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Digital Advertising vs. Promoted Content for Inbound Marketing

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There are a number of effective paid avenues a brand can use to complement their inbound marketing campaigns.

It’s true that inbound marketing is resolute in its opt-in approach, where new leads are attracted to your business on the strength of the relevant, educational content you are distributing online.

But a little nudge here and there, where a brand pays to put their message in front of a targeted audience, is a nice way to augment organic distribution, especially in order to gain traction at the beginning of a new inbound campaign.

Let’s look at two approaches to online advertising to amplify your inbound marketing campaign.

1. Promoting Content On Social Media

HubSpot co-founder and Executive Chairperson Brian Halligan used a fantastic metaphor to explain inbound marketing. He described traditional marketing as a hunt through the jungle for targets. But in the new millennium, those targets have advanced and migrated to the watering holes of the savanna. With fewer targets in the jungle, the hunters must adapt.

In the metaphor, the watering holes represent the internet, the hunters represent marketers and sellers, and the targets are consumers. Halligan explained that the time has come to abandon the old hunting techniques and set up shop at the watering holes, or become a source of water yourself. That way, targets will be attracted to you.

Being part of the watering hole scene (the internet) means creating a steady stream of valuable content. The internet is vast, of course, so you need to know where your target audience is.

  • The young – Instagram skews Millennial – and even younger than that – when it comes to their user base. If your product or service is geared to this demographic, consider the advertising options available to brands here. Instagram’s advertising options reflect those of its parent company, Facebook, which can limit your ability to target depending on what you are advertising.
  • Professionals – LinkedIn’s usefulness as a professional networking platform makes it the ideal place to find an audience for content that is geared toward B2B. Advertising on LinkedIn is the best option for companies looking to target users based on their job functions or industry.
  • Facebook is the most widely used social network. Any business-to-consumer company will be able to target its desired market segment here.

You can make your ad campaigns on these social platforms complementary to your inbound marketing efforts by paying to promote the content you are creating – as opposed to promoting your business or website as a whole.

Choose a blog you are looking to share with a wider audience, post it to your social media pages, then give that post a paid boost.

Leverage social media’s granular targeting capabilities to choose the type of people you are paying to reach.

2. Digital Advertising

Digital advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC), is more of a global play than a content promotion tool. That is, it’s usually used to promote a whole business or website rather than a particular piece of content.

But, as your inbound marketing campaign ramps up, you’ll find you are adding small promotable elements to your site in the form of gated content offers and landing pages.

At this point, implementing digital ad tools like Google Ads can put people who are searching for products and services like yours on a direct route to your inbound marketing campaign’s most enticing content offers. This way you are making your most direct pitch to convert prospective customers into leads.

The key to getting started is determining which search terms you want to target. You’ve already chosen certain keywords to build your inbound campaign around, so you’ll have a preselected set to choose from.

You’ll then enter into the bidding market for the keyword you are targeting, establishing the amount you are willing to pay to have your content appear at the top of search result pages associated with that word.

Optimal bidding takes some trial and error. Keep in mind you can evaluate how your ad is performing in real time and up your bid if you are looking for more exposure.

Advertising through digital outlets like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, on social media platforms and mobile is driving consumer engagement at increasingly high growth rates. You can leverage this powerful tactic to help your business be found by the right people.

Promoted content for inbound marketing on social media platforms is a more intuitive approach to creating traction for your campaign. But a well-crafted PPC digital advertising campaign will also play a valuable role in ensuring your campaign goals are successfully achieved.

Thanks for stopping by,

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in June 2017 and has been edited and updated in February 2022.

Shannon Briden

Account Manager
Shannon brings her MBA education and design background to find creative, innovative solutions to everyday marketing problems.

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