The Difference Between Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing

Hanson Cheng
Hanson Cheng

Last updated on

May 9, 2023

Content marketing and inbound marketing are two different types of online advertising that have their strengths and weaknesses depending on how they’re used.

In this article, we will discuss what differentiates content marketing from inbound marketing, why you should use one over the other, and how to make your campaign a success.

What Is Content Marketing And What Is Inbound Marketing

Content marketing is a type of advertising that focuses on the creation and distribution of content, such as blogs, videos, or podcasts to attract customers. Content marketers create this content to attract potential customers for their product or service.

They hope these prospects will be intrigued by their message and will then want more information about what they have to offer.

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Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing where companies focus on creating high-quality content to distribute across channels, like social media platforms, emails, or blog posts with the goal being bringing potential clients to them instead of chasing after them through traditional outbound methods like cold calling or print ads.

The goals between both strategies differ in that with content marketing, audiences are given information about a topic in order to be educated and informed about what a company has to offer. It helps customers decide whether or not they need the product being offered by showing them information on how it can solve problems or provide solutions to issues. 

Inbound marketing takes a more user-focused approach, helping potential customers to understand how your brand can solve their problems.

Why Should You Use One Over The Other?

Both content marketing and inbound marketing are powerful strategies when done right. They have different goals and work better in different situations depending on your company's message and target audience.

Content marketing is a good way to build trust with your clients so that they will want to seek out information about what you're offering them instead of going through more traditional methods. 

These may include methods like cold calls or print ads which can be seen as invasive by some people who would rather learn about products from trusted sources online than having someone interrupt them as they’re browsing the internet, trying to sell something.

Inbound marketing works better when you are trying to build your audience and name recognition. In the same way, inbound marketing is more geared towards companies looking for long-term results within their potential customer base as opposed to a one-time sale.

It's important to note however that both strategies work together quite well because of how easy it is now with social media platforms and online advertising channels for reaching potential clients without having to spend large amounts of money on print ads or telemarketing.

While content marketing focuses on educating your potential clients and building trust with them over time, inbound marketing is more focused on converting them into paying customers sooner. 

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The goal of both strategies should be finding ways to bring the right people to your brand through promoting its benefits and demonstrating why it's a trustworthy company (or even a person) to work with instead of just writing about whatever you think your audience wants to read.

Why Does It Matter Which One You Use?

When done right, both these strategies can work together to enhance each other's results, however, it is also important that they don't conflict with one another by targeting the same audience or using methods that may confuse your potential clients. 

Content marketing is better at informing than promoting directly because people trust well-written articles much more than something like a sales funnel where information about the product could be skewed or omitted altogether for personal gain.

Moreover, while an older company may have difficulty selling itself as hip or relevant through inbound marketing, they're able to maintain a professional appearance by using content marketing and then leading potential customers to get to know more about what they do.

Content marketing and Inbound marketing both work best when thought of as part of the same strategy because it allows for potential clients to be exposed to information about your personal brand over time. This means that they will have a better understanding of what you do and understand if your solution is the best one for the problem that they are experiencing.

The Benefits Of Using Content Marketing Over Inbound Marketing

While both strategies can help you build your trust and online presence, content marketing can give your business a head start by acting as an informational hub from which potential clients can find out everything they want to know about you without having to search anywhere else. This was confirmed and is constantly repeated by some of the best content marketing service providers in the market. It's a proven way to boost your brand reputation, authority on certain topics and increase your awareness!

This is much more beneficial than inbound marketing because it allows people who may not be looking for any new services or products right now to still become familiar with your brand so that when the time comes, they will feel comfortable giving you their contact information or buying one of your products.

Content marketing also acts as a great SEO tool because articles written about various topics related to your company are listed on sites like Google News where millions of potential clients pass through every day. The chances of people being able to find your site grows exponentially - while you don't have to spend any money promoting yourself.

The Drawbacks Of Using Content Marketing Over Inbound Marketing

While content marketing is a great tool for reaching out to potential clients, it too has some disadvantages. Companies using this strategy are focused on being informative and relatable instead of selling products or services directly, there's a much higher chance that someone who wasn't planning on buying anything will simply browse through the articles and leave without making any purchases. 

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While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there's always the danger that you could be missing out on valuable business because you're not personally targeting each individual before they have reached out to you. One way to combat this is to offer a PDF report on your website, offering valuable information in exchange for a prospect’s email address.

This means that you can continue educating them on the issue at hand while getting them closer to the product/service that you offer. When they are then ready to take things to the next level, your inbound marketing can get the job done.

As such, content marketing and inbound marketing both have their uses in the online advertising realm.

While they may seem similar at first glance, each strategy has its purposes and audiences. If your business is focused on gaining a following for yourself or promoting your brand as an individual, content marketing is probably a better fit than inbound marketing.

However, if you want more immediate results and less work on creating quality articles for free (content marketing) then you'll likely gain better traction using inbound marketing strategies which will help bring people to you right away instead of having to wait for them to discover you.

The best option is to use a combination of the two, but if you're just starting with online advertising, it's better to focus on one thing and perfect it instead of doing everything at once and ending up not getting anything done well.

How Do I Create A Successful Campaign?

Both content marketing and Inbound marketing require planning before implementing either strategy into action because they're both long-term campaigns that involve creating regularly updated content pieces. This is key if you plan on achieving financial freedom with your business.

Both types of campaigns are also built around making sure that the content has enough value to be worth the readers' while; readers who might not buy anything from you right away. The main difference between the two is how to go about enticing customers into hearing what you have to say.

While Inbound marketing focuses on bringing people towards your company by using search engine optimization techniques and other ways of optimizing content for online success, Content marketing uses outreaching campaigns like creating articles, videos, infographics, or hosting a podcast that discuss topics similar to yours to attract potential clients and get them familiarized with your brand - at their own pace and on their own time.

If you're going to use a content marketing strategy, you must learn how to produce high-quality work for people to become attached enough to your brand so that they will immediately take interest when you start pushing out products and services.

Another important aspect of content marketing is to make sure that you're not just posting on your blog or social media accounts. Make sure that you share the content with other sites so they can spread it around for you while also generating more views from untapped sources who might be interested in what you have to offer.

By sharing the articles to relevant blogs, forums, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media profiles you might have, you will end up getting more views than simply posting it yourself. This is because others will be able to take a look as well and decide whether or not your promotional material has any value before even clicking on it. They may then link back to your site if they believe it's worth their readers' time when writing about it.

On the other hand, you might find it easier starting with an inbound marketing strategy because all you have to do is write and publish your articles online on places like your website or some other blog.

From there, it's a waiting game where the aim is to pull people towards what you offer. Marketing channels like SEO and paid advertising play the biggest role.

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If someone wants information about what you're writing about, they'll likely search for keywords that are related to your content and will discover your work through Google's results - either paid or organic.

Using inbound marketing can be more effective than content marketing because people who discover your content and like it are likely to come back again for future updates.

When deciding which one is better suited for your business plan, consider what kind of products or services you have to offer and figure out whether or not users would need additional information to decide whether or not they should stick with you. 


In short, the biggest difference between content marketing and inbound marketing is how they attract their target audience. 

While content marketing uses various ways of optimizing content so good quality work gets discovered through search engines or social media sites, inbound marketing focuses more on attracting people who are actively looking for information that is similar to what you have written in relation to the products and services that you offer.

In a world where it's getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd, using both of these methods will help you gain the competitive advantage that sets you apart from your competition.

Author Bio

Hanson Cheng

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.


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