Is a Content Strategy the Same Thing as Content Marketing?

It’s critical to make the distinction between what a “content strategy” is and what “content marketing” is, especially if you dabble in either or both for your profession. You should be sure to make this distinction for your clients too. This way they won’t think you’re going to provide them with one thing when you think you’re providing them with another. Because the terms are buzzy and are often used interchangeably, it’s easy for industry experts to even get them mixed up sometimes.

Here are the more succinct definitions for the terms:

Content Strategy: How you develop, plan, and manage content as an asset for every aspect of your business, or for every aspect of a website

Content Marketing: The creation and distribution of content across various mediums and channels to attract and or retain customers

A lot of businesses only focus on content marketing because it tends to be more enjoyable and less tedious to develop and manage. However, having a solid content strategy will only make your content marketing more robust and impactful. Now, it’s time to go a little deeper with these two terms to better understand how to use them and why distinguishing them from each other is important.

Content Strategy

Think of your content strategy as the internal guidelines and directions for how your content will be developed and managed. Your content strategy is essentially the blueprint for all the content in your organization. It details how all your content will be employed to accomplish your business goals. It should be updated at least once a year, especially every time your business goals change or as you learn more about your growing audience.

A good content strategy should highlight:

  • What types of content you want to publish and share
  • How you’re going to organize, track, and analyze your content
  • Where your content will be published or shared
  • Who you want to view your content and how they will find it and interact with it
  • Who will manage your content
  • The editorial process content will go through before it’s published
  • What the schedule and frequency for published and shared content will be

While it may take some time, a lot of research, drafts, and collaboration, building a solid content strategy is critical for the success of your overall business operations. It treats content like the asset it is and ensures content is not just usable, but used properly. It’s the best way to lay out the blueprint of where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and why you want to go there.

A solid content strategy encompasses the planning aspects of managing content throughout its life cycle, and aligns it to important business goals. It should strategically be evaluated, analyzed, and updated in relation to your business goals and model.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a part of your overall content strategy. It’s a piece of your business’ overall content strategy puzzle, so to speak. A great approach to content marketing has a solid content strategy behind it, but entails the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that’s explicitly created for your business’ marketing goals. This could be anything from blog posts to landing pages and email campaigns, and is designed to build a trusted relationship between your company’s products or services and the audiences that might end up buying them.

With a content marketing strategy, you lay out the actual details of content topics, and assign dates they’ll be published on content calendars that assign roles to those working on the various pieces and phases the content will go through.

While a content strategy helps you get organized and better understand what your overall content objectives are as a business, content marketing is when you develop specific pieces of content that will attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience based on those business objectives.

Very Broad Example of How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Work Together

Let’s say you determine your business needs to build more brand awareness. So, you decide to publish more blog content and share it on certain social media sites your customers frequent. You’ll more than likely do this during your content strategy planning. Next, you’ll develop a content marketing plan that details the topics you want to write about that will build brand awareness, and plot due dates for them to be published on a content calendar. After you collect the data from those published posts to see if they’re really building brand awareness, you’ll use that data to influence your next content strategy planning session. Then you’ll decide whether blog posts are indeed the best way to build brand awareness for your particular business.


It’s helpful to think of a content strategy as the content planning and content maintenance phases, while content marketing includes the phases content goes through as it’s being developed and implemented for marketing purposes. Building a content strategy that works for your business has multiple layers, and content marketing is one of those layers.

Is there something else you want to add to this distinction between a “content strategy” and “content marketing”? Leave a reply below to join the conversation.

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