In today’s consumer-driven world, businesses require a strategic approach to marketing so they can attract and retain paying customers. Bright and flashy advertisements are no longer as effective. Today’s consumers are more likely to be persuaded by subtle, strategically placed ads that contain relevant and authentic content. By combining content and inbound marketing tactics, businesses are more likely to expand their audiences.

Inbound Marketing

With inbound marketing, businesses strategize ways to put themselves in the path of desired consumers. While website material and promotional content are important, the focus here is more on directing audience members to the website than on the content’s overall quality.  

Prominent inbound marketing tactics include online strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogging, email marketing and analytics. Marketers can use social media and blogging to find potential audience members and appeal to them by creating content that suits their tastes. Using SEO, they can optimize their websites to help manipulate how they appear in the Internet search engine results. Email marketing allows businesses to regularly promote new products and discounts to consumers who have frequented their website in the past. To gauge the success of online marketing techniques, companies often employ web analytics to access data that reveals the number of page views gained from each online marketing outlet.

Businesses also utilize offline marketing tactics as part of the inbound marketing strategy. Representatives are often found at events such as trade shows, conferences, public speaking engagements and radio interviews. These events often allow businesses to promote their brand to a concentrated population of their target audience, which increases the likelihood that their audience will expand.

Content Marketing

Content marketing involves the consistent development and distribution of relevant and engaging content for a website’s target audience. The creation of any content, whether digital or physical, is considered content marketing. Blogs, audio and video clips, white papers, e-books, magazines and newsletters are all examples of content marketing formats available to businesses.

The content marketing process involves consideration of every stage of the buying cycle, from initial brand awareness to the final buy. Each stage must be designed to appeal to consumers at that specific point in the cycle to encourage them to purchase. For example, the purchase page for an educational toy may include a short video of a child using the product. This would illustrate the effectiveness of the toy to parents who are potential customers.

Marketers must apply great attention to detail when creating content to suit all available channels that customers use to interact with the brand. These often include print publications, in-person interaction, social networking and mobile messaging.  Informal, conversational language may be received well on social media, for example, but it would not do as well in a print publication. A successful content marketing campaign includes strategic planning, effective content creation and distribution, and metrics for multiple states of the buying cycle.

Content and inbound marketing overlap in some of their traits but are ultimately different in nature. The primary difference between the two is that inbound marketing typically includes offline activities, while content marketing is strictly online. In addition, the main focus of content marketing is to develop content that appeals to an audience throughout every phase of the buying cycle. Inbound marketing places less focus on content and more on the tactics that will attract a desired pool of consumers. 

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