Inbound, content and online marketing: the differences

Often, terms such as “inbound marketing”, “online marketing” and “content marketing” are accumulated to one term or are used interchangeably. Wrong, because even though these terms have a lot in common, they are completely different. This raises a question: how do these marketing techniques relate to each other?

Inbound marketing

You ought to see inbound marketing as a catch-all concept which includes content and online marketing. When we talk about inbound marketing, we mean that you work with an integrated approach of different marketing methods, aiming to convert unknown website visitors into concrete leads with the help of relevant content. In addition, you start using buyer persona(s), buyer journey(s), relevant content, marketing automation software and online marketing. Content marketing and online marketing are an important part of your inbound strategy.

Content marketing

The content marketing strategy stands or falls with the quality of your web content, videos, blogs, infographics, eBooks and white papers. Since 70% of purchase decisions are already made online –before potential customers contact you about your product or service – it is important to highlight your value and leadership online. There are two things that are important for your content strategy, namely the content and the distribution.

The content must match with what your reader wants to know. Your reader searches for answers to his questions or challenges. You offer those answers with regard to your field of expertise. Forget for a moment that you want to sell your product or service, but create content (blogs, eBooks, videos) that your potential customer can really use. Offer some lines of approach with which he can get to work and show that you understand him. This way you benefit your ‘thought leadership’. When shown online that you are an expert in your field of expertise and that you use this to help people, they will be more inclined to eventually purchase at your door instead of someone else’s.

What matters in distributing your content is that you take the content – such as eBooks, white papers, infographics, blogs and videos – that you have created, and distribute it at the right time, through the right channel and to the right person. Therefore, make sure that your content is easy to find, using your own newsletters, social media channels and through the use of search engine optimisation of your website (SEO) and online marketing.

Marketing automation

When your content is ready you can post your blogs, eBooks, white papers, infographics and videos onto your website. You can then use this content to generate specific leads. To generate specific leads, you use marketing automation software to:

  • Create forms, that a lead must fill in to download an eBook or white paper;
  • Create automated and personalised emails, that are sent automatically after a lead fills in a form;
  • Create workflows, which facilitates to nurture your lead by regularly and automatically providing him with relevant content;
  • Review your leads behaviour. What did your lead download, which emails did he open, which pages did he view?
  • Enable you to ‘score’ your leads, based on online activity. When is your lead ready to be approached by sales?

Online marketing

At the very moment that your (campaign)website is filled with relevant content, interesting downloads and when everything runs on the right marketing automation software, you can start directing relevant visitors to your content by using online marketing. Online marketing includes – among other things – search engine optimisation (SEO), Google Advertising (SEA), email marketing and social advertising.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and SEA (Search Engine Advertising) are often mentioned in one breath, yet they are significantly different. SEO means that you optimise your website content and keywords, so that you will easily be found in search engines for certain terms. SEA means that you pay for advertising on Google, so that you will certainly be found at the top of the Google search results. These advertisements can be created in Google’s advertisement area.

Another way to generate more traffic to your content, is by social media advertising. For example, through LinkedIn Sponsored Updates you can make sure your sponsored post will appear directly in the timeline of your specifically chosen target audience. Twitter and Facebook – just like LinkedIn – provide these options, enabling you to promote an eBook or infographic. With social media advertising, you can choose to pay by click, or pay per view. Your marketing goals should determine which option you choose.

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Marketing Automation Partners