Inbound Marketing Vs. Content Marketing

As a small business owner or B2B professional focused on the outreach of your company or brand, you probably hear “content marketing” and “inbound marketing” a lot. They are seemingly synonymous terms, and you might even consider their differences unimportant. However, if you really are concerned with the growth of your brand, it’s important to recognize the functions of inbound and content marketing as separate entities so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of each. Their end goals are the same: to attract customers by creating value, not by being intrusive. But what does each represent, and what’s so important about the distinction between them?

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a theory of marketing that tries to draw customers in instead of seeking them out. In other words, instead of the classic billboard advertisement or TV commercial, that catches people in places and under circumstances that they do not have a say in, inbound marketing lets customers come to the company on their own time, while trying to gain something. People don’t really respond well to being interrupted or bombarded these days. They do, however, respond very well to being able to make decisions on their own terms, and to having their problems solved. Enter inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is comprised of several important aspects, all of which should make up your inbound marketing approach. These aspects or tools include search engine optimization (SEO), interactive tools, marketing automations, and much more. And, you guessed it, content marketing is one of those tools. Some say it’s the most important aspect of inbound marketing of all.

There are different stages of inbound marketing, according to different sources. In general, the stages of inbound marketing are:

  • Attract. Use leads to get the right people to your website.
  • Engage. Interact with customers once they’ve decided to visit.
  • Delight. Create lasting relationships by delivering the right information to the right person.

What Is Content Marketing?

The keyword in content marketing is “value.” People go online to learn, to find answers to problems, to relieve stress, and for many other reasons, most centering around benefitting themselves. Content marketing is a practical marketing technique that utilizes the consistent creation and distribution of informative, up-to-date information. Why? So people who are looking for answers can find them in the right places and from the right sources, and ultimately build connections with those sources.

Content marketing allows brands and companies to establish themselves as resources for their particular audiences, therefore creating a connection in their minds between that subject matter and the company. As the relationships progress, people will turn to those companies that they connect with for their purchasing needs time and time again simply because they gained something valuable from them in the past.

Content marketing has the same stages as inbound marketing in general, albeit with a different scope. While inbound marketing attempts to attract, engage, and delight audiences with a combined variety of tools, content marketing uses content to achieve each stage, in the form of blog posts, videos, email campaigns, and more. Sometimes, a single piece of content can achieve each stage in one sitting, like a blog post that attracts audiences with answers to their question, engages them with a CTA, and delights them by leading them to an actionable page to carry out their needs.

Is There Really a Difference?

Though they do share common goals and stages, content marketing is clearly a subset of inbound marketing. Content marketing is one piece, perhaps the most important, of an overall inbound plan to provide valuable quality content to the specific audience you want to reach. For a complete inbound marketing plan, it is important to address other tools that add to the natural, holistic methods that customers respond to best. Check out the other inbound tools that will complement your content marketing plan.

Technical SEO

Writing all kinds of blogs on whatever topics pique your interest that day is all fine and good, but getting a little technical with your search engine optimization techniques is the best way to improve your inbound marketing results. You want to focus on people finding you, but not just anyone, only people who are going to convert. If your blog is full of travel tips, but you’re a parts manufacturer, chances are the majority of people who visit your site aren’t going to be interested in sticking around.

You can get technical with your SEO by focusing on keywords optimization, meta data, alt text for pictures, headings, and most importantly, actually addressing your audiences’ needs in your content.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is another one that, like content marketing, gets misconstrued as synonymous with its parent field, inbound marketing. While inbound marketing sure feels “automatic” once leads start coming to you while you sleep, marketing automation is literally the use of automated software. Different inbound marketing tasks that marketing teams can automate include automatically sending personalized emails to the right people at the right times, based on the stage they’re at in the inbound process, scheduling blogs and automatically publishing them around a set calendar, and optimizing SEO with automatic tools that do it for you. Marketing automation is a very valuable sphere of inbound marketing that will nicely complement your content marketing plans.

Interactive Tools

Nowadays, audiences aren’t satisfied with static content. They want to get entwined with what they’re being told, ask questions, and try things out themselves. Using interactive tools is vital to inbound marketing because it builds upon the precedent of the theory – providing value to customers and letting them make decisions for themselves. Interactive tools are usually incredible software in the form of plugins for your site, that allow customers to fill their carts by clicking the items they want in an online catalog, take quizzes to match themselves with your products, talk to experts about their questions and concerns, and much more.

Inbound marketing is really an umbrella that encompasses content marketing and all the other aspects that bolster content effectiveness. Once you have a solid content marketing plan, try some of the other aspects of inbound marketing to really get the most out of your content.

The following two tabs change content below.
Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money. She lives in Lexington, KY with her two dogs: Billie and Lily. She has been writing content for her web based clients since 2005. She launched Content Equals Money in Oct of 2010, home of conversion focused content writing services. She loves to chat about small business development and how to make content equal money!

Latest posts by Amie (see all)

Related Posts:

Share This