Content Marketing Vs. Inbound Marketing: What Is The Difference?

Content Marketing Vs. Inbound Marketing: What Is The Difference?

Marketing has never been more confusing!

Today, there is inbound marketing, content marketing, viral marketing, influencer marketing, email marketing, event marketing, experiential marketing, and more --- the list continues. To know which type of marketing is right for you, and how much of each you need for your business, it is crucial to understand the differences and how they work together to deliver the results you need to grow your business.

In this blog, we will discuss the basic comparison between inbound marketing and content marketing, since there is a great deal of debate about these two terms and it has left a lot of people in confusion. 

So what is the difference, or rather, is there even a difference? Which of the two strategies do you need for your website or business? Can you use just one, or should you rely on both? Once you answer these questions, you can take your business to the next level by creating content that appeals more to your potential customers and provides a customer journey that fosters long-term relationships.

What is Content Marketing?

The term ‘content marketing’ was first coined sometime around 2001. It was used to describe the way brands created original content for their consumers and stepped outside the realm of traditional or outbound marketing tactics such as commercials, billboards, and print advertisements. Now, content marketing incorporates various methods to provide valuable content, including social media, infographics, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more.

Content marketing typically involves the creation of content that a customer in the brand’s target group or demographic will find helpful, useful, or interesting. Even if the content does not contain a strong call to action, or push the brand’s products or services, its existence may still build affinity for the brand in question. Although releasing content is a priority of content marketing, monitoring content success through measurable results, such as social media engagement, conversion rates, sales, and website analytics, is an additional vital aspect.

As more and more consumers tune out invasive marketing methods and ignore sales pitches, content marketing has emerged as a preferred way to build relationships with potential and existing customers.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing, like content marketing, has been around for many years, but has only emerged as the preferred marketing method in the last 5-10 years. Again, as consumers learn to ignore invasive sales messages, brands have had to seek out new ways to reach potential customers, and convert them into buyers.

In today’s world, consumers do not want to be bothered or interrupted. Hence, inbound marketing focuses on creation of specialized content that is customer-oriented and distributed online through less disruptive ways than outbound marketing. Its tactics help businesses get found when people are looking for them, as opposed to attempting to interrupt people who are not yet looking for those businesses. 

Simply put, it aims at providing the right content to the right customer at the right time. For example, an inbound marketing program may include displaying a pop-up to a repeat visitor, since they are more likely to subscribe to an email list than someone who is visiting a website for the very first time.

Many methods are utilized as a part of inbound marketing, including blogging, whitepapers, guides, and videos. Essentially, instead of blindly marketing for clicks and views, inbound focuses on making the right type of content available for anyone who decides they want or need it.

How Are Content and Inbound Marketing Similar?

By now, you can probably see why the two marketing strategies are so often confused. Many will claim they are the same thing, and that arguing the different terms is trivial. In fact, both content marketing and inbound marketing have a lot in common. They both:

  • Use quality content

  • Start with attraction as a main way to drive business

  • Have a defined marketing goal in mind

  • Target a defined audience

They do both focus on the customer, using some sort of attraction method to get them to a specific destination. They both strive to satisfy the needs of the reader before satisfying the marketer’s need to sell. Both are non-intrusive and both rely on building a relationship between the reader and business.

How Are Content and Inbound Marketing Different?

While they are very similar, content marketing and inbound marketing strategies do have some distinctions that make all the difference. Content marketing puts all the focus on content. Creating content and distributing it among multiple channels to ensure that it is read and shared by the target audience. 

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on the bigger picture. It is creating a website, creating content or other ways to attract people to the site, and eventually getting those visitors to perform some sort of action – purchasing something, signing up for an email list, following on social media, etc. While inbound marketing strategies can involve content marketing (and for many marketers, it does include some sort of content creation) inbound marketing can encompass a wider variety of methods.

Therefore, while both are non-interruptive, modern marketing methods, they are not really the same thing. They may have the same end goal, but the methods they involve are different.

Is One Better Than the Other?

This is a hard question to answer, because really, neither strategy is actually better than the other. In fact, since the two methods are so closely related, if you are using inbound marketing, you are most likely using content marketing as well. Ideally, both of them should be a part of your online marketing strategy.

Overall, both forms of marketing create compelling content in an effort to appeal to an organization's buyer personas while successfully guiding and providing materials that allow clients a positive and impactful customer journey that benefits your business.  

The Bottom Line

To maximize your success in attracting visitors, converting those visitors to leads, and nurturing them through the funnel to become customers, content must be part of a larger inbound marketing process.

Many inbound marketing agencies - ours included - do content marketing projects for their clients. At Turiya Communications, we create great content that is optimized for SEO, targeted to the correct audience, visually compelling, and highly shareable. That content then gets plugged into an inbound marketing process.

Visit our website to know more!

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