Why Inbound Marketing works for web presence.

Written by Stéphane Michaux
SEO is his fetish, Inbound marketing is his trade. Meet Stéphane Michaux from OneDot.
Published on September 26, 2019
Reading time: +/- 8 min.

To help you take charge of your web presence, we'll be discussing "inbound marketing" and why it works for your web presence.

Let's cut to the conclusion right away: with inbound marketing, you're going to be the first to "pull" the customer in when they are searching for something that fills their need. How do you pull a customer in? How do you find out what your customer needs? That's what we'll learn in this blog.

Inbound and outbound marketing difference

Push versus Pull

To understand why you should include inbound marketing in your web presence strategy, you'll first need to understand the basic difference between inbound (pull) and outbound (push) marketing.

Whereas good ol' outbound marketing pushes your message to your customers, inbound marketing pulls them in. So rather than you having to make an effort to push your marketing message to your customers, they are actively approaching you because you have the answers (and products!) they need.

Interestingly, knowing what your customers "need" is quite an extraordinary feat, on which we'll dwell upon later in this blog when we discuss buyer's personas and buyer's journeys. If that is what you were here for, click here.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a methodology used to attract visitors to your site. Either through content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) or good old branding.

In short, Inbound marketing means you're answering questions people are searching for.

"Inbound" marketing means you're there for your visitors when they need you the most. When they "push" out their question to the big Google Oracle, you're there to "pull" them in with your valuable content that answers all their prayers.

The matrix oracle meme about google search with text overlay: "what if i told you exactly what you needed to hear" to illustrate how we search literally everything on google.
Questions? Ask the Google Oracle.

To illustrate inbound marketing even further: as I'm writing this, I'm considering how to formulate my sentences so this blog will come up first in your feed when you search for "why inbound marketing works", or similarly formulated search queries. I don't know for sure if it ever will (no one ever does, for that matter), but I'm trying nonetheless.

I'm mentioning this honest revelation to illustrate a very important part of inbound marketing: delivering valuable content.

Valuable content

Your priority is to create content that answers people's questions. In so-doing, you should be answering their questions out of sheer altruism.

When you are hiding your actual answers behind e-book downloads, email marketing lists, 15 click throughs or "a secret formula" that you should "buy now before it's too late!", then you're not delivering valuable content --you're just a jerk. Resorting to "tricks" to get clicks so your boss may think you're doing a good job is not the way to go if you want to deliver valuable content.

Interaction with your web page is extremely valuable, indeed. I'm just saying: wouldn't it be nice if your visitor clicked on "more info" because they are actually interested to receive more insights? Not because you've hidden the actual answer to their question behind an (extremely annoying) button?

Delivering valuable content means you need to have the intention to write for an audience, not your paycheck. Remember, people are looking for answers to their questions. It's in everybody's best interest to get straight to the point and answer as clearly and concisely as possible. Google thinks the same.

Valuable content thus means you are delivering answers to people's questions, in a concise and satisfying matter. No tricks.

Inbound marketing example

In essence, you want your content to be the first thing popping up in the search results when someone Googles something.

What should I feed my dog?

If you were to Google: "what should I feed my dog" - you can rest assured that multiple Dog Food brands are battling for a prime spot on the first page of Google. If the content marketeers for these brands took care of their SEO, then they have more chances to reach the top results on the first page. More about Google's Ranking Factors later.

Just remember for now that the first page of Google is where it's at and inbound marketing will get you there.

The best place to hide a dead body is page two of the Google Search Results meme text overlay on image of pulp fiction scene by quentin tarantino featuring Samuel L Jackson and Vincent Vega on the background.
Only 7 percent of Google users visit past page 2 of the results (Moz Survey, 2019)

What is outbound marketing?

As we've learned, inbound marketing counts on users finding the answers to their questions on your website. If you have the best answer and you knew how to work the Google magic, then your message will be the first thing most people will see, and probably visit your website to find their questions and/or needs satisfied.

Outbound marketing reverses this relationship: they're pushing out a need that you didn't know you had.

Reverse pull-push relationship

Outbound marketing works differently. It reverses this push-pull relationship. With outbound marketing you are pushing your message to your audience. You become the initiator of the conversation and you are the one sending out the message.

Your target audience has probably never heard of you before, or they have no need for your products. Yet, you want to entice them anyway to visit your website or buy something from you.

In short, you are making them aware of a need they have of which they didn't know they had.

Outbound marketing example

Outbound marketing can probably be better illustrated with some clear examples, such as: "we buy your car" cards and the "new pizza place opens near you" leaflets.

"We buy your car"

Rumor has it that the "we buy your car" cards are just excuses to get close to your vehicle so they can look for stuff to steal, but we'll consider them in this blog as an outbound marketing example nonetheless.

You are probably not in the market to sell your car. Actually, you're probably quite annoyed by this ugly card and want to throw it away, just like most other people. Yet, the vendors keep pushing them out because perhaps 0,01% of the receivers might sell their car to them.

Why do they keep doing this? Well, they have to. Because nobody is actively looking to get scammed

Close up of hand holding "we buy your car" cards. Used to illustrate how irritating they could be when used as an "outbound marketing" tactic.
Good ol' outbound marketing: filling a need you didn't know you had.

Don't sell your car to these guys. Consider the following: Have you ever noticed all the spelling errors on these cards? Some say the vendors of these cards deliberately put in spelling mistakes so they know that the people responding to these "ads" are not particularly sensitive to detail and are therefore most likely to be influenced by their sales pitch. You'll be better off selling your car for scrap metal, is what I'm trying to say.

You did not need this message. It wasn't top of your mind to sell your car or to get scammed. Yet, you might just as well be enticed to give it a shot. If so, then their outbound marketing strategy has worked.

"New pizza place opens near you!"

Another example where outbound marketing reigns supreme is in FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods that are sold quickly and at relatively low cost). Consider the many leaflets that are dropped in your (real life) mailbox on a daily basis to act upon a a 6+1 set of toilet paper promotion. Or the new pizza place that opened "in your neighbourhood" that you "must definitely check out".

"New pizza place opens near you" leaflet, used to illustrate the age-old outbound marketing technique.
Free pizza? Might as well go check it out... right?

You weren't waiting for this message. Nor were you really looking for a new pizza place, because the one you regularly visit already has the best pizza ever. Yet, if the message has connected to you correctly, then you might just as well go check the place out. Once you step foot in their new location, then their outbound marketing message has worked.

In both cases, the outbound marketing message tried to create a need.


  1. Whereas Outbound Marketing "pushes" your message to your potential customer wherein you create a need your customer didn't know they had -- Inbound Marketing reverses this relationship and answers questions and needs your customer is looking to alleviate. The benefit for your customer lies in using your product and services. The way into their decision making process is by providing valuable content, altruistically.
  2. Your ideal customer is out there. You'll want to reach them with a solution to their need. To found out what they need, you'll have to ask them and experiment.
  3. Valuable content digestible for humans is where it's at. Don't over optimize for the Google Bots, because all they want to do is mimic human behavior in the long term.
  4. Optimize your webpages so the medieval Google Bots can read what's there. Using the built-in tagging features is a good start.

We set out to illustrate why Inbound Marketing works for your web presence. By attracting your perfect customer to your valuable content, you're providing a benefit and can thus "lure" them in.

"Why" inbound marketing is good for your web presence is easy enough to answer. "How" is another question, that will be available on this blog series, very soon.

Next: How to find what your customers need?