What is the Relationship Between Inbound and Content Marketing for Schools?

Inbound marketing and content marketing are often used interchangeably, but are they the same thing? If not, how are they related?

As a school marketer, you know inbound marketing and content marketing are pillars of a digital marketing strategy. But how do they fit together? There’s lots of confusion about the differences and similarities between an inbound marketing and a content marketing strategy.

Inbound Marketing Vs. Content Marketing

According to research conducted by Hubspot, most marketers agree that content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a wider methodology where you are designing experiences for your target market (i.e., families) in order to attract them to your school. Content marketing is more about creating and publishing content that drives action on the part of your target audience.

If you’ve been confused about these two strategies, you’re not alone. Some of the confusion comes from the realization that an inbound marketing program needs to include a content strategy in order to be successful.

Before we explore the distinctions between these two marketing strategies, it’s important to recognize that quality content is:

  • Creative
  • Relevant
  • Valuable

When content is creative, relevant, and valuable, it will grab the attention of families, establish relationships with them, increase engagement, and be shared often.

Marketing content is an important pillar of a successful inbound marketing framework. But while it’s essential, it can’t perform all of the functions needed for a successful marketing strategy.

Yes, consistently publishing relevant content will drive traffic. But content alone can’t capture or qualify leads, move families further along in the enrollment journey, or generate inquiries.

What is Content Marketing?

According to Content Marketing Institute: “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.”

There are many forms marketing content can take, such as a web page optimized for SEO, a blog post targeted to a specific audience, visually appealing social graphics, or a video.

An important focus of school content marketing should be telling the stories of students, staff, parents, alumni and your school. And while stories are wonderful, it’s important to remember to use the SEO search keywords as your families.

Your prospective families, those entering your enrollment process, may want a religious school in your area, but may just type in “private school”, making it hard for Google to make the connection to your school. So when it comes to content and SEO, make sure you do your research to determine the best keywords to use.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is essentially a toolbox full of tools and processes that work together to help organizations market in the way people engage with schools today. Inbound marketing works holistically with your organization to drive traffic, build trust, gain inquiries and enroll students.

It works especially well with complex industries like education where enrollment processes have a longer cycle and parents carefully examine the institution before enrolling, because it allows you to build relationships with your prospective parents at scale.

Inbound marketing improves on traditional marketing by implementing a multi-channel model that not only enhances the families’ journeys, but also ensures the financial security of your school.

To make the most of inbound marketing, you need the right systems in place, such as marketing automation and a CRM to help qualify and nurture inquiries, and provide data your admissions officers can use to help improve enrollment ratios.

The right software also will also help you track the metrics you need to understand the ways potential families are engaging with your online properties as well as creating workflows to seamlessly deliver personalized emails to your potential families based on their interests and needs.

Content is Critical

You need high-quality content to drive results, but it’s only part of the story. Since inbound marketing is data-driven, your content marketing needs to be integrated with your inquiry conversion strategy. Inbound produces results by using content to attract and convert families into inquiries, so the focus is on using SEO to optimize the content and enrollment experience.

When you use all the elements of inbound marketing, it becomes THE powerful approach for school marketing because it drives a repeatable and scalable strategy that produces inquiries month after month.

Final Thoughts

There’s lots more to learn about inbound and content marketing here on SchneiderB Media. Check out these articles to get started discovering more:

Inbound Marketing


 Content Marketing



Landing Pages




Social Media

Do you agree content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing? Why or why not? Please leave a comment below…

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

Inbound Marketing

12 Examples of Inbound Marketing for Schools

Inbound Marketing

How Do You Use Inbound Marketing for Schools?

Inbound Marketing

7 Tips for a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign

Subscribe to the School Marketing Insider

The School Marketing Insider is a weekly newsletter that delivers curated resources to stimulate curiosity, inspire collaboration, and accelerate innovation to drive school marketing professionals ahead of the curve.