There is little doubt that search engine optimization (SEO) continues to play a crucial role in any digital marketing strategy. However, as focus on SEO increases, some organizations realize that they are spending more time working with “keywords” than on creating content that engages their audience. Some marketing experts suggest that companies refocus on creating original information to generate demand and attract an audience of buyers. This approach, called inbound marketing, converges with SEO, providing more opportunities for customer engagement and conversion.

Inbound marketing uses quality content to guide customers from awareness to consideration to purchase. The focus is on content to help customers solve problems. In combination with SEL, inbound marketing helps customers discover information and, in the process, creates conversions. Like all marketing approaches, the key is in setting goals and using relevant metrics to assess and re-engineer the processes.

Marketing programs that combine inbound approaches with SEO have great potential. Experts agree that integration of content, technology, social media tools, and public relations offer companies multiple avenues to attract and direct customer traffic and improve brand visibility. Marketing automation tools are also emerging as crucial to these programs. With the ability to nurture prospects through the buying cycle, these software solutions transform initial interest to sale.

Inbound marketing approaches take time and, as mentioned earlier, must be considered with overall goals, timelines, and metrics in mind. Creating a content plan that anticipates customer needs throughout the inquiry and buying path provides the roadmap to develop content suitable across SEO efforts, social networking sites, and for industry-specific communications, such as blogs and print.

Finally, any inbound marketing program should review available data about customer behavior. Customer communities are dynamic and staying abreast of their changing needs allows your content to be responsive. When you develop and deliver content that helps customers, you improve performance.