4 steps to inbound marketing successEvery day we hear a new marketing buzzword, discover a new tactic for effective online engagement or find new networks to promote within. With so many channels to get your marketing message out there, as well as attracting buyers to you, it is easy to get lost in a fog of industry terms, URLs and best practices. And, oh yeah, that fog is found on top of a mountain of relevant content.

While there are best practices for every industry, and each company has its own processes, in the world of online marketing, a path from visitor to customer is becoming clearer. Let’s take a look at what we at Kuno Creative consider the most efficient and successful way to gain customers in four inbound marketing steps:

Content Marketing

Perhaps the most popular buzzword of the past few years, but for good reason, Content Marketing has successfully placed consumers at the forefront of marketing. We now realize consumers don’t care about our products but would rather receive educational, helpful information about solving their problems. Buyers are using the Internet to research their problems, find efficient solutions and compare products before even thinking about purchasing.

And by implementing Content Marketing appropriately, you not only win over buyers, but you gain the respect of Google, too, and, thus, more exposure in search results. With fresh, relevant and helpful content, you can attract visitors to your website and collect leads by asking for their information in exchange for robust pieces of content (think ebooks, white papers, webinars).

There are a lot of elements under the Content Marketing umbrella: strategy; assessing current content and mapping it for buyer personas (and, of course, filling in the gaps); and developing a monthly editorial calendar. Next comes the actual content creation, which requires interviews with thought leaders in each subject area (writing, design and SEO optimization). These steps produce blogs, ebooks, case studies, videos, podcasts, infographics and more. When you have enough content to bring to the conversation, social media marketing and sharing is a must.

Demand Generation

Casting a wide advertising net via billboards or direct mail sent to several zip codes simply doesn’t work as well now as it used to. As buyers become more sophisticated and better at blocking out advertising, we must continually find more relevant and more targeted ways to reach them. The helpful, relevant content you have created must instead be distributed to your ideal buyers at the right place and the right time—no easy task. These “places” are likely to be blogs, content curation sites and social channels.

The next step: campaigns. Dispersed via email, social media or PPC, these campaigns invite buyers to download your educational content (in exchange for their email address). This opts buyers into receiving further relevant, informational content that will swiftly and comfortably move them down the sales funnel. You will need to commit to constant monitoring and adaptation as you learn more about your buyers through testing and analysis.

Again, there are a lot of steps to ensure demand generation is successful: campaign strategy; content creation (including writing, design and SEO optimization); developing emails, landing pages, calls to action; and A/B testing; launching and monitoring campaigns; reporting; and constant improvement.

Lead Nurturing

By this point, you have developed content and even had buyers download it, but this does not mean they are all ready to purchase your product. It is time to start nurturing them from the top of your sales funnel to the bottom. Lead Nurturing helps you sort leads into segmented groups based on the content they consume, which will help you see who is ready to buy when.

Lead Nurturing is simply a collection of targeted emails sent automatically to targeted lists over time. Each email contains an opportunity to download more content. When buyers do so, their behavior is tracked and a lead score is assigned. These follow-up emails help reduce the amount of leads lost to competitors or lack of information. Lead scores help qualify leads, which can then be delivered to your sales team when appropriate.

Lead Nurturing includes building relationships with potential customers via targeted campaigns, personalized content, strategic emails, landing pages, calls to action, analysis and testing, and constant improvement.

Marketing Automation

With so many elements, you will need a system to organize and automate just about everything you have done up to this point. Marketing Automation helps you to manage leads intelligently, helping you to automate and optimize the steps necessary to acquire customers online. But first, your marketing and sales teams must agree on a number of factors, including the sales process, buyer-cycle stages and when leads should be handed off from marketing to sales.

If you invest time and effort into your Marketing Automation, you can significantly increase your conversion rates, qualified leads and success of your marketing and sales teams while decreasing churn and lost leads.

But, of course, this isn’t easy. It requires you build convincing emails, landing pages and calls to action; invest in a functional CRM; launch and manage demand generation and lead nurturing campaigns; implement lead scores; create workflows that automatically adjust lead scores or lifecycles change when appropriate; and set alerts when lead status thresholds are met.

The process is not easy, but it is worth it.

Buyers are now expecting a constant flow of valuable and relevant information, as well as follow-up from your brand (without being overwhelmed). And remember, this is an ongoing process. To learn more about the process, check out Kuno’s new site! Do you have additions to the process? Share in the comments below.