Ah, inbound marketing vs content marketing. What’s the difference between the two? Should you apply one or both to your overall marketing strategy? It’s true what you’ve heard: they’re very similar. So similar in fact that they often get confused for one another. That said, there are differences between them and we have the answers to all your burning questions.

The first thing we ought to do is define both terms and get it out of the way. Content marketing is the practice of strategically creating valuable, relevant content. The purpose of promoting said content is to retain customers. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a way to attract customers through a variety of means, not solely through content.

Content Marketing Breakdown

Content marketing begins with the creation of valuable, unique, relevant content. When you have content available, you then promote it across a variety of platforms to retain customers and build brand awareness. But, the buck stops there. Content marketing isn’t concerned with any of the backend methods (such as website design) to attract customers’ attention. Its main goal is to reach out to your target audience and promote your work.

A lot of work goes into ensuring this happens. You can find content marketing in a lot of places, including:

  • blog posts
  • social media posts
  • PPC
  • advertisements 
  • social engagement (groups, communities)
  • Quora and Reddit posts

This branch of marketing includes many facets, all of which require hard work and patience. Though some have argued that content marketing is dying, that’s not entirely true. The old ways of doing business may be retired, but content marketing is still alive, which makes it a vital part of your business.

Inbound Marketing Breakdown

Though it accomplishes many of the same goals, inbound marketing is a bit different. Consider this: if content marketing is a branch, inbound marketing is the tree. Creating and distributing content is a crucial component of inbound marketing, but it stretches further than that. Inbound concerns itself with a multitude of additional parts, like website maintenance and SEO-based copy. Businesses and marketing managers use inbound strategies to attract customers before they’re ready to buy.

The aspects that make up inbound marketing spread into a wide variety of areas, including:

  • a well-run website
  • SEO-driven website copy
  • seminar attendance
  • webinars
  • podcasts
  • email marketing

Inbound marketing also tries to find alternative ways to entice specific buyers without interrupting them. In other words, these tactics don’t try to intrigue people before they’ve heard of you (such as through advertisements). The goal of inbound marketing is to think about the customer’s entire journey. Once you drive people to your site, you’ll make a good impression with your site and content. Then when customers are ready to buy, they’ll know you’re trustworthy. 

HubSpot breaks down everything further with their infographics and in-depth article. You can learn more about which tools help you in each stage and how you can best implement these strategies.

How They’re Different

The main difference between inbound and content marketing is that inbound deals with much more than the mere creation and distribution of content. Though inbound marketing strategies can include similar practices, it deals with more than just content.

Inbound marketing also focuses on specific buyer personas, whereas content targets a broader audience. Rather than outwardly promoting content, inbound marketing uses tools and processes to drive potential customers to your site before they’re in the buyer stage.

How They’re the Same

Something to always keep in mind is that both inbound and content marketing are pieces of the same puzzle. While they’re not technically the same, they work in conjunction and work towards similar goals. Together they bring in leads from a target audience, convert website visitors, and help spread the word about your brand.

Many of the same strategies are also used interchangeably. For instance, both contain things like blog posts, infographics, and SEO-driven content.

Conclusion

Get “inbound marketing vs content marketing” out of your mind. Instead, start thinking about how the two work together and how they both help your efforts to boost content. There’s no longer a reason to pit these two practices against one another. Both belong to the same puzzle and they’re equally important to the success of your business and marketing system