Two of the hottest ‘buzzwords’ in marketing at the moment are Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing, which is surprising as both of these techniques have been in use for some time. But, it’s within the last five years that businesses of all sizes have really started to focus on these areas to build brand awareness and increase leads.

Hubspot, in their report ‘State of Inbound Marketing 2018’ found that 75% of businesses surveyed are focusing on Inbound Marketing as their primary marketing tactic. And, according to the Institute of Content Marketing, 89% of marketers incorporate Content Marketing into their overall marketing strategy.

However, I often find that people (including marketers) find it difficult to describe the difference between Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. While some seem to think they are the same thing.

This article aims to answer the following questions; what is meant by the terms Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing and how do they work together?

What is Inbound Marketing?

Optimizely, a leading provider of experimental marketing campaigns, defines Inbound Marketing as a “marketing methodology which is designed to draw visitors and potential customers in, rather than outwardly pushing a brand, product or service in the prospect of generating leads.” 

One of the key points of Optimizely’s definition is the reference to ‘outwardly pushing’. Traditional marketing focuses on pushing out messages to consumers through channels such as advertising (TV, radio, newspaper), posters, leaflets and paid digital advertising (online adverts on platforms like Google, Bing or Facebook and Twitter).

Whereas Inbound Marketing focuses on drawing people in. Examples of Inbound Marketing include blogging, social media marketing, landing pages, social media groups, surveys, case studies, guides and testimonials SEO techniques – SEO focused webpages, articles, meta titles and descriptions.

What is Content Marketing?

It’s said that the term Content Marketing was first used back in 2001. So, in marketing years it’s still relatively new, seeing as marketing has been used to promote products or services for thousands of years.

Content Marketing is defined by the Institute of Content Marketing as “a marketing process which is used to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to enhance or change consumers behaviour.”

In simple terms, it involves creating content that people want and making it available to them in the places they are searching for it.

Some things that come under the umbrella of Content Marketing include blogs, landing pages, visuals like infographs, images, charts and tables, social media posts and guides.

If you’re looking for inspiration on the type of content that you can create, look at businesses like Hubspot (who I mentioned earlier) and IBM. Yes, they have an enormous marketing budgets to throw at content, but there are also businesses with smaller budgets who are creating some great content.

For example, Birchbox – an online subscription cosmetics supplier and Wyevale Garden Centres use different content to communicate with their customers.  Who would think a garden centre would be amazing at creating content but they really know their customers and create content that these people are interested in viewing.

Inbound Marketing v Content Marketing – same or different?

While there are similarities – both tactics are non-sales focused and concentrate on building relationships with consumers to drive leads which can then over time be converted into sales. There are some key differences, mainly; Content Marketing solely focuses on the creation and distribution of content, while, Inbound Marketing includes all the activities that you do to get consumers to take action, whether that be to download a guide, sign up to a course or follow you on social media.

Can you do one without the other?  

Yes, of course! But why would you want to do? The overlap that exists between these two marketing tactics means they complement each other extremely well. Including well-written and interesting content into your Inbound Marketing strategy can yield fantastic results, like increasing your brand loyalty, generating warm leads and producing content that people will share.

As you may be able to tell, I’m hugely passionate about marketing, particularly content marketing. If you’re struggling with your marketing, and or to create high-quality content consistently, send me a message and we can chat about your needs.

You can find out about content marketing in my ebook ‘Content Marketing Guide for Busy Business Owners. Sign up to get your free copy.