Any form of marketing that brings in potential customers within the marketing funnel by pulling them towards it through various channels is termed as inbound marketing. Digital marketing differs slightly in definition and intention. Any marketing that is conducted with the use of digital means is loosely termed as digital marketing. The tools used by digital marketing and inbound marketing are often the same, or common to each other. This gives way to some people into concluding that they are the same. The truth is that the tools may be different, the methodology and the objectives are different.
You have to first understand the points of similarity between the two. Inbound marketing uses channels of communication to attract customers that are very popular with digital marketers. SEO and blogging are two among many other tools that inbound marketers use. The use of social media marketing is another key tool common to both. Similarly, digital marketing tools like Customer Relationship Management or CRM, email marketing and Call to Action or CTA buttons are used regularly by inbound marketing teams. You can see that there is a lot of similarity between them when it comes to the tools and channels used.
Now you can focus on how they are different. The most obvious point of difference is that inbound marketing involves the entire journey of a potential customer from the first point of contact till he leaves the marketing funnel as a satisfied customer. All the tools used in the process are there to work towards this one goal. There is a holistic approach in this. That is absent from digital marketing. There are numerous instances when digital marketers use just one or two online avenues to reach out to customers. There is often no integration of the various tools as a whole.
The objectives of digital marketing may be varied, too. It is not just about getting customers to buy. Sometimes, branding and online reputation management is also done through digital marketing. Here, there is no hardcore marketing done as such. The only goals of the digital marketers in this regard are to promote something or handle customer service on behalf of a brand. Inbound marketing isn’t about these intangible deliverables. Only conversion of leads into sales matters when it comes to inbound marketing. It may not be products and services but a simple idea. That would still qualify as inbound marketing.
The final point of difference is that there are various avenues used by inbound marketing which are not digital in nature. Likewise, there are many tools used by digital marketers which are more outbound than inbound. So that way, too, they are different.
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