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The term inbound marketing has become immensely popular, so much so that many consider it as an interchangeable term for content marketing. If you feel that they are just two names for the same thing, then you are not alone.
Truth be told, marketing is more confusing today than ever. Of course, inbound marketing and content marketing are two different terms. Knowing the distinction is paramount for any marketer or small business owner. To better understand the differences in inbound marketing vs. content marketing, let’s take a look at their definitions first.
Inbound marketing is a methodology of pulling prospects and turning them into customers. It is in line with the digital evolution and involves marketing techniques, as well as strategies that allow a company to be discovered online by potential customers. Email, content, and social media marketing can all be considered as subsets of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is an approach used to pull customers from a large pool of visitors through a marketing funnel. At each stage of the funnel, a company or organization will aim to earn the attention of their prospects. Essentially, successful inbound marketing means effective implementation of various forms of marketing, which also includes content marketing.
Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. It is a technique to produce and distribute relevant, valuable, and quality content. The aim is attracting and retaining a targeted audience, including driving customer action that leads to conversion.
While content marketing is certainly not a new strategy, its implications today are much broader than in the past. That’s because people today, don’t want to be interrupted with constant ads and push marketing tactics. They want value and good content gives them that.
Inbound Marketing Vs. Content Marketing
By now you understand that while not synonyms, inbound marketing and content marketing are overlapping concepts. Not all inbound marketing is content marketing but content marketing is part of the inbound marketing family. Understanding the main differences between the two can be complicated since they are different terms but they are used in similar ways by industry professionals.
Here are the main differences between inbound and content marketing:
Inbound Marketing’s purpose is to pull prospects and turn them into paying customers while for Content Marketing, it’s to provide value and generate interest.
- Tools of the Trade
Inbound Marketing uses content, opt-in forms, contact forms, landing pages, and calls to action or CTAs while Content Marketing uses articles, blogs, social media posts, videos, and other forms of visual content.
As you can see, inbound marketing and content marketing can be subsets of each other, depending on the nature of business and objectives of marketing. In most cases, inbound marketing and content marketing go hand in hand in pulling prospects, providing value, and earning their trust which eventually leads to consumer action.
A Closer Look
The focus of inbound marketing is to generate leads and turn them into qualified leads for the sales team. That happens with the effective use of content at the second stage of the marketing funnel. This involves landing pages, opt-in forms, and other forms of content resources.
These forms of content help create a robust inbound marketing strategy that is highly targeted and data-driven. So decision making in inbound marketing is almost always focused on acquiring more qualified leads and using different strategies to maximize conversions.
With that being said, can these forms of content be considered part of content marketing? The answer is yes and no. Yes in situations where content is the primary product of a business, no in cases where content is used to generate analytics in order to improve marketing and sales strategies. To reiterate, the nature of business will affect what comprises as content marketing and the overall scope of inbound marketing efforts.
So Which One Is Right for You?
Inbound marketing vs. content marketing is a hotly debated topic and rightly so, given the similarities and vague distinctions between the two.
As a marketer or DIY business owner, your goal should be to research, test, and implement different marketing strategies. In the matter of content marketing, you should focus on providing value and ensuring that your readers, as well as followers will continue to read or view your content.
As a business, if your objective is to enhance a visitor’s website experience by giving them more practical content, then content marketing might be useful for you. But if you want to build a scalable machine that continuously turns in leads, then pouring more resources into inbound marketing might be a better move for your business. Overall, you should ensure that content marketing and inbound marketing work together to achieve your sales goals and corporate vision.