Content Strategy vs Content Marketing

By | November 26, 2015

Content strategy and content marketing are not the same thing, and how best to define these roles gives rise to some lively discussions between content experts as they try to give organisations a better understanding of how the two functions interact.  Let’s compare and contrast these two disciplines and see what the general consensus looks like.

Content strategists are specialists in the field of content strategy, involved on a day-to-day basis with the processes and tools for the creation, deployment and governance of informative and engaging content for customers, whether they are consumers or other businesses.   Marketers create marketing campaigns to attract and retain customers and encourage them to develop a relationship with the brand.  By definition all marketing is content-led, otherwise how would customers interact with a brand?  In short: Content strategy and content marketing are two very different practices (Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute).

A content strategy is a plan, not just a tool. It’s a customized strategy that lays out exactly what your business goals are and how to reach (and even exceed) them using the content on your website and beyond (Sarah Rhea Warner, Clickrain).  At a high level, your content strategy will help to identify the needs of your audience and how your content can address those needs, for example, is it relevant and useful, how is it created, where is it stored, how is it structured, is it findable, how is it managed, who is part of the process, is its success measurable?  And many, many more questions.

Content marketing can be defined as a marketing technique which is focused on the creation of digital (online) content to appeal to your target audience and drive visitors to your website with a defined action in mind.  Content marketing pieces are often found in the form of blog posts, white papers, case studies, PR, social media marketing, inbound marketing, PPC, SEO and more (Greg Secrist, Search Engine Journal).

Marketing campaigns which are put together outside the broader content strategy risk a lack of engagement and coherence.  Marketers are the practitioners who implement content strategies which have been developed as part of an organisation’s broader content framework.  Carrying out content marketing in isolation is creative but may not be as successful, from a business perspective, without the foundation of a sound strategic content plan which is fully aligned with the organisation’s goals.

This process of developing a content strategy requires collaboration, research, analysis and planning, and a great content strategy ensures that any content produced is fully aligned with the business objectives ensuring a successful and truly impactful outcome to any content-related initiatives.