Know your terms: content strategy and content marketing explained

By Rachel Kurzyp

You understand content strategy and content marketing. But maybe you’re embarrassed to admit that you don’t quite know how to explain the difference between them. Or how they work together.

Use the following simple definitions at your next brand strategy meeting. Your boss will thank you for it. 

Content strategy is the plan for what you want to achieve (business goals and customer experience), how you get there (process), how you know you’ve arrived (KPIs), and how you manage the investment made in content over time (governance).

A good content strategy has both content components and people components. Content strategy considers how the user will experience the content or the context in which it will be seen. Content has a life cycle: creation, use, re-purpose, refresh and retire. Strategists know this and don’t let content become outdated or invalid, which affects user experience.

Content strategy unifies stakeholders and teams around content objectives. Everyone, regardless of their role, needs to understand content purpose and requirements. Strategists must also consider budget and available resources. And create efficiencies to save time and effort.

Content marketing is all about conversations. Its purpose is to build relationships (attract and retain customers) with an audience through content that impacts behavior (revenue-related action).

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers without selling. The aim is to deliver consistent and valuable content to educate customers. In return, the brand will be rewarded with loyalty and brand awareness. Marketers create relationships by understanding their target audience. This means delivering content though the right channel at the specific time their audience needs it.

The easiest way to explain how content strategy and marketing work together is: content strategy is the ‘how,’ ‘where’ and ‘what.’ And content marketing is the ‘why.’ When used together, content strategy and content marketing will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and engagement, improved conversions and sales, and greater brand awareness and loyalty.

Remember: you can have a content strategy without doing any marketing. But you should never do content marketing without a strategy.


Bio: A writer and communications consultant helping businesses build their digital story.