Building an inbound marketing engine for your startup

SaaSBoomi kicked off its Playbook Roundtable session in Dehli on “Building an Inbound Engine for Your Startup” and it was an excellent learning experience. A collection of brilliant minds united towards a common goal —it was more than just an event.

We had an interactive session led by Sairam Krishnan with practical advice and anecdotes to uncover what it takes to be successful in inbound marketing. Sai shared his journey from humble beginnings in Pondicherry as a Content Writer to becoming the Head of Marketing at Atomicwork. Sai’s experiences at Freshworks, a company that was once a small startup (today, a thriving powerhouse in SaaS), taught him invaluable lessons about growth and resilience.

He emphasized the importance of being in the revenue center, not the cost center—a principle that he learned from his days at Wingify.

Here are some key takeaways from Sai’s session, to help startups build more resilient inbound engines.

Understanding the Core Aspects of Inbound Marketing

1. Positioning: 

Effective positioning involves knowing exactly who you’re selling to and targeting them precisely. Inbound marketing is akin to brand building, where every effort should have a specific target. Once you have identified your core audience, you need to persistently run your campaigns for 6-7 months to see tangible results. 

2. Core Audience: 

Identifying and understanding your core audience is fundamental. Sai emphasized the importance of being in the revenue center rather than the cost center. This means aligning your marketing efforts with revenue-generating activities and ensuring your campaigns are driving conversions.

Defining Your Marketing MVP

Your marketing MVP is a crucial component of your inbound strategy. It involves creating a clear, searchable term that encapsulates your value proposition and resonates with your target audience. If you can’t define this term in a way that is both easily searchable and relevant to your audience, inbound marketing may not be the right fit for your business.

Positioning and Audience

A critical aspect of inbound marketing is knowing exactly who you are selling to and targeting them effectively. In a crowded market, standing out requires precise positioning and a deep understanding of your core audience.

For instance, Freshdesk positioned itself effectively by integrating social media support at a time when it was becoming increasingly important. By identifying and catering to specific needs, you can carve out a niche in a competitive landscape.

The Role of Storytelling and Multiple Touchpoints

Inbound marketing thrives on storytelling and creating multiple touchpoints to engage potential customers. This means bringing your product to people through various channels and telling a compelling story that resonates with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

For example, Freshdesk leveraged the rise of social media by integrating Twitter support into their helpdesk product, positioning themselves as a “social helpdesk” and gaining significant coverage.

Effective Content Creation

Creating the right content is pivotal. Understand what your audience reads, where they spend their time, and what mediums they prefer. For instance, CIOs typically don’t have time for fluff. They value detailed reports on topics like AI adoption and market intelligence. Knowing this, you can tailor your content to fit their preferences, whether it’s through comprehensive reports, insightful blog posts, or engaging podcasts.

Content Tips:

  • Write specific, relevant blogs that address the needs of your ICP, especially in B2B marketing.
  • Use A/B testing to refine your messaging and optimize for conversions.

Optimizing for Conversion

Conversion optimization is about more than just attracting visitors; it’s about turning them into loyal customers. Implement strategies like A/B testing, create an effective pricing page, and use lead scoring to prioritize your leads. Ensure your content distribution is effective and reaches the right audience at the right time.

Leveraging Channels and Touchpoints

Effective inbound marketing requires leveraging multiple channels and touchpoints until the sale is made. This involves a mix of online advertising, social media engagement, SEO, and more.

For instance, by spending strategically on ads and focusing on quality inbound content, you can achieve a high ROI. At the event, it was noted that achieving 70% reach from inbound efforts and 30% from paid marketing is an optimal mix for an ICP of SMBs.

Building a Cohesive Inbound Team

To execute a successful inbound strategy, it’s crucial to have a dedicated team. The event highlighted the importance of hiring quality content creators, SEO experts, social media managers, and community managers. A well-rounded team can drive your inbound efforts, ensuring consistency and quality across all touchpoints.

Affiliation and Differentiation

Affiliation and differentiation are key to standing out. Affiliation helps you connect with your audience on a personal level, while differentiation sets your product apart from competitors. For example, Atlan positioned itself as the “GitHub for data teams,” offering a simple and repeatable solution that was easy to communicate.

Measuring Success

Success in inbound marketing is measured by both leading and lagging metrics. Focus on leading metrics like content production and engagement rates, rather than just lagging metrics like traffic and leads per month. By tracking these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Key Metrics:

  • TOFU (Top of the Funnel): Track traffic and conversions.
  • MOFU (Middle of the Funnel) & BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel): Collaborate with your sales team to nurture leads and close deals.

Wrapping it up

Building an inbound engine for your startup is a journey that requires strategic planning, consistency, and a deep understanding of your audience. The insights from this Playbook Roundtable event underscored the importance of storytelling, multiple touchpoints, and a well-defined marketing MVP.

By focusing on these core aspects, you can effectively attract, engage, and convert your target audience, setting the stage for sustained growth and success.

This article captures the learnings from our Playbook Roundtable Session. To learn more about Playbook Roundtables check out our initiative and join the community for exclusive insights and takeaways you can put to action. 

About the author

Shreya Agarwal

Founder & CEO, Selfbest

Sugandh Parnami

Marketing Content Writer, Selfbest
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