I am often asked “What is the difference between content marketing, social media marketing, traditional marketing, e-mail marketing and digital marketing?”

E-mail or social media marketing is easy to understand.  You utilize e-mail or social media as a channel to communicate with your customers.  Traditional marketing encompasses a broad category of marketing channels such as print, TV (broadcast), OOH (Out of Home Boards), direct-mail and radio to market.

Digital marketing is a little mushy. Some associate digital marketing with video marketing or online banner ads.  I prefer this definition of digital marketing from Wikipedia:

“Digital marketing includes those marketing efforts that send a message from a source (company) to a receiver (customer) through digital platforms and the internet.”

With that being said, social media marketing can be under the umbrella of digital marketing. Mobile marketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can also be part of the Digital Marketing category.

What about content marketing? How does that fit into the overall picture? Content is not a channel, per se. You may argue that content marketing is just another category under traditional or digital marketing. In a way, that’s true.

The key difference is that content marketing emphasizes “Useful Information” and “Helping Customers”.

Content Marketing is the creation of useful content with an intent to help your customers make decision as a way to market.

Here are two great examples of content marketing:

REI’s Expert Advice on REI.com, an outdoor retail outlet

The site isn’t for selling outdoor gear, but showcases expert’s (their employees’) tips on various outdoor activities.


Content Marketing vs. Other Types of Marketing

Content Marketing versus Other Types of Marketing

Another great example is the cookbook/cooking tutorials from Blue Apron, a company that delivers ingredients to your doorstep so that you can make delicious, home-cooked meals. If you don’t want to buy their meal plan, but are interested in trying their recipes, you can check out their online cookbook which provides step-by-step instructions.

Content Marketing vs. Other Types of Marketing

Content Marketing vs. Other Types of Marketing


I created a 1-minute video about Blue Apron’s Cookbook:
It’s not a question of Content Marketing versus any other kind of marketing. Content Marketing enables ALL types of marketing. At the end of the day, without content, there is no marketing!

Enter your email, get the latest marketing updates & tips and the first chapter of my Global Content Marketing book for free.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Pam Didner

Posted on

April 19, 2016

Content Marketing, Marketing Know-Hows