Inbound Marketing Funnel: What It Is and How to Use It for Your Business

12 mins

Want to receive qualified, relevant, and high-quality leads on autopilot without you doing any outreach?

What if you didn’t have to write emails, create expensive ads, and spend hours looking for personalization information for your sales prospects…

Instead, you can have your leads come to you directly, with them already wanting to work with you.

That’s essentially what inbound marketing is. Instead of you doing outreach to your ideal prospects, leads come to you.

Because they saw your authority content, were in your newsletter, engaged with your webinar, or knew your brand from somewhere else.

Growing a huge following and an audience is one of the best things you can do to your brand on LinkedIn.

And in this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about inbound marketing funnels, how to use them for your business, and start generating leads on autopilot.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What Is An Inbound Marketing Strategy? Examples And Overview
  • Inbound Marketing Best Practices To Save You Time And Money
  • Top 3 LinkedIn Inbound Marketing Strategies To Attract New Customers And Grow Your Business

Ready to start generating leads with a strong inbound marketing funnel?

Before we get started, though, be sure to join our private Facebook group: The LinkedIn Outreach Family. In it, we cover all forms of LinkedIn lead generation strategies and up-to-date growth hacks, down to the exact steps, strategies, and templates used.

Now, let’s get started.

What Is An Inbound Marketing Strategy? Examples And Overview

As mentioned above, typically, in an inbound marketing funnel, leads come to you.

And when that happens, they also usually filter themselves out.

So, where do the leads come from, and how do they qualify themselves to work with you?

Let’s take a look.

Inbound marketing funnel stages and process

The inbound marketing funnel labels leads based on how interested they are in what you have to offer.

Depending on your brand and inbound strategy, the stages might vary. However, for the most part, in an inbound marketing funnel, the lead stages are as follows:

  • Strangers – Leads who don’t know your brand, company, or content.
  • Visitors – People who come to your brand, learn a bit about your company, and know what you offer in the back of their minds but are not ready to work with you yet.
  • Leads – Visitors who have consumed your content follow you for authority content and eventually give you their contact information. Or, if it’s on LinkedIn, they engage with you in a private conversation to decide if your offer is relevant to them.
  • Customer – Leads who converted into customers by purchasing your product or service
  • Promoter – Optional and final step of the customer journey. Here, existing customers turn into brand advocates, continue to use your services, and recommend your brand to their colleagues.

If that sounds like a lot of steps and it’s hard to qualify inbound marketing, don’t worry.

The benefits are well worth it. And since we’ll be using LinkedIn, finding your target audience will be a breeze.

Here’s what you need to know.

contact-your-prospects

Inbound marketing benefits

According to the Demand Gen 2019 content preferences survey report, 73% of B2B consumers reported consuming between three and seven pieces of content before speaking with a salesperson.

This, in turn, saves the salesperson the trouble of having to educate a lead from scratch. So, your sales and marketing teams will be working together too.

Because if someone’s been consuming your content for a while and is ready to convert into a buying customer, they more or less know what you do.

Similarly, in this methodology, educated prospects are happier and better customers. They’re also much easier to sell to as well.

Then, once you’ve developed your content plan, you can also schedule posts to save a lot of time in the long run.

In addition to that, some of the biggest benefits that come with inbound marketing also include:

  • Fewer expenses.
  • Higher trust and credibility.
  • Qualifying traffic and leads.
  • Opportunity to learn and evolve through understanding your target audience.
  • Developing relationships with other influencers on LinkedIn.
  • Networking and increasing your reach.
  • And more.

Though, one question that often comes up with inbound marketing is if it’s worth it or if it’s better than outbound marketing.

Now, both inbound and outreach marketing have their pros and cons.

But a definitive answer is hard to give.

Depending on your brand, one might be more effective than the other when it comes to generating leads.

But ideally, you should be doing both.

Inbound marketing helps with outreach because the leads you contact will want to learn more about it and read through your content.

And similarly, you’ll have a bigger reach of people to target with outbound marketing based on who liked, commented, or engaged with your posts.

In fact, through a combination of both inbound and outbound marketing, we managed to build a LinkedIn campaign with a 70% acceptance rate and a 40% reply to follow-ups.

And we did this by scraping comments under a viral LinkedIn post. We knew what the target audience was interested in and crafted our outreach flows accordingly based on the post topic.

See the full guide to LinkedIn content retargeting growth hack for the full step-by-step guide and the exact templates we used for this.

The point here is that you don’t have to use only inbound marketing to generate leads.

In fact, inbound marketing often works best when used in conjunction with outreach—as you can always use the content to educate your prospects and prepare them for the sales call.

Though with that said, LinkedIn posts are not the only form of inbound marketing you can use for your B2B lead generation.

Let’s look at some more examples and channels you can use to grow your business and attract visitors with inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing channels and examples

LinkedIn posts and content marketing is only one part of inbound marketing.

Generally speaking, other inbound marketing channels include:

  • Blogging.
  • SEO.
  • Email marketing newsletter.
  • Social media.
  • Viral videos.
  • Online webinars.
  • And more.

However, in the context of LinkedIn and B2B selling, you’ll probably be working with inbound marketing in the following mediums:

  • LinkedIn posts – Different kinds of posts, videos, polls, and so on with the right hashtags.
  • Creating a LinkedIn event.
  • Launching a LinkedIn newsletter.
  • Launching a LinkedIn webinar.
  • Engaging other people within the same industry.
  • Going live on LinkedIn.
  • And more.

Now, here’s an important part we mentioned above.

One of the best ways to increase your reach on LinkedIn is to use both inbound and sales funnels.

So, for example, if you created a LinkedIn poll and it went viral, you can simply scrape that post and reach out to everyone who has already engaged with you.

Meaning you’re reaching out to people who already know you and are much more likely to connect with you!

Now, before we cover practical inbound marketing strategies you can replicate, let’s take a look at some best practices first.

Inbound Marketing Best Practices To Save You Time And Money

One of the best approaches to inbound marketing is to contextualize based on your channel and target audience.

For LinkedIn, some of the best inbound marketing funnel tips include:

  1. Contextualize your content and sales funnel.
  2. Learn and leverage the LinkedIn content format and algorithm.
  3. Experiment with different post types and formats.

Let’s take a look at each in detail.

1. Contextualize your content and sales funnel

For inbound and outbound, you’ll want to know what an ideal marketing funnel would look like for your target audience.

When getting your potential customers from point A to point B, your job is to educate the target audience, provide value, and give them a reason to work with you.

Then, based on your sales funnel, you’ll need a content framework to fill it in.

This could be something like:

  • 40% Expertise posts – Providing value, educating your readers, and establishing yourself as an authority figure in your industry.
  • 40% Engagement posts – Content mainly to engage and boost your reach. For example, tagging people, “comment X if interested” type posts, etc.
  • 20% Product and offer posts – Posts related to your solution and the problem you solve. That could be a case study, use case, or the outcome of your solution.

You’re targeting leads in all stages of their buyer’s journey through a balanced content plan.

Then, the next thing you’ll want to do is this.

2. Learn and leverage the LinkedIn content format and algorithm.

LinkedIn has a different content format and content algorithm than other social media.

One thing you might have noticed browsing LinkedIn is the importance of grabbing attention.

That is why most posts have a strong hook or some kind of elements that stand out (catchy first line, emojis, creative text, etc.).

At the same time, you should always be writing for your audience.

If you’re looking for new LinkedIn content ideas, you should look into:

  • Target audience research – What kind of questions they’re asking, what content influencers are creating, what’s popular and new, and so on.
  • Community groups – You can use LinkedIn groups to learn more about your target audience further or simply share more content in groups where your leads are.
  • LinkedIn events – You have to type in relevant keywords into the LinkedIn search, filter for events, and find what’s currently popular in your industry and what people are interested in.

For more information on this, see our complete guide to formatting LinkedIn posts.

3. Experiment with different post types and formats

Finally, one of the best ways to learn what works and doesn’t is to experiment with different content clusters, ideas, and formats.

The goal is never to be stuck thinking, “What should I write about next?”.

So, here are a few inbound marketing and content templates you can use:

  • How-to posts.
  • List-based posts.
  • Pillar posts.
  • “What is” posts.
  • Opinion pieces.
  • Achievements.
  • Announcements.
  • Strategies and tactics.
  • Lessons learned.
  • And more.

From there, you’ll have to look at the analytics (e.g., post views) and engagement and see what worked best.

Now, to provide more educational value, let’s take a more hands-on approach to inbound marketing and cover some actionable strategies.

Top 3 LinkedIn Inbound Marketing Strategies To Attract New Customers And Grow Your Business

There are many different ways you can go about generating leads on LinkedIn.

But below, we’re covering what worked for us, down to the exact steps and templates we used.

So, if you’re interested in our 3 proven inbound marketing strategies, here’s what you need to know.

1. Profile views inbound campaign

The first option is a simple inbound campaign you can use in conjunction with the above tactics or on its own.

Though, this works best when you’re creating engaging content that’s driving people to explore your profile. So, consider taking the extra steps and optimizing your LinkedIn headline for this campaign.

Here’s how it works.

Strategy:

This campaign aims to reach leads, prospects, or contacts who viewed your LinkedIn profile.

So, there is no need to add a search for this campaign or to find your target audience with complicated Sales Navigator filters. Instead, Expandi will import all of your profile viewers and build the flow based on how you’d like to reach them.

You can make it so that you visit their profile back and endorse their skills to build rapports, or engage with them directly and ask what they’re working on, for example.

Steps:

  1. Go to the Campaign tabs from the Expandi interface.
  2. Select Add Campaign.
  3. Select Inbound Campaign.
  4. Create a custom flow based on your campaign objective or goals.
  5. Then, go to Campaign Settings and set the limits you’d like for this campaign. That is to say, how many people you’d like to reach per day.

Why this works:

A large part of succeeding on LinkedIn includes building relationships and engaging with your leads.

Chances are, someone visiting your LinkedIn profile is interested in your offer and wants to work with you, or they’d like to learn more about your brand.

That is why this campaign is so effective at building rapport.

However, since you can’t qualify if it’s sales leads visiting your profile or people who are outside your target audience, it’s a great idea to focus on engagement as the aim of this campaign.

But you can also set up similar, custom outreach flows with Expandi, depending on your campaign goals.

See our full guide to marketing funnel automation for more info on that.

2. Launching and marketing your LinkedIn event to reach 1,000+ attendees

Launching your own LinkedIn webinar from scratch might seem intimidating, but it’s one of the best ways to attract people interested in what you have to offer.

The idea is to grow it, so you get many attendees and then reach out to everyone who watched your webinar.

Here’s how this works.

Strategy:

We wanted to prepare, launch, and market our own LinkedIn event from scratch with this inbound marketing tactic. Following the tactics below, we managed to gain 1,000+ attendees, avoid the 100 connection requests per week LinkedIn limit, and positioned our brand as an authority figure in the niche.

Here’s how:

Steps:

  1. We did many organic postings before the event from the speakers’ profiles. We mentioned and tagged the key speakers, asked questions, created polls, video teasers, and more to maximize reach.
  2. We used engagement pods further to increase our reach and “force” certain content to go viral. The idea is that the more people engage with a post, the more likely LinkedIn is to increase its reach. So, we took advantage of this to expand our horizons.
  3. Then, we scraped LinkedIn polls and reached out to those who answered. The smart thing about this step is that you can scrape the poll based on what your contact answered. Then, you can adjust and modify your outreach template accordingly. This way, your existing customers receive a different template from your cold leads.
  4. We used Expandi to automatically invite people from our contacts throughout the month to save time.
  5. Then, we scraped other LinkedIn events in our industry to reach out to people we knew would be interested in our topic. For example, if they were attending a LinkedIn webinar about B2B outreach, they’d be interested in LinkedIn automation.
  6. Similarly, we scraped LinkedIn groups to reach our target audience.
  7. Last but not least, we scraped a filtered search on LinkedIn, exported it as a CSV sheet, and then uploaded it as a contact book to LinkedIn. It is another clever way to avoid the weekly connection limit.
  8. Finally, we also launched an automated open InMail campaign for one final outreach channel.

Why this worked:

There are a lot of factors that contributed to the success of this campaign. But at the end of the day, the mix of marketing channels, inbound and outbound tactics, and consistent promotion did the trick.

If you feel like you have a lot to say about working in your industry that no one else is focusing on, this marketing tactic is for you.

For a more detailed explanation of the steps and the exact outreach templates we used, see our full guide to LinkedIn event promotion strategies.

3. Content retargeting

We briefly covered this tactic above, but it’s so powerful it deserves its own section.

Strategy:

We’re scraping and reaching out to people who commented under or engaged with a certain post with a content retargeting strategy.

So, if you’re getting a lot of engagement on LinkedIn and want to engage with your leads on autopilot actively, this marketing tactic might be worth a shot. Since it uses both inbound and outbound marketing methods, this can be a great way to reach more people while creating helpful content.

Note: This tactic works best if you’re already focusing on inbound marketing and creating quality content that’s getting decent engagement.

Steps:

  1. There are 2 ways you can approach this marketing tactic:
    a. You can select your top LinkedIn posts that went viral or gained a lot of engagement.
    b. Or you can find viral posts by other influencers and scrape that instead.
  2. Then, copy the URL of the LinkedIn post you want to scrape.
  3. Create a New Search in Expandi and drop the URL of the post.
  4. Write personalized connection requests based on the post you scrape. Be sure to mention something specific from the post they commented under so they know what you’re referring to.
  5. And finally, as a bonus point, this campaign also works well if you have relevant content. So, for example, if they liked a post by one influencer on LinkedIn, your content should be similar or higher quality so that they have a reason to check it out. This is also a softer sell.

Why it worked:

The whole point of this marketing tactic is to find your target audience and reach out to them based on their interests. This way, you’re not pitching to cold leads randomly. Instead, you already have something in common with your leads, and you can leverage that as a great conversational starter. They’re much more likely to connect with you this way too.

Using this LinkedIn tactic, you can scrape your posts, LinkedIn polls, or viral posts by other influencers on the platform.

contact-your-prospects

Conclusion

And that’s a wrap!

Hope this guide to the inbound marketing funnel was helpful.

Now that you have a better idea of what it is and how it works, you should focus on your ideal customer persona and start creating content based on them.

However, keep in mind that one of the best ways to leverage your content marketing is to look at it as part of your overall sales funnel.

Then, you can also combine it with outbound marketing tactics to get your content in front of the right people.

Ready to launch your first LinkedIn campaign to engage your target audience and start generating business leads on autopilot?

You can begin today with a free, 7-day Expandi trial and start automating your email messages and LinkedIn sequences and start utilizing all the marketing tactics covered above.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for more practical inbound strategies and proven LinkedIn guides, be sure to join our private Facebook group, The LinkedIn Outreach Family. Inside, you’ll find other LinkedIn marketers and content creators sharing their insights and what worked for them.

THIS FREE eBOOK REVEALS EVERYTHING

This eBook is your ticket to never wondering how to promote your LinkedIn event the right way ever again

This FREE eBook will teach you all the tricks

  • The exact 1on1 examples we used (many times over) from our content plan (posts, video, polls)
  • How to automatically Invite your network throughout the month
  • 7 ‘Untapped Promotion’ strategies to get over 1000+ people to register for your event
  • How to interact with all attendees before the event and after the event

What works now won’t work again in a few months 😉 So…If you want take the swing and benefits – before it’s too late and before everyone starts using them

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