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How to approach content and inbound marketing

4 min read

Brands & Campaigns

A lot of people are talking about inbound marketing and even more people are talking about content marketing, but is there a difference? Do you know what the differences are? Do you need both in your company, or if you have one, do you also have the other?

There are many, many opinions on the differences or similarities between inbound marketing and content marketing. This article on the Content Marketing Institute’s website is excellent if you want another perspective.

But from our perspective, inbound marketing is a broad, high level, descriptive term for marketing tactics that, instead of pushing interruptive messages OUT to clients, engage prospects and pulls them IN to your business. The goal of this approach is to help prospects get to know, like and trust your company — building comfort until the moment they’re ready to hire you. In essence, you earn their attention, instead of buying it, like you do with traditional outbound marketing.

Content marketing is a part (an important part) of inbound marketing the same way your website, e-mail marketing, lead nurturing, video marketing, search engine optimization and other tactics are part of an integrated Marketing Machine.

Content is such a big part of inbound marketing that we believe you wouldn’t be able to execute an inbound marketing program without content marketing. On the other hand, you could have content marketing as part of a more traditional outbound marketing effort.

Most of the content marketing experts believe that content marketing stretches beyond the traditional top of funnel area that marketing typically contributes and into the entire sales process and even into ongoing customer communications. Using content to stay in touch with customers gives you opportunities to reinforce your value proposition as well as work on cross-selling, up-selling and improving renewal rates.

Content marketing is a broad topic and includes a lot of different types of marketing tools. Video, webinars, emails, eBooks, whitepapers, presentations, infographics, podcasts and other content vehicles all fall into the content marketing bucket. The trick (often overlooked by the experts) is deciding what to create when and how to use it in both your new customer acquisition process and current customer communication process.

Inbound marketing provides a context for making those content decisions. Best practices include mapping both processes by target market and then applying the right type of content in the right format across the process. This ensures that content is delivered in context for each prospect at the perfect stage in their purchasing process. This isn’t easy to do but it’s the right way to do it.

Another approach that works well is the campaign approach. This focuses your content on one specific message for one specific target market for a period of time. So the webinars, whitepapers, videos, infographics and online tools all deliver the same message to the same set of prospects.

We typically run a campaign for anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks. Once the campaign is complete, we measure the effectiveness vs. the goals we established before the campaign launched. Once we know the metrics, we decide whether to run a similar campaign targeted to the same set of prospects with new content or move on to a new set of target prospects with new content. This approach works well for focusing your attention and making sure you have all the appropriate pieces in place to drive program performance.

To learn more about creating or adding an inbound marketing program, complete with content marketing components, download our newest eBook, “Cracking The Code To Inbound Marketing.”

Mike Lieberman is president and chief marketing scientist at Square 2 Marketing, is a regular contributor to SmartBlogs. You can follow him @Mike2Marketing. To follow Square 2 Marketing use @Square 2.