If you are a business owner or responsible for marketing for your company, you have no doubt heard the buzz about the importance of content for today’s marketing strategies. You may have heard about it in relation to inbound marketing or you may have heard it simply called “content marketing”. You are probably wondering if there is a difference between these styles or if they are one and the same. We are going to help you sort that out by diving into what content marketing is all about.

Content Marketing and Inbound are the Same but Different

There, aren’t you glad we cleared that up for you? The truth is, while content marketing and inbound marketing are strikingly similar, there is one fundamental difference that separates the two. Quite simply put, to launch and maintain a successful inbound campaign, you require content but you can employ a content marketing strategy without all of the inbound components. Let’s take a closer look at the components that make up each type of strategy.

Inbound Marketing Components

Inbound was born of a need to provide value to potential customers in the form of information that is useful, engaging and timely. The idea is to pull people towards wanting your products or services rather than pushing them with intrusive marketing techniques. When developing an inbound marketing campaign, you are working to nurture people along their buyer’s journey with four different stages:

  • Attract– bringing new people to your site
  • Convert– creating enough interest in your company to gain qualified leads
  • Close– your leads complete the goals you’ve set out (a sale, a membership, etc)
  • Delight– maintaining a great connection with your customers so they become promoters

This is just a quick rundown of the elements involved in an inbound campaign, but the common denominator for all four stages is that you need remarkable content to guide visitors through the process.

Content Marketing as a Standalone Strategy

With content marketing, you provide value to your potential customers through information as well, and while your end goal is to encourage sales or increase revenues, your focus is more on building trust for your company through content. Some forms of this technique have been used since the late 1800’s, with a popular example being “The Furrow“, an agricultural magazine published by John Deere that educated farmers on best practices, common issues faced and of course, news about new machinery. While the publication increased sales for the company, providing valuable information and keeping the John Deere name in front of potential customers were the main goals.

Here are the stages of a content marketing strategy that is designed to build trust and enhance respect for your company:

  • Create– you are creating content that is designed to engage your audience
  • Publish and promote– your blog and social media platforms are used to promote your content and open dialogue with your audience
  • Monitor– look for opportunities for your company to engage with your audience to encourage participation
  • Analyze– determine what forms of content and topics are most successful
  • Repeat

Now that you can see the differences between content marketing and inbound, it’s also easy to see how the content portion is what drives successful inbound strategies. If all of the elements of content marketing are included in the development of your inbound strategy, the sky is the limit! Your content will build the relationships you need while your inbound goals will move your audience along their buyer’s journey. Sounds like a winning duo to us!