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Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing: How to Transition to a Hybrid Model

“Content marketing” and “inbound marketing” are terms that get thrown around in the field of marketing quite often. Marketing professionals sometimes use these terms interchangeably. Although the two approaches have their similarities, they diverge in certain areas, especially in methods.

One marketing strategy is not necessarily better than the other; however, it’s best that you combine the two methods to get the best of both worlds. With a hybrid marketing approach, you can establish your brand’s online presence, attract more leads, and achieve business success.

Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing: Understanding the Key Differences

Inbound Marketing Content Marketing 
Marketing StrategiesWith content marketing as its backbone, inbound techniques insert conversion-boosting elements into content pieces. These include digital advertising, lead management, automation, chatbots, and so much more.When you execute a stand-alone content marketing strategy – say, a LinkedIn post – you’re trying to maximize engagement with a single content piece.
MessagingInbound marketing is about turning leads into sales. It takes a “bigger picture” approach.Content marketing is all about fostering relationships and trusts with your consumers.
WorkflowYou need to streamline a process that generates high-quality prospects. This may include an email sequence strategy, an editorial calendar, and an omnichannel approach.There is a focus on content creation, especially formats that are engagement-driven, then lead generation comes second.
Audience EngagementPeople hate intrusive ads. Inbound marketing means narrowing down your engagement strategies by supplying specific buyer personas with tailor-fit content.This digital marketing strategy can piqué the interest of a broader audience segment.
ExamplesAdvertisements, search engine optimization (SEO), Call-to-action phrases or buttons, webinars, lead management, free tools, and lead magnetsBlog posts, social media channels, email marketing, landing pages, brochures, videos
End GoalInbound techniques drive leads down the conversion funnel – all the way towards a final purchase or even micro conversions (e.g., visiting a website, engaging with a post, adding to cart)Content marketing attracts your target market by providing content that is helpful, valuable, or interesting. Your ultimate end goal depends on your marketing objectives and roadmap.

Hybrid Model: How Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing Work Hand-in-Hand

Both content marketing and inbound marketing are non-interruptive and customer-centric strategies during the buyer’s journey. Although we’ve laid out the areas where the two diverge, there’s no denying that value-based “content” is still a central ingredient for both marketing approaches. A hybrid model – one that uses both strategies in tandem – can drive long-term results that are beneficial for brands.

1) Blogging and SEO

The internet is everyone’s go-to page for reviews, recommendations, and answers to their burning questions. Needless to say, every search is an opportunity to show your target market that you can solve their problems, as well as nurture your relationship with existing clients.

Think of the internet as an endless sea of content. You have to create articles that are optimized for search engines if you want to rank high on results pages. At the same time, you’d also be creating link-worthy and great content for prospects. 

Pro tip: You have to learn how to do a proper keyword strategy. Reference target keywords and search intent when crafting your marketing goals, so that you’re not creating random content. Marketing without keyword research is like blindly shooting darts at a target.

2) Social Media Marketing

Your social media channels are critical to any brand’s digital marketing playbook. First, these serve as avenues for your repurposed content to reach a wider audience. Second, you can use social media to gather content ideas (i.e., topics on discussion forums and social platforms) and competitive intel. 

Lastly, you get to be part of the conversation in your industry. When people are talking about their professional life on LinkedIn or their personal issues on Facebook, you could hopefully reply with solutions that your business provides. These natural conversations then turn into sales opportunities — this is hybrid marketing at its finest.

3) Email Marketing

Permission-based email marketing is the go-to tactic of companies for their lead generation, customer retention, and marketing efforts. People who give their consent for your latest updates are your hottest leads. Email campaigns are effective tools for marketers that want to gain the trust of prospects. Make sure to honor that trust; don’t spam their inbox or send them emails that they didn’t want to receive in the first place.

4) Web Design

One of the most highly valued elements of hybrid marketing is web design. Keep in mind that you never get a second chance at a first impression. If your website is not optimized for different devices, blog posts are a pain to read, or perhaps your call-to-action buttons weren’t impactful, potential customers will navigate away. You’d be sending them straight into the arms of your competitors.

5) Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Similar to SEO, PPC ads are a digital marketing strategy that is query-triggered. If a prospect searches for “med spa in [location]” on their desktop, they will eventually get a non-interruptive desktop PPC ad from local medical spas, giving them exactly what they’re looking for. Should you opt for the hybrid approach, make sure that your ad campaigns are prospect-focused and not all about your brand.

Benefits of a Hybrid Marketing Agency

Choosing between an in-house team or outsourcing to digital marketing agencies can sometimes feel like a lose-lose situation. This isn’t always the case. It takes some experimentation before you find the perfect balance for your company. You might even want to consider hiring an agency that takes an integrated approach to digital marketing.

A hybrid agency is an innovative digital storytelling agency – your one-stop-shop – that has access to all the resources, marketing services, and software you need. They have a creative team that will take care of ideation, production, and analytics for your brand. That said, these are the several benefits to consider when talking to hybrid agencies:

1) Customizable and Flexible

Remember, without compelling content, you can’t have an effective digital marketing strategy that generates quality leads. Partnering with a hybrid agency lets you enjoy the best of both content marketing and inbound marketing. If you want to publish long-form blog posts, your agency can write them. If you’ve been thinking of creating an email newsletter, leave it to your agency’s consultants and marketers.

2) Cost-Effective

It’s significantly cheaper to work with an agency than hire a full in-house team. In-house teams entail significant overhead costs (e.g., salary, benefits, equipment), whereas a hybrid digital marketing agency gives you access to a team of marketing professionals across different specialties – meaning they can engage in content creation, staying on top of trends, and managing analytics.

3) Specialized Skills

Speaking of specialized skill sets, one of the main reasons why businesses prefer hybrid marketing agencies is because they have all this expertise at their disposal, making it easier to diversify their marketing channels. Not all brands have the budget for a full-time development team, SEO specialists, content writers, social media marketers, and so forth.

4) Drive Momentum

A hybrid marketing agency is driven by efficiency; you don’t waste time sending emails, making calls, and scheduling meetings with different departments. All of your marketing investment goes into deliverables. As a result, you also get data-driven work that meets deadlines and budgets.

Choose the Digital Marketing Strategy That’s Right for Your Business

Marketing has become more fluid in the modern era of technology. The landscape has evolved to something that calls for a hybrid approach – one that uses inbound marketing and content marketing in conjunction – in order for brands to draw in qualified leads. Committing to this integrated system is key to creating a dynamic marketing arm for your business.

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