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Inbound marketing is the term used to describe attracting customers to your website through content. Instead of using outbound marketing tactics, which require you to push your messaging out, your content instead draws people in. Popular inbound techniques include blogs, downloadable content (white papers, eBooks, webinars), social media, landing pages, and, of course, your killer website copy.

Good inbound marketing gives people useful information; your website is viewed as a resource to people, so through search, they find your site (hopefully), read what you have to say, and come back over and over. By engaging with your website, you establish a lead nurturing relationship with them. For example, if they download an asset, you capture their email address. You add them to your e-newsletter or special offers list. The goal is to establish a relationship with readers, so by engaging with your content, they see you as a trusted source. When it’s time for them to look for a business partner, they’ll turn to you.

A plethora of tools have hit the market to enhance and improve inbound marketing efforts. For example, CRM automation, Marketing Automation programs, and content managing services are all fantastic tools to help you build and capitalize on inbound leads.

The automation tools currently on the market are amazing, but they still have their limitations. To truly make your inbound marketing stellar, try these three tips.

Inbound Marketing Tip #1:  Understand your customer demographic

Before you start publishing content, seek to understand who your key demographic is. Who are you writing for? This will be based, of course, on your product or service. Invest in some quantitative research that will give you a solid picture of your audience demographics. From this exercise, you’ll know their age ranges, geographic location, household income, and even media consumption habits. You’ll find that it’s much easier to set your tone, target your products, and develop campaigns once you know whom, exactly, you’re speaking to.

Inbound Marketing Tip #2: Figure out what your customers want to read

You may think that what you have to say is super interesting, but do your customers? There are literally millions of blogs, white papers, and downloadable assets crowding the interwebs. How will you stand out? You’ll need to make sure your content incorporates SEO keywords, but it also needs to be interesting. Insightful. You need to be a thought leader if you want to attract a following. Here’s how you do it: Talk to the people who you want to read your blog. Better yet, hire a third-party objective company to talk to your customers for you. Through methodologically sound qualitative techniques, the researcher will take learn more about what your customers find interesting, figure out what they want to read, and even learn things like what kinds of emails they’re likely to open. Once you know this, you’ll actually be creating content that your very users find interesting. The topics may surprise and delight you. Likely, they’ll be different than what you would have come up with on your own.

(Sidenote: Search tools and analytics will give you trending keywords, but keywords are different from substantive content. It’s important to incorporate what people search for into your website, but you still need to write on topics that people are yearning to learn more about. Qualitative research will help you unlock the right content.)

Inbound Marketing Tip #3: Use social media to spread the love

Social media and inbound marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly. Once you know who your customers are (through the quantitative research) and what they like to reach (through qualitative research), you’ll now be better equipped to use social media as part of your inbound toolbox.

Find LinkedIn pages that your audience reads. Post relevant content on these pages. Same goes for Twitter and Facebook. Create Google Hangouts, featuring – you guessed it – your content. Develop webinars and promote them through social media. Because you will have done the in-depth research process, your social media posting and linking will be targeted and aimed at the right audience. It will save you time, garner you a following, and enhance your inbound leads.

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