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The term inbound marketing describes the process of using content to attract customers to your website. Rather than push your message out (outbound marketing), your content draws people to you. There are a number of popular inbound marketing techniques such as social media, blogs, landing pages, downloadable content (white papers, eBooks, webinars), and, most importantly, your outstanding website copy.

When inbound marketing is done right your audience has quick access to useful information on your website, answering their questions and inspiring them to return to your site time and again. An engaging website allows you establish a nurturing relationship with your audience. For example, if an asset is downloaded, you capture the person’s email address. With this contact information you can add the person to your special-offers list or e-newsletter. With inbound marketing, one of the goals is establishing a relationship with readers and building trust through content engagement. When it comes time for customers to look for a business partner, they’ll turn to you out of familiarity and trust.

A number of tools are available to help companies improve and enhance inbound marketing efforts. A few of these tools include Marketing Automation programs, CRM automation, and content managing services to help you develop and capitalize on inbound leads.

While there are some powerful automation tools on the market, some of them still have their limitations. If you want to improve your inbound marketing strategies, try these tried-and-true tips.

Tip #1:  Know your customer demographic

You can’t create content without first understanding who your key demographic is. Ask yourself, “Who am I writing for?” You may offer a variety of products or services and may have different audiences for each. You don’t want to guess about who you’re targeting; you need to know. Investing in quantitative research will give you a clear picture of your audience demographics so you can create content that accurately focuses on who you are trying to reach. The insight you’ll gain through quantitative research includes age ranges, household income, geographic location, and even media consumption habits. With such rich data, it will be much easier to create the right tone, target your products to your customers’ demands, and more accurately develop campaigns.

Tip #2: Learn what your customers want to read

While you may think that what you have to say is super engaging, are you sure your customers think the same? There is no shortage of white papers, blogs, and downloadable assets crowding the internet. The question is how to make your content stand out? Incorporating SEO keywords is a start, but it also needs to be interesting. In order to attract a following, you need to be a thought leader. Here’s how: connect with the people who want to read your blog and talk to them. But if you really want to know your customers, hire a third-party objective company to do the talking for you. A neutral researcher uses methodological and sound qualitative techniques to learn about what your customers find interesting, what they want to read, and discover what types of emails they’re most likely to open. With this information, you’re better able to create content that your very users find interesting. You’ll likely be surprised by what you discover. Often times what appeals to your audience is different than what you would have come up with on your own.

(Sidenote: Keep in mind that analytics and search tools will give you trending keywords, but these keywords are not the same as substantive content. For inbound marketing to be successful, it’s important to incorporate trending keywords, but your content still needs to include topics that people want to learn more about. Qualitative research can help you unlock the best content.)

Tip #3: Spread the love with social media

Social media and inbound marketing are two peas in a pod. Using quantitative research to discover who your customers are qualitative research to discover what they like to reach, you’ll be better equipped to use social media as part of your inbound toolbox.

Figure out which LinkedIn pages your audience reads and post relevant content on these pages. The same strategy applies to Twitter and Facebook. Create Google Hangouts that your original content. Create webinars and then generate buzz by promoting them through social media. Because you’ve invested in qualitative and quantitative research, your social media posts and links will be directed toward the right audience. Investing early in research saves you time in the long run, garners you a following, and enhances your inbound marketing leads.

How’s your inbound strategy looking these days? Let’s figure out who your customers really are >