03.21.2018

Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: What’s The Difference And How Do They Work Together?


By Brandee Johnson


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We all know what inbound marketing is. And we all know what content marketing is...right? The two are closely related and the difference may be hard to spot. While both use some of the same tactics to accomplish a goal, there is a defining difference. We’re going to clear things up and layout the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing.

What’s the difference?

So let’s get this straight. Inbound marketing is defined as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.” Whereas content marketing is defined as “a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online.” The two definitions are pretty similar, but in the end we can see that content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. Without content marketing, inbound marketing can’t happen.

Dive Deeper Into Inbound Methodology

Let’s identify exactly how inbound marketing is supposed to work according to the creators, Hubspot. Here are the bones of what inbound does:

  • Attract: With blogs, keywords and social publishing
  • Convert: Using forms, calls to action and landing pages
  • Close: With customer relationship managers (CRM), emails and workflows
  • Delight: Using surveys, smart content and social monitoring

Inbound marketing uses many different tactics to accomplish one goal- creating a good customer-company relationship. Inbound changed the way that the world did marketing. No longer is it about interrupting a person’s day with a flashy billboard or a radio ad. Today you have to work hard to gain the interest and the trust of a lead before you can close and enter into a business relationship. Inbound is all about giving people valuable, relevant and consistent content that they want.

Inbound marketing essentially reverses the relationship between company and customer. Today we have to earn our way into a customer’s awareness rather than forcing your way in and simply being louder and more in-your-face than your competitors.

The Purpose of Content Marketing

I guess that you could say that content marketing is the fuel that drives the inbound methodology car. Content marketing uses blogs, social media content, infographics, videos and ebooks to help companies create brand loyalty and trust with their customers or potential customers.

Without this content, inbound marketing wouldn’t be possible. Inbound marketers create campaigns for our clients, planning out content offers, blog topics and social media posts. From there, the ball is passed to the content marketer to write all of these pieces. In many cases, the inbound marketer may be a different team altogether. In some, it may be two people who work very closely together.

However your company decides to divide the work between inbound and content marketing, it’s important to know where the difference in the two lies, and also how each method works to support the other and ultimately accomplish a winning marketing strategy for your company. To be successful with inbound marketing, you have to have a powerhouse of content marketing happening first.

We would love to talk with you about how to hone in on content marketing and inbound marketing. Let’s get in touch and talk more!

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Topics: Digital Marketing

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Brandee Johnson

Written by Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson is an avid marketing expert with a passion for helping businesses achieve growth through data-driven marketing programs. She believes in building marketing systems and starting with strategy before tactics.