Inbound Vs. Content Marketing: What's the Difference?

December 12, 2014 by BizTraffic Team

Inbound or Content Marketing?In any industry there are often buzz words that get so overused they tend to lose their meaning over time. We use them in every day conversations, but do we really understand what they mean or what the real differences are between them?

Two such phrases in the digital marketing industry are Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing.

We hear these terms so often, but are we even talking about the same thing we discussing these strategies? And if your a business looking for a marketing company, how best should you go about learning what exactly these strategies will look like for your company?

Content Marketing Defined

According to a quick Google search the definition of content marketing is:

Content Marketing Definition via Google

According to this definition, this marketing strategy is about creating and distritubing content for a specific, targeted audience. Content marketing is a form of marketing that can apply to a wide range of industries. 

Content comes in many different shapes and forms. This blog post is a form of content, the copy and images in an email are a form of content, infographics, slideshares, whitepapers, ebooks, all are a form of content. And the content all has a purpose to attract, acquire, and engage the right audience to bring in sales. 

Inbound Marketing Defined

Another quick Google search yielded an Inbound Marketing definition:

Inbound Marketing Definition via Google

This definition focuses on the action marketers are not taking: they are not going out to actively gain prospects attention, but instead using content to gain attention of the right prospects by drawing them to the website through content. This is a more holistic approach which includes content creation, but also involves conversion optimization and leveraging social platforms. 

So, Whats the Difference?

Really these two terms describe a very similar process. The difference is that inbound marketing covers much more than just content. Content is of course a highly important piece of inbound, in fact, wtihout content, inbound would be useless. But inbound marketing is still much more than just blog posts. It is a methodology and a process that begins the second a potential lead visits your website. Inbound marketing is about obtaining information by exchanging it for relevant content, which then allows for a more targeted marketing strategy.

Content marketing is much broader, in the sense that content can be nearly anything. Inbound takes into account individuals and promotes highly personalized content to each individual. It is the process of using content to lead to a desired action: an actual sale, and even nurturing that person long after the sale has been made. 

Why Does This Difference Matter?

When making decisions about your marketing strategy, it is important to know what your options are. These two terms are easy to jumble up, it is important to request clarification and understand what a potential marketing agency or your own in-house marketing department might be proposing as a strategy. 

Ultimately what you choose to call the strategy you are undertaking doesn't really matter. But defining what that strategy looks like is vitally important to your business. So instead of worrying about a clear definition, it is more important to have a clear understanding of what types of results you want from your digital marketing strategy, and how your vendor or marketing department is going to go about making those results happen. 

Filed Under: Content Marketing, web marketing, website marketing, marketing trends