9 Steps To Creating A Successful Content Pillar Strategy

Dec, 21 | 01 min read
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Content Pillars — There is a possibility that you might have never heard the term before. But if you’re running a content marketing program, chances are you’ve worked with content pillars in the past without knowing about it!

A content pillar is simply an in-depth piece of content, such as an eBook, whitepaper, video, or research report, which can be broken into many smaller assets, such as blog posts, infographics, and emails.

content pillar graphic
Source: Pixabay

The name is pretty appropriate if you think about it.

Running a content program can be highly challenging at times. If you don’t find ways to repurpose and reuse content, your program can easily collapse, burying your marketing team in a heap of unfinished, one-off projects.

Content pillars help you get clarity on your niche, while also building trust and helping your audience grow faster. This, ultimately, provides the support you need to strategize and produce a large volume of organized, related content in a short time.

Table of Contents

TL;DR

  • Content pillars are topics your brand will consistently discuss, amplify, and create content for on social media.
  • Content Pillars help to target content to the right audience at the points that they need it.
  • White papers, eBooks, videos, social media campaigns, blog series, courses, webinars, infographics, LinkedIn presentations can be different forms of content pillars.
  • Repurpose your content and add a reminder to your calendar to keep your content pillars fresh and up-to-date.

What Are Content Pillars?

A content pillar is a substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme that can be broken into many derivative sections, pieces, and materials. Examples of content pillars include eBooks, reports, and guides.

In simple terms, a content pillar is a large piece of content that you can turn into many smaller pieces of content to fuel all those channels you’re currently struggling to fill.

By focusing your attention on creating a single content pillar, it’s easy to break that finished piece into blog posts, infographics, videos, emails, social media updates, and more, to attract different kinds of buyers through different channels.

This method is an efficient and process-driven way to cover all of your content bases—and deliver the right content to the right buyer at the right time.

Importance Of Content Pillars In Content Marketing

Creating content pillars is the best tactic to quickly rise in the ranks of search engines. This is a long-lasting approach to content marketing that won’t become outdated. Since this is not a method to game or cheat the system, algorithm updates are unlikely to break it.

Search engines want content that is valuable, well organized and has a user-friendly experience for the reader.

By organizing content in the pillar approach, you’ll be telling search engines that you care about the reader and want them to have a good experience with the content.

In the end, the algorithm will reward you by placing your content at the top of their pages. Gaining high organic search engine rankings will lead to increased website traffic, resulting in more leads.

Examples Of Content Pillars

Do you have a project that you'd like to promote with a content pillar? Fortunately for you, content pillars come in a variety of forms and shapes.

White Papers

White papers are used to persuade you, with evidence, that their particular solution is best for the client. These are typically more formal and informative than an eBook or a brochure.

White papers are ideal as a content pillar for businesses that want to present information in a no-frills, and straightforward manner.

Videos

Television commercials are no longer the cornerstones of marketing campaigns, but video advertising hasn't died yet. They've evolved into a new form, usually collaborating with social media to reach audiences.

video shoot for pillar content
Image from Unsplash by Sam McGhee

Videos, particularly well-produced visual content with a concise message, are easily shared online. A video may even go viral once in a while, bringing new eyes to your company's campaign.

Videos are fairly memorable and catch the attention of an audience, which is why they work fantastically well as a content pillar for a marketing campaign.

eBooks

eBooks (short for electronic books) perform far better than their physical counterparts when it comes to disseminating information across digital channels. eBooks can easily help you kickstart a campaign because they contain a lot of information in a small package.

kindle ebook reader
Photographer: freestocks | Source: Unsplash

An eBook is usually packed with detailed knowledge about your latest project, infographics, additional article links, and resources.

Ebooks can serve as great content pillars that connect all of your related assets. Add an eBook download to your website and you'll have no trouble getting your message across.

Blog Series

If you want to run a campaign that deals with a difficult or complicated concept, commissioning a blog series might be the best way to go.

Keep your audience coming back for more by introducing a new article each week. A blog series can be beneficial because it can direct more people to your blog and existing content, securing additional views on other valuable pieces of content that you already have up.

A series of posts can also elaborate on complex ideas and explain your project in greater detail, which can provide your site with a consistent amount of return viewers if your series is interesting enough.

Courses and Webinars

Suppose, your campaign is more informative than creative. In that case, developing a course or a webinar to teach your audience about key concepts related to the message of your campaign would be an excellent way to disseminate information about your most recent project rollout.

Social Media Campaigns

Although social media campaigns have only recently gained popularity, their impact is not to be underestimated.

According to a study, 7 out of 10 Americans spend time on at least one social media platform, as social media platforms can quickly distribute your content to millions of people with the click of a button.

Social media campaigns typically necessitate great content as well as a great social media manager who monitors their accounts at all times.

However, social media campaigns, with the right management, could be your quick ticket to reaching audiences of all ages from all over the world.

How To Create Content Pillars That Encourage Conversion: Step-By-Step

The purpose of a content pillar strategy is to provide valuable content to consumers. So you need to focus on your target audience, keyword research, and content calendar. Consider these 9 steps to create content pillars for social media content.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Before establishing content buckets, you must understand your target audience. If you haven’t already, utilize your audience research and analytics to create a customer persona that best describes your target audience.

Ask several questions to establish a detailed persona, including:

  • Who is your customer in terms of demographics and psychographics?
  • What type of content does your customer consume daily?
  • What kind of content has historically performed well with your customer?
  • How does your customer speak or present themselves on social media?

These questions will help shape your content pillars and social media posts and shed light on your brand’s appropriate tone and voice.

Consumers will want to hear themselves echoed in your brand voice and feel connected to your posts, so understanding how your target audience operates across social media is crucial.

2. Identify Your Audience Needs

Once you understand who your target audience is, it’s time to identify their needs.

Which of their pain points can you address through your content? How can you make their lives better or persuade them to purchase a product or service that makes their lives better?

At this stage, pay close attention to social listening. More often than not, common audience needs will be reflected in social media posts and across frequently searched keywords.

3. Conduct Keyword Research

To nail down audience needs and create content that performs, be sure to conduct thorough keyword research.

When you identify specific keyword phrases that consumers care about — and search for often — you can satisfy that need with your content. Your content should offer value, so monitor highly-searched key terms often to determine core content pillars for your social media strategy.

4. Choose A Topic

You’ll want to focus your pillar page on one topic. Think big picture, not just keywords. But it’s also important to not go too big either.

For example, a topic like “sales” would be too broad. There is just too much information on sales in general and your page would get out of control. Instead, hone your focus on a topic like “Inbound Sales”.

5. Sort Into Buckets Of Core Content Pillars

Now that you’ve determined your target audience, their needs, and what they search for, you can finally create your core content pillars.

Begin by creating a master spreadsheet of all keyword phrases or topics you’d like to cover. Then, cluster content based on related subjects. For instance, topics related to keyword mapping or backlinks could both be clustered under the umbrella of technical SEO.

Aim to create three to five content pillars, but do not exceed more than 10 — otherwise, you’ll end up stretching your content too thin.

6. Create A Content Calendar

With content pillars in hand, you can move along to the content planning stage. A content plan establishes a blueprint of the exact blog posts, articles, infographics, social graphics, videos, and other content pieces you’d like to create.

Before content creation, craft a content calendar that includes the post type, desired keywords, and date for publication to maintain a cohesive brand presence across social media.

7. Start Drafting

Gather your research and start to develop your content. You can also break down, recycle and refresh content from an old eBook and align it with your updated keyword research and topics.

As you’re writing, make sure you have internal links under each subtopic to link back to a site page or blog post to allow the reader to discover more information as they need it. Plus, linking your content together allows you to rank higher in search results.

8. Develop And Promote Content

You must begin content creation with your target audience and their needs in mind. Use your noted keyword phrases to develop the body of the content, such as an accompanying graphic and caption, and supplement with related hashtags.

Once you create content, promote it across all platforms, from your blog to your social media platforms, to extend reach and visibility.

9. Repurpose Existing Content Into New Formats

Lastly, always continue your content cycle by repurposing existing content into new formats.

For instance, you can repurpose a pillar article about the future of digital marketing into visual content, like an infographic or video. You can also repurpose the transcript of a high-performing video into a new blog post.

Remember that quality content can take several forms, as long as each form can nestle underneath one of your content pillars.

And there you have it! Following these 9 steps will help you get started with creating content pillars that can boost the effectiveness of your content strategy.

How Do Content Pillars Fit Into Your Content Strategy?

Pillar content provides structure to your overall content plan. It helps you stay focused on what truly matters to your business and your personas.

Pillars allow you to methodically develop deep content that gets noticed and efficiently create supporting material that raises awareness.

The reality of a content strategy is that it can burn you out unless you develop a sustainable content creation process that addresses short and long-term goals and aligns with your entire business. You need efficiency.

That's where a pillar strategy starts making sense.

Realize that your pillars and topic cluster content is evergreen. Consider them always under construction. Maintenance, updates, and additions are needed to keep it performing at a high level for your buyer persona.

At the same time, major updates become an opportunity to relaunch all of those supporting elements across all of your digital marketing and social media assets.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Promoting Content From Your Content Pillar

Once you've created your core topic pillar page, it's time to create a promotion plan. Since pillars are evergreen, you can regularly promote them.

Here are a few ways of promoting content from your content pillar:

  • Make sure they are visible on critical website pages.
  • Share links to them regularly via your social communities.
  • Refer to them in new blog content you create that relates to specific pillars.
  • Consider remarketing ads.
  • Include them in your regular newsletters.
  • Add them to your automated lead nurturing workflow emails.
  • Share links to your pillar in ongoing social media updates.
  • Publish an article related to your pillar page on LinkedIn and other high visibility sites.
  • Create a SlideShare presentation.
  • Distribute an online press release.
  • Mention it in your industry forums.
  • Bring it up during real-life conversations.
  • Don't forget 1:1 emails
  • Encourage your sales and other client-facing associates to share information about the page with customers and prospects.

Final Thoughts

Big and popular brands around the world do not just wing their content strategy. They optimize for conversion using content pillars.

Great content isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision; great content is the culmination of audience research, analytics, and planning hours.

Building effective content pillars that outrank the competition and drive traffic to your brand’s website can be challenging. But the hardest part is knowing precisely what your target audience is searching for and what sub-pillars to create and the exact blogs to write.

Want to gain better rankings, more sales, and higher conversions? Get started with RankToday!

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