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



Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy: What's the Difference?

The distinction between content marketing and content strategy is subtle because the two concepts work together. Once you figure it out, you can use them as the one-two punch to help grow your brand. 

This post explains content marketing and content strategy and gives advice for using both to benefit your business.

The Difference Between Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy

Content strategy is your master plan to drive business goals with content. It focuses on the big-picture tasks that help you meet your customers’ needs and achieve your business objectives.

Content marketing is a group of tactics or activities you use to enact your content strategy. It’s the creation and distribution of content that helps your audience solve problems and lead better lives. Even though you may not actively try to sell with all content marketing, the free information you provide will eventually help you attract and convert your target audience to drive business growth.

The objectives, approaches, and outcomes differ for content strategy vs. content marketing. 


Content strategy seeks to document the role content will play in your business goals. It gives content marketing efforts direction, cohesion, and meaning. 

Content marketing revolves around creating brand awareness, generating leads, and capturing demand by transforming ideas into content assets and sharing them.


Content marketing assembles your marketing resources to create and distribute content assets across relevant channels to build a brand’s presence. It also includes measuring data to alter content campaigns where necessary.

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Content strategists determine the content marketing tactics will be most meaningful for your business objectives. They handle all the backend of content from pre-production (like research, content audit, and content guidelines) to production (like content creation, distribution processes, and tools) and post-production (promotion, evaluation, and analysis).


Content marketing leads to increased brand traffic, authority, trust, lead generation, conversion, and loyalty.

Content strategy produces content marketing systems that position a brand as the solution to customers’ needs.

How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Intersect

Despite being different, content strategy and content marketing work together. They are two sides of the same coin.

Strategy is the Foundation for Marketing Practices

Content strategy helps you decide why and how you want to create content. So, content marketing success depends on your strategy.

Content marketing is the process of putting your content strategy to work. It’s creating, distributing, and measuring the success of the content according to the content strategy. So, your content marketing efforts rely on your content strategy to achieve your business goals.

Neither Can Stand Alone

As marketing expert Amanda Milligan said, “Don’t try marketing without strategy; don’t bother strategizing without marketing.” What’s the point in making plans if you don’t implement them? And how can you succeed with your marketing efforts if you don’t have a plan? Strategy and implementation go hand in hand.

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After Strategy, Marketing Begins

If content marketing is the act of preparing a meal, the content strategy would be all the decisions you make before the actual cooking. What are you going to cook? What ingredients will you use? Where will you cook it, and how will you serve it?

Once you determine what to do, when, where, and how to do it during content strategy, you can bring the vision to life in the form of content.

Benefits of Content Strategy

Content strategy is critical because it lays out your content game plan. Without strategy, you’re wasting time and effort producing content and hoping it works. So, it’s almost an accident if your content works well for your brand without strategy. Here are some other benefits of content strategy.

Creates a Unified Brand Voice

Your brand voice must be consistent across all your marketing channels if you want your brand to stand out in a crowded market. A good content strategy will make sure of it.

Studying your brand story, personality, and style guide will help you define a consistent voice for your content marketing team, so your brand doesn’t sound too inconsistent on any content channel.

Increases Efficiency

A documented strategy streamlines your content operations to keep you from wasting time and resources figuring things out. That’s because it puts systems in place to guide your production and distribution, allowing you to complete tasks faster and within budget.

Content marketing has so many moving parts that leaving anything to chance is a mistake. Your content strategy should state what the content is (title and format), who’s responsible for what, where to store your content, and where to publish it.

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Maps a Clear Path to Success

A good content strategy defines what you’re trying to achieve and the metrics to track to measure success. When this is clear, you can prioritize your activities accordingly. And you can measure what’s working and what’s not to keep your content relevant to your audience and helpful to your business goals.

Establishes Content Intent

Creating content will waste your time and resources if you don’t have a purpose that ties it to your business goals. Each content asset should take a prospect further down your marketing funnel. Anything short of that is creating content for content’s sake, and the best you can get out of it will be vanity metrics that don’t help your business. Establishing a purpose for your content is the essence of content strategy.

Benefits of Content Marketing

Your customers don’t know when they see your content strategy in action, but they see your content marketing. It answers their questions and makes them consider doing business with you. Here are some other benefits of content marketing.

Drives Engagement

Customers engage with content they find valuable. The more content you share, the better your chances of keeping them on your platforms long enough to like, comment, and share your content with friends.

Increases Brand Awareness

By distributing valuable content, you’re making it easier for your target audience to find your brand and buy from you. Without brand awareness, people can’t even consider your products or services.

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Builds a Relationship with Your Audience

If the information you share helps your audience live better, they’ll naturally grow fond of and want to continue using your brand. And because your value systems will shine through, the content you share and help you build stronger relationships with the right customers. As your relationship develops, these people will become advocates for your brand and recommend it to others.

Instills Credibility

Consumers and search engines will grow to trust you when your content demonstrates your thought leadership, expertise, and authority. Backlinks and mentions from other brands will also serve as a vote of confidence for your brand. Credibility attracts more positive attention to your brand.

Leads to Customer Acquisition

Turning your content marketing beneficiaries into customers is the goal. When they see how much value you’re giving away for free, they can only imagine how helpful you will be when they pay for your products or services. This value will increase their chances of becoming your customers.

If you don’t know where to start, look at the latest trends in content marketing and see if any are a good fit for your business.

Best Practices for Implementing Content Marketing and Content Strategy

There’s no one way to create and implement content strategy or marketing. Strategy depends on your business and its goals. Content marketing depends on your audience’s needs and your creativity. While there’s no one approach to either, there are best practices for each.

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Gather Audience Information

Content-market fit is when your content satisfies or exceeds your audience’s needs. Every business wants this, but those who achieve it do so only because they know their audience well enough to tailor their content to their specific situations.

To create valuable content, you need to know the people you serve by:

  • Demographics (age, education level, gender identity, education level, etc.)
  • Psychographics (interests, beliefs, values, etc.)
  • Goals and pain points
  • Where they gather online
  • What they’re trying to do when they go online (also known as search intent)

The more information you have, the better your ability to create an ideal profile or buyer persona to guide your marketing efforts. You really can’t know too much about your ideal audience.

To gather the most accurate audience data:

  • Identify the people who need your products and services.
  • Survey your current customers.
  • Review your competitors’ clients.
  • Use online data tools like Facebook audience insights or SEMRush.

Approaching every piece of content strategy or marketing effort with a clear picture of your ideal buyer in mind will help you tailor your content to their specific needs.

Set Clear Goals

Setting clear content goals helps you define what success means for your content marketing efforts. Apart from allowing you to align your actions toward success, setting clear goals also lets you measure the effects of your efforts.

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For example, if you want to drive traffic to your website to increase brand awareness, analyzing the difference in your weekly or monthly website visits and what posts are bringing in the most traffic will help you measure the impact of your efforts. You can do more of what works.

Setting clear goals for your content marketing will enhance your goals for individual content assets. 

To set clear, more achievable content goals:

  • Understand the overall goals of the business and the part content can play in reaching them.
  • Audit your content activities to understand how far you are from achieving those goals.
  • Identify the resources you need to achieve those content goals.
  • Put numbers and timeframes to your goals (e.g., increasing website traffic by 25% in the next year).

Develop Processes

Content marketing requires a sense of organization. Keyword research, content creation, and distribution are just a few of the routine tasks. You’ll need to create workflows to coordinate the many moving parts if you don’t want things to fall through the cracks.

Content calendars help marketers of all experience levels to coordinate their content operations. Creating one will make you more productive and efficient. If you’re looking for a place to start, there are a host of online tools to help, ranging from Google Sheets, where you build your own calendar, to Coschedule, where you use a template.

Create a content calendar by:

  • Listing your content ideas
  • Determining the content formats
  • Documenting your publishing and distribution frequency to schedule the ideas

Create Quality Content

Quality content is your ticket to a successful content marketing campaign. Your audience is busy, so they’ll be more impatient with wishy-washy content. They won’t stick around long enough to buy from you or exchange their contact information if your content doesn’t draw them in.

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To create content that resonates with your audience:

  • Focus on Originality. Most of the content online is a bunch of recycled information. Original content approaches the topic in new and unique ways. Your content will stand out by researching an issue in your industry, sharing your personal experiences, or adding fresh insight to what exists.
  • Repurpose Existing Content. Repurposing helps you maximize the value of the content you already created. For example, you can turn audio or video content into a blog post, social media posts, or an infographic. Repurposing helps your content work for you on multiple platforms.
  • Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC). User-generated content is gathering customers’ feedback and reviews and sharing them with your audience. UGC resonates because other customers often regard the opinions of their peers above brand messages.
  • Utilize Data and Analytics. Data helps you analyze audience behavior to better understand the type of content they want and need, how they want it, and when. Use analytics to inform your content decisions from strategy to post-publication. 
  • Be Flexible. Working with content means being ready to adjust your plans as often as necessary. Audiences and their needs change, so you must be ready to pivot with them.

Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy

Content Marketing and Content Strategy are connected, but they aren’t the same. You need content strategy as the blueprint to serve your customers and content marketing to execute your strategy. Using both well will help you build a well-oiled content engine that will serve your audience and your business now and for years to come.

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How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?



How Does Success of Your Business Depend on Choosing Type of Native Advertising?

The very first commercial advertisement was shown on TV in 1941. It was only 10 seconds long and had an audience of 4,000 people. However, it became a strong trigger for rapid advertising development. The second half of the 20th century is known as the golden age of advertising until the Internet came to the forefront and entirely transformed the advertising landscape. The first commercial banner appeared in the mid-90s, then it was followed by pop-ups, pay-by-placement and paid-pay-click ads. Companies also started advertising their brands and adding their business logo designs, which contributes to consumer trust and trustworthiness.

The rise of social media in the mid-2000s opened a new dimension for advertising content to be integrated. The marketers were forced to make the ads less intrusive and more organic to attract younger users. This is how native advertising was born. This approach remains a perfect medium for goods and services promotion. Let’s see why and how native ads can become a win-win strategy for your business.

What is native advertising?

When it comes to digital marketing, every marketer talks about native advertising. What is the difference between traditional and native ones? You will not miss basic ads as they are typically promotional and gimmicky, while native advertising naturally blends into the content. The primary purpose of native ads is to create content that resonates with audience expectations and encourages users to perceive it seamlessly and harmoniously.

Simply put, native advertising is a paid media ad that organically aligns with the visual and operational features of the media format in which it appears. The concept is quite straightforward: while people just look through banner ads, they genuinely engage with native ads and read them. You may find a lot of native ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they appear in the form of “in-feed” posts that engage users in search for more stories, opinions, goods and services. This unobtrusive approach turns native ads into a powerful booster for any brand.

How does native advertising benefit your business?

An average Internet user comes across around 10,000 ads a day. But even physically, it is impossible to perceive this amount of information in 24 hours. So, most of them use adblockers, nullifying all efforts of markers. Native ads successfully overcome this digital challenge thanks to their authenticity. And this is not the only advantage of native advertising. How else does your business benefit? Here are just a few major benefits that prove the value of native ads:

Better brand awareness. Native ads contribute to the brand’s visibility. They seamlessly blend into educational, emotional, and visual types of content that can easily become viral. While promotional content typically receives limited shares, users readily share valuable or entertaining content. Consequently, while you incur expenses only for the display of native ads, your audience may go the extra mile by sharing your content and organically promoting your brand or SaaS product at no additional cost.

Increased click-through rates. Native ads can generate a thrilling click-through rate (CTR) primarily because they are meticulously content-adaptable. Thus, native ads become an integral part of the user’s journey without disrupting their browsing experience. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign is designed to build an audience or drive specific actions, compelling content will always entice users to click through.

Cost-efficient campaign performance. Native advertising proves to be cheaper compared to a traditional ad format. It mainly stems from a higher CTR. Thanks to precise targeting and less customer resistance, native ads allow to bring down cost-per-click.

Native ads are continuously evolving, enabling marketers to experiment with different formats and use them for successful multi-channel campaigns and global reach.

Types of native advertising

Any content can become native advertising as there are no strict format restrictions. For example, it can be an article rating the best fitness applications, an equipment review, or a post by an influencer on a microblog. The same refers to the channels – native ads can be placed on regular websites and social media feeds. Still, some forms tend to be most frequently used.

  • In-feed ads. This type of ad appears within the content feed. You have definitely seen such posts on Facebook and Instagram or such videos on TikTok. They look like regular content but are tagged with an advertising label. The user sees these native ads when scrolling the feed on social media platforms.
  • Paid search ads. These are native ads that are displayed on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. They always match user’s queries and aim to capture their attention at the moment of a particular search and generate leads and conversions. This type of ad is effective for big search platforms with substantial traffic.
  • Recommendation widgets. These come in the form of either texts or images and can be found at the end of the page or on a website’s sidebar. Widgets offer related or intriguing content from either the same publisher or similar sources. This type of native ads is great for retargeting campaigns.
  • Sponsored content. This is one of the most popular types of native advertising. Within this format, an advertiser sponsors the creation of an article or content that aligns with the interests and values of the platform’s audience. They can be marked as “sponsored” or “recommended” to help users differentiate them from organic content.
  • Influencer Advertising. In this case, advertisers partner with popular bloggers or celebrities to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Influencers integrate a product, service, or event into their content or create custom content that matches their style and topic.

Each of these formats can bring stunning results if your native ads are relevant and provide value to users. Use a creative automation platform like Creatopy to design effective ads for your business.

How to create a workable native ad?

Consider these 5 steps for creating a successful native advertising campaign:

  • Define your target audienceUsers will always ignore all ads that are not relevant to them. Unwanted ads are frustrating and can even harm your brand. If you run a store for pets, make sure your ads show content that will be interesting for pet owners. Otherwise, the whole campaign will be undermined. Regular market research and data analysis will help you refine your audience and its demographics.
  • Set your goals. Each advertising campaign should have a clear-cut objective. Without well-defined goals, it is a waste of money. It is a must to know what you want to achieve – introduce your brand, boost sales or increase your audience.
  • Select the proper channels. Now, you need to determine how you will reach out to your customers. Consider displaying ads on social media platforms, targeting search engine result pages (SERPs), distributing paid articles, or utilizing in-ad units on different websites. You may even be able to get creative and use email or SMS in a less salesy and more “native”-feeling way—you can find samples of texts online to help give you ideas. Exploring demand side platforms (DSP) can also bring good results.
  • Offer compelling content. Do not underestimate the quality of the content for your native ads. Besides being expertly written, it must ideally match the style and language of the chosen channel,whether you’re promoting professional headshots, pet products, or anything else. The main distinctive feature of native advertising is that it should fit naturally within the natural content.
  • Track your campaign. After the launch of native ads, it is crucial to monitor the progress, evaluating the costs spent and results. Use tools that help you gain insights beyond standard KPIs like CTR and CPC. You should get engagement metrics, customer data, campaign data, and third-party activity data for further campaign management.

Key takeaway

Summing up the above, it is time to embrace native advertising if you haven’t done it yet. Native ads seamlessly blend with organic content across various platforms, yielding superior engagement and conversion rates compared to traditional display ads. Marketers are allocating higher budgets to native ads because this format proves to be more and more effective – content that adds value can successfully deal with ad fatigue. Native advertising is experiencing a surge in popularity, and it is to reach its peak. So, do not miss a chance to grow your business with the power of native ads.or you can do digital marketing course from Digital Vidya.

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OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons



OpenAI’s Drama Should Teach Marketers These 2 Lessons

A week or so ago, the extraordinary drama happening at OpenAI filled news feeds.

No need to get into all the saga’s details, as every publication seems to have covered it. We’re just waiting for someone to put together a video montage scored to the Game of Thrones music.

But as Sam Altman takes back the reigns of the company he helped to found, the existing board begins to disintegrate before your very eyes, and everyone agrees something spooked everybody, a question arises: Should you care?

Does OpenAI’s drama have any demonstrable implications for marketers integrating generative AI into their marketing strategies?

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain (and give a shoutout to Sutton’s pants rage on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), or keep reading his thoughts:

For those who spent last week figuring out what to put on your holiday table and missed every AI headline, here’s a brief version of what happened. OpenAI – the huge startup and creator of ChatGPT – went through dramatic events. Its board fired the mercurial CEO Sam Altman. Then, the 38-year-old entrepreneur accepted a job at Microsoft but returned to OpenAI a day later.

We won’t give a hot take on what it means for the startup world, board governance, or the tension between AI safety and Silicon Valley capitalism. Rather, we see some interesting things for marketers to put into perspective about how AI should fit into your overall content and marketing plans in the new year.

Robert highlights two takeaways from the OpenAI debacle – a drama that has yet to reach its final chapter: 1. The right structure and governance matters, and 2. Big platforms don’t become antifragile just because they’re big.

Let’s have Robert explain.

The right structure and governance matters

OpenAI’s structure may be key to the drama. OpenAI has a bizarre corporate governance framework. The board of directors controls a nonprofit called OpenAI. That nonprofit created a capped for-profit subsidiary – OpenAI GP LLC. The majority owner of that for-profit is OpenAI Global LLC, another for-profit company. The nonprofit works for the benefit of the world with a for-profit arm.

That seems like an earnest approach, given AI tech’s big and disruptive power. But it provides so many weird governance issues, including that the nonprofit board, which controls everything, has no duty to maximize profit. What could go wrong?

That’s why marketers should know more about the organizations behind the generative AI tools they use or are considering.

First, know your providers of generative AI software and services are all exploring the topics of governance and safety. Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, and others won’t have their internal debates erupt in public fireworks. Still, governance and management of safety over profits remains a big topic for them. You should be aware of how they approach those topics as you license solutions from them.

Second, recognize the productive use of generative AI is a content strategy and governance challenge, not a technology challenge. If you don’t solve the governance and cross-functional uses of the generative AI platforms you buy, you will run into big problems with its cross-functional, cross-siloed use. 

Big platforms do not become antifragile just because they’re big

Nicholas Taleb wrote a wonderful book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. It explores how an antifragile structure doesn’t just withstand a shock; it actually improves because of a disruption or shock. It doesn’t just survive a big disruptive event; it gets stronger because of it.

It’s hard to imagine a company the size and scale of OpenAI could self-correct or even disappear tomorrow. But it can and does happen. And unfortunately, too many businesses build their strategies on that rented land.

In OpenAI’s recent case, the for-profit software won the day. But make no bones about that victory; the event wasn’t good for the company. If it bounces back, it won’t be stronger because of the debacle.

With that win on the for-profit side, hundreds, if not thousands, of generative AI startups breathed an audible sigh of relief. But a few moments later, they screamed “pivot” (in their best imitation of Ross from Friends instructing Chandler and Rachel to move a couch.)

They now realize the fragility of their software because it relies on OpenAI’s existence or willingness to provide the software. Imagine what could have happened if the OpenAI board had won their fight and, in the name of safety, simply killed any paid access to the API or the ability to build business models on top of it.

The last two weeks have done nothing to clear the already muddy waters encountered by companies and their plans to integrate generative AI solutions. Going forward, though, think about the issues when acquiring new generative AI software. Ask about how the vendor’s infrastructure is housed and identify the risks involved. And, if OpenAI expands its enterprise capabilities, consider the implications. What extra features will the off-the-shelf solutions provide? Do you need them? Will OpenAI become the Microsoft Office of your AI infrastructure?

Why you should care

With the voluminous media coverage of Open AI’s drama, you likely will see pushback on generative AI. In my social feeds, many marketers say they’re tired of the corporate soap opera that is irrelevant to their work.

They are half right. What Sam said and how Ilya responded, heart emojis, and how much the Twitch guy got for three days of work are fodder for the Netflix series sure to emerge. (Robert’s money is on Michael Cera starring.)

They’re wrong about its relevance to marketing. They must be experiencing attentional bias – paying more attention to some elements of the big event and ignoring others. OpenAI’s struggle is entertaining, no doubt. You’re glued to the drama. But understanding what happened with the events directly relates to your ability to manage similar ones successfully. That’s the part you need to get right.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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