Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing - What is the Difference?

Posted by Shubham Tiwari

October 15, 2014

Content Marketing 11 min read

Lately, I have been asked so many times about the difference between content and inbound marketing. Are they both the same? Is one better than another? Are they both dependent? Well, before we discuss the link or the difference between inbound and content marketing, let us go through its terminology first.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the technique to create original content or to share existing content with relevant customers. The content may appear in any form of video, webinars, email, articles, presentations, infographics, and much more.

The purpose of producing quality content is to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience. Inbound marketing agencies use tactics like blogging, landing pages, guest blogging, content downloads, etc., to promote their content.

Once they are on your website, offer them relevant services like eBooks, whitepaper, etc., and they must provide their information on a form to avail free services, which helps drive profitable customer action.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing offers a nice professional approach first, offering a handshake, and then offers content in return for services. In other words, instead of pushing unsolicited messages, inbound marketing pull customers towards them, know and trust their company.

Its main idea is to attract those customers who are actively looking for information about a particular industry or service. Marketers use rich content to target customers and it may result in increased sales or revenue.

Content is the big part of inbound marketing without which inbound marketing would not even exist. On the other hand, you can use content marketing as a part of your outbound marketing strategy.

Difference between Inbound and Content marketing

Well, the above definitions may have confused you, as they both sound similar. Do not worry you are not alone. There is a lot of confusion between understanding content and inbound marketing. When it was asked about the relationship between content marketing and inbound marketing to sales and inbound marketing specialists, answers were contradictory.

Let us try to understand the difference by taking an example. Suppose you want to build the table at your home. You do not know what it takes to build it, so you got a table’s blueprint. Blueprint tells you what materials you will need and how to put them all to make the table successfully.

Therefore, you went out to the store and bought all the necessary tools and materials you wanted to make a nifty table. Now you started to make the table according to the blueprint and soon your table is ready as pictured in the blueprint.

Likewise, content marketing is nothing but a collection of tactics. The blueprint is the marketing strategy that will show you how to use tools and techniques. Each piece of tools and materials you bought are social media, SEO, email, etc. Putting all the tools together to make the table is the inbound marketing strategy, and the table is the goal of your inbound marketing.


There are no pinpoint differences between content marketing and inbound marketing, but it is just the way they are perceived by the marketing agencies. Nowadays, marketing agencies use both terms interchangeably. Content marketing is the subset of inbound marketing, or I may quote in this way, content is the heart of inbound marketing.


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