The Building Blocks of a Great Content Strategy

The Building Blocks of a Great Content Strategy

While doing some research, I found this great graphic on Quora that explained the difference between content “strategy” and content “marketing” (1):

It raised a valid point—that many people use these two terms interchangeably with little regard for how they should actually be used. When it comes down to it, marketing and strategy are two different things, with components of each being used in many methods of implementation. One metaphor that describes this concept well was quoted in a Content Marketing Institute post about the difference between the two:

 Content marketers draw on the wall with magic markers, while content strategists use fine pens. (2)

Below are some of the parts of content strategy that can be used as part of an organization’s entire content plan.

What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is the actually planning and conceptualization of initial content ideas and how they fit into their needed areas. Before implementing (or marketing) any piece of content, it has to be shaped by an overarching strategy that lays out the groundwork for all content created by an organization (content being, anything written for the company, from press releases to product descriptions). When thinking about it as a whole, all “content” can encapsulate so much more of a company than just blog posts or email newsletters, which is what most of the content surrounding content “marketing” or strategy is about.

What is Product or Service Content Strategy?

The first branch in the graphic above places product and service content separately from content marketing. This means that content needs to be written with a different style and goal than content used for marketing.

Ad-Driven Content

This content is what is promoted by advertising to drive readers to your website. I’d argue that branded content should have an arrow to ad-driven content, as branded content like e-books and white papers are regularly promoted by companies via paid search or social media advertising to raise visibility, traffic, and incoming leads.

However, the focus of all content that is going to be promoted by ads needs to have its top focus be on strong call-to-actions with enticing copy that converts the reader into a lead. This help keeps ad ROI high. Landing pages and email blasts are good examples of ad-driven content that is common in most organizations’ content strategies.

Subscription or Exclusive Content

Many organizations not only have public blogs, white papers, or e-books, but they also maintain exclusive content that is only available to their subscribers or customers.

These can include:

  • Product or Industry Resource Libraries
  • Webinars
  • Live Chats
  • Troubleshooting Forums

Most exclusive content is not only focused on providing the highest revenue generating sector more information and industry knowledge, but to also solve any problem a user may be having with a product or service. This type of “extended” content may be enough to convince a customer to stay a recurring customer or to sign up in the first place. In this instance, content is being used as a bonus for your existing and new client base to increase monthly recurring revenue or bottom lines.

What Are the Components of Content Marketing?

Shifting to the other branch of the aforementioned diagram, content marketing is focused on generating content that will increase a company’s visibility online. It often ties in with other promotions or campaigns that a company is doing in other areas, such as conferences or events or offline product pitches for seasonal items.

Branded Content

Mentioned earlier, branded content is solely focused on growing an organization or individual’s profile in their industry among their colleagues and consumer base.  This is probably what most people think of when they think or say the words, “content marketing.”

This can include:

  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Free Webinars or Google Hangouts
  • YouTube videos answering common questions
  • Blog posts
  • News coverage on company website
  • Video tutorials
  • Interviews with industry experts

It’s been proven that websites with blogs generate 55% more website visitors that business websites that don’t have a blog (it’s important to note that blogs need to be active with regular new posts in order to experience this increase in traffic and eventual leads). (3)


The actual content of advertisements is different than content created for the purpose of being advertised (ad-driven content; mentioned above). Advertising content includes PPC and social ads, print, flyers, and any other type of advertising that is created solely to promote an event, product, or service for a set amount of time. Most advertising content has a time-sensitive factor or a specific offer, like a percentage or dollar amount off in order to catch the reader’s interest.

Support Content

This is any content created to solve a problem or question and could also be exclusive or subscription content, as mentioned above. Anything that helps a customer use an organization’s product or service better could be considered support content, including customer service emails or chat logs. This is why all customer service employees should be cognizant of their employer’s overall content strategy, which makes a different in how they come across to the users they interact with. For instance, Zappos’ support content is going to be a lot more casual than communication from a bank will probably be. This is because of Zappos’ company culture, which ties into their strategy for how customers should feel about their content. (4)


When it comes down to it, content marketing strategy can be a completely different animal that an organization’s overarching content strategy across all departments. For instance, a company could want all content they produce to be educational, conversational, and to the point. However, when it comes to content marketing strategy, they could strive for content to have exclusive research, quotes from experts, and a regular generator of new website traffic and leads. One fits into the other.

While the words marketing and strategy mean the same to many people, it’s important to differentiate the two in order to have a more organized and clear strategy when it comes to content.

Tweet this:  ”Content marketers draw on the wall with magic markers, while content strategists use fine pens.” @CMIContent

Tweet this: How are #ContentMarketing and #ContentStrategy different?

Tweet this: #ContentMarketing is one of the fingers on the hand that fits inside the glove of #ContentStrategy.


1.  What is the difference between content strategy and content marketing?

2. How Content Strategy and Content Marketing are Separate but Connected. 

3. Study Shows Business Blogging Leads to 55% More Website Visitors.

4. Zappos Family Core Values. 

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Kelsey Jones helps clients around the world grow their social media, content, and search marketing presence. She enjoys writing and consuming all kinds of content, both in digital and tattered paperback form.