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Content Strategy vs Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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Content strategy and content marketing are often treated as if they are interchangeable words. But, as you will learn below, they are actually two very different things.

Simplify; If content marketing is a cake, then the content strategy would be the plate.

However, the crucial differences between these two concepts run much deeper than a tasty metaphor. By understanding the different roles of a content marketer and content strategist, your content production and distribution efforts can become much clearer, both on paper and in practice.

With that said, let’s dive into what makes content strategy and content marketing so different from each other.

What is Content Marketing?

You can think of content marketing as one aspect of your overall content strategy. According to The Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and ultimately drive profitable action for the customer.”

Typically, the content you use for content marketing will have its place in your sales funnel and the main goal is to attract customers and build meaningful relationships with them.

This includes content in the form of:

  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • social media posts
  • eBooks
  • Articles
  • Landing page copy
  • Email marketing copy

All of these content types help form the spearhead of your content strategy – that is if you have one.

What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy refers to the comprehensive plan you have for each content related to your business. According to Moz, “content strategy is all about vision – the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and ultimately archived or updated.”

Think of your content strategy as a construction project.

Projects are mapped and confirmed prior to the start of any construction work, as they establish the guidelines for foundations and main pillars. Your content strategy should work the same way, outlining your content goals as well as its delivery.

However, content strategies shouldn’t be immutable either. New channels, devices, and trends are constantly emerging, so you will need to develop your strategy to adapt to the market. To get a perfect balance, here are the top questions you should regularly check your content strategy with:

  • Why are we creating this content?
  • What audiences do we want to address?
  • What kind of actions and reactions do we want to achieve?
  • How will we promote the content once it’s published?
  • How will our audience find our content?
  • What types of content do you plan to create?
  • Where and when will you be publishing your content?
  • Who is in charge of creating your content?
  • How will you maintain your brand style across various platforms?

Of course, fully developing your content strategy will require a lot more than simply answering the questions above, but they should help provide a workable foundation. Your finished strategy should be based on these questions and then based on further research and additional strategic planning.

Our five-step content strategy checklist will help you manage it all:

Set Measurable and Achievable Goals

To measure the success of your content marketing campaign, you must have clearly defined goals and objectives. Each piece of content must be created to achieve the desired end result. This can include more leads for your business, more email sign-ups, or more followers on social media.

On the other hand, if you post content on a whim, you won’t be able to add to the message your brand was created to convey and you’ll end up diluting it.

Build Journeys

In addition to aligning your content with your brand goals, you should also consider the journey you want your audience to take with your brand. The content you post on social media and on your website shapes this journey.

The purpose of your content should be to speak to potential customers at various points along their journey to further inform them and guide them through your sales funnel. From the moment they contact your business until they weigh their options until they finally make the decision to buy from you, you need to have content for every step of the way.

Choose Content Types

Producing content is great, but what type of content best conveys your brand message? You may want to consider things like infographics, YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, Medium articles, and other types of content to complement your standard blog posts.

Define Distribution and Promotion Channels

Once your content is created, where will you send it? Identifying the most relevant channels for your brand is the key to getting more traffic and converting more customers.

You need to think about the most appropriate social networks to focus on, which online communities to engage in, and whether or not you are ready to podcast and create videos to take your content to the next level.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Ultimately, your content strategy and marketing efforts need to come together like clockwork, and that’s where your editorial calendar comes in. Your schedule should define when and where content should be posted, up to the busiest times of the day for each channel.

Serving Separate Purposes

As you can see, there is significant overlap between your content strategy and content marketing efforts and yet they serve separate purposes.

Your content strategy defines the whys and hows that cover each piece of content you create. Content marketing, for its part, is made up of processes that serve to create and promote this content.

Many brands start distributing content before even stopping to think about the underlying strategy, which is one of the main reasons why only 30% of brands say their content marketing efforts are effective.

The solution is to implement short-term and long-term content strategies that will help you build a focal point based on your content marketing goals.

Now over to you. Do you have a separate content strategy and content marketing plan? How they relate? And how do you manage them effectively?

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