Typically, marketing and sales departments use a lot of traditional and digital means to reach audiences, and yet I often see them missing out on important opportunities available through inbound marketing. If you don’t know the specifics of inbound marketing, or more importantly its value, you may be missing out on effective tactics for generating leads and converting them to brand evangelists for you. Here’s a quick tutorial.

Inbound 101
Inbound is refers to the incoming traffic your brand is getting, or wants to get. It’s customer-centric, as opposed to traditional/interruptive marketing, so you need to have content that users want and need. No shade to traditional, but inbound works more efficiently for those who want to build trust with customers. An inbound methodology educates consumers in a way that makes them see their need for your product or service according to these phases: attract, convert, close and delight.

Everyone knows the significance of knowing their audiences and buyer personas. So, let’s skip to the meat. Know your ideal buyer, target them, help them, buy them ice cream … you get the picture. Turn these strangers into friends by providing engaging content. Like what, you ask? Blogs, whitepapers, social media and other educational content that creates awareness.

You’ve created awareness ,and the prospect is nearly ready to take the plunge. What do you need to do next? Create a place where visitors become qualified leads. This is why we use landing pages. Now that visitors know their problem, they’re ready for a solution. They want something, and you want something. Make an exchange—e.g., give them a clear action in exchange for an email address. And don’t forget a thank-you page to help foster that close connection. Get some digital real estate! But I digress.

If your landing page was done correctly, you potentially have a qualified lead that you can nurture via email. Your job is not yet done. Double check that the leads you garner are the right fit for you as a company, and then send them a personalized note. If you have an email newsletter, make sure it’s full of content that eases their pain points. I can’t go into email etiquette, but be a human. You can always throw in a free product demo or case study that applies to them.

You’ve made it. They are a customer. Don’t stop here either. This is not a one-stop money shop. You need to be innovative, communicative and educational. Continue to learn from them so you can provide a better experience. This is a great time to evaluate and empower your employees as well—the face and backbone of your business needs to be solid and happy. After that, conduct surveys, analyze feedback and always follow up with the customer.

None of this can happen without great content. If you need some more details, I'm here to help. Just remember the content Golden Rule—focus 80% of content on persona’s interest, and 20% on your own interests and sales-related materials. Don’t let all of this marketing speak take away from creativity and intuition, but use it as a guideline to smart marketing. Good luck!