Inbound Marketing vs. Digital Advertising. What’s The Difference?

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a type of digital marketing where businesses attract an audience with content and solutions they’re looking for and tailor a customer journey based around their current needs and interests.

After attracting users to their website through various channels, inbound marketing continues to offer support, solutions, and reengagement that helps them reach their goals as they near a purchasing decision.

inbound marketing strategy

It attracts, engages, and delights customers while building long-term customer value and brand trust.

What Is Digital Advertising?

Digital advertising is paying to place display, video, and search ads around the internet and apps in order to make users aware of your brand and offers and to promote sales.

pop up ads

Digital advertising is usually targeted based on geography, age, gender, income, interest, and behavior in order to put ads in front of the audience most likely to engage with a business.

Comparing Inbound Marketing vs. Digital Advertising

Long Term or Short Term Marketing Solution

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
Generates consistent reliable long term leads Quick results
Independent of paid advertising Short term solution
Builds a base of lead generating mechanisms that never turn off Results end instantly when you stop spending
Drives results for years after establishing seo authority Higher cost per lead
Lower cost per lead
Takes longer to get up to full speed

Interrupting or Attracting

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
Attracts users when researching solutions you offer Perceived as an intrusion
Provides resources that visitors are already looking for Interrupt users who are not looking for you
Perceived as a problem solver, not an intrusion

Competition Level

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
Generally less competition, depending on industry Generally more competition, depending on industry
Competitors can’t outspend you to steal your rank Competitors can outspend you and copy your strategy to instantly outrank you

NOTE: We wrote a step-by-step guide to Doubling Your Leads in 30 Days. If you’re serious about generating leads online, this is the place to start. It’s the exact process we use to convert a massive number of leads for our clients.

Clicks & Conversion Performance

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
8.5x more likely to be clicked on in a search engine than an ad Lower click-through-rate
Heat maps show people focus more on organic results than paid results Fast and expansive reach (dependent on $$ budget)
Overall opportunity is 5.6x greater than paid search Immediate results (with enough $$ budget)
Better click-through-rate 1.5x more likely to convert from ppc than SEO

Building Brand Value

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
Since users usually scan past the ads to view organic results, ranking well in SEO gives a stamp of authority and may establish your business as source of recognized value. Any business who is willing to pay can appear among the sponsored search results toward the top of the page. As such, being the top ad isn’t a factor that builds credibility or brand value.

When to Use Inbound Marketing vs. Digital Advertising

Inbound Marketing Digital Advertising
When ready for long term sustainable growth When starting a company
Business who don’t want to spend money on digital ads forever When you need instant results regardless of sustainability
In industries where prospects do extensive online research prior to purchasing Retargeting ads to offer an ascension path for a warm audience
Better when advertising competition is saturated Tight budget control
Better for service companies Laser focus targeting
eCommerce

Conclusion – What Are Your Long Term Marketing Goals?

Consider your marketing goals. Do you want to just maintain your current market state and depend on paid advertising for your foreseeable future?

planning a marketing campaign

Or do you want to build long term growth with marketing dominance with inbound marketing?

Inbound is not easy and it takes time to generate a compounding impact.

But with 5.66x the impact of pay-per-click, it’s an important consideration as traditional digital marketing is losing its impact.

It takes a commitment to understanding your customers’ needs and an investment in creating content that provides free value to them and lead generating opportunities for you.

NOTE: We wrote a step-by-step guide to Doubling Your Leads in 30 Days. If you’re serious about generating leads online, this is the place to start. It’s the exact process we use to convert a massive number of leads for our clients.

About the author

About Laura

Laura is the founder and President of Satellite Six LLC. Laura has been working professionally to develop brands and design websites since 2003, during which time she has been honored with numerous industry awards. Laura has a passion for working with businesses and organizations to create brands people love. Tweets @brandnotion.

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