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What You Need to Know About Inbound Marketing vs Content Marketing

The internet is slick these days. Beautiful pictures, speedy access, catchy advertising…everyone and everything vying for attention. But it’s not enough for businesses to stick to cute taglines or perfectly filtered images. Consumers want substance. A nice website with great social media pics is not enough for your average visitor – they want content. For your website to have really good content, you have to have an inbound marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing is becoming even more vital to the success of online businesses as searches outpace social media as the main source of referral traffic. This means that people use search engines rather than social media content to look for answers. 34.8% of referral traffic is driven by searches, compared to 25.6% of social media content. So, content on your website is vital in driving traffic to your website.

Developing content that is useful to your potential clients is a vital part of your inbound marketing strategy. By creating content that your future clients see as valuable, you’ll create a place where they can come for answers to the problems that your product or service can solve. This will help nurture your relationships with future clients and keep you on their minds when they run into a question or problem they need solving. So, you may think that you’re just making some posts on your blog or social media channels, but what you are actually doing is generating new leads that can be converted into customers.

Illustration - man with magnet bringing in clients representing inbound marketing

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that attracts potential customers by establishing your business as an expert in your industry and providing helpful information that a typical customer would consider when making a buying decision. The goal is proactively identifying questions, providing solutions, and inspiring long-term customer relationships. It’s more of a “pull” than a “push” approach to creating sales.

Common types of inbound marketing

  1. Blog: a website or web page that is regularly updated with posts related to your business but done in a friendly, conversational style.
  2. E-Book: a learning aid in marketing, and it is your opportunity to share your area of expertise. These are typically free in exchange for the interested party’s email address.
  3. Webinar: seminar, or online educational presentation, conducted over the internet. 
  4. Podcast: digital audio file available on the internet for downloading. For inbound marketing purposes, it would be an educational option that people could listen to at their convenience. It could be one podcast or a series of podcasts.
  5. Video Series: is a group of recordings that contain a consistent element. Like a podcast, you post the videos, and your target audience watches them at their convenience.
  6. Infographic: visual image used to represent information or data. It can be a chart or a diagram along with pictures and text that helps the recipient understand the information presented quickly. 
  7. Whitepaper: a written document presented from a position of expertise and offers an in-depth look into a problem or need and the solutions associated with that problem or need. When writing a whitepaper, you demonstrate your expertise in your specific field and show the consumer how you can fix their problem or fulfill their need because you are the expert.
  8. Case Study: for inbound marketing, this is an analysis of your company’s ability to solve problems for customers. Like whitepaper, you will offer up your expertise, but you do this in a way that offers detailed stories of how you identified and solved the problem.
Content Marketing illustration

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is creating and sharing marketing material to generate interest in your products or services. It is not used for branding but rather as a way to draw people to your business by creating engaging, informative posts across many channels.

Examples of Content Marketing

content written 1

Written Content

  • Blogs
  • Landing Pages
  • Email
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies
  • FAQs
  • How-to guides
  • Press Releases
content graphics 1

Graphics

  • Infographics
  • Custom designs
  • CTAs
  • GIFs
content video 1

Video

  • Animations
  • Customer testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Site-based videos
  • Event videos
  • Virtual Reality
  • Vlogs
content social 1

Social Media

  • Social Platform posts and paid ads
  • Hashtags
  • Contests
  • User-generated content
  • Customer reviews/ testimonials
  • Sponsored content
content audio 1

Audio

  • Podcast
  • Radio ads
  • Podcast Interviews

What are the Primary Content Marketing Channels?

1. Organic Search

Organic search refers to the non-paid search results from a search engine. Search engines index all content published on your website. When a user enters a search query, the search engine analyzes wording and context on all available websites to deliver links to websites that contain matching keywords and have the highest internal rankings.

2. Paid Search

Paid search is a form of digital marketing where search engine allows advertisers to show ads on their search engine results pages (SERPs). Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, meaning you pay when someone clicks on your ad.

4. Emails

Targeted emails to clients are one of the most effective types of digital marketing and are sent to an audience who has shown interest in your content/products by signing up to receive emails.

Link building consists of creating one-way hyperlinks (also known as “backlinks”) to someone else’s website to improve search engine visibility for your website.

How are Inbound and Content Marketing Similar?

Content and inbound marketing are similar in that they both use an integrated approach to strategically providing information that a potential customer would consider when making a purchasing decision. Both rely on creating a relationship between your business and your potential customer through consistent, reliable, helpful information.

How are Inbound and Content Marketing Different?

In today’s marketing jargon, inbound and content marketing are often used synonymously and can be confusing. So, let’s try to make this simple.

Inbound marketing is a marketing philosophy. It’s a strategic approach to all your marketing activities, and the goal is to attract and engage your ideal client. The keyword for inbound marketing is “attract.” You are not sending out a snazzy flier about a big holiday discount or flash sale. You’re not chasing the customer; you’re attracting the customer with meaningful information that proactively provides the information they would typically consider during their purchasing decision.

Content marketing includes the activities you engage in to implement your inbound marketing – attraction – strategy. This is where you provide helpful information and move the potential client along the buyer’s journey. This could include a blog post you write, an email you send out, a buyer’s guide for your products/services, or a video series that answers frequently asked questions. It’s content you create and share with potential clients.

So, if you were to think of inbound marketing as a camping tent, then content marketing consists of the poles and ropes that actually create the shape of the tent.

Illustration - difference between inbound and content marketing

Should You Focus on Inbound or Content Marketing?

Ideally, your digital marketing strategy includes both inbound marketing and content marketing. Without an over-arching inbound marketing strategy, all that wonderful content you’re creating could fail to meet the information needs of your potential client. You might have sassy social media posts, fun-to-watch videos, and blog posts lecturing readers on the right thing to do, but if you don’t specifically create content to attract your ideal client, your buyer won’t engage.

And if your potential buyer doesn’t engage, all those likes, comments, and views won’t convert to revenue.

You know your business like no one else. Show your audience what you know, and start building that tent! Whether you have great content and are looking for an inbound marketing strategy or need help with the whole marketing “thing,” we can help!

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