Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Finding the Difference Between Digital Marketing Strategies

As the world becomes increasingly digital, businesses of all sizes are realizing the importance of effective modern marketing strategies to reach their target audience. Two popular methods are inbound marketing and content marketing, but what are the differences between the two? While they share some similarities, they are not interchangeable terms.

Inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers through providing valuable information that helps them find solutions to their problems or answers to their questions. On the other hand, content marketing focuses on creating and sharing relevant, valuable, and consistent material to attract and retain a specific audience. It goes without saying, the goal of both of these methods is turning potential customers into sales.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Imagine inbound marketing as a game of hide-and-seek. You want your friends to find you, so you hide somewhere easy to find, like behind a tree or under a table.

In the same way, inbound marketing is when businesses make it easy for people to find them. Instead of interrupting people with ads or cold calls, marketing teams create helpful content like blogs or videos that people can find when they’re looking for more information on a topic. (This blog is actually an example of inbound marketing. Neat!) You’ll also find email newsletters, website optimization and social media as types of inbound marketing.

The key component of inbound marketing is its focus on attracting customers through relevant and helpful information; nothing about it is interruptive. To close out the hide-and-seek analogy, you make it easy for your friends to find you, but you are not shouting their name to get their attention.

What is Content Marketing?

Unlike traditional terms such as inbound marketing or outbound marketing, content marketing as we’re looking at it today is a relatively new concept. In fact, you might find multiple definitions floating around the Internet.

So, let’s nail down exactly what content marketing is. According to the Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

In simple terms, content marketing is like when you share a favorite toy with friends. When you have a really cool toy, you want to show it to everyone and tell them all about it. This applies to your business, whether you sell food and beverage, clothing, houses, experiences or really cool toys. You might photograph your product, make a video, or create an infographic to teach people something new. All of that content can then be shared on your website, social media channels, newsletters or in advertisements.

Consistency is huge when it comes to content marketing. That involves sending out reliable updates (i.e. posting five-six times a week on social media). Ideally, you want to create a symbiotic relationship with your audience where they come to expect high quality, engaging content from you and, in turn, they make the decision to purchase more of your product off of the steady interaction with your brand.

What Makes Inbound Marketing Different from Content Marketing?

At this point, you might still be wondering what the difference is between inbound marketing and content marketing. That confusion is not out of place, because they are quite similar. Much like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, all content marketing is a type of inbound marketing, but not all inbound marketing can be defined as content marketing. Other types of inbound marketing include search engine optimization, lead nurturing and pay-per-click ad campaigns.

An ideal campaign will have inbound marketing and content marketing work in harmony. Correctly done, this will save you big bucks while increasing sales and customer retention. Pieces of inbound marketing, like blogs, not only attract potential customers to your website, but they can be repurposed in different ways. Just like on social media, there is a constant flow of information and feedback between your company and potential customers. 

Why are inbound marketing and content marketing so effective? The biggest reason is authenticity. Inbound marketing can position your company as a trusted voice or even a thought leader. Content marketing demonstrates to customers that there is thought, passion and, most importantly, a real person behind the business. 

Lastly, don’t stress out about having to know all the answers. Good inbound marketing and content marketing doesn’t need to include groundbreaking research or life altering secrets to still be valuable. Be yourself and your success will follow!

Looking to Take Your Marketing to the Next Level?

Meerkat Media Group has a range of experience from daily content creation to complete brand marketing. With experience in e-commerce, hospitality, food, and more, our team is here to help you reach the audience you want in the way you want.