Inbound marketing is a phrase you hear a lot these days. It was originally coined by marketing guru, Seth Godin, to identify a new kind of marketing — one where customers come to you (inbound) to you rather than the old way of pushing your message out to them (outbound). Content development and social media are two of the strongest inbound marketing tactics, pay-per-click and display advertising are examples of outbound.

9 steps to successful inbound marketing:

1. Know your customer. Inbound marketing starts by ALWAYS thinking of your customer first. Who are they and what do they want? Don’t make the common mistake of assuming they are just like you!

2. Install Google Analytics. As a subset of number 1, install analytics on your site and ‘listen’ to what your customers are saying. Page views, keywords, time on pages and other measurements provide insight into their behavior, wants, and needs. Data doesn’t lie.

3. Optimize, optimize, optimize. We are in the business of do it yourself SEO for a reason…if people can’t find you in search, all the marketing in the world won’t help. Take the time to learn about SEO, set proper title tags, URLs, engaging meta descriptions.

4. Start a blog. One of your inbound marketing strategies should include content development, blogs are one of the easiest ways to generate a following. If using a popular content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, the functionality is there and adding a blog page is easy. If you have a custom site, your developer can add a blog as a subdirectory or subdomain.

5. Participate in social media. Today’s world is about engagement and interaction. Like real-world relationships, you have to both give and receive if you want friends. Always be reaching out to others and recommending information or products that you think provides value to your customer base. Start with setting up accounts on the biggies like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Google+, then just get involved.

6. Give stuff for free. Successful inbound marketers know that in order to grow a customer base, you have to be willing to give away some of your goods. Free recipes sell cookbooks just like a free Local Website SEO Grader generates UpCity clients. Offer whitepapers, e-books, measurement converters or anything else of relevance that might bring customers to your site.

7. Experiment with formats. How do your customers like to access information? You might find that YouTube generates the most leads for your business. A visual demonstration of how to install computer keys might be a better alternative than written text. Explainer videos and infographics are two other considerations. Give them what they want in the format that they want!

8. Call to action. Once they’ve come to you for information, product, or services — tell them what you want them to do. Order today, call for more information, subscribe to the blog. Don’t be afraid to ask.

9. Measure and adjust. Set specific goals and measure against those regularly to determine which inbound marketing tackets provide the best ROI. This can be through Google Analytics, social media tools such as Facebook insights, or Twitter mentions.  Be flexible and willing to adjust plans accordingly.