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Content Strategy: An Introduction for Marketers

By Alex McLean • August 12, 2016

Content strategy is a bit of a new beast here in Australia. It is NOT content marketing, or content marketing strategy. Different. Not the same thing. Here at Connect Labs, we want to spread the content strategy love, as we believe it's a bit of an underappreciated beast. Don't get me wrong, we love content marketing, it's what we do! But when the two work together, it means digital success. And with the upcoming CSForum being held in our very own hometown of Melbourne, the timing is perfect. 

An introduction to content strategy

Kristina Halvorson, the Queen of Content (as I have now christened her) has defined content strategy as 'planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content'. This simple definition belies the complexity of content strategy. Because, think about it – creation (producing content for the web), delivery (UX, web development, web design, project management), governance (legal, stakeholder management, management) – that's a lot of areas to be thinking about! Have a look at the Brain Traffic infographic below:

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The important thing to remember is that content strategy is big picture thinking. It encompasses many different aspects and invariably has the investment of quite a few stakeholders.

The difference between content strategy and content marketing

Hopefully you're already getting a sense of how content strategy and content marketing are actually not at all the same thing. There definitely needs to be a better understanding of that difference – and an end to the incorrect terminology. Content marketing is super, but it ain't content strategy. So let's stop calling 'content marketing' 'content strategy'. Robert Rose from the Content Marketing Institute actually wrote an apology for their misappropriation of the term!

But they are obviously linked, there's no denying that. So let's talk differences. Content strategy is big picture. It spans many business functions and is not defined, project-based work. Marketing, on the other hand, is mostly confined to the marketing department.

Content strategy defines the details and logistics of that content – it manages content as an asset. Content marketing tends to be a more creative pursuit (although we can't deny that numbers are a big part of it). It's about writing great content and marketing a particular message or story that your organisation wants to tell.

I'm a big fan of Rachel Lovinger's words, 'Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design.' You wouldn't design a website without an IA, so why would you do content without content strategy?

Content strategy and content marketing need each other

Content marketing and content strategy are great mates. They need each other – they need to be friends, not enemies.

orange-quotation-marks-hi.png The content marketer draws the story and plans the channels that will be used to develop the customer relationship with the brand. The content strategist ensures that story, language, and management processes work consistently and efficiently across multiple teams, languages, and every publication the brand leverages. - Robert Rose

If you're looking for some examples of some good content strategy and good content marketing working together, check out these boring industries making interesting content. There's a strong content strategy behind each of those website, with the marketing side making it shine.

It's pretty simple really, one plans, the other executes, in sexy marketing style. Perfect combo!


Hopefully you've got a bit more of an idea about why content strategy is so important to the marketing world. It's something that marketers need to learn more about, because it's so important for digital strategy to have that holistic approach. After all, the end game is simple – it's all about customer experience! Happy users = happy customers :)

 

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