March 25, 2021

Inbound Marketing, SEO
Masterclass Episode 10

In part 10 of our Masterclass Series on "Building a Strategic Marketing Plan for Your Business," host Eric Dickmann interviews Hamlet Azarian about developing your content and growing inbound marketing. Hamlet is the Founder of Retail Merchant Group, a retail consulting company based in California that offers multiple services such as- SEO planning, conversation rate optimization, content strategy, email marketing, and PPC management.

Hamlet Azarian is an SEO and SEM expert and Founder of Retail Merchant Group based in Glendale, California. He has graduated from his Entrepreneurship program at the University of Southern California- Marshall School of Business. For over 20 years, Azarian has helped many startup ventures in their B2B and B2C strategies. In the last decade, he has been providing strategic advice and consulting services to multiple companies nationwide. Hamlet Azarian and his team at RMG continually help starting entrepreneurs develop long-term scalable strategies by taking them from idea to execution. Hamlet is currently residing in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and son, Sebastian. 


A Brief History of Inbound Marketing

Before the arrival of the inbound methodology, marketing and advertising were almost completely outbound. According to Peter F. Drucker, the patriarch of modern business and marketing, inbound marketing took root as far back as the mid-1850s when Cyrus Hall McCormick, who invented the mechanical harvester, used market research to develop inbound methods for generating consumer interest in what was then a radical evolution in farming.

Fast forward to 2004...Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott were students at MIT when they realized that the disruptive and interruptive forms of outbound marketing were no longer viable. Soon after, Halligan and Shah founded HubSpot (Meerman Scott joined the board in 2007) in order to help businesses evolve — and to help businesses start treating customers like people, not names and numbers on a list. HubSpot became a powerful platform, offering thought leadership, certifications, tutorials, and more on the inbound marketing methodology.


Today, inbound marketing is focused on using relevant content that is catered to consumers throughout each stage of the buying journey. This ensures not only that leads are moving through the funnel to become customers, but also that consumers are receiving the most personalized, meaningful experience possible. With inbound marketing, consumers find brands through search engines, social media, and blog articles. 

SproutSocial shares with us the advantages of having and growing inbound marketing:

  • Growing inbound marketing reduces your expenses significantly
  • Growing inbound marketing allows your business to gain higher trust and credibility
  • Growing inbound marketing generates quality traffic and leads
  • It allows you to learn and evolve

It's All About Relationships

Hamlet Azarian believes inbound marketing is all about relationships. If outbound marketing is directed to disrupt your customer by trying to get their attention, inbound marketing is the complete opposite. The goal of inbound marketing is to build a relationship with your customer by identifying their pain points and where they are in their buyer's journey. Part of growing inbound marketing is understanding this journey and providing valuable content to help move them through their decision process. 

Growing Inbound Marketing

The buyer's journey helps businesses  better understand what kind of information potential customers may need. But as we know, the buyer's journey is not something that ends with a sale; it's a continual process of following up with your customers and continuously adding value. To be successful in growing inbound marketing, it's important to understand the different stages of the buyer's journey and what kinds of content are most effective at each stage. 

For example, Azarian tells us that he and his team do a lot of webinars to discuss certain topics. Once their audience has been introduced to their offerings, webinars are a great way to share further details. They also create in-depth blog posts to educate potential buyers. Hamlet adds that they help their audience understand what the world is like without their products. Then, they educate the audience on how their products can improve their prospect's current situation. This is an example of a strategy with different types of content that help move a prospect through their buyer's journey. Their company isn't aggressively selling, they're sharing insights, providing answers, and helping remove barriers in the mind of potential customers. 

Hamlet Azarian

To me, inbound is about relationships, right? What inbound does is it becomes a guide, and you as the marketer, you're not really trying to aggressively sell. You're more or less trying to inform and educate."

It's often a temptation for companies to create content that focuses on what a product or service does, and not necessarily how it impacts the end-user once they purchase it. It's more effective, however, to illustrate to people how products or services could change their current situation for the better. Whether it's a want or desire, a fancy car, a new sofa, a more reliable furnace, or maybe even the services of a plumber, there is something that you're trying to accomplish by making a purchase, and it's not solely because of the features of the product or service. Hamlet reminds us that marketers are just coaches trying to help others solve their problems. The clearer you are in addressing the pain point, the faster and more efficiently you can guide them towards the right solution. Remember that your role is to guide your prospect to their desired destination but allow them to get there at their own pace. With an inbound marketing strategy, you provide the insights, information, and value along their journey towards a buying decision. 

Inbound vs Outbound by ccompany size

Where Do Many Companies Go Wrong In Their Blogging and SEO Strategies?

Blogging and SEO go hand in hand and are important elements of an overall inbound marketing strategy. Hamlet Azarian believes that many companies fail to effectively execute their blog and SEO strategies because they haven't thought through what they are ultimately trying to achieve. They put a content calendar together and start writing on random topics they believe readers would find interesting. However, this strategy rarely works as intended. Before you blog or write content, there should be a thought process and research behind the content your team will create and publish. In your planning process, you have to identify what keywords you are writing about, how you will write it your content to be found on search engines, and what characteristics will make your content unique and stand above competitor webpages. Before you can be successful in content creation, first recognize the importance of SEO

According to Digital Third Coast, there are two main buckets that search engines look at when evaluating your site compared to other sites on the web.

  • On-page SEO looks at what your site (or your page) is about
  • Off-page SEO looks at how authoritative and popular your site is

Put simply, what you rank for is largely determined by on-page factors, while how high you rank in the search results is largely determined by off-page factors.

Types of SEO

The Importance of Keywords

In building a content calendar, it's important to recognize what words, topics, and questions potential buyers might be searching for so you can build your content around those keywords. Azarian points out that this is the core objective of content creators and businesses who want to increase their web visibility. At the end of the day, when someone is typing in a Google search, you want to provide content that ranks and helps add value to where they are in their buyer's journey. It is crucial that your content addresses their particular pain points or answers their questions. 

Once you get someone to click on your content and visit on your website, you don't want to let them go! You want to provide additional information relevant to their current situation. Growing your inbound marketing traffic and keeping prospects from leaving requires focus on buyer intent.  Narrow down the scope of information and focus on additional content that can further engage the prospect. Rather than showing a random assortment of unrelated blog posts or white papers, try to serve up content that's in context to what user's search intent. 

Active Investment in Content Marketing

Pillar and Spoke Strategy

Hamlet mentions that applying the Pillar and Spoke strategy could help keep your audience interested. The goal of this strategy is to get your readers close to the pillars you have created that provide further resources. You are speaking to their personas and trying to anticipate their needs. For a Pillar and Spoke strategy to be effective, it's important to have a strong lead magnet or educational content that drives traffic to your site. Keep in mind that lead magnets must be simple and digestible for readers to quickly grasp and understand. Once on your site, you share other content that is organized around the core pillar topic. This helps prospects drill deeper into a subject area and provides opportunities to introduce products and services while further educating and providing value.

Inbound Marketing Prioriities of Companies

How Does Retargeting Help in Growing Inbound Marketing?

Retargeting can be an important tool in growing inbound marketing. According to Hamlet, the main goal of retargeting is to remind people of the content they saw on your site and stay top of mind. Retargeting works by using web "pixels" once they've visited your site. All of the platforms, from Google to Facebook, have this JavaScript code or pixel that you can embed on your site. When it's installed, you can begin to create retargeting campaigns on these platforms to display content to previous visitors as banner ads on other webpages. That's why you'll often see that pair of shoes you were just looking at following you around the web! The company is retargeting you to keep those shoes top of mind. 

Why You Should Consider Remarketing and Retargeting

The real benefit of retargeting is putting your messaging at different sites your potential buyer visits. You can then piggyback on those sites and get your information out there quickly and effectively in places you normally wouldn't place an ad. Azarian informs us that the machine learning algorithms, retargeting and discovery campaigns available online have been getting continuously smarter and more exact in targeting potential audiences. The retargeting you can do is incredibly powerful and Thrive Hive shares the multiple benefits of retargeting to your business:

  • Retargeting increases your sales
  • Retargeting allows you to keep up with the digital marketing trends
  • It helps you reach more interested prospects faster
  • Increases your online visibility and brand awareness
How Effective is Retargeting?

The Real Benefit of Working With Experts

There are many amazing content tools available in the market but organic content, SEO, and growing inbound marketing tactics take time to produce results. Businesses need to be consistent with publishing and identify what content needs to be refined and updated. On the advertisement front, you have to be nimble with your promotions. Use data to understand what's working and what not. You can spend money very quickly with paid ads so when making an advertising investment, it's important to test the effectiveness of your campaigns and monitory conversion carefully. 

Most Popular Social Media Platforms for Businesses

Hamlet Azarian discusses why it is important to consult with experts before you start investing your dollars. He urges businesses not to be overly-aggressive with their approach. Build an overarching strategy that deals with all facets of your business rather than spending too much time and resource on a single aspect. Being conservatively aggressive in growing inbound marketing means spending small amounts on your initial attempts on Facebook or Instagram advertising and waiting for that investment to convert into customers. Once you are able to see positive results, you can then double-down on your investment in that paid advertising and see if you can scale further. Marketing is the engine of growth and using powerful tools with an inbound marketing approach can yield significant growth for your business.

Live Stream Replay


Hamlet Azarian

Hamlet Azarian

Hamlet Azarian is an SEO and SEM expert and Founder of Retail Merchant Group based in Glendale, California. He has graduated from his Entrepreneurship program at the University of Southern California- Marshall School of Business. For over 20 years, Azarian has helped many startup ventures in their B2B and B2C strategies. In the last decade, he has been providing strategic advice and consulting services to multiple companies nationwide. Hamlet Azarian and his team at RMG continually help starting entrepreneurs develop long-term scalable strategies by taking them from idea to execution. Hamlet is currently residing in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and son, Sebastian. 

Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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