Companies' content strategies are becoming ever more mature, according to research conducted for a new best practice guide. 

Econsultancy's new report into Digital Content Strategy highlights the growing importance of Content Strategy, not only as a capability within marketing organisations, but as an emerging discipline with its own associated specialist expertise.

So have we really reached the age of the Content Strategist? 

What is content strategy? 

Feedback from the interviewees for this report indicated that there is a broad definition of content strategy.

For some, the concept is more tightly focused on content marketing and fulfilling marketing-related objectives including driving awareness, customer acquisition or loyalty.

For others, content strategy more broadly encompassed information architecture, content structure, origination, re-use and user experience.

Most respondents, however, recognized that a definition of content strategy needed to incorporate an end-to-end process covering all these aspects. 

Greater maturity in content strategy

The increasing maturity in content capability among many organisations, is illustrated by the increasing levels of sophistication in both resourcing and planning, and the fact that Content Strategy is playing an increasingly central role.

In many companies surveyed for the report, a senior director had taken responsibility for this emerging area, and a number had developed Content Strategist positions within the content or digital marketing team.

Our recent research has indicated a range of approaches for resourcing content marketing.

Less than half (46%) of those surveyed for the Content Marketing Report, for example, had an individual within the team dedicated to the discipline.

And though almost a quarter of the respondents said that their company was planning to dedicate individuals in the future, around a third had no plans to make it a defined role in the team.

Do you / your clients have an individual within your / their organization(s) who is dedicated to content marketing? 

There were a number of factors cited by respondents behind this shift including:

  1. The growth in the importance of content, and content marketing, to businesses of many types, and the increasing sophistication of in-house content capability.
  2. The growth in focus on content hungry always-on platforms.
  3. The fragmentation in channels, and platforms for distribution and engagement.
  4. The ever-greater impact that content has in supporting business strategy and metrics.
  5. The role of analytics in making content more accountable.
  6. The ability for content to generate meaningful, interactive customer experiences.

While Content Strategists may have slightly different roles in large or small companies, the emerging discipline is focused on driving capability, and planning and co-ordinating activity.

This, said respondents, requires a strategic viewpoint but also the ability to understand some of the nuances and technical aspects of different specialist content functions.

In this sense, might the Content Strategist be an example of a new breed of 'Pi-shaped' content specialist?

A number of participants in the research spoke of the growing value of people who can combine traditional content skills, such as journalism or copywriting, with a appreciation of the commercial value of content. And that combination of content and commercial expertise is not always easy to find.

One thing is for sure. Content Strategy, in its many forms, will only become more important to just about every marketing organisation in the future. You can download a copy of the new Content Strategy report here.

Neil Perkin

Published 5 February, 2014 by Neil Perkin

Neil Perkin is the founder of Only Dead Fish, and a consultant and contributor to Econsultancy. You can read his blog, and follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)



It's a real trend we've noticed with our agency clients. Writers with combined skill of traditional content creation and having a comprehensive appreciation for commercial content is indeed a sought after skill. This is an avenue I think we're really helping our clients with.

over 4 years ago


Malcolm Davison

The survey was a worthwhile exercise no doubt and probably has some interesting conclusions. The feedback on the definition of content strategy is certainly illuminating. But how representative is this survey, I wonder?

In the 570 words of the article above the word ‘marketing’ featured 9 times. The graphic only featured marketing. There was no mention of ‘intranet content’ and no mention of ‘governmental’ and other ‘non marketing’ content delivery. In the sample of the report the word ‘marketing’ features 28 times in 1800 words, and the same applies about the absence of ‘non marketing’ words.

Could your word ‘content marketing’ have a broader sense perhaps implying the engagement of any audience? But no, your ‘Content Marketing Survey Report’ was based on a survey of ‘more than 1,300 marketers working for brands, agencies, and publishers’. So that seems unlikely.

Content strategy is not just web - it includes video, social media, TV, paper and other media too. But just taking web for a moment - because of the huge volume of content published by local, national govenment, news generation and academic sources probably less that a third of content strategy will be concerned with pure marketing.

Could this be the subject of another survey perhaps? Does the rest of the report take a broader view? Or have I got it all wrong?

Malcolm Davison

over 4 years ago

Neil Perkin

Neil Perkin, Founder at Only Dead FishEnterprise

Hi Malcolm
You raise a valid point about the wide variety of opinions on what content strategy encompasses. In the report we acknolwedge the fact some of the respondents spoken to had a relatively narrow definition which focused on Content Marketing, whilst others had a much broader take on what the term should include. We've tried to reflect a broad set of views in the report, and did speak to a wide variety of practitioners in the research. The focus on content's role in marketing reflected the feedback we got but you're right about just how broad this subject is.

over 4 years ago


Malcolm Davison

Hi Neil,

Thanks for that feedback. Perhaps a marketing slant is understandable as'Econsultancy is a community where the world's digital marketing and ecommerce professionals meet'.

But with the all embracing title of ‘Digital Content Strategy - Best Practice Guide’ it certainly needs to cover the broader ground, and I am glad you have confirmed that it does. Perhaps your response will reassure those professionals.


over 4 years ago


Monica Kraft

In the learning content arena the Content Strategist role is also becoming recognized as important, with a focus on these areas - information architecture, content structure (for search and discovery, targeting), re-use and user experience (personalized learning.)

over 4 years ago

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