At the heart of every successful inbound marketing strategy lies actively listening to the demand for your particular product or service, as it's happening.

Think of what you do when you're planning to buy a car. Most people will ask for ideas and opinions from friends and family, checking the internet for reviews, even joining one or two forums. This is exactly how your potential customers are behaving right now.

Three listening resources no business should be without:

1. Your marketing personas

Your marketing personas are your customer archetypes or profiles of your ideal type of client. Aim to create a range of personas, based on your knowledge of your clients and your market research, covering areas such as:

  • Client's age group
  • Role in the company
  • Specific job frustrations
  • Specific business goals
  • Specific business pains
  • Any other reasons for a need for your service (this could be the hidden or latent business pain?)
  • Where do they spend time when they are online, i.e. do they visit blogs, social media or specialist forums?

2. Your content plan: Mapping the buying process

Your content plan allows you to map your customer's buying process and connect up your entire approach.

Creating a stronger sales cycle could follow, for example, the pattern of going from linking with a prospect via social media (the Awareness stage), then taking them to a landing page to an offer of an eGuide (the Consideration stage), then to automated lead nurturing emails to continue to warm up the contact - creating a potential customer who is interested in knowing more about your product or service in a more permission-based way (the Decision stage).

The key to creating results is to plan your content precisely around your customer's buying process.

3. Your technical resources

We use a range of software to conduct demand analysis, including SEO analytics tools. We also use social media software, like HootSuite, to track and monitor the conversations people are having about our client's products or services, all in one place.

What is Inbound Marketing? Create