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Define Your Marketing Content Pillars

If you want to reach more people, establish relationships, and foster brand loyalty, you’ll need great content.

Content marketing is your most powerful tool for reaching the right people at the right time. Because consumers are increasingly skeptical of overt advertising, brands get much better results from offering resources than blatant self-promotion. Offer your audience answers, inspiration, or even entertainment, and you’ll foster positive brand sentiment that will stay with readers, even if they aren’t ready to convert right away. 

Creating a content strategy can be daunting, but establishing content pillars makes it much easier to ideate new campaigns that support your goals and engage your audience.

What Are Content Pillars? 

Content pillars are the main topics or themes that you want to address in your content. Most organizations find that choosing 5-6 pillars allows for creativity and variety without being overwhelming. 

If you visualize your content strategy like a hierarchy, each main pillar typically has 2-3 related subtopics that allow copywriters to niche down and address certain subjects more specifically. 

Your content pillars can be a blueprint that helps your team brainstorm topics. They can also serve as a means of evaluating new ideas to make sure that they are aligned with your brand’s goals and values. 

Typing hands using a laptop keyboard to define content pillarsHow to Choose Your Content Pillars

Determining what you want to offer your audience requires some research and reflection. 

Tools like focus groups and surveys can help you gather the data you need to shape your content strategy, but you’ll also need to look inward. Think about what your organization represents, the kinds of problems you want to solve, and what kinds of content your audience will find most valuable.

Here are a few foundational things to consider. 

Focus on Your Brand Mission

Your brand is an entity with a personality all its own. What difference is your organization trying to make in the world? Whether you represent a non-profit advocating for the environment or a retail company working to connect consumers with life-improving products, focus on the why and how of your brand. 

If you discover that education, activism, inspiration, or empowerment are important brand values, make sure they are reflected in your content pillars. For example, an organic toothpaste brand may want to create a content pillar focused on dental hygiene, or an animal rescue may want to use one of its pillars to educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering. 

Consider Your Goals

Photo of cloisters and pillars to illustrate how content pillars in marketing can artfully hold up everything elseYour current business goals will also help determine content pillars. Whether you are working to build awareness or create brand loyalty, it’s important to keep the 80/20 rule in mind: 80% of your content should benefit your audience in some way, while self-promotion should be capped at 20%. 

Fortunately, you can leverage content to reach sales goals without putting pressure on your audience. Think of the sales funnel. Consumers who are newly aware of your brand will obviously benefit from different content than repeat customers, so keep that in mind as you develop your strategy. 

If there is an area of the funnel that the bulk of your audience feels “stuck” in, think of ways to give those people what they need through content. 

Use Social Listening

If you want to know what your audience is really talking about, join the conversation. Participating on message boards and monitoring social media for relevant hashtags and mentions can give you valuable insights into what people are already saying about your brand, products and services, and related topics. 

Notice any frequently asked questions or common concerns, and address them in your content. You may also want to monitor competing brands to see what they’ve left on the table. For example, if you notice that fun or warmth is largely missing from your category, add some to your content while staying authentic to your brand voice. 

Do Your Keyword Research

Keyword research (KWR) is a great way to learn more about what your audience is searching for and identify opportunities to fill content gaps. 

Your content pillars and subtopics can allow you to incorporate a mix of short and long-tail keywords chosen with your target audience in mind. Regularly including more specific, less competitive keywords can help your brand stand out to consumers who already know what they are looking for. 

Create a Content Plan

Your content plan may contain multitudes, including:

Developing a strategy that consistently engages your audience without overwhelming them isn’t easy, but well-defined content pillars can help tame the beast. 

Once you have your 5-6 core subjects that address your business goals as well as your audience’s needs, you can start developing a schedule that leverages each pillar in a way that’s best suited to each platform. 

For example, if you notice that a segment of your first-time website visitors originate from links in your social media, you may want to focus your introductory or educational content there. 

Pay Attention to Analytics

Your content pillars may be the foundation of your strategy, but they aren’t set in stone. Watch your analytics and keep up with social listening and category research. Industries, trends, and search volumes are constantly changing and brands must stay agile to keep succeeding. 

Re-evaluate your content pillars at least quarterly to make sure you are continuing to provide content that your audience finds engaging and useful. Position yourself as a trusted authority through your content, and you’ll already be top-of-mind when readers are ready to make a deal.