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

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the difference between content marketing content strategy why you need both via juliaemccoy

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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MARKETING

Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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MARKETING

Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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