If you’re unfamiliar with marketing, terms such as digital marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, marketing automation, digital strategy, and so on can be utterly confusing and practically indistinguishable from each other. In truth, each of these terms has a specific meaning. Inbound marketing and marketing automation are two which are often confused by newbies to marketing jargon. So what’s the difference?

Inbound Marketing

in•bound marketing \ ˈin-ˌbau̇nd ˈmär-kə-tiŋ \ ▶ noun. A marketing method which uses content to attract potential customers, then convert them into leads and sales. In opposition to traditional marketing methods, which push advertising copy onto consumers through interruptive advertising (hence the term push marketing), inbound marketing seeks to pull consumers in with compelling content that speaks to their needs. Inbound marketing is therefore customer-centric, rather than marketer-centric.

Inbound marketing employs techniques such as blogging, social media promotion, gated content offers, and SEO (search engine optimization) to attract clients on the platforms like search engines and social media sites, which they are already use to research products and services before they make purchase decisions.

Marketing Automation

marketing au•to•ma•tionˌ\ ˈmär-kə-tiŋ ȯ-tə-ˈmā-shən \ ▶ noun. software which automates marketing processes. Includes email automation software (MailChimp, Aweber).

Marketing automation software is a tool, whereas inbound marketing is a methodology. In fact, marketing automation software is a tool that is extremely useful in inbound marketing. Marketing automation software can be used to capture visitors’ information when they convert to leads, and from there, these leads can be segmented based on criteria such as industry, role/position, and place in the buyer’s journey and then be delivered relevant and timely content. Rather than dumping all of your contacts into an email list and sending the same content to everyone, marketing automation allows you to target a specific group of leads or clients, ensuring that you’re not spamming those to whom the content doesn’t apply, and that leads receive content that is specific to their particular needs.

Using marketing automation software to automate some of your lead nurturing marketing processes can be a major component of an effective inbound marketing strategy. Combining compelling, engaging, and pertinent content with targeted promotion and delivery is key to reaching potential customers in the changing marketing landscape.

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