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Why Marketing Automation Vendors are Talking “Inbound Marketing” and “Content Marketing” [Chartapalooza]

The terms “inbound marketing” and “content marketing” have been popping up in the blog posts, press releases, eBooks, infographics and social media feeds of every marketing automation company lately. While the differences between the practices may be nuanced, the surge in use of these terms is anything but subtle.

The question is, Why?

For one, there is a “modern marketing” element to the terms. The marketing automation category has existed for several years, and newer practices like inbound marketing, content marketing and even social media marketing are adjacent, if not overlapping, specialties. Marketers love the next new thing. We can't help ourselves.

There’s also a follow-the-leader dynamic. HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah wrote a super book called Inbound Marketing. Others drafted off of their success. At Eloqua, we’re proud our content marketing program has earned more awards than anyone else in our category. Again, others follow.

But in the end, it’s demand that drives terminology. Using search volume as a proxy for demand, it’s easy to discern which concepts have captured the public’s attention.

This Google Insights chart illustrates the relative worldwide search volume for Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing vs. Marketing Automation.

Interestingly, if we restrict the geography to a tech-savvy hotbed like the Bay Area, the data is a little less lopsided, suggesting that the shift to more modern terminology is designed to attract a less sophisticated audience.

So then which is it? To which term – content marketing or inbound marketing – should marketing automation vendors hitch their messaging wagon? Google Insights would suggest content marketing is preferable for two reasons.

First is volume:

Second is opportunity. Content marketing, it would appear, is up for grabs:

... whereas inbound marketing is closely associated with a single vendor:

Regardless of which modern marketing concept vendors embrace, each is considerably more popular than the product-centric terminology (like lead nurturing, lead scoring and sales enablement) that historically informed the industry’s content creation and search strategies.

What do you think? Does the increased use of terms like content marketing and inbound marketing suggest an evolution of the marketing automation industry? Or do you feel it’s an SEO ploy?

Of course if you are interested in content marketing, check out our trendsetting "From Content to Customer" presentation. It illustrates how to overlay content on top of the buyer's journey.

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