Content marketing strategy vs content strategy

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
3rd April 2019
Author: Nick Mason
Posted in: Content Production, Strategy & Planning

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. Notwithstanding, there is an important difference between content marketing strategy and content strategy worth grasping.

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What is a 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.

This can be coupled with other disciplines including 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 a content strategy?

Conversely, 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 exist within and past marketing disciplines. Examime utilising digital elements including content marketing, search optimisation, social media marketing, email marketing and so on.

Elsewhere in the business it steers the likes of SaaS knowledge base content, coaching handbooks and partner collateral. In fact, content strategy is everywhere, impacting how you communicate things like product launches or new services internally and externally.

Cohesion and consistency

Your business will be working towards particular goals and each function’s have objectives should feed directly into 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 is arguably most important.

Furthermore, audience understanding provides direction around your tone of voice and style, user scenarios and messaging hierarchies. Lastly, if closely paired with a visual style guide or rule book, all publishing and communication presents cohesively to achieve business goals.

Ownership and workflows

A content strategy also involves determining the governance and production processes driving the production of content. In other works, break down the seperation 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 101

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.

There is definitely still room for printed content in a healthy strategy. However, 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. As such, there are a variety of excellent resources out there to help you plan yours. Here are some of our faves:

Resources to help you with 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.