Questions surrounding content marketing vs digital marketing are some of the most common we get; what are they, how are they different. We are here to let you know.
When people refer to marketing, it is usually with a vague handwave and a full stop. This is because marketing is an increasingly complex world. What used to be ads at the bus stop and Mad Men-esque discussions around advertising campaigns, has now shifted into a world that is rife with terms like ‘engagement’ and ‘analytics’.
So, *cracks knuckles*, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of content marketing vs digital marketing. These are the two big terms in our industry that often get confused, but in reality, are quite different. The trick here is that they often go together – they can exist separately but do best with a little of both in the mix.
When we talk about content marketing, we are primarily referring to the content that builds your brand identity and connects with your audience.
Content marketing is broadly about creating content (duh!), whether that be written, imagery, video etc, that speaks directly to your audience. It can span online platforms but also offline, like radio, pop-ups, billboards etc.
This type of marketing builds brand recognition through storytelling. It’s all about getting into the hearts and minds of your audience so that when it comes to them making a purchasing decision down the road, they feel a level of trust in your brand.
This is to say, content marketing is a long game.
You are building the foundations of a loyal customer base and are letting these people get to know you and trust you. It is our opinion that content marketing is the difference between a quick buck and a business with longevity.
Ok so, in comparison to content marketing, digital marketing is a coverall term for all forms of marketing that take place online. Let us consider your emails, facebook ads, social media – all of these are digital forms of marketing.
However, while the aims of digital marketing seem similar to content marketing – brand awareness, engagement – the primary goal is, above all, sales and revenue. Generally when we refer to digital marketing we will be talking about a specific call-to-action and more direct advertising – sales, and new releases. Exciting campaigns that encourage consumers to invest right away.
So, you can see where there would be a lot of crossover between content marketing and digital marketing. Notably there are some digital marketing formats that would not be considered content marketing. Some examples of this would be…
- Paid ads on Google or Facebook
- Email marketing of a promotional nature
- Partnerships with group buying platforms
- Event marketing
These types of formats purpose tie in directly with sales (like any form of paid ads), but some also have similar goals to content marketing (like sponsorship).
So what’s the difference?
Intention is key!
When we are talking about digital marketing vs content marketing, we aren’t really discussing oil and water as these formats aren’t polar opposites. They will often be most successful when used together. For example, a direct call to action to purchase a new product would be strengthened by a bit of a story behind the item so people feel like they know what they are purchasing.
What we are really discussing is intention. What is the purpose behind your marketing approach? Are you trying to get a product out the door or are you trying to build a relationship with your consumers?
Both are valid, and both have different purposes for different times. However, if you are a small business and have to choose between the two because of a lack of time or resources, this decision can get tricky.
So which one do I go with?
The audience building benefits of content marketing will ultimately make it easier for you to have successful digital marketing call-to-actions. It isn’t really a question of versus, as we already noted, content marketing and digital marketing do not live on different planets.
But the question of audience building vs sales and revenue is a more complex question. On the one hand, a strong audience makes it far easier to perform call-to-actions successfully and with lots of engagement. But on the other hand, it’s a long game that requires a bit of time and patience.
The reality is that digital marketing is majorly essential in any business. It is the basic level of marketing that will get your product out in the world and will get it moving, and it is extremely direct.
However, while we could concede and say digital marketing is more essential than content marketing, it would be a bit like saying you don’t need to season your food. You could eat plain porridge every day and probably be fine, but it lacks joy and interest. You wouldn’t want to eat it and you certainly wouldn’t be excited about it.
So you couldnt expect the same of your audience, right? Content marketing is the flavour that will keep your desired audience coming back for more. It’s not vital for the basics of keeping your business going, but it will mean the difference between you beating out the competition or not.