Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

You’ve probably heard several marketing firms talk about content marketing and content strategy. They may generate social media postings, publish articles about how content is king, and claim to be able to establish a successful content strategy.

But what does it all mean? Content marketing is more than just creating a blog post or sharing something on social media.

There must be a strategy behind content marketing for it to be effective. Without one, it’s like throwing darts while wearing a blindfold and trying to strike the target. Perhaps the digital information will have an impact; perhaps it will not.

So, what exactly is the distinction between content strategy and content marketing?

The short answer is that content strategy is the blueprint you create for distributing your material. Content marketing is an important part of digital marketing, and how you use that content to generate leads and build your brand.

While it provides a high-level picture, let’s define these words further so you can grasp how content strategy and content marketing interact.

How Are Content Marketing & Content Strategy Different?

Content marketing and content strategy go hand in hand. However, they are not the same. Below are some of the distinctions between these two marketing terminologies:    

What Is Content Marketing?

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

Content marketing involves creating and distributing relevant and quality content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – to drive profitable customer action.”

In layman’s words, content marketing employs created content to influence users’ behavior and even perception of a particular topic. This is accomplished by adding value through content, providing new insights into industry trends, detailed step-by-step tutorials for difficult tasks, or even giving the viewers a little freebie.

More importantly, your content for content marketing will have a position in your sales funnel. The main goal will be to attract customers and create meaningful relationships with them.

This includes content in the form of:

  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • Social media posts
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Copy for the landing page
  • Email marketing copy

All of these content kinds contribute to the spearhead of your content strategy — assuming you have one.

What is Content Strategy?

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

Like all great adventures, the journey is only as productive as the map that guides it. That map is a content strategy. It puts out the big picture of ‘Why?’ It lays out a road map for all of your content marketing campaigns to follow to achieve success.

Your content strategy helps determine the who, what, where, why, and how of any successful campaign. Your content strategy covers everything from the type of content that needs to be developed to how and when you’ll share it with the rest of the world.

On the other hand, content strategies should not be set in stone. Because new channels, technologies, and trends emerge regularly, you’ll need to adapt your approach to the market. Here are the primary questions you should cross-check with your content strategy:

  • What is the purpose of this content?
  • What types of people do we want to reach out to?
  • What types of activities and reactions do we hope to elicit?
  • How will we publicize the content once it has been published?
  • How will our target audience discover our content?
  • What kinds of material do you intend to produce?
  • When and where will your content be published?
  • Who is in charge of your content creation?
  • How will you keep your brand’s style consistent across multiple platforms?

Of course, answering the questions above will not suffice to flesh out your content strategy entirely, but they should provide a solid foundation. Your final strategy should be based on the answers to these questions, followed by additional research and strategic planning.

Why Content Strategy Matters

Content marketing is helpful, but it’s like embarking on a journey with no fixed destination without a content strategy. Without a solid plan in place, you’ll squander significant time and effort creating content that will only yield a dismal ROI.

However, you will notice incredible results when you employ content strategy as the foundation and blueprint for your content marketing activities. Every type of content you create will be a well-chiseled puzzle piece that contributes to the story and message of your business.

Content Strategy Checklist 

1. Conduct In-depth Personna Research 

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

The first step in building a content marketing plan is determining who you want to reach. When content marketers cast a wide net in the hopes of attracting the proper buyers, they run into difficulty. This strategy may produce a lot of traffic at first, but click-through and conversion rates will suffer.

Your content approach should always be guided by relevance and context. Find out who needs your product or service. 

What are the primary issues that your solution addresses for them? 

What websites do they visit for information, and what types of content do they prefer? 

Is your product more popular with small and medium-sized businesses or large corporations?

2. Align Your Content Marketing Strategy to Specific Individuals and Businesses

An eBook, two webinars, ten blog articles, and thirty tweets are not a content strategy; they are a collection of assets. If you approach your content marketing strategy in this manner, you will have a lot of work and little proof of results. Your content strategy checklist should link your approach with specific business priorities.

Begin with the high-level business objectives that your company is attempting to achieve. For example, is there a deliberate effort to reach out to a specific persona? 

Do your website and blog receive a lot of traffic, yet sales stop in the middle of the funnel? 

Perhaps the corporation has set a sales target for a specific product line.

Whatever your objectives are, these main business priorities should guide your content strategy. If increasing transaction velocity is a business goal and brand recognition isn’t on the list, focus on developing tailored nurture tracks and sales enablement content instead of white papers and blog articles.

Once you have a good understanding of your company’s objectives, you can start planning how to support those objectives with content.

3. Select Content Types

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

Producing content is excellent, but what form of content effectively delivers your brand’s message? To supplement your regular blog postings, you may want to investigate infographics, YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, Medium pieces, and other content forms.

4. Create a Content Map

As you begin to plan your content, a content map will help you focus on your goals. Consider it a kind of Google map that keeps you on the right track. It will also immediately assist you in retracing your steps if you become disoriented or lose focus.

You should ask the following questions:

  • What should be the reader’s main takeaway from this content?
  • How can I make this more appealing to my intended audience?
  • What type of media do I need to use, and where do I need to use it?
  • Do I generate my content, or will I require assistance?
  • Should I outsource, and if so, how much should I pay?
  • What are my options for repurposing content?

If you still need assistance, you might attempt the concept mapping method. This is where similar ideas and concepts combine to form a graphic representation that depicts their relationship.

5. Identify Productive Distribution Channel

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

Where will you deliver your content after it’s finished? The key to increasing traffic and converting more customers is identifying the most suitable channels for your brand.

To take your content to the next level, you must choose which social networks to focus on, which online communities to join, and whether or not you are prepared to engage in podcasting and video creation.

6. Set Specific and Detailed Goals 

Establish explicit and detailed objectives. A content marketing strategy has numerous moving components and layers. Set goals at each level and implement tracking and reporting tools to track progress.

Keep in mind that there are numerous data points to judge accomplishment. Set KPIs based on the business goals you’re helping to achieve. If your goal is to boost deal velocity, you may not need to collect traffic numbers on every asset. However, you may need to track click-to-open rates on your mid-funnel leads nurturing emails to monitor the speed at which leads are moving through your sales cycle

7. Set Metrics for Measuring Results

Understanding Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing: The Key Differences

How can you gauge your progress if you aren’t tracking your results? Growth metrics in content marketing begin with the initial point of interaction with the customer. It will be measured through their post-purchase experience.

The metrics you choose will be determined by what you want to measure. Your metric goals will be influenced by the level of detail you demand, the purpose of measurement, and the size of your firm.

You should consider measuring the following metrics:

Spend some time on Google Analytics, and you’ll undoubtedly find actionable data for decision-making.

Summing Up

The primary distinctions between the two will be ‘who’ and ‘why.’ Your Content Strategy will identify various audiences based on your business objectives. Your Content Marketing will target a specific audience for that marketing effort.

Your Content Strategy will look at the larger picture of your content and ask, “Why are we producing content at all?” Your Content Marketing will explain why your content will help that marketing effort.