We’ve already covered how copy and content are different…but then, wouldn’t you know it, the business world goes and confuses the concepts by creating the term “content strategy.” What is it? What does a content strategist do? Can copywriters apply for content strategist jobs? (And how does it differ from “content marketing?”)
“Content strategy” is one of those occasions in which the general business world confuses content and copy. Copy, as you know, is wording that sells or persuades someone to take action. Content, on the other hand, is wording that entertains, inspires or educates. To give a more concrete example, copy is the wording on a company’s homepage, content is the wording in their blog posts.
Content strategy, despite its name, actually has much more to do with copy than with content. In a nutshell, content strategy is the organization of copy around and across a site. This is the planning of where and how to use copy to best guide a visitor through a site (or through any online experience), as well as how to use that copy and the different interactions with it to help educate them and, eventually, persuade them to buy.
Now, could content strategy involve content, as well? Sure—a site needs to plan where and how its content will be used to accomplish the above goals, too. By and large, though, content strategy is concerned with the copy on a website, micro site, or online interaction.
How is Content Strategy Different from Copywriting?
A good copywriter (which you are, of course) should already be thinking about how his or her copy on a single page or in a single email (or in any place) is part of the complete experience a user has. In other words, you should always look at your copy projects holistically.
Even if you aren’t writing an entire email series, for example, you should know what emails come before and after the one you’re writing. You should also know where the call to action is sending someone. Is it a landing page? What’s on that landing page? Understanding the user journey will inform what you do (and don’t!) include in your copy.
Using a webpage as another example, a good copywriter should already be considering the possible places a user could have come from to get to this page and the possible places they may go after this page. That’s a piece of content strategy right there.
A content strategist, though, is thinking of the big picture and actually planning what the messaging will be across the entire interaction. Depending on this person’s role and the size of the company, they may or may not be doing the copywriting, as well. Often, they’ll also be responsible for editing work as well as publishing it, too.
And, of course, they’re not deciding on copy and content projects willy nilly. They’re digging into data to understand what messages are resonating, what holes can be filled, and refining existing copy to perform even better.
Whereas the copywriter is considering one piece of the puzzle, the content strategist is considering and assembling the entire puzzle.
How Do You Become a Content Strategist?
Content strategists are usually people who have a strong and extensive background in copywriting, paired with a solid grasp of user experience design and an understanding of technical possibilities and limitations.
If you’re just starting out as a copywriter, jumping into a content strategist role isn’t impossible, but it makes sense to get a couple of years under your belt first.
Try working as a copywriter as part of a team that has a content strategist. You can gain a lot of experience simply by watching what they do on a day-to-day basis. Offer to buy that person a coffee and talk about what it is they do and how they got into that role. It may provide insight into additional steps you can take. Depending on the company, you may even be able to take on some content strategist tasks to grow your skill set.
Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy
Now, to add another layer—and, hopefully, clear up a bit more confusion—let’s add to this the term “content marketing.” Content marketing actually is related to content; in very broad terms, it’s the technique of creating and distributing relevant content to engage a target audience with a brand, hoping that this engagement will eventually lead to purchase.
Content marketing is really the planning and, yes, strategy that goes into how content (and content only) is created and distributed to help support a company’s goals.
Copywriting is different from content strategy, which, in turn, is different from content marketing. But they’re all just a little bit related.
Your turn! Have you worked with a content strategist in any of your jobs thus far? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on July 4, 2023