Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation and distribution of high-quality, informative content in order to reach and permanently satisfy a previously defined target group. The aim of campaigns like these is to convince the target group of how good a company or a brand is in order to gain new customers and advocates.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing differs from traditional marketing methods in its communication strategies. The focus is not on placing advertising messages, but on providing high-quality, relevant content that appeals to the target group and potential customers. The aim is to provide the reader with content with added value, which can be

  • Informative
  • Advisory
  • Entertaining and/or
  • Emotionally charged

Content marketing regards not only text, but all content presented in media form. This includes images, videos, graphics, audio files, studies, and surveys. These campaigns are then used and distributed across a diverse range of online channels, from internal company blogs to social media platforms.

What are the different types of content in content marketing?

The discipline of content marketing is interesting for a wide variety of companies and brands, which is due in particular to the fact that there are hardly any limits to the content that can be disseminated. Therefore, the most different content types can be used for content marketing, for example:

  • blog posts
  • guides
  • interviews
  • infographics
  • instructions
  • reviews
  • studies
  • polls
  • e-books
  • software
  • games

How does content marketing work?

Even if content marketing campaigns and their goals - sometimes more, sometimes less - differ from each other, a basic procedural model for the operative implementation of content projects like these has been established. Most important are the five phases of analysis, conception, production, distribution, and evaluation, which have to be passed through one after the other.


Content marketing always begins with a comprehensive analysis. First, you look at the initial situation and also at the goals that you want to achieve with the project. Therefore, the following steps have to be done:

  • Defining the goal(s)
  • Defining the target group(s)
  • Topic research
  • Topic weighting
  • Keyword research and subsequent analysis
  • Inventory and evaluation of current content (content audit)


Once the analysis is complete, the basic plan or concept for the content project can be developed. The following tasks have to be mastered:

  • Idea development
  • Content attribution (determination of benefit, format, media type, etc.)
  • Preparing content for the target group(s) (content mapping)
  • Prioritization
  • Designing a draft considering content and user experience
  • Creating an editorial plan
  • Preparing briefings


The next step is the actual production process in which the content to be marketed is created and prepared for publication:

  • Creating the content
  • Checking and releasing content
  • Creating suitable landing pages
  • Establishing tracking mechanisms


The fourth phase of the content marketing process deals with all sub-areas associated with the publication and distribution of content:

  • Publication
  • Marketing automation
  • Promotion of the content
  • Outreach (media cooperations, press relations, blogger relations, etc.)


As with other marketing strategies, the campaign is finally evaluated using relevant measures:

  • Monitoring and optimization
  • Controlling
  • Lead management
  • Final evaluation

The content marketing process is not necessarily finished after it’s been completed: when it comes to the scope of the content campaign and the content to be published, it is not unusual to have to go through the process several times - starting with the idea generation. However, it is not always necessary to take all subtasks into account.

What are the long-term content marketing strategies?

There are generally two different approaches to developing a long-term strategy for the conception, production and distribution of marketing content:

  • Models that focuses on the story
  • Models in which the focus is on the customer journey

In both the content marketing strategy models, both the core story and the customer journey play a role, although their weighting differs.

Content marketing strategy with focus on the story

If the focus is on telling a good story, the aim of the content campaign is primarily to establish a branding for your own company or brand. The generation of paying customers does not play an active role in this case, although it is of course a hoped-for side effect in the long run. A fundamental distinction must be made between functional and emotional content, which can be either superficial (short, crisp content) or profound (versatile, long content):

  • News/information (primarily functional content): Social media posts, press releases, news, infographics
  • Entertainment/fun (primarily emotional content): social media posts, videos, pictures, explanatory videos, apps / games
  • Knowledge (in-depth functional content): blog articles, whitepapers, webinars, guides, studies, e-books
  • Relationship/purpose (profound emotional content): stories (articles, videos), interviews, reportages, podcasts, background stories

In another article, we explain the difference between SEO and content marketing.

Content marketing with focus on the customer journey

With a functional, user-oriented content marketing approach, the focus is primarily on the target group, the topic and the customer journey. Put simply, it's about finding the perfect way to systematically design, produce, and publish content along the customer journey of the respective target group. The performance of the campaign is therefore much more relevant to the development of the strategy than the story itself.

Which potential target groups is content marketing aimed at?

Defining target groups is one of the first tasks within the content marketing process. Usually, they result automatically from the previously set goals, meaning this task is completed quickly. Very popular is the creation of personas, i.e. prototypes of a user group, with the help of which the respective target groups can be defined down to the smallest detail. Possible contact groups are not only potential new customers, but also, among other things:

  • Existing customers
  • Customers ready to buy
  • Demand customers not (yet) ready to buy
  • Employees
  • Influencers
  • Multipliers (advocates or people who share the content)

Content marketing goals at a glance

The core objectives of content marketing are brand positioning, customer acquisition, and lead generation as well as customer retention. Depending on the type and size of the company as well as the type and scope of the campaign, there are of course various other objectives to which different priority levels should be assigned during the planning process. In order to plan the content marketing strategy as optimally as possible, it also makes sense to differentiate between short-term and long-term goals when considering the aims:

Short-term goals Long-term goals
Generating attention for your own company Building a brand and/or positioning yourself as an expert in a specific subject area
Generating more reach through distributing content via social media Building an active community
More traffic for your own website (especially new users) Creating trust and optimizing your reputation
More user engagement (social buzz) through shareable, viral content Improving your position in the search engine
Generating valuable backlinks Generating returning visitors
  Connecting with influencers
  More conversions

Defining content marketing goals - this is how it works

The diversity of companies and brands plays an important role in defining goals. In addition, starting positions such as brand awareness, reputation, or financial resources are often very different. Although the examples given above provide a good overview of the possible goals, they are not suitable for every content campaign and must be adapted to your own ideas and possibilities. An established approach is the SMART approach, which summarizes five criteria for a good goal:

  • S - Specific: Goals must be defined clearly and as precisely as possible. Instead of the desire for “more” visitors, for example, the goal should be “20% more visitors by the end of the last quarter”.
  • M - Measurable: Goals must be measurable, which is why they should always be linked to specific criteria such as visitor numbers, length of stay, or a certain number of shares on social media.
  • A - Acceptable: It is important for selected goals within the company or marketing team to be regarded as desirable. In addition, it is important that they are realizable - otherwise disappointment will be inevitable.
  • R - Relevant: In order for content marketing to become a desired success, goals should be pursued that are relevant to the business and that actually promote the company or brand.
  • T - Terminated: For goal-oriented campaigns, deadlines are of particular importance. Therefore, concrete deadlines should be set for both small and large targets. Exceptions are, for example, purely financial goals such as adhering to a budget, for which scheduling does not play a role.

The most important key figures for content marketing goals

In order to ensure the measurability of set targets, concrete key figures - also known as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) - are required. In content marketing, there are very different evaluation parameters, which can be attributed in particular to the very different intentions behind the individual goals. For example, completely different KPIs have to be carefully examined if a goal has to do with the sale of products than if it is about increasing the reach. In addition, other metrics are decisive when efforts are aimed at retaining customers or building trust, as the following list illustrates:

Example key figures for targets with the intention of “selling”:

  • Number of orders
  • Turnover
  • Profit
  • Inventory

Example key figures for goals with the intention of “building trust”:

  • Backlinks
  • Mentions in media (print, web, TV, radio)
  • Search engine ranking
  • Lead rate

Example key figures for targets with the intention of “increasing reach”:

  • Traffic
  • Social media shares
  • Comments/feedback

Example key figures for targets with the intention of “binding customers”:

  • Number of returning users
  • Bounce rate
  • Retention time
  • Page views
  • Number of new newsletter subscribers
  • Number of new followers, friends, etc. on social media

Content marketing: strategy and planning

Getting the right strategy is the foundation for success in any content marketing project. But diving straight in without having first set out some clearly defined goals will prove a waste of time and money, and the efforts will likely prove unsuccessful. A thoroughly executed conception and plan paves the way for a strong campaign. You should outline the following steps in your content marketing strategy:

  • Content marketing goals and buyer personas
  • Production/creation of content
  • Seeding and promotion of content
  • Monitoring and analysis
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