Content marketing vs inbound marketing vs native advertising - what’s the difference?

5 min read

Content marketing vs inbound marketing vs native marketing - what’s the difference?

With so many buzzwords and terms, digital marketing can be an intricate and sometimes overwhelming topic.

But is it just us, or do marketers seem to be using some differentiated terms interchangeably?

We at Brand chemistry have noticed and it isn’t surprising. The rate of change is so rapid in our game, that new constructs continually surprise us. Still, while we empathise, we’re determined to stop it - because misusing terms creates confusion. And, it not only affects your marketing efforts, but can also take its toll on the industry as a whole.

In a bid to rid the confusion, let’s take a closer look at the meaning of three terms that are often lumped together — inbound marketing, content marketing and native advertising.

Spoiler alert: they’re not interchangeable.

Inbound Marketing

Definition: The inbound marketing methodology is about creating informative and shareable content that delivers value to your ideal customer.

Inbound methodology

Instead of pushing your product or service, you’re providing valuable information through content to assist and solve your ideal customer’s pain points and problems. This promotes brand awareness, builds trust and has the ability to turn a lead into a loyal customer.

The overall aim of inbound marketing is quality and qualified leads over the quantity of unqualified leads.

Inbound marketing, while it relies on valuable and targeted content, includes strategies to attract customers in the early stages of the buying process, which is why it is called ‘Inbound’.

The facets of inbound can include:

Content Marketing

Definition: Content marketing is mostly agreed on as a subset of inbound marketing.

The content created for an inbound marketing plan is paramount to the overall methodology and can include blogs, infographics, articles, podcasts, ebooks, white papers, webinars, guides, video etc.

This highly targeted content is what pushes your ideal customer through the buyer’s lifecycle and helps to build trust with your brand. Without content marketing there is no inbound marketing strategy.
Effective content marketing addresses the buyer’s needs at each of these stages above.

Native Advertising

Definition: Native advertising is a paid opportunity to have your content displayed and delivered in a way that would look natural in paid third-party space. It is a content distribution channel for your inbound marketing strategy.

Just like all your inbound marketing content pieces, it’s usually highly targeted to your brand’s ideal customer personas.

However, the difference is that native advertising almost always falls into the ‘attract’ category of the above buyer’s journey as it is designed to reach new customers through a third-party channel.

In contrast to more traditional forms of advertising, native advertising always appears in-stream. It’s not pushing your product but is providing valuable content to a targeted audience in a way native to the third-party publication you’re paying to display your content on their site.

Newspapers have been doing this for years, with ‘advertorials’ made to look as if they’re just another article. Possibly a more relatable example is displaying a piece of your content on Buzzfeed or in their style, but it then linking back to your brand’s website.

buzzfeed native advertising

This post shows BuzzFeed’s audience scientific facts that will change the way they listen to music. It fits the native style of the website and doesn’t include the words ‘sponsored’. Instead, it indicates it’s a ‘brand partner’s’ content with the logo at the top of the article. The piece is an informative and fun way to give readers some interesting facts about music!

In summary, inbound marketing has many facets that include attracting the buyer via digital methods, and your content marketing strategy is a key component of this. Native advertising can be used as an inbound marketing tactic used to distribute valuable content.

Are you looking for the right agency to help fast-track your success in inbound marketing? Download The 7-Step Checklist to Choosing Your Inbound Agency and find out the right question you need to ask each potential agency.

The 7-step checklist to choosing your inbound agency - Brand chemistry

Brand chemistry is a digital marketing agency focused on delivering quality leads and measurable results for our b2b clients. Take a look at our client case studies to find out more.

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