Because Content Marketing Is Simple And Inbound Marketing Is Complex
A quick look at Google Trends data on the searches for inbound marketing vs. content marketing shows that content marketing has been consistently more searched than inbound marketing. In fact, it's usually by a factor of 2 to 1.
In 2012, both phrases started gaining popularity, but content marketing continued to get many more searches than inbound marketing. I was curious — what would cause that? Why would content marketing be more popular and what’s contributing to keeping this trend consistent over the past four years?
Back in July of this year, I wrote a blog article titled "Content Marketing Vs. Inbound Marketing: What’s The Difference?" that remains the number two ranked page for the phrase "content marketing vs. inbound marketing." But the differences don’t explain why one piece remains more popular than the whole.
In an attempt to figure this out, here’s why I think content marketing is more popular than inbound marketing.
It’s Easier To Understand
I know, inbound is complicated and content is easy. You do some blogs, you create some whitepapers, e-books and infographics, host a webinar series, and produce a handful of videos. It’s all content marketing, right? Of course! Anyone is going to be able to understand this aspect of it.
But what about results? Yes, remember those. Marketing needs to be accountable for leads and revenue. How do you use content to drive leads? How do you use it to nurture leads so they close more quickly and more often? How do you leverage content in the sales process? How do you use it to help you get found for keywords, keyword phrases and questions?
Creating the content and publishing the content is a tiny part of content marketing, and it’s the part that people spend 90% of the time and money on. Instead, they should be using it to produce results.
You Can Touch It
I get it. Inbound marketing is an intangible and content is what you’re used to buying. Over the years you’ve gotten comfortable buying stuff: brochures, folders, business cards, a website, a trade show booth, space at a trade show, promotional products and even ads. All of this stuff you can touch and feel. You’re purchasing assets.
Content is exactly the same. I bought 52 blog articles and I can see them on my website. Done! I bought three e-books. I can read them, see them on my site and use them with clients. Done! Content marketing is right up your alley. However, it’s not enough.
Inbound marketing is a methodology, a system, a process of producing leads and new customers. You can’t touch it. You can’t see it. You can’t actually use it. Instead, you have to trust it and deploy it. You have to use it to harness the combined power of all the inbound marketing tactics. It’s a much different thought process than simply producing content.
It’s Tactical, Not Strategic
Inbound marketing demands a conversation about strategy. Like it or not, you have to discuss your company’s messaging, stories and differentiation. It challenges you to ask difficult questions — questions most people don’t want to have to answer. On the other hand, content marketing has no such requirements. You can blog about almost anything. That whitepaper can be about whatever you want. Content is easy, inbound is hard.
This is by no means a dissertation on the reason most companies have embraced the use of content and added it to their current marketing mix while still ignoring the more comprehensive inbound methodology. However, people tend to take the path of least resistance, choosing the easy route as opposed to doing what might be challenging or difficult.
So adding content to your already partially functioning marketing effort might actually produce some short-term gains without having to revamp the entire marketing program. However, without the other pieces and without the integrated approach, it’s only going to be a matter of time before someone starts asking: What exactly are we getting from this expensive content effort?
When executed properly, inbound marketing has no match. Its ability to produce a scalable, repeatable and predictable lead-generation machine is unmatched across all the single tactics that make up today’s marketing mix. I’ve seen it over and over again. You can see it, too. All you have to do is give it a try.
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