Inbound Marketing. Content Marketing. What do those words mean? Is there a difference? Does it really matter?
I don’t know about you, but the inbound marketing vs. content marketing debate makes my head spin. Is this a necessary conversation, or a waste of precious time? And how do we make sense of it all?
Whether you are a seasoned marketing veteran, or you are a newbie trying to find your way in this relatively new way of marketing, understanding this debate is worth at least a bit of your time.
If your role at your organization is to increase brand awareness, attract prospective customers, or engage and nurture relationships with existing customers, then you should probably care about inbound marketing vs. content marketing, and how they intersect.
Sorry. It’s bad news. But, rest easy. We can do this together.
The truth is, there are many differing opinions on the topic. Some experts believe content marketing is a subset of inbound. Others believe the reverse is true. Some believe content marketing is just inbound marketing taken further; a more comprehensive approach.
Perhaps the way to look at it, is to see that the two are connected, both more effective because of the other.
In my view, inbound marketing vs. content marketing is not a question of which is better or more necessary than the other. They are not necessarily unique and distinct.
In fact, you might consider that you can’t have strong inbound marketing without quality content marketing.
In its simplest terms, inbound marketing draws in your audience and understands how, why, and how often they are there. Once you have captured your audience, content marketing provides value to the visit, and a good experience (i.e. perceived value) keeps visitors coming back repeatedly.
I don’t know about you, but that qualifies both to be pretty darn important.
What is Inbound?
Inbound marketing consists of all marketing which pulls the consumer into the brand organically.
When a consumer is actively looking for information, and your company utilizes tools to allow the customer to find you, that qualifies as INbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a high level, broad term for any marketing effort related to the end goal of attracting customers and learning about them analytically.
As opposed to OUTbound marketing, which interrupts a person, and reaches out to often cold prospects, inbound provides an opportunity because customers looking for information are coming to you through a variety of channels to find it.
Inbound marketing reaches customers who are already predisposed to being interested in what you provide.
Is Content Marketing Different?
While inbound marketing is a term used to discuss a businesses’ ability to understand what customers are looking for, and how their audience comes to them, content marketing has much more to do with the value you provide once your prospect or customer finds you.
The content is the “why” they come.
Content marketing is a distinct focus on understanding what consumers are looking for, and a targeted approach to providing value when they come to you.
It is a crucial piece of any good marketing effort, because quality content provides your audience a reason to connect with you.
Examples of Content Marketing:
Marketers earn the attention of customers by producing interesting content. If the information you provide adds value for the person experiencing it, it can mean the difference in differentiating you from the noise of so many other marketers trying to reach the same audience.
If a prospective customer comes to your website, and can not find information they are looking for, or any content they value, what are the odds they will return? Not good.
However, if you provide content that is relevant, easy to use, and you do it at a time it meets a customer need, then the customer will look to you time and time again as a resource.
The value of the content you provide is not the only factor to consider. To successfully use content marketing, the challenge is deciding what to create and when. One of the goals of content marketing is to communicate with customers on a regular basis.
Using content to stay in touch with customers gives you continued opportunities to reinforce your brand, increase sales, engage new donors, and build a community of loyal followers.
The challenge in using content marketing is deciding what to create and when. People who manage to realize success from their content marketing programs are those who ensure their content is up-to-date and relevant to their audience.
How often have you found a blog you love to read which provided very valuable information, but when you visited the blog weeks later, there was nothing new and the information included was no longer relevant--and you never went back?
It is so important when you are developing a content marketing program, you have someone or multiple people dedicated to paying attention to its relevance and not letting the content grow stale.
No Matter What You Call It - Engaging Your Audience is Key
No matter what definitions of inbound and content marketing you use, or what relationships you see between the two, there is one thing for sure: without attention to both pieces, you will not realize your full potential from a marketing perspective.
Your first priority is for people to find you. (Inbound)
The ultimate goal is to help prospects get to know, value and trust you. (Content)
When you have built trust, you have built a foundation for a long relationship...and in business is there anything more important than that?
What is your organization currently doing in terms of inbound and content marketing?
Have you spent time thinking about how you are reaching potential and existing customers and how you are nurturing those relationships?
We’d love to hear what other people are doing!
Thanks for stopping by,
Breezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont web design company focusing on creating thoughtful and engaging marketing strategies. We work with clients throughout Vermont and New England to understand key concepts for inbound marketing and meet the needs of our client’s target audience. We place a heavy focus on digital marketing and social media marketing to ensure marketing successes for our clients.