Getting online traffic through content marketing is the go-to strategy for websites that want to grow their audience. It is no secret that blogs and infographics, among other things, bring a constant flow of visitors to your digital storefront. This is especially true of high-quality SEO content.
However, did you know that there is another way to leverage content? Inbound marketing is a strategy where you attract, engage, and delight leads, so they become lifelong customers. It follows a structured plan that addresses customer needs at different stages.
This guide tells you everything you need to know about inbound and content marketing, their strengths, and when to use them.
There is a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes. Here we go!
What Is Inbound Marketing?
According to HubSpot, who coined the term, inbound marketing encompasses content marketing. But unlike content marketing, it also directly involves other elements, such as technical SEO.
In simpler terms, inbound marketing is a broader strategy. The most prominent shared aspect between the two is the use of content to generate leads for your business.
To further elaborate, here are the three parts of an inbound marketing strategy:
- Attract: Here, you create content to increase brand awareness. Make a strategy to wow the crowd and pique interest. It is crucial at this stage to sound natural rather than thinly-veiled advertising by speaking to people’s needs.
- Engage: At this stage, leads are ready to learn more. Be prepared to communicate and answer potential questions they may have through email, phone calls, or chatbots. Do not sell yet; use this opportunity to establish yourself as a solution to their problems.
- Delight: Continue building your relationship with the customer. A sale should not end your efforts to engage and communicate with your audience. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software shines for inbound marketing.
As you can see, it heavily involves using tools and software to track and manage your strategy. It may seem intimidating and complicated at first, but once you get used to it, automation can take over half of your workload.
Benefits of an Inbound Marketing Strategy
Inbound marketing aims to provide customers with helpful content. It uses the interest generated by whatever you publish on your website to capture, engage, and convert them into lifelong clients.
Here are three core strengths of inbound marketing:
- Successfully draw in people from your intended audience
- Maintaining customer relationships through content
- Using tools and software to automate your strategy
A helpful way to view this approach is like water going down a kitchen sink. Your goal is to plan your content around moving leads from the attract to engage to delight stages.
When to Use Inbound Marketing
An inbound marketing strategy works best when you can fully commit to it. That means investing in CRM and marketing tools because it cannot perform at its best without them.
Remember that you must generate and target leads along their search journey. You convert through exemplary customer service, then work hard to maintain the relationship.
Without automation tools, you significantly slow down the last part of the process. On the other hand, if you do not use a CRM, you lose out on potential conversion opportunities. Keeping track of such a large mass of customer information makes or breaks inbound marketing.
Therefore, consider this strategy if and when you have the time, finances, and workforce to start it. From there, the process becomes easier as you rely on monitoring and maintenance tools.
What Is Content Marketing?
As mentioned above, content marketing is all about growing your online audience. It leverages your blog posts, infographics, and other uploads to increase brand awareness. It tailors content to address users’ needs and pain points identified through market and keyword research.
A good content marketing strategy follows a process, much like inbound marketing. It is relatively straightforward and neatly summed up into the three steps below:
- Find target keywords using Google Trends and other free tools to identify optimal terms for your content. Make sure you have variety by including short- and long-tail, local, and customer-oriented keywords relevant to your brand.
- Use SEO Headlines in your blog posts. The fastest way to gain someone’s interest is by using action-oriented titles that signal value to the person. For example, ‘How to Write 1,000 Words in 30 Minutes’ or ‘30 Things to Do in Boulder, Colorado.’
- Create high-quality content that proactively answers questions your audience may not know they have. Boost your website’s credibility by citing authoritative sources and providing stats where possible. Earn your audience’s trust and build from there.
Benefits of a Content Marketing Strategy
According to Digital Authority Partners, content marketing’s goal is discovering and answering your target market’s many burning questions.
Compared to the broader inbound marketing strategy, it only covers the attract phase. It might be less effective, but remember that drawing in potential customers is part of any marketing plan. In addition, there is less time and money needed to run content marketing.
Free keyword and content tools are all you need to succeed. It is, therefore, a good starting point for businesses with a smaller workforce and fewer resources to get into digital marketing.
When to Use Content Marketing
Content marketing is straightforward and accessible to anyone. That makes it the preferable choice for small businesses. Resource investments are also not as heavy because free tools are often enough to create and execute a solid content marketing strategy.
As outlined above, keywords constitute the majority of your approach. A good content marketing strategy relies on knowing your customers’ needs. So, once you have a reliable tool and method for research, the rest of the process comes naturally.
All in all, content marketing is a good jumping-off point if you do not have the necessary resources to do inbound marketing. It is also the better choice if your website does not provide products or services that make lead generation and customer retention necessary.
Inbound Content vs. Content Marketing: Ultimate Difference
Although inbound and content marketing function similarly, the two have fundamental differences. The biggest of these is that the former goes far beyond what the latter can do.
However, that comes at the apparent cost of needing more resources to work. As such, you see significantly better returns with it. Think of it as making a product display in the hopes that people like it versus hiring someone to sell to customers and provide service.
As you can see, inbound marketing cares about converting and retaining customers, making it optimal for businesses selling products or services. On the other hand, websites that mainly publish content online benefit more from simply doing content marketing.
While it is crucial to success, good content is not the only vital part of a marketing strategy. How you convert leads and interact with customers is also essential. Of course, this depends on the nature of your website and business.
Finding the right marketing strategy can be frustrating, but following this guide should save you from potential headaches when deciding between inbound and content marketing.