Upon first glance, inbound marketing and content marketing might seem pretty similar. When comparing inbound marketing vs. content marketing, it should be noted that both involve developing quality content tailored to a defined audience, both are ROI-driven, and both should be used throughout all stages of the buying cycle. Considering these overlaps, it only makes sense that an inbound marketing definition can sound similar to a content marketing definition. The distinction between content marketing and inbound marketing isn’t always clear. So, why is inbound marketing so much more than just content marketing? Luckily, we’re here to break it down for you.
Content Marketing Is a Subset of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing can be defined as a marketing activity designed to pull your target customers onto your website and social media accounts organically. The idea is that through a combination of design tactics, high-quality content, and technical SEO, you can naturally pull your consumers onto your site by situating it as a place that they naturally want to be. This is different from outbound marketing activities, such as target advertisements, in the sense that you don’t go out and bombard your audience; you carefully craft a strategy that leads them directly to you. Of course, content isn’t all that matters. Content marketing is just one piece of a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy. In fact, according to HubSpot, the majority of marketers identify content marketing as a subset of inbound marketing. Therefore, an effective inbound marketing strategy encompasses so much more than just content marketing.
An Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy Goes Well Beyond Content
In terms of inbound marketing vs. content marketing, it is crucial to point out that while content marketing is content-based, as the named suggests, many inbound marketing strategies go well beyond the production and distribution of tailored content. Strategies that help fuel your inbound engine by drawing traffic onto your brand’s website and into its social spheres — including technical SEO, interactive tools, and freemium trials — aren’t always content-based.
Furthermore, a developed inbound marketing program also entails lead scoring and lead nurturing to ensure that the sales team is only getting high-qualified leads. Inbound marketing aligns the sales/marketing process, which pure content alone simply can’t do. Because inbound marketing aligns the sales/marketing content, a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy will help you make key decisions about how to use the high-quality content you’ve created. It isn’t about the content you’ve produced. It is about how you can most effectively use it to maximize your ROI. At what stage should a lead receive your brand’s e-book? Should your company’s recent webinar be gated? When is it best to reach out to leads via email? An advanced inbound marketing program will help you answer these questions.
Content Marketing Is Important, but It Isn’t Enough
There is no denying that content marketing is important, so you want to invest time and resources into developing high-quality content that is tailored to your target audience. Skimping on content is never a good idea. But that isn’t to say that content marketing on its own is enough. You need to be engaging in a range of inbound marketing activities in order to succeed in today’s hypercompetitive world of online marketing. Content marketing is just one piece of the inbound marketing puzzle.