There’s a lot of jargon that comes with the world of online marketing. Terms like SEO, inbound marketing, digital marketing, online marketing, PPC, conversion, and calls-to-action can be tricky if you’re not used to the industry, and even if you are, there are some vocab words that don’t seem all that different. One really confusing one is the difference between digital marketing and inbound marketing. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but in fact, they refer to different types of marketing, and do different things. So, if you’ve been wondering what the difference actually is between digital marketing and inbound marketing, we’re going to break it down for you:

Digital Marketing

The term digital marketing functions as a sort of catch-all for any marketing tactic that’s done on a digital medium. So, things like search engine optimization, website banners, social media campaigns, are all examples of individual digital marketing tactics. While there’s a lot to be done with digital marketing, the term itself doesn’t imply any sort of strategy. Think of it more like a toolbox that contains all of the marketing tools you can use to increase brand recognition, get more traffic, and be seen online.

Inbound Marketing

Unlike digital marketing, inbound marketing is a clear, defined marketing strategy that has precise steps and best practices. While an inbound marketing strategy does make use of a lot of digital marketing tactics, like blogging and improving SEO, it’s a set methodology that works to draw in qualified visitors, and generate leads. It’s an ongoing, holistic strategy that encompasses a number of specific steps. We think of inbound marketing as a philosophy that works to put customers first, and digital marketing tactics help them to achieve that philosophy.

Digital Marketing Vs. Inbound Marketing: Which is Right for You?

Now that you know what the differences are between digital marketing and inbound marketing, how do you know which option is best? Well, it depends on your goals.

Brand Awareness + Short Term Goals = Digital Marketing

If you’re simply trying to grow brand awareness, and get any old visitor to your website, a few different digital marketing tactics might help. Digital marketing tactics on their own work to solve short term goals, like boosting your Facebook page’s reach, or increasing traffic to your website. On the other hand, if you’re trying to generate leads that convert to legitimate, qualified customers, an inbound marketing methodology is probably a better choice. While you can run a Facebook like campaign, or start pushing banner ads, those techniques by themselves will only produce results limited to those initiatives. A like campaign will certainly get you more likes, and banner ads might get more people to your site, but that’s about it.

Qualified Leads + Long Term Goals = Inbound Marketing

An inbound marketing strategy takes each of those digital marketing tactics, and folds them into a larger strategy that does something with the results of each tactic. With an effective inbound marketing strategy, you create content that draws in qualified leads, you develop landing pages and calls-to-actions that capture the contact information of people who are interested in what you’re offering, you deploy email campaigns relevant to those specific contacts, and in the end, you’ll have created a full strategy that makes each of those digital marketing tactics work together to create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Once you have a complete inbound marketing strategy in place, it works long term to continue to deliver you qualified leads, and boost your conversion rates over time.

Choosing inbound marketing is like playing the long game; it leads to more solid, consistent results. Digital marketing is playing the short game, where you get immediate results, but they’re not often worth as much in the long term.

In the end, it’s up to you to determine what your goals are for your business’s marketing strategy, but when you decide, know HA Digital Marketing is here to help you implement! We’re a Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certified Partner, which means we know every digital marketing tactic through-and-through, and we know how to combine those tactics for an inbound marketing strategy that produces long-term results.

If you’d like to see what that might look like for your company, schedule a free consultation, or check out the case study below to see what our proven strategy has done to produce results for others:

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