be more frustrating?

If you’re tired of spinning your wheels and wasting money on inbound marketing strategies that don't work, you’re in the right place. 

You see, the problem is that most of the inbound marketing experts and educational resources out there only cover basic, surface-level inbound marketing strategy — and they don’t offer much insight past that. While these tips and tactics might help you see an occasional bump in traffic, they won’t provide you with the explosive organic traffic, sales, and sustained revenue growth that is truly possible with inbound.

Here at IMPACT, we teach hundreds of businesses how to succeed with an inbound marketing strategy that uses our They Ask, You Answer framework. It’s the one piece to the inbound marketing puzzle that makes inbound work for any business, in any industry.

Here are just a few of our clients that have transformed their businesses through their inbound marketing efforts:

Mazzella Companies: Increased their revenue by $20 million and web traffic by 256%.

Aquila Commercial: Skyrocketed their website visitors to 23,000 per month and ranked for 30 times the keywords.

AIS-NOW: Experienced $500,000 additional revenue from organic traffic and grew from about 500 visitors per month to over 5,000.

We’ve created this guide because we want your business to experience the same incredible results. For this reason, we’re not only sharing with you everything you need to know about the basics of inbound marketing, but we’ll also teach you how to apply the They Ask, You Answer framework to your strategy to create a truly successful inbound marketing campaign.

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • The definition of inbound marketing.
  • Inbound marketing benefits for your business.
  • The difference between inbound and outbound marketing.
  • Inbound marketing examples.
  • How to put together your inbound marketing strategy.
  • How to create highly effective inbound marketing content.
  • What inbound marketing tools to use.
  • How to track inbound marketing metrics.
  • How much inbound marketing costs.

These resources will help your business make its inbound marketing strategy far more effective and actually worth all the time and effort you’re putting into it.

Ready to learn how to generate exponential growth in traffic, leads, and sales with high-value, customer-centric They Ask, You Answer content?

Here’s what to know.

The definition of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a digital marketing strategy in which a business organically earns the attention of its ideal buyers at different stages of their purchasing journey (awareness, consideration, and decision) rather than having to seek them out and compete for attention through outbound marketing.

Consider these eye-opening statistics:

The bottom line is, your prospects go to great lengths to ignore your attempts to market to them. So, rather than putting your audience on blast and demanding they pay attention to your message, with an inbound marketing strategy, you create high-quality content and experiences that your customers actually seek out. In other words, inbound marketing focuses on what the audience wants, and that's why inbound marketing works.

Inbound marketing funnel

The inbound marketing funnel visually represents the stages someone goes through leading up to a purchase:

inbound marketing funnel

[Source: Responsify]

In each of the four stages, there are specific methods used to guide people toward a purchase.

Marketing funnel stage 1: Attract

The first stage in the inbound marketing funnel is attracting visitors to your website. But you don’t want to attract all visitors, you want to attract the right visitors.

Components of the “attract” stage of various inbound marketing strategies include:

  • Bottom-of-the-funnel, educational content. Producing high-quality content that centers around your prospect’s needs draws your target audience in and familiarizes them with your brand.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and organic traffic. To attract your target audience on a deeper level, optimize all of your content with an SEO strategy.
  • Social media content marketing. Social media marketing helps connect with prospects and customers.

Marketing funnel stage 2: Convert

Once visitors have found your website, you want to build a relationship with them and turn them into leads.

Components of the “convert” stage of inbound marketing include:

  • Landing pages that persuade users to download or sign up for content offers.
  • Forms prospects fill out with information in exchange for something of value.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs), which are the text or a button on your website that tells the visitor what you want them to do next, such as “buy now” or “request a demo.”

Marketing funnel stage 3: Close

The “close” stage of the inbound marketing funnel is where you guide leads through the sales pipeline toward the final buying decision.

Components of the “close” stage of successful inbound marketing campaigns include:

  • Lead nurturing. Through email, assignment selling, and your website you can nurture prospects through every step of their decision-making journey.
  • Marketing automation. Consider using marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Outgrow, and Percolate to automate tasks and reminders.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software. Using CRM software (such as HubSpot) can help you better organize and access prospects and customer data.

Marketing funnel stage 4: Delight

Even after you’ve made the sale, you need to continue to engage and delight your customer base to build relationships with them and turn happy customers into promoters of your business.

The “delight” stage of an inbound marketing strategy may include:

  • Social media listening. Respond to interactions with helpful and supportive information. This shows you care about your audience and aren’t only looking for business.
  • Feedback forms. Companies also use chatbots, loyalty programs, and surveys to support, assist, and delight customers by gathering feedback.

Inbound marketing methodology

The inbound marketing methodology was designed to meet prospects’ specific wants, desires, and needs by sharing relevant content and resources.

The methodology aims to form connections with prospects by helping them solve their problems and matching them up with a solution and was created by HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan.

The methodology, which again focuses on bringing people to you rather than reaching out to them, utilizes many different forms to create brand awareness and attract new business.

These forms include:

  • Blog articles
  • Video
  • Web design
  • Email campaigns
  • Self-service tools
  • Conversational marketing tools

This content is created to answer common questions, pain points, and challenges your customers face, to evolve the buying experience into a more seamless and touchless process.

Let’s dive into the specifics of the inbound marketing methodology to learn how you can use content to be the No. 1 teacher in your space in the digital age.

Pulling, not pushing

Inbound marketing is effective and unique in that it doesn’t force its message on your audience, while traditional outbound marketing is marketing geared towards reaching as many people as possible versus the right people (think billboards, print ads, cold-calling, etc.). In other words, they “push” their message out to people.

No one wants to be “sold to” anymore. Rather, they want to come to their purchase decision on their own.

The evolution of modern marketing

Inbound marketing has come a long way since Halligan and Dharmesh first introduced the concept in 2007. While the inbound marketing funnel concept and phases are still used to understand how our prospects move through the buyer's journey, the original funnel has been reimagined to better reflect the overall customer experience, which HubSpot says is cyclical: it never ends.

For this reason, HubSpot has since changed their funnel into a flywheel. The original four stages of the funnel are represented by just three similar phases: attract (strangers), engage (prospects), and delight (customers).

HubSpot flywheel

Here’s a quick video from HubSpot that explains why they made this change:

While the two models look slightly different, they function in similar ways. The bottom line is you need to figure out how to cater to prospective customers at each of these steps — turning your visitors into leads, and your leads into loyal or repeat clients — which is the ultimate goal of the inbound marketing methodology.

Inbound marketing benefits

You don't truly see the long-lasting, transformational results with your business through inbound if you don’t commit to doing it the right way.

It can be difficult to get the ball rolling, but once your team hits their stride, these are the benefits to inbound marketing, especially when using the They Ask, You Answer framework to your strategy:

Inbound marketing benefits of alignment

One of the things we teach our clients how to do is align sales and marketing for better inbound marketing results. We do this with what we call revenue teams, where members of your sales and marketing teams regularly meet to create content that has one purpose: creating revenue.

When sales and marketing teams are fully aligned:

  • They trust each other and have mutual respect. They have an open line of communication, as they meet at least once every two weeks.
  • Sales understands and sees the value of their role in creating content that drives qualified traffic, leads, and sales.
  • Salespeople are more fulfilled and happier in their roles.
  • Marketers see more value in their work, taking pride in the direct connection between what they produce and the revenue generated for their company.

Inbound marketing benefits of content creation

Here at IMPACT, content creation is one of the biggest drivers of inbound marketing success. We teach our clients to create their content in-house so the voice and information resonate more with your prospects. We also teach them to involve sales to be sure you’re creating the content that isn’t just nice to have, but truly moves the needle.

Whether you reach prospects with blog articles, video, or email, the benefits of content creation (especially the right content, which we explain more in depth later) are as follows:

  • When your sales team heavily influences the editorial calendar, as well as the priority of which content gets produced and when, the content you create helps your sales team shorten their sales cycle and land more deals.
  • The right content attracts better, more qualified leads that are more likely to become customers.
  • Content can be created for buyers who are already in the sales process. It doesn’t have to be reserved for only attracting new visitors and leads.

Inbound marketing benefits for sales

Many businesses think of inbound solely as a marketing initiative, but it’s more for sales than anything.

Here’s how inbound marketing can benefit your sales team:

  • You can use content during the sales process, both video and written.
  • Your sales team is able to close more deals faster because the content you create empowers them to better educate their buyers faster and spend less time with bad-fit prospects.

In short, the real benefits of inbound marketing aren’t just wins for marketing. Inbound marketing — when properly implemented — is a sales-focused, full-company initiative where everyone wins, and you can see the results in your bottom line.

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

According to Google, roughly 80% of buyers research online prior to making a purchasing decision — long before they even think about contacting someone in sales or reaching out to a company for more information on their products and services.

Inbound taps into this new buyer behavior and is designed to better align your organization with the buyer’s journey, the natural process a modern buyer goes through when searching for a solution online.

How the buyer’s journey works:

  1. Awareness Stage: Prospect has a problem they want to solve or an opportunity they want to seize.
  2. Consideration Stage: Prospect has researched their problem, understands it, and is aware of potential solutions.
  3. Decision Stage: Prospect has narrowed down the products/services and must decide which one to purchase.

In short, inbound marketing is designed to help prospects discover your business in the early stages of the buyer’s journey and to educate them on the benefits of your solution, all while building trust throughout the process.

Now, let’s talk about outbound marketing

As opposed to using inbound marketing to help people find you, outbound marketing aims at trying to reach as many people as possible, whether or not they are active buyers.

In the past, old-school marketers put their products and services in front of people with outbound tactics such as:

  • Commercials
  • Print ads
  • Billboards
  • Cold-calling
  • Direct mail

In the modern digital era, that list has expanded to include Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and other paid media strategies across platforms such as LinkedIn.

But again, in direct contrast to inbound, these tactics (traditionally) have been put out into the world as interruptions. The piece of mail you didn’t ask for, the commercial you skip through (thanks to on-demand technology), the Google Ad that’s in the way of the organic results you’re looking for.

Is inbound or outbound the better option?

Anyone who says that either inbound or outbound is always superior is giving you a biased answer. To determine which one is best, you have to consider your specific business, audience, and your marketing objectives.

Inbound and outbound marketing are two separate approaches that can be used effectively on their own or even together. Each one has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Outbound is a better short-term solution with higher long-term costs, while inbound marketing tends to be the better long-term solution with its own set of associated investment costs.

Your best bet, however, is to focus like a laser on a single goal — to differentiate yourself as the No. 1 teacher about what it is that you do or sell. Only then can you leverage both inbound and outbound tactics to drive the traffic, leads, and sales that you’re looking for.

Inbound marketing examples

In this chapter, we’re diving into a range of inbound marketing examples that have been created by companies that are successfully using inbound marketing to drive sales, so you can use them as inspiration for your own strategy. We’re talking high-performing, revenue-generating content, web design, and tools that have helped these clients of ours grow exponentially by attracting traffic, capturing leads, and driving sales.

Inbound marketing blog article examples

When it comes to blogging, there are topics you should write about first that drive far better traffic, leads, and sales, yet most businesses aren’t willing to address them.

These topics are so effective because they directly align with the questions customers are asking, both in search engines and in sales conversations, but they can sometimes be uncomfortable for businesses to answer — even though doing so is imperative.

We call them The Big 5, and they include:

  1. Pricing and cost: How much your solution costs (including variable factors, considerations, what defines value, etc.).
  2. Problems: The negatives about (or issues with) your solution that buyers ask about.
  3. Versus and comparisons: How your product or solution compares to other options in the marketplace.
  4. Reviews: Honest and unbiased opinions and observations about your product or service.
  5. Best in class: What the best solution available is.

Here is an example of how an effective pricing article is written. (Here are all of The Big 5 article examples for inspiration on how to create your own.):

Pricing and cost blog article: What Is the Cost of an Overhead Crane System?

pricing and cost blog article

This article by IMPACT client Mazzella Companies is the perfect example of how to approach an often touchy subject for businesses: cost.

Although cost and pricing is something most businesses shy away from talking about openly, it’s articles like these that have helped Mazzella see a $20 million growth in revenue.

Why this example works:

  • The author takes the time to explain what those factors are.
  • The author gives ballpark figures and ranges toward the end, even if they can’t give the reader a definitive price.
  • It establishes authority and wins your trust.

Inbound marketing video examples

For businesses using video in their marketing campaigns, you need to know which videos are the most effective so your investment helps your company grow and doesn’t drain its resources.

Here at IMPACT, we teach our clients how to create seven highly effective video types that build trust with your prospects and skyrocket your sales. Each of these inbound marketing videos can be used by your sales team to improve its process.

We call them The Selling 7:

  1. 80% videos. Answer repeat questions your sales team gets asked about 80% of the time.
  2. Bio videos for email signatures. A 90- to 120-second video about your customer-facing team members to share in their email signature.
  3. Product and service fit videos. Explain to prospects why our offerings are either a good fit for their needs, or not a good fit (to weed out bad-fit leads from the start).
  4. Landing page videos. Explain what happens when you fill out a form, increasing conversion rates.
  5. Pricing and cost videos. Explain how much your products and services cost, especially what causes fluctuation in pricing.
  6. Customer journey videos. Shows what it’s like working with your company.
  7. “Claims we make” videos. Proves your business is what it says it is.

The example below represents how to create an effective 80% video. (Here are some more The Selling 7 examples so you know how to create each.)

The 80% video: Buying a Metal Roof? Top 9 Things to Consider

If you ask your sales team how often they get asked the same questions over and over again, chances are they’ll tell you around 80% of the time.

Instead of your sales team answering these same questions during each sales call, you can create these 80% videos that answer these questions in advance.

An example of one of these videos comes to us from IMPACT client Sheffield Metals, where they go over nine things you need to know before buying a metal roof.

Why this example works:

  • It goes over common questions buyers ask, such as cost, quality, and comparisons.
  • It covers a range of product and service information, strung together as one video.
  • In the video description, they list what the video covers so prospects can skip to relevant information.
  • They include a link to a buying guide so that if the prospect is interested, they know where to go next.

Imagine how useful sending a video like this prior to a sales call would be for your sales team.

Inbound marketing web design examples

When buyers find your website, they immediately want to know whether you can solve their problem. To create an effective inbound marketing website, you need to focus on what your prospect needs, not how great your company is, which is what most businesses do.

These website designs show what a useful website should look like.

Homepage layout: Acculevel

homepage layout

Why this example of a website works:

  • The homepage avoids large paragraphs or blocks of text.
  • It provides clean navigation that shows prospects where to go.
  • Prospects immediately see the selection of problems they might be facing and what the business can help them do.
  • Each “problem” a prospect selects results in a popup with more information about why that problem is happening and how to solve it.

This inbound marketing website clearly and easily leads prospects through the buyer’s journey, while educating and empowering them to make their decision along the way.

Inbound marketing content layout: River Pools

inbound marketing content layout

Nearly all of the content on your website, other than your products and services pages, should be educational information that answers all your prospects’ questions and nudges them toward a sale.

This learning center example comes to us from River Pools, which does this exceptionally well.

Why this example works:

  • It features a few engaging self-service tools, such as quizzes and pricing calculators.
  • The page provides a search bar and a “topics” dropdown menu so you can search and browse as you please.
  • It offers plenty of opportunities for prospects to submit their contact information.

All these elements serve to help the prospect find what they’re looking for.

Other inbound marketing examples

Newsletters and email campaigns are a traditional part of the inbound marketing methodology that are still relevant. Newer approaches, such as chatbots and self-service tools, are on the rise.

Here is a sample of what some of our most successful clients are doing in these categories.

Email marketing: W.S. Tyler

email marketing

A manufacturer of women’s wire cloth and mesh materials, W.S. Tyler launched a wildly successful “choose your own adventure” style email campaign. Based on their answers to multiple-choice questions, prospects are sent inbound marketing content that is directly related to their choice.

Why this example works:

  • It offers an out-of-the-box way to motivate unengaged contacts to take another look at your solutions.
  • It personally addresses prospects’ self-identified pain points and challenges.
  • It sends relevant content to the right person at the best possible time.

These emails were so effective for W.S. Tyler that they achieved a 74.14% open rate, which is basically unheard of, especially for unengaged contacts.

Self-service pricing tool: River Pools’ Pricing Calculator

self-service pricing tool

River Pools has an awesome pricing tool to help you find the perfect swimming pool for your backyard.

Why this example works:

  • In just a few clicks, you can plan ahead for unanticipated costs that might come with the options and add-ons the company offers.
  • It informs prospects about every option, with details educating them about each step they take (what the product is, why you might or might not need it, etc.).
  • It allows prospects to select the materials that’ll go into their pool and any add-ons, such as automatic vacuums or cascades.

At the end of the process, after the prospect enters contact info, the quote gets sent off to their mailbox. It’s a quick and easy way to empower buyers to make their own choices.

How to put together your inbound marketing strategy

An effective inbound marketing framework unites your marketing and sales efforts around a single question: What do my buyers want to know?

If you approach your entire inbound marketing strategy with this question in mind, you’ll always be on the right path.

Here are the steps to build an inbound marketing strategy.

Step 1: Establish your goals

You can’t evaluate your own success if you don’t know what that success looks like. For this reason, the first step is establishing goals. Just like with any marketing initiative, you need to think about what you’re trying to accomplish with your inbound marketing efforts.

Step 2: Learn about your audience

How do potential customers find you? It starts by knowing what they’re searching for. Keyword research can show you what the hot search terms are in your industry, as well as how competitive the search landscape is. You can learn about what your competition ranks for in order to best channel your inbound marketing efforts.

Step 3: Build your team

Someone actually has to be doing the writing and video production. You basically have three options, all with pros and cons.

At IMPACT, we recommend you hire an internal team because it’s more efficient, cheaper, and produces higher quality, but this option has its drawbacks as well, such as making sure to hire the right people and provide the proper training.

Step 4: Develop a content strategy

Content writing involves a lot more than just writing. It’s keyword research, brainstorming meetings, building reports, evaluating and updating older content, and more.

For your inbound marketing to be successful, you’ll need to plan how all of this gets done. This means building processes and creating a clear meeting cadence.

Step 5: Get to work

There’s no way around it: inbound marketing can be a lot of work. Building a library of valuable content for your audience takes time.

At IMPACT, we advise our clients to publish two or three new articles each week. If you’re able to keep this pace up for a year, you’ll have over 100 articles.

Step 6: Evaluate, measure, adjust

We recommend using HubSpot to track and evaluate your inbound marketing. With packages ranging from free to enterprise-level, there are options for every budget. HubSpot offers custom reporting options that provide granular insight into blog performance — everything from traffic analysis to revenue attribution.

Step 7: Branch out and try new things

If you’ve got the basics down and a good head of steam, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. What are other ways you can use inbound marketing to help your organization?

As with anything related to inbound marketing, think creatively about the needs of your customers and the strengths of your team.

How to create highly effective inbound marketing content

The following content marketing formats are some of the most useful (read: effective) at attracting leads and boosting sales, and the examples herein will show you how other businesses are executing them so you can see concrete digital marketing ideas that actually get results.

These content formats will help your business gather and convert more leads and build better relationships with your buyers, no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Blog articles

Blog articles are some of the most-used content marketing formats — and it’s for a good reason. Businesses that blog typically get 67% more leads per month and generate 13 times the ROI. When developed properly, they help digitally driven consumers find your website and learn about your products and services.

Stick to the information that helps your potential customers by answering their questions, such as the Big 5 (which we outlined in Chapter 4).

Learn more about these high-converting articles in our free course How to write “The Big 5” best business blog topics.


If there was a “Drop whatever you’re doing, and try this!” piece of advice in content marketing, it would be to incorporate video into your digital marketing strategy.

People watch an average of 18 hours of video online, and when it comes to learning about products and services, 69% revealed that video was their go-to. This is because video is a quick and easy way to digest a wealth of information, and for your prospects who aren’t big readers, video can be a powerful way to connect with potential customers who might otherwise skip reading your blog.

Cover The Selling 7, and you will be amazed at how much easier your selling process becomes.


With an average 4,200% ROI, ($42 for every $1 spent), email remains an effective way to keep your customer engaged with your business. But with over 293 billion business and consumer emails sent and received per day, it’s also good practice to keep your outreach succinct and helpful rather than salesy and pushing people to buy.

When in doubt, think less about your company and more about what you can send to your customers that teaches them something and builds a better relationship with them, even if it seems simple.


Ebooks are lengthy, which means when written well they generally rank well in search; they’re meaty, which means they provide lots of information and value to your customers; and when gated (meaning your user must provide information, such as an email address or company name, to access them), they have the power to build your contact database.

Just be sure that before users download the document (in most cases, a PDF), you make it immediately clear what the consumer is getting, which you can do with a landing page.


There were roughly 118 million monthly podcast listeners in 2021, which is 10.1% more than in 2020. For some, podcasts are an ideal way for users to consume books or learn something new while they perform some other task, like doing the dishes, walking the dog, or commuting.

You can create a podcast from existing pieces of content or chat about different topics with subject matter experts or guests. A great way to use podcasts for building traffic to your site is by posting the audio file along with a transcript, so the keywords are on the page as well.

Tools such as SquadCast or Descript will transcribe the text for you, which you then just need to read through to perform a light edit. We also recommend


Whenever I think of whitepapers, I think super nerdy, in-depth scientific texts with lots of charts and figures that doctors and engineers enjoy. They’re the textbook-like content subject matter experts love. Just one warning: If you’re going to label something a “whitepaper,” it needs to be as in-depth and informative as you can possibly make it.


Checklists are a fun and easy way to help your prospects learn about a topic and all the steps needed to make it happen. It helps those unfamiliar with what you do take action toward accomplishing their own goals.

Social media posts

On average, internet users ages 16-64 who use social media spend 2½ hours on social media per day. Find out which platforms your particular audience frequents based on their demographic information and create engaging social media posts that show how you can help them.

If you have a restaurant, share recipes and enticing photos to show you can satisfy their hunger. If you build overhead cranes, create infographics that show the cost of such a purchase. If you own a quaint bed-and-breakfast, share a picture of how your guests are finding comfort and enjoying a restful stay at your inn.

Case studies

Case studies, which are in essence a form of client testimonials and reviews, can be some of the most powerful pieces of content on your site. Being able to show that a company or client achieved amazing results by working with you helps prospects see how they can be helped too. It builds the trust some need to take that leap of faith in choosing your company over all others.

What inbound marketing tools to use

For marketers, there’s nothing more satisfying than building a repository of tools that help us do our jobs better each day. They smooth out our processes, automate our repetitive tasks, and make us more effective and efficient.

Here are the tools that every inbound marketer should consider, as they can greatly help improve the way you’re able to reach prospects and turn them into paying customers.


HubSpot is an incredible CMS for digital marketers. The content ROI reporting that’s possible when you have both the marketing and sales hubs is unbeatable.

It’s one thing to be able to show traffic and lead growth to the rest of the company, but it’s quite another when you can actually show how specific pieces of content helped a deal close.

inbound marketing tools - HubSpot

Sure, a lot of other platforms offer similar options (either under one roof or as disparate pieces), but HubSpot just does it better than anyone else.

Lucky Orange

For many marketers, Lucky Orange is a staple traffic tool for tracking how your visitors are interacting with your website. It also helps monitor changes.

inbound marketing tools - lucky orange

Each morning, the tool sends you an email detailing a daily or weekly report of your traffic performance accompanied by a source report identifying areas where traffic increased or decreased.

It also features dynamic heat maps and recordings. This means you can look at interactive pieces of your website (like a dropdown you need to hover over) and see how people used it: the number of clicks each link received, movement, etc.

You can also get more granular and view recordings of people who clicked elements on the page. If you view user interactions alongside form submission or navigation, you can see exactly what’s working and what needs to be improved.


The primary use of Semrush is as a keyword research tool, as it provides crucial insight into how many keywords a website is ranking for and how popular those keywords are.

inbound marketing tools - semrush

But Semrush also offers analysis far past just keywords, including technical SEO, backlinking, competitive research, brand monitoring, and content gaps.

Surfer SEO

Surfer SEO is an analysis and planning tool that lets you quickly create an SEO-centric content strategy with pillar pages, supporting content, and more.

With SERP analysis, content planning, and auditing functions, you can quickly get an understanding of the competitive landscape around each topic. Additionally, Surfer has a plugin that allows you to send recommendations directly through Google Docs to your writing team so they can see in-depth recommendations for each page’s primary and secondary keywords as well as the supporting language they should use to achieve search success.

inbound marketing tools - surferseo


We’ve been a remote organization for a while now. But no matter how long you have been remote, things can still get lost in translation when you rely solely on text to communicate with anyone.

That is why Vidyard is such a staple here at IMPACT. Being able to attach a personal video to a proposal, follow up after meetings, respond to a customer, or just the ability to show up with a smile dramatically improves your ability to create better relationships with your coworkers and customers.

inbound marketing tools - vidyard

To top it off, after you send a video, you get a notification when someone viewed it and how much they’ve watched.

Tracking inbound marketing metrics

There are thousands of inbound marketing metrics you can track, spanning dozens of categories. And if this weren’t overwhelming enough, all the experts and metric-tracking tools — including Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Semrush — have different recommendations of which to focus on.

1. Number of content marketing pieces published per week

The most important metric to track — especially when you’re first starting out — is publishing at least three pieces of quality content (articles, video, etc.) each week.

This is because search engines have one mission: Find information that best answers their searchers’ questions and help them meet their goals. When you publish valuable and transparent content on a regular basis, search engines will recognize that your website provides lots of useful information, and you will rank higher and faster in SERPs.

2. Organic website traffic

Despite what other sources might say, at IMPACT we believe organic traffic is an extremely important metric to track. For starters, it’s one of the best ways to measure how well your company is educating people (more traffic means more people are finding you). Also, it’s a leading indicator of more inbound leads and sales. The more people that are on your site, the more opportunities you have to convert leads.

Now, is all website traffic great? Of course not. Website traffic is only great if you have the right type of website traffic (which is where The Big 5 comes into play).

3. Session-to-contact rate

After publishing lots of content, it’s exciting to see the organic traffic pouring in; however, you want to be sure it’s not just any traffic — but the right traffic.

Measuring your contact conversion rate can help you gauge this.

To calculate your contact conversion rate, divide new contacts by the number of total website sessions. A strong contact conversion rate means your website visitors are clicking on your calls-to-action (CTAs) and filling out forms, exchanging their personal information for content they find valuable. (A tool like HubSpot will manage this for you.)

4. Sales opportunities generated from inbound (SQLs)

When you invest in a content marketing program, this is likely the metric your company will pay the most attention to because you want to know the content you’re creating is not only driving more organic traffic to your site, but that it’s also increasing sales opportunities.

By applying the principles of The Big 5, you’ll attract real potential customers who have problems that your company helps them solve. This creates more (and better) opportunities for your sales team and shortens the sales cycle.

5. Average length of the sales cycle

Speaking of shortening the sales cycle, one of the biggest lessons we teach at IMPACT is the importance of aligning marketing and sales. When your sales team and content manager are in step with which pieces of content your sales team needs to close deals more efficiently, the effect this has on your revenue can be incredible.

The revenue team is in charge of developing and executing a content strategy that can be used to increase closing rates and close deals faster — and we do this with the process of assignment selling.

6. Ranking for important keywords

When your website starts ranking for the top keywords in your industry, it shows that your dedication to providing valuable content and being the No. 1 teacher in your space is paying off.

This creates a snowball effect because as your content ranks well, your overall search engine optimization (SEO) success improves — which means more visibility on those search engine results pages (SERPs). In turn, the speed at which your content produces results increases.

7. New sales attributed to content marketing

When your sales are increasing as a direct result of the content you’re creating, it’s no surprise this indicates a content marketing win. Again, content-tracking tools such as HubSpot can tell you exactly where — specific articles or videos — a prospect entered your site, and how many pieces of content they touched before making a purchase.

This means you will never second guess whether the time and energy you’re putting into your content marketing initiative are actually worth it — you will have the numbers to back you up.

How much does inbound marketing cost?

Since the costs of inbound marketing can vary so widely, we’re going to provide average prices based on the assumption that you want the highest-quality work.

You can very well go to Fiverr and get someone to write a $10 blog post for you, but it likely won’t be the quality content you need to win over readers or rank in search engines — and the same goes for almost every inbound marketing task.

With that in mind, the estimates here are how much you should expect to pay if you want to see real results.

Inbound marketing costs

  • Strategy and planning costs. According to PayScale, an experienced marketing strategy consultant earns an average salary of $81,000. Marketing strategy freelancers on Upwork with a high job success score have rates that range from $50 to $125 per hour.
  • Marketing software costs. We recommend using a customer relationship management system (CRM). While you can get a basic HubSpot CRM subscription for free, the industry-standard Salesforce ranges from $25 per user per month to $300 per user per month.
  • Website design costs. Building or redesigning a website yourself with a template is usually the cheapest option:
      • DIY web design can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $3,000 or more — but the real “cost” here is the time and hassle required.
      • Hiring a freelancer, on the other hand, will cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for a simple website and upwards of $10,000 to $20,000+ for a bigger website with custom features.
      • Hiring an agency can run anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 depending on the size of the site, whereas websites with a large page count, custom functionality, and more unique needs can cost between $40,000 and $75,000+.
  • Content creation costs. Content is the most time-consuming part of the process, but also one of the most important. Once you’ve got your inbound strategy in place, you’ll need to publish content on a regular basis.
  • Written content. According to PayScale, a content manager has a salary of about $60,000. If you opt to outsource, you might work with freelancers or writing services like Verblio. On average, you can expect to pay $75 to $150 per post for quality content.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to hire a full-time SEO specialist, you can expect to pay a salary around $46,000, but you may just opt for an external expert to audit your site once a year or so.

Consider training/coaching

At IMPACT, we offer comprehensive coaching and training programs that will help you achieve your inbound marketing goals by building internal expertise.

After an average of about 12-18 months, you complete the program and have the skills and experience to own your inbound marketing from then on.

Comprehensive inbound coaching and training will cost, on average, between $8,500 and $15,000 a month. The range depends on how fast you’re looking to reach your desired outcomes, as well as specific recommendations from your coach.

How can you become an inbound marketing expert?

Now that we’ve covered so much of what inbound marketing is and how to implement it, we’re going to leave you with a ton of resources so you can learn everything there is to know about inbound and driving more traffic, leads, and sales.

If you want to be an inbound marketing expert so you can better grow your business, here’s what to do.

1. Learn how to adopt inbound as a culture

Your entire company needs to understand what makes your prospects tick and how to meet their every need if you want to become the No. 1 teacher in your industry. (Hint: You do!)

Learn more about how to align your company around a culture of inbound with some of our resources:

Building a culture of inbound at any company doesn’t happen overnight, but once your entire company is behind you, the journey becomes far easier.

2. Enroll in inbound marketing courses and certification programs

Maybe you need to brush up on inbound marketing basics or you know enough to dive into the more advanced and technical aspects.

Wherever you are in your educational journey, our courses and certification programs can help:

We also have more courses on IMPACT+ where you can try the platform free for 14 days and train on important inbound marketing skills, such as Crafting The Selling 7 videos that convert (the most important videos you can make to improve sales with video) and Inbound lead generation & conversion optimization (how to generate better-qualified leads).

3. Seek inbound marketing books and podcasts

Whether you enjoy reading or listening to podcasts about inbound marketing, these books and podcasts will teach you about inbound marketing in general, alongside some focused core topics, such as selling with video and creating top-notch content.



There are countless books and podcasts to choose from, and chances are you will find one that you enjoy. These all contribute differently to the inbound marketing conversation, so while you might pick and choose which you read or listen to, don’t hesitate to aim for all.

4. Attend inbound marketing conferences and events

Attending these events either in person or online can help you get your feet wet. Some even offer workshops with intense, hands-on learning opportunities that get everyone in a room without distraction so you can focus on how to accomplish the task at hand.

Here’s how you can access information about some of our favorites:

We also recommend checking out the Business Made Simple (IMPACT is a Certified StoryBrand Agency) and HubSpot websites for information on upcoming events.

5. Learn the essential inbound marketing tools

Having the right tools in place is essential to help lift your inbound marketing efforts off the ground and ensure you’re on the right track once you start.

Here are some of our helpful resources in learning about your inbound marketing tool options:

It’s better to start small and understand the power of these tools rather than jump in feet first and invest in a program or tool you won’t need.

Optimize your inbound marketing with the They Ask, You Answer framework

At the end of the day, all we really want to do as business owners is drive more traffic, leads, and sales.

All these examples we shared with you here illustrate some of the core concepts of the inbound marketing framework we teach our clients called They Ask, You Answer. Companies that implement They Ask, You Answer in their businesses, and do it well, have incredible inbound marketing success.

To take the first step at implementing They Ask, You Answer in your business, talk to one of our advisors who can walk you through how to see these incredible results at your own company.

If you’d like to read more before you reach out, here are some additional resources:

  1. What is They Ask, You Answer?
  2. How to hire a content manager course

With strategic coaching and hands-on training for your marketing and sales teams, we can help your company improve your marketing metrics and scale your business with content — more quickly and painlessly than you think!