Content Strategy & Content Marketing Strategy: Do You Know the Difference?

Successful content marketing relies on both a content marketing strategy and a content strategy. But, when most people hear content marketing everything blurs together. Rather than distinguish between the different elements of strategy that go into a successful content marketing program, it’s much more common to look just at the end product: content.

This isn’t out of laziness—well, it’s not normally out of laziness—it’s actually quite uncommon that marketers even know that there are two different strategy pieces that go into content marketing. Even the Content Marketing Institute admitted that they haven’t done a completely thorough job of distinguishing between content strategy and content marketing strategy.

With more and more marketers feeling disillusioned about the practice of content marketing and consumers starting to disengage with content, now is the time to identify what content marketing strategy and content strategy are. Just knowing what they are isn’t enough, though. You need to know why they each matter, why it’s important to implement them into your marketing strategy, and what kind of overall business impact they each have.

Of course, both of these strategies feed into content marketing, meaning that there is some overlap between the two that makes them hard to distinguish to the untrained eye.

Defining Content Marketing Strategy

“Content marketing is, after all, a means of marketing. Content marketers draw and develop the larger story that our organization wants to tell, and focus on ways to engage an audience, using content so that it changes or enhances a behavior…So at its heart, content marketing is a marketing strategy — an approach that uses content to deepen our relationship with customers.” Content Marketing Institute

Defining Content Strategy

“Content strategy deals with the planning aspects of managing content throughout its lifecycle, and includes aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modeling, and influences the development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, and sunsetting of content, including governance. What content strategy is not is the implementation side. The actual content development, management, and delivery is the tactical outcomes of the strategy that need to be carried out for the strategy to be effective.” The Content Wrangler

Both involve detailed planning and ultimately should work together. Still, they require separate and distinct focuses, strategists, skills and key performance indicators (KPIs).

What’s the difference in terms of impact?

When working on content marketing strategy, you’re dealing with questions of ‘Why’? As in, ‘why’ should we be creating this content in the first place? Though both of the topics in discussion are technically strategies, content marketing strategy deals with the underlying strategic direction of and reason for your content marketing. Your content marketing strategist should be responsible for efforts such as editorial calendars, activation strategies, content production, and the measuring of content success.

A dynamic content marketing strategy will impact your business because it drives the creation, publishing, and measuring of content. It is responsible for reaching your audiences with a compelling message and driving desired buying behavior. Ultimately, your content marketing strategy should be fueling an inbound attraction model that brings your ideal clients and customers to you.

Measuring Content Marketing Strategy

When trying to determine the success of content marketing strategy, strategists should be considering the following KPIs:

  • Sales
  • Lead generation
  • Email subscriptions
  • Blog subscriptions
  • Conversion rate
  • Blog comments
  • Social engagement

Content strategy, on the other hand, is the strategy of ‘How’. It is focused on usability, sustainability, and the strategy of implementation. While content marketing strategists are concerned with reaching audiences, content strategists are concerned with creating streamlined processes for doing so. Assets and efforts associated with content strategy include process documentation, content ‘blueprints’, and content tagging, structure, and organization.

One of the main purposes of content strategy is to keep content alive and useful through the creation of sustainable processes. Accordingly, content strategy will streamline your content production, ensuring your investments continue to be relevant and valuable over time. This could mean ensuring that your content is organized properly so efforts aren’t duplicated and useful work doesn’t get lost in the daily hustle of content production. It could also mean having a documented process for content repurposing to ensure that you get the most out of every piece you’ve created. Ultimately, content strategy is the framework that supports your content marketing strategy.Content strategy

Measuring Content Strategy

All of this begs the question—how exactly do you measure content strategy? Content strategy is a process that is in many ways focused more on internal processes than it is on external consumption. So, you likely won’t have clear-cut metrics associated with your content strategy. Instead, think about these KPIs when trying to determine the outcome of your content strategy and its related processes:

  • Organization of content
  • Process ease of use
  • Process adoption
  • Rate of content repurposing

Despite all of their differences, these two strategies still come together under the umbrella of content marketing and should align with the brand voice and common goal of reaching an ideal audience.

Bringing Content Marketing Strategy & Content Strategy into Your Content Marketing

Really, the first step to paying equal consideration to both content marketing strategy and content strategy is building a team that reflects this commitment. If possible, hire a strategist for each respective strategy area with relevant experience and attributes.

A content strategist should have more experience on the technical end of content implementation and should understand how to make content a valuable business asset. A content marketing strategist will likely be a little more creatively inclined and should understand the craft of creating great content. Still, both should have extensive experience working with content.

If you don’t currently have the capacity to hire two separate specialists, recognize the duties and skills required for each and make sure your strategist is fit for the job.

Identifying the core elements of each strategy, recognizing how they factor into a specialist’s duties, and knowing how to study the success of each separately will point you in the right direction.


Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Engagement: The Key to Content Success to learn why both your content strategy and your content marketing strategy should focus on engagement.


About Fathom Team Member

Leave a Reply