• Create an Inbound Growth Strategy in 7 steps

Written by Tobias M. Pasma

Create an Inbound Growth Strategy in 7 steps

  • Last updated: 21 August 2019

Are you seeing low conversion rates on your website, is the conversion between your funnel stages rather low, or are you seeing very low results from your inbound marketing and sales efforts in general? Chances are pretty good that the problem is not so much in the execution, but rather in your strategy. Do you actually have a documented inbound growth strategy and are you reviewing it regularly?

To excel at Inbound a solid foundation is needed before you go all-in on an execution. But how to lay this foundation? How do you actually develop an inbound growth strategy? What do you do and who should be involved? These questions are exactly what we answer in this blog post. It's a guide for you to develop your own inbound growth strategy.


Step 1 - Business Model Canvas

To make sure you have a very clear understanding of your own business model, do an in-depth interview with Management and Product Owners. Let them take you through all the aspects of your business model. Use the Business Model Canvas to guide this interview. This way you make sure you cover everything from Cost Structure and Revenue Streams to Key Partners and Customer Relationships.


Step 2 - Value Proposition Canvas

The next thing is your Value Proposition Canvas. This framework will help you get a very clear understanding of the reasons why your customers are actually your customers. Start with filling in the Jobs to be Done, to get learn the context in which your customers use your product. Involve Management, Product Owners, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service to give you input on the Pains and Gains your customers' experience. Once these things are filled out, take a look at the Pain Relievers and Gain Creators. Lastly, what Products & Services can your organization offer to take away the Pains and generate Gains for your potential customers.


Step 3 - Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. As input for this, you can use a lot of information from the Value Proposition Canvas. Do additional market research, ask for insights from your front-office employees, and take a good look at the data you have on your existing customers. If you are a bit of experience with AI or advanced analytics, test with K-means clustering on your CRM data to see if there are certain segments (potential profiles) that you haven't thought of.

No put all this research together into some actual profiles. Add demographic data, interests, and knowledge levels to the profile. If you have a chance, add psychographic data too. An easy way to do this is to look at LinkedIn profiles of your potential customers and use CrystalKnows to discover their personalities.


Step 4 - Buyer Journey

Now that you have your persona profiles ready, it is time to look at the journey your customer goes through. How do they go from a complete stranger to a loyal, happy customer? There are multiple frameworks you could use to guide you in this process. HubSpot has been promoting their Flywheel model, but I don't find it very useful for this purpose. The idea behind it good, but I would argue it is a bit too simplified for this purpose. I like to use the following stages to define the buyer journey:

  • Pre-awareness;
  • Awareness;
  • Consideration & Education;
  • Evaluation & Decision-Making;
  • Results;
  • Retention.


Step 5 - Goals, Metrics & Measurement

Now it is time to look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) and define your One Metric That Matters (OMTM). Your overall goal might be "Increase revenue by 50% over the coming 12 months". And what are the KPI's for reaching this goal? Amount of sales leads? Funnel stage conversion ratios? Website traffic? Increase cross-sell or CLTV? Define what your KPI's are and who is responsible for reaching them.

Define what the OMTM will be for the coming three months; what metric is the main metric that matters in the coming period. This could be, for example, 'Amount of new Sales Qualified Leads per week' or 'Average Conversion Rate from MQL to SQL stage'. The OMTM is what you will focus your time and energy on in the coming period. So, this might seem a bit confusing because of the name, but in a given year different departments will have multiple and different 'One Metric That Matters''s.

Lastly, define who will report on what and to whom.


Step 6 - Lead Management

Now it is time to get a bit more tactical and focus on your internal processes. These should be frictionless for both your internal teams and for your (potential) customers. Define how and when leads and information flows through your organization. What is your definition of a sales-ready lead and does the sales team agree? Is the marketing team responsible for upselling campaigns or are they merely helping your Account Managers or Customer Success Manager in their endeavors?


Step 7 - Campaign Development

The very last step is actually the first step in your execution phase. You now have all your fundamentals or prerequisites in place. It is time to start working on achieving your goals. Brainstorm ideas, rank them based on potential impact and ease-of-execution and plan your execution cycles. Make sure you always measure what you are doing, so that you are constantly learning from both wins and fails.


Final thoughts

Creating your inbound growth strategy might be a bit of a challenge. You need a lot of involvement from internal stakeholders. So to make this as smooth as possible, make sure you have buy-in and support from management to do this. Also, don't over ask the ones involved. Maybe plan for one meeting with all stakeholders a week, in which you go through one step. This way it will take you 7 weeks to have the whole strategy in place. This might seem like a long time, but note that you only have to do this once. Every three months you make tweaks to the strategy to keep it up to date.

I hope you've found this a helpful blog! Good luck!

PS: If there is something unclear in this blog or if you have any questions about your own inbound growth strategy, please let me know! Leave a comment or shoot me an email! Happy to help!