content marketing vs inbound marketing

Content Marketing vs Inbound Marketing: All You Need to Know

There are lots of marketing types out there. If you’re trying to learn more about content marketing, it’s understandable to have questions.

Some of these questions might have to do with comparing content marketing to other types of marketing. Since I receive a lot of questions concerning content marketing vs inbound marketing, I wanted to devote an article to this important topic.

First, we’ll quickly define inbound marketing and content marketing. Then, we’ll compare content marketing and inbound marketing to see how these two types of advertising stack up to each other.

You’ll also learn at how to create an amazing content marketing vs inbound marketing strategy. By learning all of this information, you’ll be a much more effective marketer!

What is content marketing?

content marketing strategy

There are many content marketing definitions out there. However, the best way I would describe this type of marketing would be using content creation as a way to both convert potential customers and keep your current ones loyal.

Of course, that’s only a simple definition. There are many ways to use content creation as a part of your company’s marketing strategy.

Some of the most popular ways of making and distributing valuable content are:

Alright. What’s inbound marketing?

inbound marketing strategy

Now, let’s take a closer look at inbound marketing. Inbound marketing involves using both content and interactions to create a valuable experience for your company’s target audience.

Because these two topics sound so similar, it’s easy to see why many people confuse inbound and content marketing with each other.

A great inbound marketing methodology should include content marketing. However, only using content probably wouldn’t create an entire inbound marketing strategy.

Effective inbound marketing is about strategically sending or otherwise getting your target audience’s eyes in front of relevant content that helps your business grow.

Think of inbound marketing as a method of converting leads that involves email, web, and social media content. Inbound marketing is not cold calling your customers or sending them cold emails with no marketing strategy in place that will never be opened.

Content marketing vs inbound marketing

It’s now time to compare content marketing with inbound marketing.

Content marketing is a way to market something with a focus around either written content, multimedia content, or a combination of both.

On the other hand, inbound marketing is a larger-scale approach that’s more about creating an amazing overall experience for your company’s customers.

Inbound marketing vs traditional marketing

I often receive questions about how inbound marketing compares to traditional marketing. There are similarities and differences between these two types of marketing that we’ll dig deeper into.

Most traditional marketing methods have lost a certain degree of popularity because of the internet. But, this is where I want to highlight a similarity when comparing inbound marketing vs content marketing. Most types of marketing require some type of content.

If you were sending out mailers, you would need a message and images to place on what you’re sending. This is otherwise known as content marketing, even though it’s not found on a website. The same goes for newspaper, magazine, radio, and television advertisements, all require content.

How are inbound and content marketing the same?

search engines

So far, you learned how inbound and content marketing are different things. But that’s not to say that inbound marketing vs content marketing don’t uncover some similarities.

Both are forms of marketing

At the end of the day, inbound and content marketing have the same main goal and that’s to convert people or companies into your customers.

Both of them require some form of content

As mentioned earlier, inbound marketing and content go hand in hand. However, creating consistent content is only a part of an inbound strategy.

How to create an inbound marketing strategy

inbound and content marketing

If you’re interested in creating a complete inbound marketing strategy, you’re making a great move on behalf of your company or one you work for.

With that said, an effective inbound marketing campaign involves being on multiple platforms. Here’s a closer look at what needs to be parts of your company’s inbound strategy.

Pay-per-click advertising

If you’re wanting to jump-start your company’s content marketing strategy, pay-per-click or PPC advertising is a great way to achieve this goal.

The concept behind PPC advertising is simple. First, you have content that you want your target audience to see. Next, you’ll choose relevant keywords and start making bids on how much you’ll pay per click to your chosen page.

This type of advertising is a great part of an inbound marketing funnel because you only pay when someone visits your page.

Creating optimized content for search engines

Sometimes, there’s not enough wiggle room in your company’s budget to begin paid advertising. If that’s the case, you can likely gain potential customers with content optimized for search engines (otherwise known as SEO).

Fortunately, you don’t need an entire marketing and sales team to start creating this type of content. I mean, it’s great if you do have that kind of team. However, it’s not impossible to create your own content marketing strategy with some SEO thrown in.

While I’d love to give you a complete run-down of technical SEO in this post, that would make this one long read! If you want to learn how to create optimized content, I’d recommend checking out Backlinko. Brain Dean is a great mind in this industry that can help you out!

Social media

When looking at inbound marketing vs content marketing, social media is often a significant aspect of either side. Social media marketing is another great part of any content strategy. Companies like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter remain some of the most popular websites in the world. You’ll definitely want these websites as part of your inbound marketing plan.

With relevant content depending on the platform you’re using, you can beef up your company’s sales funnel with lots of interested people and businesses.


Whether you look at inbound marketing vs content marketing, you’ll find that sending out emails is an important part of either technique. Research from shows that 29% of marketers use email marketing as an effective lead generation method.

So, how do you get those people and companies in your email list to take profitable customer action? By making sure they’re interested in what you’re sending!

It would be great if simply spamming messages to your customers once per hour brought in qualified leads for your company. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work.

Instead, you need to focus on delighting customers by sending them valuable information about topics they want to know more about.

Creating an excellent content marketing strategy

potential customers

If you’re either new to marketing or don’t have a lot of time on your hands, it’s important to note that you might not need to rely on marketing that requires an inbound methodology.

Instead, you can dip your toe in the huge pool of marketing by beginning the content marketing process. Content marketing centers on, of course, written content paired with images, videos, and infographics.

When you pair great content creation with excellent marketing techniques, it can mean great results for your business.

Get a list of topics

Whether you’re taking part in content marketing or inbound marketing, the topics you choose are extremely important. With that in mind, the first step of any great content marketing strategy is to choose a list of topics.

It’s important to avoid overthinking while you’re making your list of potential of topics for the purpose of attracting customers.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for you or your team of content marketers, I recommend checking out some of the keywords your competitors are targeting.

Once you have your list of potential topics and keywords for your company’s ideal customers, you can move to the next step below.

Start researching your keywords

With your list of keywords, it’s now time to start researching them. When you’re performing keyword research, you’re looking for ones your website can rank well for.

If you own a newer website, you’ll probably want to aim for low competition keywords. These types of keywords are generally easier for newer websites to rank for, which leads to these companies reaching their potential customers.

If you own an older website with some decent backlinks and authority, you might be able to start targeting more competitive keywords.

Begin creating content

We’re now at one of the most exciting parts of either content marketing or inbound marketing and that’s writing content. At this point, you can choose to take care of creating and publishing content on your own or you can hire help from another person or company.

If you decide to avoid hiring a marketing team and prefer to do things yourself, here are some guidelines to remember when it’s time to step up your company’s digital marketing plan with content creation.

You can start making content the way that most people and companies do, which is to create a blog post. With your main keyword (and hopefully a list of secondary keywords), you can now begin your content marketing journey!

One of the best tips when writing content to create new customers and keep your existing customers is to always focus on user intent behind a search. You can get a great idea of what will drive profitable customer action by looking at the websites ranking on page one for the keyword you’re going after.

Of course, you don’t want to directly copy and paste what someone else has written. That’s plagiarism. Instead, look at the content your competitors have and make yours even better for online marketing success.

Post and share

When comparing inbound marketing vs content marketing, you’ll find that both require you to publish content. Without content spread out among multiple channels, you’ll have a tough time creating and building your company’s target audience.

Posting to multiple channels (your company’s website, social media, etc) is great, but it’s also important to share this content. This strategy will also help your company’s search engine optimization results.

So, make sure that you’re also sharing this content in emails and on social media pages. This way, you’ll catch customers in multiple places during their buyer’s journey.

Track your results

We’re now on the final step in the content marketing and inbound marketing journeys and that’s tracking your results. This part of a strategic marketing approach will give you insights as to what your target audience liked and didn’t like along their buyer’s journey.

You don’t need to be a technical genius or a master of sales strategies to track your content. Many email marketing and website content management platforms will have their own systems to automatically track how your content performs.


I’ve been working in the digital marketing industry since 2012. Believe me – I know it’s easy to sometimes get confused in this industry. Hopefully, these explanations helped you out and made understanding inbound marketing vs content marketing easier to digest.

Content Marketing Life