"Like the Arc Reactor to Iron Man, there is no inbound without content. Content is inbound’s lifeblood. "
In this next installment of Intro to Inbound, we are going to talk about content. (For last week's installment go here: What is Inbound?) If you know anything at all about why inbound marketing works, you probably know that it relies on content to attract visitors, convert them to leads, and eventually to close sales.
But that the concept of content might not be so clear. What is content? And why is it so important to what we do with inbound marketing?
Content Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
As with any broader concept like the inbound methodology, it isn't always easy to discern between terms that seem like synonyms. So are content marketing and inbound marketing the same thing? It depends on who you ask. If you click through to the HubSpot post above, you'll get Joe Chernov's opinion: content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. But if you browse through blog after blog on marketing concepts, strategies, and tactics, you could easily start to believe that they are, indeed the same thing and it would be difficult to prove you wrong. So while the terminology is confusing, what it is important to remember is that content is an essential part of inbound marketing. So essential that calling inbound marketing content marketing isn't crazy at all.
What Isn't Content?
Sometimes the easiest way to define something is by describing what it's not. So what isn't content? One example of a traditional marketing tactic that would not count as content would be a standard television commercial or magazine ad. While a TV commercial might outline the benefits of say, a new car, and while a YouTube version of that commercial might beg to be shared, the reality is that a commercial is a promotional advertisement and does not aim to help or educate the viewer beyond the product it is selling. Of course, if a commercial is funny in addition to educational, and provides entertainment by way of value, then it could be argued that it straddles the line into content.
Different Types of Content
We will go into the varied uses for different types of content next week, but for today we want to talk about the different types of content that exist. Any of the following could be considered content within the bounds of inbound marketing:
- blog posts (like this one!)
- white papers
- case studies
- how-to guides
Keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. The most important thing to remember is that content must add value for your visitors and be relevant to their needs. Pure promotion may take the form of content, but it is not what we're talking about in inbound.
The Importance of Content
So now that you know what content is, let's take a moment to give an overview about why content is so important in inbound marketing. Content is ultimately what makes inbound marketing different from outbound marketing. That's because content, as we mentioned, is useful and valuable on its own, apart from your promotional purposes. It is enticing to prospects because it's actually information that they need, or that they find interesting, or even funny. Unlike interruptive marketing, it brings prospects to you.
Next week, we will talk more about the different types of content and how each applies to the different steps of the buyer's journey.
In the meantime, feel free to download our Inbound Marketing Fundamentals eBook below for even more information about the great wide world of inbound.