Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2013

The Four Pillars of Great Content

In recent years we’ve seen what can only be described as an explosion of content as more organisations begin to think like media companies and wise up to the value of inbound marketing. Content is now ubiquitous and competing for attention in the age of ‘information obesity’ is increasingly difficult.

Content is a key battleground. And just last week industry powerhouses Edelman and Mindshare, both made big, strategic appointments to their content teams, whilst real-time marketing during the Oscars stirred much online debate. This is because content matters.

Great content is something organisations need to invest in as it gives them the opportunity to earn attention in a more meaningful way than say, paid activity. This is important. If you make content that people love, you will be able to reach more customers, generate more website traffic, gain more leads and ultimately, get more sales.

But how do you go about creating great content? It’s easier said than done. For me, content has to be guided by four pillars: strategy, data, creative and measurement. Get these four pillars right and you’ll increase your chances of creating content that people adore.

Strategy
Hands down, this is the most important of the pillars. A content  strategy ensures that your team have a plan, processes in place and that content retains the correct foundation, parameters and focus. I could write a whole eBook on content strategy, but  as a starter I would suggest you work out what your goals are and then create a plan that focuses on reaching, engaging and converting leads into customers.

Data
I’m a firm believer that content must be guided by insights gleaned from data and research. There’s lots of rich data ready to be mined that can shape your content topics. For example, search trends, web analytics, online conversation analysis, as well as speaking to your customers, sales and customer service teams will enable you to take a  more data driven approach to content.

Creative
Fantastic creative is what makes content that people love. The greatest challenge is ensuring that the three other pillars receive as much attention as creative. Occasionally, you will see wonderfully crafted content make an impact due its beauty, but to increase the chances of resonance, content needs to be underpinned by a strategic and data driven approach. Creative is the most sexy of the four pillars, but content without a strategy to guide it, data to shape it and KPIs to measure it, is aimless.

Measurement
All content needs to have a clear purpose that can be easily measured. I would recommend you take a look at the marketing funnel and base your KPIs around each stage. For instance, pageviews and amplification at the beginning and leads such as demo requests, and most importantly, sales at the end. You need to continually measure the performance of content to identify what works and feed these insights back into your team.

I hope these four pillars demonstrate that successful content is the result of collaboration between strategic, analytical and creative teams. It can be easy to overlook this. Equally, if you’re developing a content team these pillars may enable you to audit the skills you have and the skills  you need.

What’s your approach to content? Would you add another pillar? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts below.

About the Author

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Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at Ben-Cotton.com and Chief Quaffer at CraftySwine.org .

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