Why content marketing and inbound marketing aren’t the same

difference between content marketing and inbound marketingInbound and content marketing are often considered to be one and the same. But in fact, both terms are frequently misunderstood and turn out to be fundamentally different.

Inbound marketing focuses on attracting and nurturing leads through the sales funnel using strategically chosen channels for communication and engagement. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a “strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Both definitions sound similar, but you’ll soon see how different they are:

Content marketing doesn’t nurture

Producing content that is relevant and targets your buyer personas is no small feat. And content marketing has been a part of traditional marketing for a while. Now, it’s entering the digital age with everything else – providing excess stuff in the Internet of things (IoT). Good content marketing involves strategy and knowledge of the target audience and buyer personas to create relevant, timely pieces of information.

This content can be visual (e.g. infographic, video), informational (e.g. blog, e-book) and distributed on any channel imaginable. However, if you’re simply creating content for people and putting it out there, all you’re doing is attracting leads to your website – not nurturing them. It’s true, you can have nurturing content on your website or in a tweet, but if there’s no strategy to move a lead through the funnel, it’s just something to make your audience think of you as an industry thought leader and nothing more.

Inbound marketing is the whole sha-bang

Using marketing tactics to attract, nurture, close, and delight leads, inbound marketing develops a relationship with the target audience through a series of communications. Inbound marketing involves using content marketing to target the specific stage of the buyer’s journey and provide the information needed to move a lead through the funnel to the next stage.

Inbound marketing provides context for the content being communicated in each step of the buyer’s journey. Without a strategy behind every communication on any channel, your marketing will suffer and you won’t convert leads into customers. Nurturing leads through a series of steps — making sure it’s a good fit for both customer and business – will ultimately help drive better qualified leads through the conversion process.

Focusing your content on the customer is always beneficial for any marketing strategy. Yet, you should always provide context too.

Final thoughts

You need to communicate with leads and prospects on an ongoing basis in order to nurture them through the funnel and attract better qualified leads. Instead of simply creating great content that your audience likes, think about the delivery method of the content and how you can drive your leads to the next step in the process.

Are you ready to take the next step yourself? Learn how inbound marketing can help you attract better qualified leads, increase profits, and lower marketing costs from our free e-book:

get the biggest ROi out of your marketing efforts