Inbound_Media_Methodology-IdeaAs I’ve discussed in previous posts, the media industry is currently facing a lot of challenges. In working with media companies to overcome these challenges over the past year and a half, I have developed a six step inbound media methodology to help them generate more digital revenue, from their audience and from their advertisers.

It uses inbound marketing to empower media companies to learn about their audience and market to them effectively, as well as make meaningful connections between their audience and their advertisers.

The Inbound Media Methodology


The inbound media methodology has six steps. The first three steps have to do with audience. Inbound marketing enables the media company to see more revenue per audience member, as the audience stays active and engaged with content.

Step 1: Attract strangers

Media companies have a lot of website traffic, and they don’t blog to attract that traffic. Their editorial content makes media companies the ultimate content marketers. But it never fails, when I speak with media companies the first thing they tell me is, “We need more traffic to our website! We want more visitors and need more digital subscribers.” So, the first step of the inbound media methodology teaches media companies how to leverage their editorial content to attract net new traffic - that starts with an editorial SEO strategy, for both on-page and off-page SEO.

Step 2: Convert them into contacts/subscribers

Once the SEO strategy is in place, the next step is to focus on conversions through audience offers. In a previous blog post I explained how most media companies can accomplish their revenue goals with the traffic they already have, they just need a conversion strategy. Working with media companies onboarded by my team, I’ve seen up to a 63% conversion rate when media companies simply add top of the funnel and middle of the funnel calls-to-action (CTAs) to the typical bottom of funnel CTA, “subscribe now.” In fact, media companies have the highest conversion rates of all HubSpot customers!  

Let’s say a media company has a goal to increase digital subscriptions.

  • They add a top of the funnel CTA that encourages site visitors to enter a contest to win tickets to the local NFL’s season opener or asks site visitors to submit a news tip. This conversion adds contacts to the database.
  • If a contact has read five articles but not yet purchased a digital subscription, a media company can specifically serve that contact with a CTA that encourages them to get a free one month subscription.
  • While the contact is using the free subscription, the company can keep the contact engaged by sharing content via email and social media, or serving the contact smart CTAs that gets them reading additional articles of interest while they are on the site.
  • As the contact reaches the last week of their free subscription, they are THEN served a bottom of the funnel offer - once the media company knows that they’ve spent 20 hours this month on the website, and engaged with all but one section.

Voila - that’s how you get more digital subscriptions!

Step 3: Engage your audience

Next, media companies need to develop an engagement strategy for subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Once a media company has contact information for audience members, they can use behavioral data, event and conversion-based actions to serve visitors and contacts with the editorial content they love. Piquing people’s interests keeps them on the site longer, and when they leave, media companies can use email and social media tools to bring them back to the site.

The next three steps of the inbound marketing methodology for media companies focus on the advertiser relationship. These steps help media companies publish targeted advertising offers to segments of their audience based upon audience interests. This leads to an increase in revenue from advertisers, while advertisers simultaneously gain quality leads with purchase intent.

Step 4: Create content and offers with your advertisers

Media companies have been helping advertisers develop offers that go into ads since media companies have offered ads! However, with the inbound media methodology, the media company and advertiser have a unique opportunity to serve offers to audience members who:

  1. Show an interest in the advertiser’s product category before the ad is even served
  2. Show purchase intent

This makes the advertiser offer targeted to the interests of the audience. Start with understanding audience behavior, then build the offer, CTA, and landing page.

Step 5: Promote offers

Once the media company creates the offer for the advertiser, they promote it in a targeted fashion to contacts based on their interests, actions, and behaviors. Using the audience engagement strategy they created in step 3, media companies can now serve this offer in a very relevant and timely manner to its audience through editorial content, on-site CTAs, social media, and email!

Step 6: Connect your advertiser with your audience

By following the previous steps, media companies serve the advertiser’s content to a targeted, more interested list. The landing page and form generate highly qualified leads with purchase intent for the advertiser, that then get delivered directly and in real-time to the advertiser.

The Inbound Media Methodology in Practice

Let’s say you are the VP of Ad Sales at a local daily newspaper and you are sitting down with a local car dealer.

You: Hi Mr. Car Dealer, I’m here to talk to you about my digital advertising products and the wonderful things they will do for your business. I know you’ll be impressed, our website receives over 100,000 daily visits! Impressive, huh?

Car Dealer: Can you tell me, how many of your daily visitors actually subscribe to your publication? Better yet, how many of your subscribers can afford to buy a car from me right now?

You: Ummmmmm... Our banner ads get a 0.2% clickthrough rate, that’s higher than the industry standard.

Car dealer: (looks frustrated)

What if instead, you could tell the car dealer:

  • Out of my 100,000 daily visitors, half of them are subscribers and spend about an hour a day on my website
  • Out of those, 5,000 have visited our auto finance section and shared that they need to buy a car in the next 6 months
  • They’ve also told us that they plan to spend between $25,000 and $45,000, which meets the low and high end of your typical clientele
  • And they are all within a 15 minute driving distance to your dealership

This is the value of the inbound media methodology for media companies.

Example: The Car Pool Giveaway


An example of a successful inbound marketing campaign like this was run by HubSpot customer KTAR, a news and sports radio station in Arizona. Consumers could enter to win a new car or a new pool.

It ran for four weeks and used on-air promos, display ads, text messages, and social media to drive 10,000 visits to their offer landing page. The landing page converted that traffic into 5,000 leads.

1,100 of the leads self-identified that they were in the market to buy a car in the next six months, and 1,000 of the leads self-identified that they were interested in buying a pool in the six months.

The information of the self-identified leads was given directly to the sponsors of the giveaway, for sales follow up.

The station also created a lead nurturing campaign for the remaining leads, so they could continue to bring the advertisers warm leads even after the campaign was off the air. This campaign generated $440,000 in sales revenue through the sale of nine cars and five pools.

In addition to the revenue that the station generated for its advertisers, it also generated $125,000 in incremental revenue by repackaging their digital solutions and upselling their existing advertisers.

This is just one example of a successful inbound marketing campaign run by a radio station. Think about what your magazine, newspaper, TV station, or online publisher could do. Your audience is one of your biggest assets, and inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to learn about them and engage with them on a deeper level, and make meaningful connections between them and your advertisers.

Because of this clear path to success for media companies using inbound marketing, we’ve been working behind the scenes to figure out how we can continue to help our media partners generate more revenue. Come to my session at INBOUND, “Leveraging HubSpot’s Media Partners to Drive High Quality Leads for Your Clients,” for our big announcement regarding HubSpot’s media program. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Originally published Sep 2, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016


Inbound Marketing