Digital Marketing vs. Content Marketing (And How They’re Related)

Digital marketing spans every online and digital space, and it covers many forms. From interactive graphics to short video ads on YouTube, it permeates every aspect of the online customer journey. But where does content marketing fit into it all? While there are differences between the two, content marketing is a valuable part of a digital marketing plan. Here’s why.

Defining Content Marketing

Content marketing doesn’t solely exist online. In the days before internet marketing, content marketing was the stuff we saw in printed advertisements, product guides, or informational brochures. Have you ever gone somewhere and come back out to find a flyer stuck under your windshield wipers? That was print content marketing in the early days.

Obviously, a lot of content marketing occurs online these days. We’ve evolved from slapping flyers on bulletins, mailing postcards to businesses, and showcasing elaborate reports on the benefits of a product or service. But the purposes are still the same: to use content to build brand awareness, educate audiences, and generate leads.

And this content, of course, can be anything written for promotional purposes—from in-depth industry case studies to an engaging social post with emojis. So printed or digital, content marketing relies on drawing in and retaining customers through written materials that visualize, inform, and engage.

Understanding the “Digital” in Digital Marketing

Content marketing, today, is part of digital marketing. But what makes digital marketing stand out under the broader marketing unbrella?

Going digital is just what we understand it to be: using digital methods to promote marketing materials and messages. It doesn’t just stay on the computer, either. Mobile marketing is quickly growing, and both stationary and mobile devices are becoming even more essential to a digital strategy.

When you think about it, content marketing really serves as an approach to both digital and print strategies. In fact, the most popular—and consequently the most consumed—digital format is video. But when you look closely at successful video marketing strategies, you’ll see content included to support the messages being addressed in the videos.

An Example

Take Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos, for example. The team uses digital marketing in the form of curated videos centered on specific topics of SEO. But if you head to the blog, you’ll also see valuable content pieces supporting many of the topics they cover in their videos.

Many of the topics Moz covers in their YouTube videos are also covered in-depth on their blog. Meaning—content marketing as a complement to digital strategy can be key to business growth.

Digital vs. Content Marketing

Ultimately, digital marketing is its own ballgame under the broader marketing field. Then you have content marketing, hanging out like an in-between wizard, serving dual purposes in print and in the digital arena. The key difference being that you can’t use very many digital approaches in print. You can print digital content, of course, like images and text.

But content marketing typically focuses on written content—blog posts, eBooks, white papers, product guides, or social media text, for example. Digital marketing extends beyond the written content to include media like videos, online audio, and even live broadcasting events across digital channels for different devices. So, the meaning and value are lost if you try to convert many of these types of digital media into a physical format. And you often need the support of written content to make media like video and audio more accessible for a diverse audience.

Content Marketing as a Complement to Digital Marketing

Content marketing gives you another way to bridge the gap between in-person and digital approaches with the written word and engaging formats. It complements a digital strategy, and the value of using both for supporting revenue and business growth has already been proven. While there are little nuances between them, if you want to expand your digital marketing approaches, including content marketing as a complementary strategy is the way to go.