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What’s The Difference Between Content Marketing And Inbound Marketing?

October 12, 2020

What’s The Difference Between Content Marketing And Inbound Marketing?

Our Short Answer: While content marketing involves attracting the right people to your website, inbound marketing involves the entire process from first attracting the customer to accompanying them all the way to become advocates for your brand. Content creation and marketing are only a part of the inbound marketing family.

content marketing image for Ability SEO Blog

Content marketing is one of the main parts of an inbound marketing strategy along with SEO, Social Media, targeted and paid ads. Think of content marketing as one of the many colors of the kaleidoscope of an inbound marketing strategy.

The main objective for your blog posts, ebooks and other parts of your content marketing efforts is to earn your prospects trust. 

Your content influences people’s opinion of your brand. If they like what they read and they find it to be engaging, informative and helpful it will impact how they see your company. The more value you provide in your content, the easier it will be to build the trust of your target audience. 

Inbound Marketing And The Rocket Analogy

Another way of thinking about inbound marketing is using the analogy of a large rocket. Each marketing tactic: social media marketing, email marketing, SEO and outbound tactics such as targeted ads and more - make up the components of the rocket that helps it move faster and avoid traction. If it’s missing one of its main parts, let’s say content marketing - it is less effective.

What is Inbound Marketing?

The objective of the Inbound marketing approach is to make it easier for people to find you through a search on Google, on social media, and on your blog posts because you are providing the answers that they’re searching for. 

Even though it has been around for years, it’s only in the last 5-10 years that inbound marketing has become the preferred choice for businesses. Inbound marketing attracts the attention of your target audience and persuades them to come to you rather than disrupting their day with outbound marketing tactics such as telemarketing calls or email blasts.

The main idea of the inbound approach is to attract traffic to your site, and increase conversions by turning your “website visitors into qualified leads or contacts”, and then to “automate the process so eventually these leads become customers.” (https://www.cyberclick.net/numericalblogen/inbound-marketing-vs-content-marketing)

There are three main phases of inbound marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight, that first draw the right people to your website by providing content that solves their problems. Then going one step further in providing additional ways to connect with your brand. And finally, delighting them by continuing to provide value before, during and after a customer has made a purchase.

A number of inbound tactics involve targeting and encouraging potential customers to perform a specific action. An example of this is an inbound marketing strategy that shows the same pop-up to a returning visitor, since they are more likely to become a subscriber to your blog or email than someone who is visiting your website for the very first time. 

An inbound strategy has many parts which can include white papers, blog posts, videos and downloadable guides.


Essentially, instead of blindly marketing for clicks and views, inbound focuses on making the right kind of content available for anyone who decides they want or need it”. 


What Is Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi defines content marketing as “a marketing technique for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and retain the attention of a well-defined target audience, with the aim of driving them to be future customers”. 

Content marketing provides free value to people in the hope that one day they will come and buy from you. It also provides a firm foundation to build your other strategies. This sounds kind of like the generosity element of an inbound marketing strategy.

Differences And Similarities Between Inbound And content Marketing

  • Content on its own will not attract people to become your customers: while there is no denying that content helps attract people to your website and blog page, and helps engage people on social media, it on it’s own won’t get people to become customers.
  • Inbound marketing uses more ways than content marketing to increase website traffic: These techniques include email marketing, which is not only to generate organic traffic, but is used for the latter stages of lead nurturing. Then there is SEO to improve your website’s position on the search engine results page, and PPC where you only pay if the customer visits your landing page.
  • Inbound Marketing powers the entire process: inbound takes care of the entire process from the time when you attract customers “to the final conversion”. Content marketing mainly helps out during the attraction phase, attracting traffic to your website, but that’s it.

    Inbound uses a number of lead generation strategies to entice people to provide information, then become a lead. Next you will evaluate that lead based on lead scoring (assign a value to the lead based on the quality of info they have given you.

    Then comes nurturing your lead (a process where you send communications to the lead to help them reach a purchase decision. Then once they have bought something from you, an inbound strategy provides numerous ways to retain them.

  • Inbound marketing works independently of content marketing: while content marketing is a common strategy to get more traffic to your website, and all companies should optimize their content on their websites, you can create an inbound marketing strategy without content marketing.


How Inbound And Content Marketing Can Work Together?

Use inbound marketing to attract your ideal customers and entice them to come to your website. A major part of that process is content marketing especially during the attraction stage. 

What good is content if no one is seeing it. If you are not optimizing your blog posts with keywords, sharing content on social media there is a chance that less people will see it and be aware of your brand. 

Your sales team may have an inbound-focused approach of converting leads into sales, but content marketing plays a crucial role in bringing those leads to your marketing and sales teams. 

While content marketing is a common way to draw in the right, qualified leads, it can also be used in the later stages of the buyer’s journey to nurture your leads to make a final purchasing decision.

How To Use Both Inbound And Content Marketing Online

The focus of your inbound marketing efforts should be putting the right information on the right places on your website. That means making sure answers to common questions are available. And adding any content that adds value and will entice more customers to convert. 

The focus of your content marketing efforts should be to create informative, helpful content and distribute it across all relevant channels. It should involve writing blog posts or guides and sharing them on social media, and building links to them. 

Together your inbound and content marketing efforts will add value to your company and help to build relationships with potential customers. For the best results, content and inbound need be used together.

Our Bottom-line: Inbound Marketing refers to an entire marketing strategy and content marketing is one of its most critical parts. Content marketing builds brand awareness and attracts, educates, and informs your target audience on the specific solutions that your brand offers to their problem.