Inbound marketing and content marketing are often used interchangeably. While the end goal of both of these is the same, it’s important to recognize the functionality of content and inbound marketing separately to be able to get the most out of each.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is an aspect of marketing that draws in customers instead of seeking them out. While traditional marketing like commercials or billboard advertisement try to catch the attention of prospects, inbound marketing lets customers reach out to a company at their discretion — usually when they need some information or insight.
As people get increasingly annoyed when they are bombarded with advertisements, they tend to respond better when they are able to make decisions on their own terms. This is where inbound marketing shines.
Inbound marketing consists of several aspects and tools, including search engine optimization (SEO), interactive tools, marketing automations, and more. Content marketing is one of these tools as well.
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 come to you.
- Delight: Create a positive impression by providing the right information to the right person.
What Is Content Marketing?
The key factor in content marketing is providing something of value to prospective customers. People go online to learn, find solutions to their problems, product for their needs — the common ground or all these things is that it’s focused on benefitting the customer.
Content marketing is a practical marketing technique that utilizes the consistent creation and distribution of valuable, up-to-date information. This way prospects that are looking for answers can find them in the right places and from the right sources and in the process build a rapport with those sources.
Content marketing enables brands to establish themselves as a source of insights for a particular domain. As a result, prospective customers will associate a brand’s product with their need, whenever it arises.
Content marketing goes through the same phases as inbound marketing, albeit with a slightly different scope. While inbound marketing attempts to attract, engage, and delight audiences with a variety of tools, content marketing achieves each of these phases solely with content.
A single piece of content like a blog post can attract an audience with answers to a question, engages them with a CTA, and delights them by providing an actionable page to find a resolution to their needs.
The Difference between the Two
Even if these share a common goal and phases, content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. Although content marketing is one piece of an inbound marketing strategy, it is probably the most important one.