• Joanna Hampson

Adapting to Inbound Methodology

Updated: Aug 18, 2019

How do we get students to tell their friends about us?

As students unions, we sometimes forget that the best marketers we have are our students, and that we have the potential to to capitalise on and develop these students into our personal army of ambassadors both online and offline.

Way back then these particular students used to be called BNOCs (Big Name On Campus), but today we call them student influencers.

Here at SMOOVE, we use a method known as Inbound Methodology, which we have modified to make it more relevant to SU's.

The concept surrounds the idea that when it comes to creating a valuable customer experience, the creation of relevant and engaging content that continues to attract new members to your organisation's web page should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy.

First, we map out the members SU Journey. We have strangers as students who do not know who we are our what we do yet. Visitors as members who have stepped into our students Union activities, events, shops, website, and interacted with our social media posts or enquiries.

And, service users are members who use any of our advice services, societies, buy tickets, and make purchases in our shops. Satisfied users are users who are happy with the service they received from us, and ambassadors are our advocates - our 'raving fans' if you like - who will tell new strangers about their experiences.

After completing that initial step, you will now have the opportunity to interact with that visitor on a higher level, introducing them to the benefits they will experience after investing their time into your services.

Often formed of three key components:

  • attract,

  • engage, and

  • delight.

Inbound marketing adds value to your members personal journey. This process calls for the development of problem-solving content that acts as a solution to your target audience.

The SMOOVEblog Inbound Strategy looks slightly different from the standard process, having been altered to specifically suit the complex structures of SU's.

Typically the marketing and/or comms team would convert strangers to visitors, while the front facing and online reception staff would convert visitors to service users - from here your departments and services would ensure that these new service users turn into satisfied users and the membership team works to turn now satisfied users into brand ambassadors.

At the attraction stage of the SU methodology, you would add qualitative and quantitative metrics at each conversion stage to assess the areas that require more development, resources, or people, for example: footfall in the building, visitors to your website, post comments and shares, etc.

At the conversion stage, it would be the percentage of visitors who make a purchase, use our services, book appointments, etc. While, the execution stage would consider the number of users who fill in you feedback forms, class rep training satisfaction scores, the percentage of repeat customers, and so on.

At the delight stage this would be the average number of seats occupied per table in your cafes, the number of shares of your posts online, and the number of reviews we receive on your online platforms etc.

Each of these measurements should be set by both departments in each intersections. One of the most common mistakes across the student union movement are not establishing a process for communications and membership engagement - letting the communications, membership, and commercial teams work in silos; Not defining, tracking, and measuring indicators of success; and not scheduling periodic team and cross-team reviews.

By adopting an inbound marketing strategy, you can help your existing customers find solutions to their problems, and enjoy their experience with you and your organisation. All the while continuing to attract new and relevant prospects, satisfying them individually, and developing organic growth.

So there you go -why not try drawing your own organisations inbound process, roles, measures of successes, and possible roadblocks that may hinder your progress?

Email or message us pictures of your process - we'll be happy to help if you're stuck.

Next time: Membership Awareness - the 3 core ingredients to successfully increase online and offline visitors

Get your worksheet here:


  • Patrutiu-Baltes, Loredana (2016). "Inbound Marketing - the most important digital marketing strategy". Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series V: Economic Sciences. Transilvania University of Brasov. 9 (2): 61.





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