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11 Intelligent Examples of Inbound-y Ads in the Real World


How are your paid ad campaigns? Are you impressed or do you wish you could give them a shot of espresso? If it’s the latter then you should consider making your paid ads inbound-y. Wait, did you ask, what are inbound-y ads? Good question, well let’s start from the beginning.

Traditionally, paid advertising was considered to be incompatible with inbound marketing. As you will have probably experienced, many paid ads can be unhelpful and fail to satisfy the needs of the user conducting the search: 

Bad content

Interruptive, unexpected ads are certainly not inbound-y 

However, it’s possible to create paid ads that satisfy the needs of the user. By creating an ad that incorporates the inbound methodology, you can create an ‘inbound-y’ ad. 

Hold Up, What Exactly is an ‘Inbound-y’ Ad?

When HubSpot realised 53% of their customers were using PPC alongside inbound marketing, they considered if it was possible to create ‘inbound-y’ ads.

PPC + Inbound = Inbound-y Ads!

We’ve determined the following criteria for classifying inbound-y ads:

  • The ad is shown to the right people, at the right time
  • The ad presents a direct solution to a search query
  • The ad moves the searcher further down the Buyer’s Journey

At least two of the above must be true for the ad to be considered ‘inbound-y’. 

So, What Are The Benefits?

Combining the inbound methodology with your paid search strategy allows you to understand your audience and create extremely effective ads that will engage at all stages of the Buyer’s Journey.  Moreover, ads that are inbound-y are smarter and will be more inviting to people searching online rather than traditional interruptive paid searches.  

We’ve scoured the web and collected 11 smart examples so you can see some inbound-centric paid advertisements in action.

1) EA Access

This EA Access ad was seen on the user’s Facebook account after they had preordered the Xbox One game FIFA 16. The buyer had reached the buying stage of the journey by pre-ordering. This ad then retargeted all customers who pre-ordered the game to offer them an exclusive opportunity to upgrade their purchase and gain early access to play before everyone else.

 EA Access

Inbound-y ads such as this one are far more intelligent than the interruptive and un-targeted ads we have been used to in the past. As with this example, they are created to engage with the right audience and offer helpful and timely information that encourages the searcher along the Buyer’s Journey.

2) The Blog Starter

To find this inbound-y ad, the user searched the term ‘blogging’, into Google. Rather than offering opportunities to build their own blog, The Blog Starter ad offered a free step-by-step guide to learn all about blogging. As the user is at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, they just want to know more about it rather than get started themselves, so this ad is attracting visitors with useful information.



This ad directs the user to a FREE step-by-step beginner’s guide on how to make a blog. This is valuable content that answers many preliminary questions people have before they create a blog. It’s inbound-y because it appears at the right time, to the right people and offers helpful information to educate the searcher.

3) Yext


To see this ad, the searcher visited the Yext website and signed up for an online demo. Then through effective retargeting, this ad appeared in their Facebook newsfeed, offering a free gift for the searcher to come back to the website. As the user has visited the website previously, the ad is immediately more relevant which means that the viewer will more likely be interested in this incentive to visit the site again.

This is a great example of bottom of the funnel lead nurturing as this inbound-y ad attempts to close the deal and does so in a relevant format, at the right time.

4) Contently


As a suggested post, this ad from Contently appeared in the news feed of a user who is interested in content marketing. Rather than bombarding every Facebook user, this ad appears in front of the right audience only. In this case, the user works in content marketing so the topic of this type of ad was certainly relevant.

This sponsored ad is inherently inbound-y as it’s offering useful content about SEO, bringing the reader in at the top of the funnel and moving the searcher further down the buyer’s journey. 

5), Currys and others 

 32 inch curved TV

Here, the user knows exactly what they want. They aren’t looking for blogs to help them decide what size or type of television they want, they are looking to buy a TV. The 32” curved TV ads by, Currys (and the others) are further examples of inbound-y advertisements. They are satisfying the user’s exact need by showing the exact television size rather than trying to catch the searcher’s attention with a different size or type of television.

6) Internet Advertising Bureau UK


When the user saw this advert on LinkedIn it was a result of visiting Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) website and signing up to their newsletter. This ad retargeted the user and invited them to listen to a webinar discussion about the future of video in marketing. As the user has signed up to IAB, the ad is relevant to them and attracts them to the website with insightful information – making this ad inbound-y.

7) Money Advice Service

how to buy a house

After making a search query about buying a house, this ad offers all the information to questions people will likely have when buying a property. The ad is perfect for visitors at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. At this point in time, they are lacking information and don’t want to be hassled by house sellers, they just want to increase their knowledge.

This inbound-y ad offers all the insightful information first time home buyers would need to attract them to the website.


This Facebook ad appeared on the user’s sidebar after they had been searching for more information online on how to improve their business’ marketing strategy. At this stage, the user is still looking for information so this ad by Intercom, a marketing software company, is a perfect example of an inbound-y ad in action. It attracts the user to the site with valuable information and will hopefully guide them onto the next stage of the buyer’s journey. 

9) Michael Hyatt – Virtual Mentor 

Michael Hyatt

This Facebook ad is inbound-y as it appeared in front of relevant people. As the user follows Jeff Goins on Facebook, this invitation to join their FREE online event was a great top of the funnel offer. The ad is being shown to the right people and encourages them along the buyer’s journey as the free session offered insightful and valuable information.

10) Gum Gum

Gum Gum

Another inbound-y advert found on LinkedIn. The user follows GumGum on LinkedIn and has been to their website before. By retargeting the user with paid advertising, GumGum’s inbound-y ad works to attract the user to the site with valuable information in the form of a free guide. After the user downloads the guide they are directed further down the journey.   

11) WordStream


After visiting WordStream on multiple occasions, this user saw this inbound-y ad whilst surfing the internet. As the user had visited WordStream before this isn’t a random advert to them, it’s relevant to their interests. This ad is inbound-y because it targets people who have already visited their website and is offering valuable information in the form of a free guide to encourage them to visit the site again and hopefully move them further down the buyer’s journey.


If you’re convinced ads can be inbound-y and want to jump straight in, make sure you read our amazing eBook first. In the eBook you will find 5 simple steps you can take to reduce your PPC investment without sacrificing the success of the campaign. 

Download the FREE eBook:

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Why You Should Invest In Inbound Marketing Before CRM Implementation


Since the beginning of time, humanity has sought to answer unanswerable questions, like which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Recently, I’ve come across a question with increasing frequency, that may not be as significant, but is probably even more important if you’re looking to embark upon a journey of accelerated sales growth.

What should you focus on first, building an effective inbound marketing/lead generation process or implementing a CRM to manage your sales and customer acquisition process?  While both are important, the question is should you focus on one before the other? 

To be clear, both are very important to making growth predictable, sustainable and scalable. If you have the resources and bandwidth you should be pursuing and enhancing both of them simultaneously. However, if you must choose between them, the decision you make will have a significant impact on your growth outlook.

Before answering the question, let’s take a look at the fundamental purpose of each initiative.

The Purpose of CRM

There are several advantages of an effective CRM system with the primary purposes being:

  • Building sales efficiency
  • Providing management insight into the status and progress of the overall sales effort
  • Ensuring compliance with the sales process
  • Providing clear reporting
  • Creating greater predictability throughout the entire sales process

The Purpose of an Inbound Marketing Program

Here too, there are lots of reasons you’d want to embark on an inbound marketing effort, with the primary purposes being:

  • Generating greater awareness and engagement with your desired markets
  • Standing out from your competition by creating and reinforcing relevant thought leadership
  • Increasing lead velocity and generating more sales qualified opportunities for the organization

To reiterate, all of these results are very important, but I think it’s pretty clear which initiative should be focused on first. That is Inbound Marketing.

3 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Inbound Efforts First 

1) CRM Doesn’t Fix Bad Processes, But Inbound Can

An effective CRM system provides tremendous value in increasing the efficiency of a good process. However, it does nothing to address an average or poor process.

For more than 20 years I’ve been working with companies looking to improve their results through CRM utilization. All too frequently significant investments are made in software, time is spent training on the system and absolutely nothing changes. The initial reaction is to blame it on bad CRM, when the reality is that it’s bad process that is the real culprit. Designing a CRM system effectively requires that you have a clear and effective demand generation process that can be mapped to the CRM.

While working on the CRM does little to address bad sales process, the process of implementing an inbound marketing approach does a tremendous amount to improve your sales process (and thus your CRM efforts).

Inbound marketing requires that you start at the top of the funnel and work your way through to the bottom. It makes you view demand and revenue generation from a holistic viewpoint, to understand your market better and to align your sales efforts to how your market behaves today. All of these things drive greater revenue opportunities and create the path to gain the very efficiencies that CRMs promise to create.

2) Effective Inbound Methodology Creates Better CRM Application

I deal with a lot of companies that have been using CRM for years. It is a rare event for me to come across someone who has either designed or implemented their CRM effectively. The data is, to put it bluntly, 90% crap.

A tremendous amount of the value you get from using a CRM comes from the ability to slice and dice the data to segment effectively and increase personalization. However, if you haven’t done the basic work of defining your buyer personas, designing the message to enable you to personalize and to determine how you are going to effectively nurture, you won’t have the clarity to use your CRM effectively.

In my experience, effective CRM reinforces an effective inbound marketing and sales approach, it does not create one. I’ve lost count of the number of times a client has had to substantially change their CRM as a result of the creation of an effective inbound marketing strategy.

3) You Cannot Have Predictable Growth Without Predictable Lead Generation

If I were to summarize the two most valuable benefits of a CRM it would be predictability and efficiency. As I’ve shared, inbound marketing creates the environment for an efficient process, but what about creating predictability?

Simply put, you cannot have predictable sales results or predictable growth if you do not first have predictable lead generation. While creating an effective lead generation strategy certainly involves more than just inbound marketing, inbound is a crucial component.

Inbound marketing enables you to build a true funnel that allows you to build a predictable pipeline for growth.  Consider the following:

The natural focus of building engagement that is created by fully adopting an inbound marketing approach builds a more efficient and effective sales process and make CRM adoption a much easier, more profitable effort.

Additionally, a major benefit of inbound marketing is that it creates revenue. No matter how you slice it, CRM is a cost (a valuable one, but a cost nonetheless). Building an effective revenue generation process creates the environment that allows efficiency and predictability to be sustainable.

Investing the time, money and energy into inbound marketing first, puts you in a stronger position to both implement an effective CRM initiative and to accelerate growth.

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How We Buy vs. How We Date: They’re More Similar Than You Think

Published by in category Inbound | Leave a Comment

inbound-marketing-is-like-dating-four-stages-of-datingThey say there’s such a thing as love at first sight … but even if that’s true, how successful do you think you’d be if you approached a total stranger and said, “Hey, I saw you. I am now in love with you. Wanna tie the knot?”

Maybe I’m a skeptic, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t work out so well. (more…)




Are QR Codes Dead?

Published by in category Inbound | Leave a Comment

scan-qr-codeJust a few years ago, QR codes seemed to be “the next big thing.” Shop windows, food labels, band fliers, magazine advertisements — those distinct little black-and-white squares were everywhere, vying for our attention.