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Traditional advertising is out, and content marketing is in. Everybody is talking about the massive potential gains associated with providing great content that people want to read. But where does content marketing fit within your inbound marketing strategy? Are they actually the same thing? To answer that you need a deeper understanding of content creation. You also need to know its place within a content marketing inbound marketing strategy. It’s perhaps the most important part of developing systems that achieve the results your company expects.

Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Content marketing and inbound marketing are phrases often used in the same breath, and sometimes even interchangeably; but they actually mean slightly different things:

  • Inbound marketing is a complete marketing system. It’s goal is to drive traffic to a website, promote engagement, and convert visitors into customers. It’s a marketing method that involves making it easier for people to find your brand and interact with it.
  • Content marketing involves creating engaging and valuable content that helps people first, rather than advertisements that focus primarily on showcasing the brand. Content marketing plays a role in all forms of marketing, including SEO, social media marketing, and inbound marketing.

While content marketing and inbound marketing aren’t the same thing, they’re intrinsically linked. Great content is the driving force for an inbound marketing campaign, as it improves search rankings and provides the incentive for people to visit your site.

Benefits of Content Marketing Inbound Marketing

Traditional advertising involves putting product information in front of consumers who may not be actively searching for that information; and it often involves heavy investment to ensure enough people see it.

The biggest problem facing marketers is that modern consumers are frequently finding ways to avoid such advertising or to customize their online experience, with 27.5 percent of Internet users in the United States employing ad blocking software in 2017. In fact, the loss of revenue in the U.S. through ad blocking was around $3.89 billion in 2016.

Content Marketing Inbound marketing flips traditional marketing on its head. Rather than creating content and then paying to make it visible, the aim of inbound marketing is to create content that potential customers want to see. If you publish content that answers commonly asked questions, you have the potential to increase traffic to your site; and if the content is good enough, it’s more likely that visitors will keep coming back for more.

A successful content marketing inbound marketing system promotes calls to action that help to translate visitors into sales leads, and then into conversions. The potential for success is evident, with 46 percent of marketers reporting that inbound marketing offers the best return on investment while only 12 percent report that outbound marketing is more valuable.

Getting Started with Content Marketing Inbound Marketing

You’re sold on the idea of inbound marketing, and you want to carve out your own niche. Unfortunately, with so much content online, being successful takes more than writing a few blogs and publishing them on your website. You need to develop a comprehensive content marketing system.

Have a Plan

At the start of any marketing campaign, you need to decide on your goals. Having clear goals makes it easier to formulate a strategy, to keep the campaign on course, and to evaluate how successful you’ve been. The metrics used to calculate your success depend on what you hope to achieve.

See What Other Companies Are Doing

There are already thousands of companies using inbound marketing successfully, so learn from their experiences. Study the performance of leading brands:

Go Pro Content Marketing Inbound Marketing

This camera manufacturer turned free user-generated content into a hugely successful video-based inbound marketing system. GoPro encourages users to submit video footage of extreme sports captured on GoPro equipment. This is cost-effective, ensures the company has a wide range of videos shot in locations all around the world, promotes engagement with existing customers, and provides inspiration for anybody who is thinking about making a purchase.

Ben & Jerry's Content Marketing Inbound Marketing
Ben & Jerry’s

The famous ice cream manufacturer uses content to advertise core values. It doesn’t just sell sweet treats; it sells a vision. The company’s content hub attracts conscientious consumers who like a little food for thought to go with their dessert.

IKEA User-Generated Content

This furniture and home decor retailer uses a variety of different content types to build its brand. It has a blog packed with information on home decorating, uses social media to create engagement, and has produced several videos. The use of humor in the marketing helps to make the company feel more human, and ensures content is memorable and shareable.

Establish a Team

Inbound marketing takes commitment and persistence. A few blogs isn’t going to cut it when there are thousands of competitors pumping out quality content every day. You need a complete strategy, with a schedule of regular content to help you stay relevant in a fast-moving market. That level of effort means it pays to have a dedicated team with a marketing strategist, a content creator, graphic designers, analysts, and a project manager. In small companies, it may be necessary for one person to take on several of these roles, and in many cases it’s a good idea to outsource content creation to freelancers.

Evaluate Your Success

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to analyze the results of your marketing and identify areas for improvement. Use various metrics to establish if your campaign is on the right track, and use your data to correct your course when necessary.

Takeaway: Outbound Is Out

Outbound marketing is out. Using inbound marketing to encourage consumers to seek you out because they want to, rather than forcing them to see paid advertising, has the potential for great success, as it costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing while generating up to three times as many leads. Content marketing is one cog in your inbound marketing engine, but it’s an integral element that you can’t overlook. Focus on creating great content, and consider outsourcing the content creation process if you don’t have the resources in-house to do the job well.

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