The Difference Between Content Marketing & Content Strategy (& Why You Need Both)

In a world where people pay money just to escape ads, content marketing allows you to connect with prospects organically.

If you’ve dabbled in it, you’re one of those who might have begun creating content and posting regularly on your blog.

Soon enough, you may begin noticing a few changes.

People are starting to engage with you.

You’re seeing growth.

But it’s not what you expected.

You expected to soar like other brands using content marketing, but instead, you’re stuck with mediocre ROI.

You’re spinning your wheels.

If this is you, you need to get clear on one thing:

Content marketing alone isn’t enough to build a powerful brand and real ROI.

You also need content strategy.

How Are Content Marketing & Content Strategy Different?

Content marketing and content strategy complement each other perfectly.

But they’re not the same thing.

Here’s what makes them different.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is simply the creation, publishing, and distribution of great content.

It works because it doesn’t directly sell a product or service.

For instance, look at this post from The Tony Robbins Blog:

Tony Robbins blog - great content example

As the title suggests, this blog is about strengthening relationships through learning how to apologize.

Taken by itself, the content doesn’t promote any service.

It’s simply a thoughtful, value-rich guide for people struggling with saying sorry.

This is an example of powerful content marketing.

Since the blog belongs to Tony Robbins’ website, it builds trust in readers and brings them closer to hiring Tony Robbins as their life or business coach.

Here are other resources you can find on the website:

Tony Robbins resources

As a whole, content marketing is organic marketing.

It involves giving value to people so they recognize your brand as a trustworthy solution to their needs and desires.

What Is Content Strategy?

Content strategy, on the other hand, is the foundation on which successful content marketing is built.

Think of it as a map. If content marketing is the journey toward brand success, content strategy is the blueprint that directs it.

So, how does content strategy work?

1. Content Strategy Answers the Question ‘Why’ You’re Publishing Content

Every piece of content you publish should be centered around a goal. And content strategy helps you determine exactly what your goal is.

For instance, you write a lead magnet to grow the size of your email list. You compose emails to gain clicks to your website. You write blog posts to establish authority in your industry.

All these pieces of content are created at the right time, set before the right audience, and then measured for success.

See how content strategy works?

With the right strategy in place, you’ll never again create a random piece of content that doesn’t get you closer to your content marketing goals.

2. Content Strategy Determines Who You’re Reaching with Your Content Marketing

Part of content strategy is finding out exactly who your audience is.

  • What are their major pain points?
  • Why are they reading your content?
  • How can your product or service help them improve their lives?

Imagine writing a letter to no one in particular.

No matter how beautiful the words you use are, your letter will lack real feeling and substance.

On the other hand, writing to someone you know deeply will make your words and paragraphs come alive.

Also, because you know who this person is, you know what he wants or needs to hear.

Here are a few tips for implementing your content strategy to speak to your audience.

  • Create content personas. Gather information about your audience and make fictional characters you can address each time you write content.
  • Remember the buyer’s journey. Your audience will be in either the awareness, consideration, or decision state when they read your content. You need to know what pushes their hot buttons in each one of these stages.

3. Content Strategy Is About Deciding What Kind of Content You’ll Publish

There’s a ton of different kinds of content you can publish online.

There are blogs, infographics, ebooks, podcasts, and social media messages.

What’s more, you can publish long or short content.

You can publish content on your website, on social media, or as a guest blogger on another influencer’s site.

Content strategy is taking a deep look into your brand’s needs and goals.

It’s finding out exactly what kind of content you need, where you should promote it, and setting a schedule to create and publish it.

4. Content Strategy Is About Deciding Who Will Create Your Content

If your company is small, you might have to write all your content yourself at first.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this forever.

As you grow, you can set a budget for high-quality content.

You can hire expert writers to keep your content flowing steadily.

You can hire a content manager to help you with your content calendar.

A content strategist is also an excellent addition to your team.

5. Content Strategy Is Setting Metrics to Measure Content Marketing Success

As you pursue your content marketing goals, it’s important to be aware of how well each piece of content you publish is doing.

For example:

  • Do your blog posts hold readers’ attention?
  • Are your emails gaining clicks to your website?
  • Are your case studies converting prospects into buyers?

Content strategy will help you answer these questions because as you work on your strategy, you come up with metrics to determine content success.

Some of these include bounce rate, time on page, and scroll depth.

Why Content Strategy Matters

Content marketing is good, but without content strategy, it’s like going on a trip without a set destination.

Without the right strategy in place, you’ll waste valuable time and energy writing content that’ll only earn you mediocre ROI.

On the other hand, when you use content strategy as the foundation and blueprint of your content marketing efforts, you’ll see amazing results.

Every piece of content you create will be a well-chiseled puzzle piece that helps craft your brand’s story and message.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, February 2020

Searchenginejournal.com

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About the Author: Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.