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Inbound Marketing Terms Explained: What Are We Talking About?

You’re here because inbound marketing is on your agenda - or at least it should be:

"People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction." ― Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-Founder, HubSpot

It’s a kick-ass marketing approach based on a reliable methodology that top-shelf businesses use every day.

Because it leads customers to you naturally using a combination of search-optimised content and slick strategising.

God’s gift to marketers it might be, but boy is it a jargon-heavy subject. Which can make understanding the intricacies of inbound marketing headache-inducing.

Fear not, friend. We’re here to help. Here are the most commonly used inbound marketing terms unwrapped.

Must-Know Terms

Before you embark on your inbound journey, there are a few terms you should know. These are some of the most important terms in the industry, so do your best to memorise them! We have plenty of resources, so you can expand your knowledge.


hubspot dashboard

HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing platform used by businesses of all sizes and types to streamline and automate their marketing and sales processes.

Included in the platform is a free customer relationship management system, a marketing hub, a sales hub and a service hub.

Competitors include WordPress, Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Salesforce and many more online platforms. However, HubSpot is the only platform that offers multiple services in one package.

HubSpot Partner Agency

A certified HubSpot inbound marketing agency - like Red-Fern - helps businesses leverage HubSpot software, assisting with implementation, campaign management, transparent reporting and ongoing support.

Buyer Persona

A buyer persona is a personal profile of a potential customer. Market research is used to gain insights regarding a business’s audience, including demographics like age, gender, job title, location, as well as personal information like goals and challenges.

This information is collated into individual personas for the business. Content creators rely on buyer personas when creating content so they can target and engage the right audience.

Value Proposition

The unique value your business can offer buyers. A powerful value proposition includes the benefits customers can expect from your product or services, how it solves their problems and why customers should buy from you over the competition.

For example, Mail Chimp’s value proposition is: “Send better email.” It’s simple and it works. Result!

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The Inbound Philosophy

The inbound methodology can be difficult to grasp at first. The idea that people will come to you can be shocking for some! Here are few common terms marketers will use to describe the method.

Buyer Journey

A journey to where? To completing a purchase! Every website visitor can be categorised by their buyer stage - it’s the position they are at in the buyer funnel and this dictates the tone and style of your content.

There are three stages: Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage and Decision Stage. We explain these below.

recruitment inbound marketing

Awareness Stage

Also known as top of the funnel (TOFU). The first stage of the buyer journey where a buyer is trying to solve a problem or meet a need. These users want to be educated or are looking for the best solution to their problem.

Your aim is to comply through content, building awareness around certain problems and organically lead the buyer towards the next stage.

Consideration Stage

Prospects who are in the middle of the funnel (MOFU). At this stage in the buyer’s journey, users have a clear understanding of their problem and are actively searching for solutions.

They’re warm leads, and you can nurture them through content that positions your products or services as the best choice.

Decision Stage

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) prospects are primed to make a purchase. The only question remaining is: who will they buy from? Leads at the decision stage need compelling content that showcases your value proposition and nudges them into making a purchase.

Using analytics at this point will help you evaluate how effective you are at securing leads through content, giving you insights to adjust your strategies and maximise results.

The Marketing Funnel

The inbound marketing funnel consists of four stages. The first stage is attract, where you turn strangers to visitors. The second stage is convert, where you turn visitors to leads. The third stage is close, where you turn leads into customers. The fourth stage is delight, where you turn customers into promoters.

inbound marketing funnel

Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL)

An MQL is a warm lead pinned as being more likely to become a customer than other leads. Content analytics help marketers qualify MQLs via the web pages they’ve visited, content they’ve downloaded and other forms of engagement.

Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL)

A SQL is a potential customer that has been deemed ready for the next stage in the sales funnel first by marketing and then by the sales team.

Sales Cycle

How long it takes a prospect to move through the buyer journey. HubSpot highlights that the average sales cycle is three months. This can increase to 18 months for enterprise-level businesses.

Lead Nurturing Campaign

A lead nurturing campaign is what it says on the tin: it nurtures leads at every buyer stage by developing relationships through content. To achieve this effectively, marketers must listen and understand the needs of their prospects, providing information they value and answering their questions through engaging content.

Lead Scoring

By ranking prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to a company, businesses gain a clear picture of its most prized leads and can prioritise who they engage with first.

This is called lead scoring, a methodology that uses job position, number of social media followers and company size etc to determine a lead’s value.

further reading

If you would like to learn more about the inbound philosphy, read our pillar article


Content is king. If you haven't heard this phrase already, be prepared for every inbound marketer to spew it out! For your content to be crowned, you should learn and practise the terms below.

Content Strategy

Your content strategy defines the content you create, who it’s aimed at and the purpose of your campaign. It’s a reference point for the content creation process and provides direction from beginning to end. You can reshape and realign as you see fit.

Business Blog

A critical inbound marketing tool for lead generation, increasing traffic and emphasising brand thought leadership. Blogs contain written content that builds and maintains relationships with prospects throughout the buyer journey. To gain significant traffic, you shouldn't write blogs any lower than 1500 words.

business blog

Premium Content Offer

Compared to a simple blog post, premium content is longer, more in-depth and takes more time to digest. Businesses usually offer premium content as a downloadable resource that’s featured on a landing page. It carries more value than a blog post and is best for reading over a longer period.


An in-depth, researched and authoritative report on a specific subject. Written with the aim of addressing and solving a problem in detail. Usually average around six pages, although there’s no definitive amount.


Used as a content offering to a web visitor. Links to ebooks can usually be found on a landing page or an email. Longer than blogs, containing step-by-step guides and up-to-date statistics.


Webinars are online presentations or seminars that are recorded or live and invite users from around the world to join and participate.


Graphics containing text and images employed to capture users’ attention and relay information clearly and quickly. See Campaign Monitor’s data-driven marketing infographic.

Call to Action (CTA)

Elicits an action from a user, such as downloading a whitepaper, subscribing to a newsletter or clicking-through to a company web page. Features direct and compelling content to increase click-through and conversion rates. (See below).

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Landing Page

(Psst. The above CTA will take you to a landing page). But if you don't want to, it’s a page on your website that broadcasts a single content offer.

For example, a web page with the CTA: “Download our whitepaper today”. When users click on the link, they’ll be asked to fill a lead capture form in exchange for useful content.

landing page

Lead Capture Form

An online form that asks users to fill out their details (usually in exchange for an offer, content to download or a free software trial). The information captured can be used for building customer databases in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

User Generated Content (UGC)

Content such as videos, blogs, images, audio files, tweets etc curated by unpaid contributors. It’s a strategy to get users to promote the brand organically.

For example, Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign invited customers to post pictures of Coca-Cola bottles with their names on via social media, promoting the product without business intervention and generating millions in revenue.

Digital Marketing Terms

Inbound marketing doesn't stand on it's own. Other marketing methods support it, so it's important to know what they are.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Can be split into three terms. On-page SEO is how search engines read your article for keywords and title tags. Off-page SEO is techniques that improve SEO like guest blogging and influencer marketing. And technical SEO deals with... the technicalities! Such as link building and device optimisation.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

When a user enters a search query, SERP is the outcome (in other words, the pages that appear to the user after a Google search). Do you rank for the terms you want to be found for?

serp result

Google AdWords (PPC)

Google AdWords gives businesses the power to display adverts on Google. Pay for this online advertising method and, when a user types in a relevant keyword into the search bar, your advert will appear on the page.

You can set a budget and can choose to pay only when your ad has been clicked (known as pay-per-click).

PPC can be used to send traffic to your blog in the early stages of an inbound marketing plan. Organic content can take 12+ months to rank (although this isn't always the case) so it’s good to give it a boost.

Measuring Performance

To show results you need to be able to measure performance! Here are a few ways to do that, and a few metrics you should look out for when measuring the success of your inbound campaigns.

A/B Testing

A method of measuring the performance of various components (e.g. a website page, online form, email). Let’s say you wanted to compare two versions of a web page - each with slightly different designs - to see which performs better.

So you display two variants (A and B) to users at the same time. The one with a higher click-through or conversion rate is the winner - and that’s A/B testing!

a/b test


Used to measure the performance of campaigns. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have analytics you can access to measure various user interactions and identify demographics.

Similarly, Google Analytics and HubSpot can provide performance reports that offer insights into how well your campaign is performing: critical information that helps you make informed decisions on your inbound marketing efforts.

Conversion Rate

The percentage of website visitors who complete a specific action - such as completing a lead capture form or making a purchase. The higher your conversion rate, the better your web page is performing.

Click-Through Rate

When a user clicks on a link via a landing page or an email. The click-through rate is determined by the percentage of people who complete this action.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of website visitors who leave your site without taking any other action.

According to HubSpot: “A good bounce rate is in the range of 25-40 percent, and 41-55 percent is roughly average.”

It's also a term used for emails that fail to be delivered due to a server error or invalid contact information.

Exit Rate

Measuring the percentage of people who leave one of your pages to go onto another site. This isn’t the same as bounce rate because the user has visited multiple pages before exiting.

Page Views

The number of web page views. This can be measured using website analytics.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Measuring the return on your investment. For example, the revenue you obtain from paid advertising.

Cost-Per-Lead (CPL)

The cost of acquiring a new lead.

How Did We Do?

Have we missed any? Are you still confused? If so, drop a comment in the comments section or send us an email!

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