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Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing – What’s the Difference?

Content marketing and Inbound marketing. Two common terms in modern marketing circles.

We’ll tell you right off the bat, though – content marketing isn’t the same as inbound marketing. Sure, the two are co-dependent but aren’t the same.

So, what’s the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing?

Which one should IT companies implement?

We’ll tell you in a bit.

But first,

Let’s do a quick side-by-side comparison between content marketing and inbound marketing.

‘Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable content regularly to draw and retain a clearly defined audience.’

The primary purpose of content marketing is to ultimately trigger a profitable customer action.

‘The inbound methodology, on the other hand, is a business strategy that seeks to build and nurture relationships between a business and its customers.’

We can pick a couple of things from the comparison above.

Content marketing is key to the success of an inbound marketing campaign. It isn’t the only prerequisite for success, though.

A solid inbound marketing campaign will typically include elements of content market marketing like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), lead, nurturing, website optimization, social media marketing, and more – all geared towards attracting, qualifying, nurturing, converting, and delighting prospects.

You see, content creation play three critical roles;

  1. It draws the attention of your prospects

  2. It enables your business to build and foster relationships with your prospective buyers

  3. It allows you to spread the word about your business by sharing the content

While valuable content is an integral part of inbound marketing, there’s more to the puzzle.

Publishing high-quality and relevant content regularly will help you attract potential buyers.

But that’s not enough to capture or qualify leads. You’ll still need to move these prospects up the customer value journey to conversion and advocacy, bringing us to our next point.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a form of marketing that involves creating and sharing online material such as blogs, videos, infographics, whitepapers, or social media posts.

While it doesn’t explicitly promote a business/brand, content marketing stimulates interest in a business’s products or services.

You may think of content marketing as a strategy to tell your brand’s story in an engaging and captivating manner. And since you’re targeting a specific audience, you want to attract their attention and persuade them into eventually buying your product.

Content marketing revolves around keywords and search terms. If you’re creating a blog post, for instance, you want to include keywords that your prospects are searching on Google.

Let’s say you’re a company selling MSP software.

Your potential clients – people in the early stages of the buyer’s journey – may be looking for “the best MSP software,” or “best MSP ticketing system” on the search engines.

When creating content for such prospects, you’ll want your post to revolve around these search terms. You’ll only need to ensure that your content is relevant to the prospect’s pain points and how your product/service/team can help solve them.

Remember when we talked about “profitable customer action?” – the primary purpose of content marketing?

This occurs when you blend the relevant content you’ve just created with an inbound marketing campaign.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing involves taking prospects through the customer value journey from when they get in touch with your brand until they become loyal customers.

The inbound marketing tools leverage a series of non-intrusive techniques to help your business attract, build and nurture relationships, convert and delight prospects.

The keyword here is “non-invasive.” Inbound marketing is all about inviting prospects to find you instead of nagging them with aggressive advertising.

Inbound marketing works on the hypothesis that if a customer finds your brand naturally (while reading a blog post, for instance), they’re far more likely to accept the targeted offer or respond positively to your call-to-action (CTA).

The strategy focuses on displaying the right content to the right customer at the right time. For example, you can target repeat visitors with a pop-up because they’re more likely to subscribe to your email list than first-time visitors.

Put differently, inbound marketing enables the business to run a targeted marketing campaign by availing the right kind of content to prospects that need it.

Some tactics used in inbound marketing include whitepapers, videos, blogging, and guides.

How are Content and Inbound Marketing Different?

There’s a stark contrast between the two.

Content marketing, at its core, deals with the creation and distribution of content via various channels. The idea is to ensure your target audience reads and shares your content.

In the meantime, having an inbound marketing strategy is all about making sure that your website and the content published on it are engaging and persuasive enough to trigger some kind of action by the reader – the action could be buying your product/service, subscribing to your email list, or following your brand.

Is Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing the Same Thing?

Sure, we did state that inbound and content marketing isn’t the same thing from the get-go.

But, having read through this post, or if you’ve read adequately on the subject, you may be inclined to think that the two are similar.

For argument sake, we could argue that inbound can content marketing only share the following:

Content and inbound marketing are, well … marketing strategies whose aim is to fulfill a customer’s or prospects.

Also, both are non-intrusive – they allow the target audience to slowly warm up to your brand, get to know what you’re all about, and eventually buy from you.

Even so, inbound and content marketing leverage different tools to deliver the desired result.

Inbound marketing focuses on converting website visitors. Content marketing is a small but specific part of the entire process tasked with creating and distributing content.

Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing – Which is Better?

Overall, content marketing is superior to inbound marketing and vice versa. 

It would be best if you, therefore, implemented both in your marketing campaign. In fact, the idea is to combine the two to achieve better results.

Inbound marketing is key to boosting your website’s conversion.

Content marketing, on the other hand, will help attract visitors to your website. It will show them that your brand offers the best solution to their problem. On top of that, it’ll help you climb search engine rankings.

When you combine both strategies, the result is a great website that attracts, generates leads, converts visitors, nurtures brand loyalists, all while generating income.

How Can IT Companies Leverage Inbound and Content Marketing?

Inbound marketing can go a long way in helping increase conversions in industries like IT where prospects undergo a longer customer value journey.

With a well-curated inbound marketing strategy, you can build relationships with potential customers at every stage of their buying process.

IT companies that want to achieve a positive ROI using inbound marketing should focus on placing the right info in the right places on their websites. What does this mean? It implies the following:

  1. Availing answers for questions potential customers may be having

  2. Adding images

  3. Blogging

  4. Video marketing

  5. Uploading quality content that provides value to readers

  6. Any other content strategy that can help boost conversion

Likewise, IT businesses that want to leverage content marketing to achieve positive ROI should do the following:

  1. Create great content to engage readers

  2. Distribute the content across various channels

  3. Your content marketing efforts should also involve:

  4. Writing blog posts/guides

  5. Link building

  6. Other activities that can help increase brand awareness amongst your prospective clients.

The Bottom Line

Inbound marketing and content marketing tie in with each other.

Content enables you to place your business in front of your customers. Inbound helps you achieve results by converting leads attracted via content marketing.

With all the apparatuses of inbound marketing and content strategy in place, IT companies have a powerful tool to infiltrate the complex and competitive industry to generate sales month after month.

Growth-generators Can Help Ignite Your Inbound Marketing Effort

Inbound marketing is pretty complex. There’s a lot to learn and implement to enable you to run a successful campaign.

At Growth-generators, we have helped thousands of businesses in the IT space launch their inbound marketing campaign through our proven digital marketing tactics

If you’re an IT company looking to get started with your inbound marketing strategy, we can offer a helping hand. We can also run your content marketing strategy by crafting and distributing content your prospects care to read.

Whether you’re a startup or an established IT business, we can set up your campaigns, brainstorm ideas, and implement inbound tactics to boost lead generation and revenue.

Growth-generators will work in collaboration with your team to ensure you experience positive ROI for your content and inbound marketing budgets.

Book a free consultation session today with one of our experienced inbound marketers to kick-start your campaigns.


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