The terms "Content Marketing" and "Inbound Marketing" are being used a lot these days, but confusion still remains about their definitions and merits. If you ever wonder what all the fuss is about, take a look at our Q&A below ...
Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: What's the Difference?
Some say they are the same thing (you never see them in the same room at the same time); I prefer to think of them as close cousins.
Inbound Marketing is a more general term: the practice of letting prospective customers find you when they're looking for a product or service you sell. This is opposed to outbound marketing, where the prospective customer will be interrupted with your messaging regardless of whether they're looking for your product/service or not. Subsequently, you could say the majority of inbound leads are a lot warmer than outbound ones.
Content Marketing can be seen as a subset of the inbound methodology, and is concerned with the creation of meaningful, educational and informative content designed to build trust, brand loyalty - and ultimately, sales. This content is often not related to the brand specifically but serves as useful information for the prospective buyer, stimulating interest in the creator of the content.
Is It the Latest Thing?
Not exactly. They seem to be the latest buzzwords but actually, inbound and content marketing have been around in various forms for a very long time. What's new is their digitisation and the evolution of automated marketing platforms to facilitate the distribution of content.
From Ben Franklin's Almanac (first published in 1732 to promote his printing business) to 1900's Michelin Guide to the first Weight Watchers magazine printed in 1968, businesses have long provided informative and educational content to prospective customers in order to build trust and ultimately brand loyalty.
Can Anyone Use It?Absolutely. Many people believe content marketing is only relevant to professional service organisations. Not true. Many businesses can benefit from content marketing. For example, a house construction company might produce content for different stages of the customer journey, e.g:
- Buying your first home vs building a new one
- The pros and cons of building a home
- Should you hire your own architect and builder or leave it all to a reputable construction company?
- Mortgage tips when building a new home
- How to choose the best company for your home construction project.
This can take the form of blogs, eBooks, video tutorials etc and should be promoted using various platforms like LinkedIn, email marketing and social media. Good SEO practice will also help your audience find you organically (by searching online).
So How Does it Generate Leads?
Certain content (e.g. eBooks) will require the user to complete a simple form in order to download it. Once this information is captured, that contact is included in your database and you are able to track their future engagement with your content. Most inbound marketing platforms will provide an automatic "lead scoring" tool which allows you to filter those leads who are most interested in you, or who are continuing to engage online and moving through the sales funnel.
Workflows are also useful for keeping your audience engaged. For example, if your potential customer downloads an eBook, you could schedule an email to go out to them shortly afterwards, thanking them for their interest and inviting them to get in touch. Some time later you may follow up with another piece of content that is relevant to their stage of the journey, and so on. Once the customer contacts you, they can be automatically excluded from the workflow. You can automate and personalise in any way, dependent on any situation or stage in the buying process.
Sounds Time Consuming
Good content doesn't just magically appear. The implementation of a content marketing programme requires resource, whether that be internal or external, or both. For example, one of your team members could train up on the software and task various other members of the team to create content on a regular, rotating basis. Alternatively your digital agency should be able to create content in consultation with your subject experts (e.g. interview the experts in your team and draft content for you to promote) and can also run the software for you, distributing and monitoring each of these campaigns on your behalf.
Which Software is Best?
There are a few options. Marketo is great for very large organisations and beats the competition (Eloqua, IBM Unica, Callidus Cloud) in pricing without sacrificing very much in the product. However, it could be considered overkill and disproportionately expensive for SME's.
For SME's, Hubspot is the clear winner. Hubspot's competition in this space is Pardo, Act-On, Salesfusion and Infusionsoft. Although all of these offerings provide a level of quality in all of the main areas of focus (user interface, user experience, content management, social management, seo optimisation, tracking capability), Hubspot comes out on top in nearly all of these areas. Their support and training are extremely comprehensive and useful. And it stacks up very attractively in the pricing stakes.
Where Do I Start?
Glad you asked. Get in touch for a chat about how content marketing might help your business and let us help you make the decision based on your current situation and where you'd like to take your marketing efforts.
Did we mention? We can help with all your content marketing needs, whether it be consultation, creation or implementation.