gaspBusinesses that practice inbound marketing attract a lot of attention. I don’t mean that people point and gasp at their building. I mean they get a lot of visitors to their website, and their inbound strategy converts that anonymous website traffic into sales leads. But it’s not without effort, intelligence and technology.

The challenge is that most new leads from inbound marketing are not yet ready to buy. Most website visitors are likely just searching the Internet for information that helps them answer a question or solve a problem. They probably did a Google search and happened upon a helpful blog. Perhaps then, they filled out a web form to download an informative eBook.

These visitors are not necessarily evaluating vendors or even considering making a change. They’re simply aware that they have a question or problem and are out online looking for help with the answer. But for the inbound marketer, this is when the lead nurturing machine really kicks into gear.

It’s not spam if you wanted that email.

Every day I speak with business owners and marketing directors in varied industries like financial planning and manufacturing about their lead generation challenges. I often hear concerns when we talk about starting an inbound marketing program, that their website visitors won’t fill out a form on a website because they’re afraid of being bombarded with loads of marketing spam email.

The advantage that inbound marketing has over traditional marketing, and even standard email marketing, is how well we can get to know our website visitor. Based on the volume of data we can measure using inbound analytics, including both the data provided by the visitor on a web form, as well as the detailed lead intelligence we can glean from their web browsing activity, we can make clear assumptions about what that visitor is most interested in, and deliver more of the helpful content she’s looking for, and not the general marketing fluff she’s not. After all, it’s not spam if you wanted that email.

It’s about TOFU, not spam.

Think of your marketing process like a funnel. Visitors come in at the top of the funnel from all sorts of online sources. Some may have found your blog on a search engine results page, others may have clicked through to your website from a social media post or an email marketing campaign and downloaded a general informational eBook. These are your Top of Funnel (TOFU) leads.

The goal of your inbound strategy is to nurture these TOFU leads through the marketing funnel, by offering them progressively more of the relevant content they’re seeking, that guides them through the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), and ultimately out the Bottom of the Funnel (you guessed it, BOFU), when you would consider them a sales qualified lead or customer.


Marketing automation makes inbound marketing simple(r).

Inbound lead nurturing takes many forms, from personalized website content to data-driven social media marketing, but the most common inbound lead nurturing tactic is automated follow-up email. These “drip” email marketing campaigns are configured to send a relevant email message to a contact when that prospect takes a certain action on your website. For that reason, it is imperative that your inbound plan has clearly defined customer personas, to understand what prospect activity should signal the appropriate marketing follow-up.

If you had to do it manually, it would quickly get unwieldy to manage even a modest number of leads. After all, people visit your website from many different sources and for many different reasons, and are likely at different stages in the funnel when they find your content. Fortunately, marketing automation software is available to maintain an efficient inbound program and effectively measuring the results.

Marketing automation software, like HubSpot, connects all the tools necessary to enable an inbound program, including the contact database and email marketing software needed to create personalized, automated “drip” lead nurturing emails, as well as the detailed analytics to report on the performance of your content marketing campaigns.

There’s no doubt that inbound works to drive website traffic and convert leads. In fact, an inbound methodology is unique in that it can attribute a given marketing action to a specific result. With the right content plan in action, you can personalize marketing follow-up to nurture more leads successfully through the sale funnel, convert more sales qualified leads and prove the return on your marketing investment.