Content marketing strategy vs content strategy

3rd April 2019
Author: Dani Mansfield
Posted in: Content tips & advice, Marketing

Is there a difference between content marketing strategy and content strategy?

There’s a lot of jargon out there in the marketing industry, which includes conflicting or obscure definitions. Often it’s down to readers to discern the precise meaning of a concept from the context it’s presented.

In this case, people conflate the terms constantly, but there is an important difference between content marketing strategy and content strategy worth understanding.

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What is content marketing strategy?

Let’s start with content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is a sub-discipline of marketing in which brands create resources like blog posts, reports, magazines, whitepapers and video to share their expertise with and inspire prospects and customers.

Other disciplines include email marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, PR, website and app design.

The point of content marketing

The idea with content marketing is that by helping your audience solve particular pain points relevant to your business’s offering you build brand trust, likability and respect, nurturing prospects or customers towards a particular goal.

Thought leadership, industry research, opinion pieces and non-product related how-to content all fall into this discipline and should be steered by your content marketing strategy.

Defining the bigger picture

The content marketing strategy is the bigger picture behind your efforts – the how and the why. It defines the specific objectives, target audience and pain points to be targeted by a content marketing programme, as well as the types of content to be created. It outlines the distribution plan for what’s created, and the metrics used to measure the success of activities.

Your content marketing strategy document steers the ship, keeping the many spinning plates of a content programme focused and aligned.

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What is content strategy?

Content strategy is the ‘how’ and ‘why’ for your business’s entire content ecosystem. At a high level, a content strategy defines the criteria for and prioritises what needs to be created, updated or binned across the entirety of customer touchpoints, including post-sale. As such it’s a cross-function strategy and not just about marketing.  

In B2B, this includes (but not limited to) collateral for:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Retention/upsell
  • Support and CX
  • Events
  • Partnerships
  • Internal comms

Your content strategy should be born out across marketing disciplines, including content marketing, search optimisation, social media marketing, email marketing and so on.

Elsewhere it steers the likes of SaaS knowledge base content, coaching handbooks, partner collateral and how you launch product updates or new services internally and externally.

Cohesion and consistency

Your business will be working towards particular goals and each function will have objectives that feed directly into the achievement of them. Your content strategy needs to be designed in aid of these objectives, leveraging a deep understanding of your audience to ensure content across touchpoints and produced across departments remains goal-oriented.

It should also provide clarity around the tone of voice and style, user scenarios and messaging hierarchies. It should be closely paired with a visual style guide and together work as the rule book for any and all publishing and communication.

Ownership and workflows

A content strategy also involves determining the governance and production processes driving the production of content, breaking down silos between content-producing functions.

It’s a complex beast, but worth investing time and effort into getting right – especially if customer experience is central to your business strategy.

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Digital content strategy

Increasingly, when people talk about content strategy, they mean digital content strategy. As more and more businesses transform their marketing activities to a digital-first approach, print takes the back seat.

While there is definitely still room for printed content in a healthy strategy, understanding how a printed piece of collateral works online is critical to maximising the value of what can be a very costly resource.

How to plan your content strategy

Content strategy has seen a delightful amount of attention over the last five or so years, and there are a variety of excellent resources out there to help you plan yours. Here are some of our faves:

Resources to help you plan your content marketing

There is a lot of content about content marketing (surprise), but a lot of it is superficial. Here are a couple of hands-on resources to help you move your planning forward.