Building up a successful marketing strategy starts with a good foundation.
Think of building up your brand as you would a house. In order for a house to stand the test of time, it has to be able to withstand wind, rain and other unpleasant weather conditions. Of course, this means that you have to start with great building material and a solid foundation. Taking these precautionary steps can ensure that your house will still be around for years to come.
The same concept goes for a content marketing strategy. Though we won’t be able to walk you through building a house (that’s for another day), what we do know is that content pillars can function by providing that central structural foundation for your brand’s new project launch.
Let’s learn about content pillars and how you can utilize them for your brand.
Content Pillars, Defined
Similar to landing pages, content pillars are informative pieces of content on a core topic that link to different pieces and material. Content pillars can come in many forms—from eBooks to videos to blog series—and their goal is to inform the reader about that specific topic while leading them to other places on the site with more information.
If we return to that house-building analogy, the content pillar would be the foundation of the house, while the walls, roof and windows are the various types of content (i.e. blog posts, social media content and product pages) that make it structurally sound.
Perhaps it’s best to provide an example.
Imagine that you’re getting ready to launch a new line of environmentally friendly shoes for your sneaker business. You’re getting ready to put together a lot of assets, from blog posts about the environmental impact of the product to interviews with the designers about the shoe’s creation. However, since this is a one-off project that will only be running for a set period of time, there’s not enough in your budget to entirely revamp your website to announce this new project. This is where content pillars come in handy.
One way to think about content pillars is as temporary landing pages, setting up the foundation for your new project. By creating a content pillar—in this example, let’s pick a video—customers will be intrigued by your brand’s campaign rollout. After watching your video with a clear call to action (“Buy our environmentally friendly shoes!”), your audience will want to learn more about your new project, click through your website and hopefully get some new kicks in the process.
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Examples of Content Pillars
Have a project that you’re considering promoting with a content pillar? Luckily for you, there are quite a few forms that content pillars take.
Read on to learn about some of the most popular types of content pillars that are frequently commissioned by our clients:
You may be familiar with the eBook’s more traditional cousin, the book. However, eBooks—short for electronic book—work much better than their physical counterparts for spreading information across digital channels.
eBooks can easily help you kickstart a campaign since they can contain loads of information in a handy little package. Chock-full of detailed knowledge about your latest project, infographics, additional article links and resources, an eBook can act as a great content pillar that can link all of your related assets together.
Tack an eBook download onto your website and get your message across with ease.
As a more formal version of an eBook, white papers are used to persuade you, with evidence, that their particular solution is best for the client.
White papers are usually more toned down and more informational than an eBook or a brochure. Think of a white paper as business formal, while an eBook as business casual. White papers serve best as a content pillar for companies who want to present information in a straightforward, no-frills and direct way.
If you’re planning to run a campaign that deals with a difficult or complicated concept, perhaps commissioning a blog series is the best way to go.
Keep your audience coming back for more by drawing them in with a new article every week. Having a blog series can be great because they can redirect more people to your blog and existing content, securing additional views on other pieces of valuable content that you already have up.
They can also expand on complicated ideas and explain your project in more detail, which can give your site a consistent amount of return viewers—if your series is interesting enough.
Social Media Campaigns
Although social media campaigns have only become mainstream in the last few years or so, their power is nothing to scoff at.
Surveys have shown that seven out of ten Americans spend time on at least one social media platform, and social media channels can quickly distribute your content to millions of people with just the click of a button. That being said, executing a successful social media strategy is a different story. With just how fast information can spread through avenues like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, social media campaigns usually require great content as well as a social media manager to watch their accounts at all times.
However, with the right management, social media campaigns could be your quick ticket to reaching audiences of all ages from around the globe.
Gone are the days when television commercials were the cornerstones of marketing campaigns, but video advertising hasn’t faded out yet. They’ve now taken a new form—usually working in tandem with social media to reach audiences.
Videos, especially well-produced visual content with a concise message, can easily be passed around online. Once in a blue moon, a video can even go viral—bringing new eyes to your company’s campaign. Videos are fairly memorable and catch an audience’s attention, which is why they work fantastically well as a content pillar for a marketing campaign.
Courses and Webinars
Let’s say your campaign is more informative rather than creative. In that case, creating a course or a webinar to teach your audience about key concepts related to your campaign’s message would be a great way to distribute knowledge about your latest project rollout.
Plan it correctly and you won’t just teach your audience faster, but you’ll also be imparting important wisdom that you’ll feel great about sharing.
How to Work Content Pillars Into Your Marketing Strategy
Even though we’ve already established that there are a multitude of different options that you can use as content pillars, now comes the hard part: deciding which content pillar works best for your company.
Creating a solid content plan is paramount to employing a successful marketing strategy, but content creation takes time and money. Checking off all of the items that we mentioned above is definitely not recommended because they don’t work for every campaign. Not only does it waste your time, but it also wastes precious resources that could be better spent elsewhere. Remember to stay true to your brand voice.
Here’s how to choose which content pillars you should have on your site.
Cater to Your Audience
Know your audience. Let’s say it one more time for emphasis. Know. Your. Audience!
Understanding your target audience is perhaps one of the most important pieces of information that you can bring to the table. Not only does it cut down on the amount of work that you have to do, but it also guarantees that the work that you will do is going to be worth the effort.
For instance, if you run a music review website whose target audience is 18-25 year olds, you don’t want to start your content marketing strategy with a white paper right out of the gate. While it’s true that a portion of those 18-25 year olds may find a white paper about music interesting, it probably won’t bring the same results as, say, social media marketing complete with flashy graphics and professional photoshoots.
Save yourself the time and the effort by knowing exactly what your audience is interested in.
Choose the Right Topic
It’s critical to choose the right topics for your content pillars to keep it relevant to your campaign. This means not straying too far from your campaign’s central message while still keeping it interesting enough to draw your audience in. Choosing the correct topic can also be beneficial for your campaign page’s SEO, especially if it’s tangential to the topic at hand and filled with hyperlinks pointing throughout your site.
Let’s say your environmentally friendly shoe campaign is all set—you were able to write a number of articles about the benefits of your shoe design and you’ve created a web portal that can take your audience directly to your product details. In order to tie it all together with a content pillar, it may be in your best interest to create an eBook—friendly, casual and informative. Your eBook may look a little something like:
- Studies that show competitor’s products.
- Why your company chose to create an environmentally friendly shoe.
- Statistics about your company’s new creation.
- A page of links that cites your resources, product information and contact page.
All throughout the eBook, you will be linking to relevant sources and other places on your website to redirect customers who want to learn more. Link your finished product on your social media accounts and designate an area on your website where you can access this eBook yourself.
Voila! You’ve successfully created a content pillar for your campaign.
Determining the Success of Your Content Pillars
Now that you’ve spent hours creating your content pillars and months rolling out your newest campaign, it’s time to reap the benefits.
Remember that the main purpose of a content pillar is to act as the foundation of your campaign, leading interested audiences to the other pieces of quality content that you want them to go through. To measure how effective your strategy was, check how many people were funneled through your content pillar:
- How many people clicked on your hyperlinks?
- How many people went to your other pages?
- What was your bounce rate?
- Does your content pillar rank well on Google and have great SEO?
These are all factors to consider when evaluating the success of your content pillar. Of course, the overall success of a campaign largely depends on your company’s individual goals.
Ask yourself this: Did your house stand the test of time?