Content strategy is an ecosystem. Content marketing is an element within it. The difference between content marketing and content strategy lies mainly in the approach, which needs more explanation than a mere simplification. While both are bound to overlap, it is essential to make the distinctions clear. Because without a well-defined content strategy, content marketing efforts have no purpose (except for maybe, hoping to rank on search engines with time- and money-exhaustive hit and trial methods).
Many businesses still cannot scale up caused by this very lack of comprehension in their marketing endeavours. In the United States, only 9 per cent of B2B enterprises qualify for the ‘sophisticated’ maturity level in content marketing (Content Marketing Institute report, 2020). And, according to the State of Content Marketing 2021 survey report by SEMRush, 84 per cent of businesses use a content strategy where 11 per cent actually utilise it to their advantage.
Content Marketing Vs Content Strategy
In digital marketing, both content marketing and content strategy work together and that does not mean they are interchangeable nor can one work without the other.
Defining Content Strategy Against Content Marketing
Think of content strategy as the guiding principle that gives a sense of where content marketing is supposed to go.
The Five Ws and One H of journalism 101 will let you grasp the difference in meanings better. Content strategists define the hows and whys. Content marketers are then able to deal with the what, when and where.
What Does Content Strategy Include?
A content strategy forms the invisible framework (that customers don’t see) of the following components.
- Understanding the niche around which content will be created
- Identifying your target audience
- Analysing your competitors
- Brainstorming topics and types of content that your target audience prefers, as resolving their pain points across relevant mediums will ultimately bring the most organic traffic
- Applying SEO best practices to get the best organic search results and how you will prioritise the content
- Establishing the budget and allocating resources for content marketing efforts to be taken
- Defining distribution channels that are relevant to your brand
- Measuring the actual performance after publishing content and comparing it with the defined business goals – social shares, leads, etc
- Evaluating (and reassessing if necessary) how your content strategy helps potential and existing customers through every stage of the sales funnel, right from how they found your business online up to making the final purchasing decision
- Defining the brand USP and keeping the brand voice consistent
- Refurbishing content as and when Google rankings drop
- Developing an editorial calendar to plan and manage the flow of content and tasks of the team
What Does Content Marketing Include?
Content marketing is all about attracting and engaging customers. The work of content marketers is the visible wheels in motion aligning with content strategy to meet the planned business goals as determined in the editorial calendar. Among the overlaps with a content strategy, content marketing professionals look at understanding and resolving customer pain points through different marketing channels. Fleshing out ideas within the realm of the brand’s niche, determining types of content, and SEO for optimising traffic also fall under the scope of content marketing.
So after an overall content strategy is fully established, content marketers execute the plan through individual marketing channels which also need to be strategised separately.
- The written form – Using SEO best practices and making customers find out about the product on search engines, the written form such as blogging can generate interest, shift from common to unique perspectives and finally convince the target audience to purchase the product. The written form even includes sending personalised emails (email marketing) as soon as the customer signs up on the website. One of the popular email marketing tactics which you may have come across are e-books for free or newsletters. Other written forms include case studies, whitepapers, etc.
- Video content – Just like the written format, video content creates awareness by offering what the target audience is looking for, and finally, if the product is able to solve their problem, they may decide to buy. Videos on social media channels make it easy to spread content.
Written content works when it is informative and sometimes educational depending on the brand. Video marketing aims at being entertaining but can also be instructional. All in all, both forms centre around the product without trying to sell it directly.
How Content Marketing and Content Strategy Work Together?
As you can see, content marketing mainly focuses on the awareness bit as opposed to the content strategy that looks into all aspects of the sales funnel. The content strategy will not be the same when the audience is already aware of the product. It gets much complicated at the later stages when they are still considering buying the product. What content strategists and marketers do is to identify and maintain an open channel of communication through emails, newsletters or other modes. When the prospects finally decide to buy, the communication strategy shifts to the sales perspective ‘why your brand is perfect’.
Content marketing and content strategy are two sides of the same coin. Each exists because of the other. But, a clear cut content strategy should lay the foundation for all content marketing efforts.
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