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What Is The Difference Between Inbound Marketing & Content Marketing?

Posted by Chris Field on Apr 10, 2015 10:24:00 AM

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The goal is simple: Your brand and business have to write, produce, design, and create such compelling content that people don’t know it is marketing. This process takes energy and time, but it gets easier the more you do it.

But what is this? Is this Inbound Marketing? Or is it Content Marketing? And, what is the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing? There is a distinction between the two terms, and understanding the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing is vital to your business’ success at both.

Before we define the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing, let’s look at an abbreviated version of the content creation process...

First, picture the reader for whom you’re writing and creating. You must be as specific as possible about this dream customer. How old are they? What is their occupation? What do they do for fun? What question do they desperately need answered? What’s their pain point? What keeps them up at night?

Then, answer their question. Be real and authentic. Let your brand’s voice come to light. Inform, entertain, analyze, and help them. Earn their trust.

Do this consistently. Do this for every single dream customer. And, your business will grow. Leads will develop from thin air. Revenue will start to pour in. And, your competitors will wonder how you’re doing it.

So, is that inbound marketing or content marketing? Good question! Lots of professional marketers are asking themselves the same thing...

Here’s how HubSpot defines Inbound Marketing:

"Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time."

Here’s how Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing:

"Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action."

Here’s the short version of how we at Red Wheel define each…

Content Marketing is a subset of Inbound Marketing. Granted, there would be no inbound without content, but content marketing is one aspect of many that make up the practice and execution of inbound marketing. Content Marketing is one vital arrow—one of the most important, actually—in your inbound marketing quiver.

You can do content marketing without doing inbound marketing, but you cannot do inbound marketing without content. Content is the fuel that powers the inbound machine. And, inbound marketing has numerous subsets in addition to content marketing.

Other arrows in the inbound marketing quiver, in addition to content marketing, are:

  • Content Distribution & Content Promotion

  • Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing

  • Drip Campaigns & Personalized Email Marketing

  • Marketing Automation

  • Search Engine Optimization

  • Landing Pages & CTAs

< RELATED: What is Inbound Marketing? Here's your answer. >

We’re always excited to discuss this stuff. Inbound and content are far more than what we do; it’s our passion (sounds nerdy, but it’s true). So, request a chat and we’d be more than happy to jump on a call, virtually meet over Skype, or grab a coffee.

2 terrific resources for further reading about Content Marketing & Inbound Marketing

  1. "The Difference Between Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing (and Why It Matters)" by HubSpot.
  2. "Why Inbound Marketing Is On The Rise And What That Means For Content Marketing" by Contently.

Free Worksheets - Know When To Distribute Content in the Buyers Journey

Topics: Content Marketing