Content Marketing vs. Digital Marketing – What Are the Differences and Which One to Choose?

This year has been a rollercoaster ride for most brands and businesses. 2020 has taught many of us new concepts like being in quarantine, working remotely, and most importantly, marketing digitally. Although digital marketing has been the heart of branding for some years now, most businesses have started becoming aware of this term or its gravity only recently. And they often confuse it with content marketing Services, which might seem similar but is quite distinct in reality. 

So, if you are someone who doesn’t know which side to pick in a digital vs. content marketing scenario, this blog post is for you.  

After all, not every business needs the same marketing strategy or wants to invest in the same plan. Hence, understanding the difference between digital and content marketing and where each might come in useful is important. 

So, let’s start by defining each of these terms before we go ahead with some detailed insights.

What is Content Marketing?

As the Content Marketing Institute has beautifully defined,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

In short, content marketing is a process that:

  • Involves producing and publishing content that speaks to your target audience.
  • Creates engagement and attraction towards your brand.
  • Educates and entertains your customers with valuable and relatable content.

The next question is, how does this strategy help you? Content marketing helps a business by creating a reputation in the market. It is mostly related to making potential customers aware of your brand and your expertise in the field. It also helps to establish your authority in a certain industry.

For example, if customers find useful and interesting information on your website, they will keep coming back for more. Gradually, you will be able to convince and convert them, or even encourage them to share a good word about your brand.

So, with content marketing, you can make people aware of your brand, help them decide to make a purchase, and let them share their experience with others.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing refers to any and all marketing efforts that involve the internet and digital devices. So, think of any ad that you see on the internet, content piece, or even a tweet from a brand – it’s all part of digital marketing. In fact, digital marketing is like an umbrella term that covers content marketing.  

Now, if you ask, how will digital marketing help you? The answer is simple. It is the same as traditional marketing, just executed on a digital platform. And so, even the goals are usually the same for both the marketing techniques i.e. conversions and sales.

What is the Difference between Content Marketing and Digital Marketing? 

To put it in a straight forward manner, while content marketing focuses on establishing relations and engagement with the audience, digital marketing is more about conversions and sales.

But then, why should one waste time on content marketing and not directly jump to getting more sales?

It is because you need to follow a certain process to lead potential customers to your website and convert them into paying customers. It’s like cooking, where you need to follow a proper recipe to get a delicious outcome. 

Let’s take the example of Biryani to make things easy here– You need to let the meat marinate first for hours, then add some spices, let the meat sizzle, add rice, and finally let the flavours set in (I should try my hand at food blogging next!). In the same way, you need to guide prospects along a marketing funnel to get conversions.

Ideally, a sales funnel goes like this:

Step 1: Make people aware of your brand.

Step 2: Create interest regarding your product or service.

Step 3: Help them decide what they want or need.

Step 4: Navigate them to take action.

Step 5: Retain the customers or upsell them or let them review your products or services.

And this where content marketing plays an important role to initiate the process, so that you can reach the sales phase (where digital marketing plays a big role) in a structured manner. So, if you ask me, content marketing and digital marketing are interdependent.

Content marketing helps build awareness, generate interest, influence decision, and ensure retention, while digital marketing actually gives you sales.

Now, let’s take a look at the various types of content and digital marketing.

Types of Content Marketing

If you are taking baby steps in the world of content marketing, you might be wondering what comes under it. Well…. Content marketing covers all kinds of content, be it in words, videos, images, infographics, or any other style. Even memes, GIFs and presentations are a part of this form of marketing.  

So, let’s check out some of the common trending styles (that will definitely help you).


The reason why blogging ranks number one on the list is because it comes with multiple perks. Blogs can help you in building trust, establish domain authority, rank better on search engines, and finally drive traffic to your website. In short, it hardly has any drawbacks if your content is unique, relatable, and produced consistently.


Videos are among the most popular content styles these days. Since people have a very short attention span when they go online, videos do a better job of interacting with the target audience than long blogs. The human brain tends to recall visuals better than plain text, even after a long time. Plus, videos offer a more immersive experience and especially come in handy when you want to showcase how a product is made or how it works.


When it comes to visuals, images or photos are widely used by different kinds of businesses to convey messages more meaningfully. Just make sure that they are well-shot, crisp and have a decent resolution. Most importantly, you can share these images on all social media platforms, be it Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter.


This form of content is the perfect blend of written information and visuals – and work well as a result. Infographics are a fun way to share information and can be included in blogs, social media posts, as well as your website. Bright colors, neat font style and size, clear diagrams or illustrations and concise text can make infographics highly appealing and easy to remember. 

Also Read: Why Content Marketing Works [Infographics]


Types of Digital Marketing

Now, let’s get to the serious, sales stuff. Digital marketing is all about conversions, traffic, and advertisements.

And here are some of its common types.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way to signal search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo that your website is worth showing in the top results. At a very basic level, it involves the usage of relevant keywords (terms people use to search for something online) in your web or blog content to bring in more traffic and better leads. Many in-depth strategies go with SEO (a topic for another day) like on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and many more. It’s a play of keywords, unique content, optimized website design, internal linking, and much more.

Also Read: How to Find Right Service Provider for Your Small Business SEO?



Pay Per Click (PPC) is quite common and often pop up on social media pages, web pages and even mobile apps. These are ads that match the information you are looking for and the search results that come up. Do you remember the small ads Google shows whenever you search for something? Those are the PPC ads. I am sure you might have seen and even clicked on these ads without realizing what they are. They bring traffic to your website – and thus, help boost conversions. However, this requires you to invest some amount of money, since you have to pay for every click that your ad gets.  

Social Media Advertisements

Social Media Marketing or SMM is an integral part of digital marketing these days, as target audiences for most businesses spend a large chunk of time on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. And social media ads are an effective way to connect with them. These are essentially promoted ads that play on your social media account. You might have come across some of these (I’ve been seeing a lot of CCD ads these days) while scrolling down your FB page or Instagram feed. Just like PPC, these ads help in drawing traffic, targeted leads and ultimately boost conversions. 


So, what’s the bottom line? You don’t have to choose between content vs. digital marketing to promote your brand’s online presence, website traffic or get better leads. As I said earlier, these two strategies work best when they work with each other. If you only keep on focusing on one, you might be at risk of losing out on a chunk of potential customers. So, divide your time, efforts, and budget between these two strategies, depending on your business goals, and let your brand find the success it deserves.

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About The Author

Payel Mukherjee

Payel dreams about travelling the world and relaxing in quaint beach cafes – when she is not helping brands find real growth through powerful content experiences. She loves waging the war against mediocre content marketing and is passionate about entrepreneurship and startups. She is also a Darjeeling tea junkie and the founder of Justwords.

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