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What’s the difference between web marketing and inbound marketing?

By Amelia Ellicott

How to differentiate two key marketing styles


A man explaining something.Learning the difference between web marketing and inbound marketing can be tricky. People often interchange the two terms when in fact, they are two different types of marketing and accomplish two different things. 






Web marketing (digital marketing)

Web marketing, more commonly referred to as digital marketing, is any marketing method done through a digital device. Some examples of web marketing are email marketing, social media marketing, blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), and pay-per-click advertising. Digital marketing uses these tactics to solve short-term goals, such as bringing in more traffic to your website and increasing brand awareness. 


A company that’s done a great job of using digital marketing tactics to its advantage is Airbnb. This company actively uses social media marketing to increase its followers and customers while actively getting media coverage. Airbnb is active on all social media platforms, and its user-friendly website attracts more customers. 


Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a style or strategy of marketing that uses digital marketing tactics to achieve long-term goals. To achieve successful inbound marketing, you must do more than regularly blog and have a great social media presence. Inbound marketing focuses primarily on creating and distributing content that is consistent, relevant, and valuable to captivate and keep a defined audience. 


Inbound marketing relies on knowing your customers’ personas. You must know their wants, needs, and problems and how to provide them with solutions. To meet their needs, you can create targeted content, such as websites, email campaigns, e-books, case studies, and landing pages. 


An example of a company with a good inbound marketing strategy is Starbucks. Starbucks is big on staying “connected.” It does this by posting on Instagram and interacting with customers on Facebook. For example, its 2020 U.K. campaign was aimed at transgender customers who find joy in giving baristas their new names. Starbucks wanted to highlight that it is a safe space for transgender people by including voices of transgender customers who have tried their new names at Starbucks. This is a good way of showing that Starbucks is inclusive to a diverse customer base. 


Web marketing vs. inbound marketing

Both web marketing and inbound marketing are working toward final goals. The biggest difference is web marketing works toward shorter, smaller goals while inbound marketing works toward bigger goals that take more time to achieve. 


For example, in web marketing, shorter tactics like individual site pages, logos, and branding tools are used to create brand awareness. In contrast, inbound marketing is used for more committed long-term marketing to generate leads and turn them into long-term customers. Inbound marketing stretches beyond digital marketing because it consists of many unique components and it leads to more consistent results.


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Amelia is an intern at Axia Public Relations for the spring 2021 semester. She will be graduating in April with a bachelor of science in public relations and a minor in digital marketing. Amelia has a passion for writing and a love of helping others and meeting new people.


Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Topics: PR tips, inbound marketing, web marketing

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