Content Marketing vs Content Strategy: Why You Need Both for Success19 min read
Does content marketing and content strategy sound like the same thing? Us too. But fret not. We’ll soon clear it up.
In super simple terms, your strategy is an overarching plan to reach a specific goal, and your marketing encompasses the tactics you use to get there. For your brand to be successful, these two concepts need to be coinciding and equally effective.
We will be breaking down how to implement successful content marketing alongside a strategy focused on your target audience to reach your personal business goals. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you:
- The difference between content marketing and content strategy
- What is content marketing?
- What is content strategy?
- Why do you need both?
What’s the difference between content marketing and content strategy?
|Content Marketing||Content Strategy|
|Creating different forms of content and publishing them on multiple platforms. This includes: email marketing, social media posts, infographics.||Underpinning of marketing campaigns by determining key information about a brand. This includes: types of content, intended audience, when and where it is shared.|
So you can see how they’d go nicely hand in hand, but it’s important to work on them both separately before you can begin a marketing campaign.
What is content marketing?
Pretty much everything that a business shares with their audience. It’s that simple. Articles they share on LinkedIn, infographics they share on Twitter, and even podcasts and webinars. It can refer to high-quality content of all formats.
Businesses primarily focus on this now because it’s incredibly helpful in seeking out potential customers. If you know your audience and what they’re interested in, you can attract them to your brand through what you share. And with search engine algorithms, it’s easier than ever to access your clientele.
Ever been scrolling through Instagram, and out of nowhere an ad pops up trying to sell you the exact thing you’ve been talking about for months? No, they’re not listening to you. But they are tracking your behavior and they’ve managed to work out what you’re into.
Despite this being slightly disconcerting from a user’s perspective, it’s an indispensable tool for a business.
Examples of content marketing
As an example, let’s consider Oatly. I’m considering going vegan and need to decide what kind of milk replacement I’ll use. While scrolling Twitter, I come across a great animation about the impact of food on global greenhouse gas emissions. The environment is something I feel strongly about, hence going vegan, and this aligns with the brand’s morals. I want to support that. So let’s introduce Oatly, my new milk brand of choice!
This is an example of Oatly’s brand awareness. They have clear business goals. Alongside producing a great plant-based product, they also want to create change in the food industry. As a company, they feel a little rebellious, strong, and even exciting and their content marketing reflects this.
It’s everything a vegan stands for right? This is well thought out and clearly effective, thanks to their content strategy. But we’ll get into that later.
Another great example is a company’s YouTube channel. Take a look at Cats Protection’s video on how to adopt a cat:
This focuses on the buyer’s journey. By taking the prospective customer on a step-by-step, easy-to-understand tour of how to use their business, Cats Protection has made it easy for them to picture themselves using the service. Throw in some adorable clips of cats, and they’re on to a winner.
People often search for answers to questions on YouTube, like ‘how can I adopt a cat?’ so it’s a great opportunity for you to answer questions in a concise way and attract customers to your brand. This makes YouTube a great marketing channel for delivering a lot of information in a fun and engaging way.
5 top tips to improve your content marketing
These are some quick and easy tips to improve your marketing. However, if you want a bit more of an in-depth look at how to increase your website traffic, check out our previous blog article.
1. Have fun!
If you’re not having fun, the likelihood is that your audience won’t be either. Every piece of content you share should be genuinely interesting and encourage engagement.
A great way to do this is to be aware of trends and hop on them whenever you can. Focusing your content marketing efforts on TikTok, the ultimate platform for jumping on trends, can have great results. With 1 billion active users across 154 countries and its specific algorithm, it’s super easy to increase your reach and discover new customers.
For example, a ‘day in the life’ is trending at the moment. It has given small businesses a great opportunity to do a walk-through of their day and the services they offer. This kind of behind-the-scenes insight is fun and shows your customers your human side.
2. Create a content calendar
Having an outline of your day-to-day content creation is super helpful. You can share it with your whole company so everyone is on the same page. You can plan days, weeks, or even months in advance. By keeping your sharing regular and consistent, your audience will remain engaged and can keep up to date with your brand.
Feel like it’s going well but you’re not quite sure? Measuring your content’s success through metrics is a surefire way to gain valuable insights into your customers and their behaviors. If they are always much more interested in a specific topic, ask yourself why? Then update your marketing strategy. You want to be one step ahead of your followers.
You can learn a lot about your brand by analyzing your metrics. From lead generation (how many new leads you’re adding to your sales funnel) to website traffic to SEO (how high you’re ranking on search engines).
4. Mix it up
Including a variation of the types of content you share will help you no end. There are plenty of options to get your brand out there in interesting ways. So don’t get stuck on endless blog articles or retweets. Get experimenting:
- White papers: A persuasive in-depth focussing on a particular topic that solves a specific problem. These are a great way to build authority in your industry and attract prospective customers by posing your brand as a clear solution to their needs. The easier it is for the customer, the more successful your company is.
- Case Studies: Want to secure an interested customer? Case studies are proven to help the middle of the funnel readers to the bottom of the funnel. By guiding them through a relatable story of how your brand has helped a similar business or customer to them, you are helping them relate. This means they have already built a relationship with your brand. You have piqued their interest. Now, all you need to do is guide them to buy.
- Infographics: A simple and fun way to deliver information. Infographics are a great addition to your content marketing and provide the opportunity for natural backlinks when other companies want to share them. They suit most content formats and channels and are attractive to pretty much any audience.
5. Repurpose your content
It’s unreasonable to expect a brand to produce high-quality and exciting new content as frequently as they need to. Your existing content is a great resource to tap into when you’re struggling for ideas.
Have a social media post that had particularly high levels of engagement? Use that topic for your next blog. As long as it isn’t repetitive and it takes a different form, repurposing can be a great aspect of your content marketing.
Use your metrics to find out your highest-performing content and then go from there. Get creative. Think podcasts, video blogs, infographics, and anything that’ll draw that engagement back and the audience in.
What is a content strategy?
So now you know everything you need to about marketing; you need a solid structure to underpin it all. A content strategy focuses on a roadmap to achieve your business goals. Your strategy should know your audience and help them stay engaged every step of the way.
This can be done by identifying customer personas, choosing the best channels to market on, and figuring out the best content types to share.
Once you have the basics, you can use it to focus your content marketing and set yourself specific goals to achieve to measure your success.
How to create a content strategy
Follow our step-by-step guide on how to form a content strategy:
- Identify your audience
Who wants your product? How old are they? What interests them? Where do they spend their time online? These are all questions you need to consider when figuring out your audience. This will define the rest of your content strategy so it’s super important to get right.
But don’t worry. It’s often the easiest step. As a brand, you will be aware of who is most interested in you. So don’t overthink it. Once you have your audience in mind, start researching that demographic to understand them more. Eventually, you want to be able to think like them.
To be able to do this, you’ll need to create a buyer persona. This is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. This includes their pain points (specific issues your customer may be facing that your business can resolve), their behaviors, and their background. If you want an in-depth guide on creating a buyer persona, check out a great article here.
- Decide what channels you’ll use
I’m going to use an example throughout this process to make it a little clearer.
So, you’re a business that sells menstrual cups. You have identified your audience as primarily 18 to 24-year-old women. Based on a little bit of research, it seems, as of 2022, the majority of TikTok users fall within this bracket.
This app focuses primarily on fun and interesting videos. This allows your brand to get information out to your audience in a progressive way, which aligns with the service you are providing. It also gives you an opportunity to talk about menstrual cycles openly and honestly, which will be refreshing for a young audience.
However, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself. You want to appeal to as much of your audience as possible. Twitter is a great channel for young professionals, and it’s in the top 3 most used social media platforms. It’s also a great place for content curation. By retweeting other businesses’ content, you can appeal to and leverage their audience.
So, you’ve got your two main social media channels. You’ll also want to keep a blog on your website to guide the middle-of-the-funnel customers to the bottom with specific case studies and white papers.
Once you have agreed on your channels, then the format of your content begins to take shape. Each channel lends itself naturally to a specific format. Twitter is great for sharing articles and curating content, Instagram is great for infographics, and TikTok for video blogging.
If you want a bit more info on the best content distribution platforms, check out our top 15 here!
- Get everybody on board
Set out the information you have collected in a nice visual workflow. Send it to your whole team, not just the marketing specialists. You want there to be consistency within the company and strong brand awareness.
Set up your editorial calendar (more on that below) and start sharing.
5 top tips to improve your content strategy
- Research, research, research
The more research the better. If you know your industry and the people who use it, inside and out, then it’ll be much easier to optimize your content.
It’s a great idea to research your competitor’s marketing. See what they’re sharing, check out their backlinks, and learn about their audience. It’s not cheating… it’s learning.
- Google Analytics
By studying the analytics that google provides you can gain a huge insight into the kind of content that attracts the most people. By seeing which channels get you the most traffic and the page views for specific articles, you can edit your existing content marketing campaign or create a new one based on your findings.
- Employ a dedicated content strategist
If you want to share great content, then you need to put the time into it. It can be well worth having a specific content strategist role in your business.
Creating a strategy doesn’t finish with the first draft. Customers and their behaviors are constantly changing. Effective content marketing adapts and changes with them. Constant analysis and observation are needed to keep your prospective customers engaged, so employing a full-time content strategist might be the best investment for your business.
- Use an editorial calendar
Having a visual workflow to schedule your content marketing plan is essential. Now, you may be thinking, “why would I need a content calendar and an editorial calendar?” While you need something to schedule your content creation, you also need an overview of your content strategy.
This can be monthly, quarterly, or yearly. And rather than focusing just on the content you will be posting, it’ll also look at the business marketing goals. If every piece of content goes through the same editorial process, you’ll be able to create a strong brand voice.
Check out a great article outlining how to create a calendar and why it’s useful here!
So, you’ve got a great strategy and you’re starting to post good content. But it isn’t reaching as wide an audience as you’d like. This is normal, so don’t worry. It takes time for your brand to build a name for itself. Even if you’re doing everything perfectly it still won’t happen overnight.
An important aspect of digital marketing is backlinking. This is when your articles or infographics have been mentioned in other people’s content, and they link back to your website. If you have backlinks on websites with authority (like news outlets or well-known brands) then this will grow your following exponentially.
Here are a few ways to improve your backlinking:
- Guest blogging: This can be helpful to increase website traffic and backlinks, but be careful and make sure it comes across authentically. Ensure it is somewhere natural where your audience would hang out, and make sure the content written is high-quality and well thought out.
- Use Quora: By answering questions relevant to your brand on Quora, you can offer great advice and direct prospective customers to your website. There are endless opportunities to interact with a community related to your industry. You can build trust in your brand by displaying your service and knowledge.
- Mentions without links: If you find your product or service is being mentioned without a backlink to your website, just reach out to the webmaster and ask them to update the mention with a link. It’s a simple process that can get great results.
What to avoid:
- Purchasing links: Google hunts down anyone buying links and will penalize the website for doing so. That means watching all your great content go to waste!
- Spammy blog comments: Google discounts these links because they’re not part of the main content or uploaded by the site owner. It’ll also take away any authority your brand has in the community.
- Link exchanges: If you find a suspicious website messaging you to ‘link for a link’, avoid it at all costs! They are often associated with link farms and google will discount them quicker than you can say, “Oh no, not my backlinks!”
Why do you need both?
By now, it’s probably becoming clear why you need both. One doesn’t work without the other. You could have the most entertaining and engaging videos and articles, but they could be wasted on the wrong audience.
Here’s why you need both:
If you identify an issue with your current content, you can tackle this head-on in a strategy meeting. By analyzing the performance data of your social media marketing, you can set yourself ‘KPIs’. These are Key Performance Indicators. For example, website visitors per month. If this drastically declines, then you know something needs to change.
Time for a marketing initiative. This takes research and experimenting. Keep adapting your strategy and analyzing the marketing performance until your KPIs are all steadily increasing.
Without a strategy, the options for content creation are limitless and overwhelming. You’ll have fingers in all the pies, which may sound like a good thing, but not when it comes to marketing.
Your strategy will help focus your content and ensure it is in the best format for your audience and on the best channels.
This means you aren’t wasting your time making TikToks for an over-50s audience or primarily using LinkedIn for the under-20s.
If you follow these steps and put in the time and effort, then your content will be effective. It takes real commitment, but it’s completely worth it. Ultimately, you will not be successful if you don’t have both.
If you are regularly analyzing your performance, adapting your strategy, and keeping the quality of your content high then you should see growth in your business and, following that, success.
It’s a lot of information to take in, but it’s worth doing it right. The most important aspect is identifying your target audience correctly. This’ll kick start your content strategy and focus your content marketing.
From here, keep using your metrics and set your KPIs to keep an eye on how well your strategy is working. Keep your content consistent but not repetitive. If you want to make your life slightly easier, you can look at paid content distribution strategies. Check out our favorite three here.
You’ve got this! We have given you everything you need to begin your biggest and most successful marketing campaign yet! So, get strategizing, get researching and get creating.
Have you got any more advice for creating a content marketing strategy? Leave it in the comments below to help our readers even more!