Content marketing has become a much-debated topic among marketers, but there is often quite a bit of confusion around what content marketing exactly is, and how it differentiates itself from online or inbound marketing. Here is an attempt to create some clarity.
• Is as old as the written word. It well pre-dates online marketing, as proven by 18th century flyers promoting concerts and other events.
• Focuses on creating relevant and interesting content targeting specific buyer personas
• Is Channel agnostic, meaning it uses all available channels, online, offline and face to face to reach different target audiences. Examples are blogging and other social media, advertising in trade magazines, and speaking at industry conferences.
• Focuses on all stages of the buying cycle, including lead nurturing, and lead to customer conversion
ONLINE OR INBOUND MARKETING
• Is about getting found online. In other words, online marketing enables your target audience to find you and knock on your door, after which the compelling content you created using your content marketing efforts, gets them through the door.
• Uses online channels only, so SEO, Social Media, Blogging, Websites, PPC…
• Depends on the customer or prospect taking initiative by, for example doing online research on specific products, using Google asking their social media friends for referrals. (as opposed to outbound marketing, which involves brands reaching out to customers).
• Focuses mainly on the initial, lead generating stages of the buying cycle by generating traffic to a website
So in other words, online and content marketing go hand in hand, but they are not the same. They do both require a rigorous discipline around analyzing and adjusting, to maximize results and minimize risk.