What’s guiding your marketing strategy?

If you can’t immediately, confidently answer that question, then the answer’s probably not one you’d be happy to hear anyway.

Because when we don’t know, understand or have control over what’s guiding our marketing strategy, its directionless.

And marketing campaigns without direction are marketing campaigns destined to underachieve.

What are content pillars?

Think of content pillars as themes that will inform the rest of the content on your site. Main topics and talking points that are the focus of several in-depth pieces of content known as “bedrock content”.

The trick, once you’ve established several strong, well-written pieces of bedrock content, is to begin breaking down those broad topics into more specific pieces of related content, all linking back to a singular piece bedrock content to create a topic cluster.

Since search engine algorithms reward content for both relevance and quality, these derivative pieces of content can be anything from an informative eBook or report, to an eye-catching infographic or YouTube video.

So long as they’re well crafted. And connected in some meaningful way to the bigger ideas introduced by your content pillars.

The idea is to create a web of relevant, related content that will draw more traffic to your website. And that’s what you’re doing by linking these different pieces of connected, high quality content. And then anchoring them to an even more authoritative content pillar.

But before you sit down to write any content, or create an online marketing campaign, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Why are you producing this content?
  2. Who are you producing it for?
  3. What do you hope to achieve with it?

Your content needs to be informative, structured and engaging. Meaningful and targeted. With strong content pillars as a foundation to guide your marketing strategy. And well-written, follow-up articles and media to support it.

Bedrock content should provide opportunities to further the conversation initiated by you campaign. And don’t be afraid to go deep and get increasingly granular with narrower topics when producing supplemental material.

How to use content pillars?

What is the purpose of your website and the content you publish there?

Before you can begin putting content pillars into practice, you need to be absolutely sure of what your purpose is. And clear about what you’re working towards.  

If you run a business, for instance, focus on what it is you do. Define the main topic for your business. And use content to inform potential customers.

Let’s say you’re a hairdresser that runs a salon. You might write about hairstyles. Hairstyles would be an ideal key topic for a content pillar that you could follow up on with more quality, in-depth articles, e-books, reports, guides or anything that might be relevant to current and potential visitors.

Always keep in mind who you’re writing for. If the majority of your customers happen to be women, concentrate on topics that women might find interesting.

Take your bedrock content and divide the main topic down into smaller, related topics. In this example, a main topic like “hairdressing” or “hairstyles” could break down into more focused articles on tangential topics like hair care, cosmetics or fashion.

You’re not limited to just creating articles, either. Again, consider your target audience. Content like infographics, social media updates, videos or email might be more effective in reaching the audience most likely to engage with your brand or business.

You’ve got plenty of choices. So long as whatever it is you’re creating stays at a high quality. Articles should be well written, graphics professionally designed, etc. These ancillary pieces of content may not need to be as in-depth or detailed as content pillars. But the level of quality should be consistent throughout.

Strong content pillars, with quality articles and content anchored to them, make it easy for people to move from one piece of content to another inside your topic cluster.

Which is great for converting visitors into regular readers. Regular readers just a step away from becoming regular customers.

From content pillars to effective marketing campaigns

If you’re a business that sells products, pay attention to the customer journey. Analyse it and determine which products on your site are getting the most clicks or selling the most units.

These are the products you’ll want to focus on most in the beginning. The ones to start building meaningful content pillars around.

Once you’ve got solid bedrock content in place for these products, the next step is to start creating spin-off content like follow-up articles, how-to videos and social media updates that can all start being linked together.

How and where you deliver your marketing message is just as important as anything else.

Armed with a list of who your target audience is, and an effective marketing message designed to attract their attention and motivate them to buy, start to consider which channels are going to be most effective for the campaign.

And remember, you’re never strictly limited to going with a single channel or platform. Specific goals or resource limitations might place restrictions on where and how often you’re able to market.

But the best results usually come from utilising multiple platforms. So whenever possible, combine social media, emails, videos, articles or other outlets for maximum effect.

Once your offer has been live for awhile, you’ll need to determine who’s expressed interest. Collect data on viable leads. And moving forward, cater future pieces of content even more exclusively to those specific users.

Content pillars effect on SEO

Content pillars get visitors interested in your products or services. If your content is solid, and one of your articles makes an impression, it’s likely the readers will visit your website to learn more about your offerings.

You can even add buttons or a short call to action at the end of an article to help prompt a response or website visit.

Which is important. Because the more time a visitor spends on your site, the better it is for SEO.

The interconnected nature of content pillars, and all that linked content anchored to it, will help get you a bunch of backlinks. And plenty of social media shares. Two more factors that drive increased traffic to your site and help boost search engine rankings.

Remember, every visitor is a potential lead. And every lead is a potential customer. So put in the effort to write high quality content pillars now. Because giving your marketing campaigns a strong foundation not only earns immediate traction for your brand or business, but it fosters long term growth. As more and more consumers will come to know your brand. And trust it as a market leader.