Many business leaders take a simplified, isolated approach to understanding and evaluating content performance. The top performing content channels de facto become the top priorities of the company depending on the attribution model used.
Rather than providing insightful insights, these biases can actually create blind spots, forcing marketing departments to create limited content silos that prevent them from forming an interconnected content ecosystem.
This ad hoc approach to content creation can lower the cap on your total ROI for content marketing. Without a focused, multichannel marketing strategy that takes into account the complementary roles of different types of content, your business will rely on random content to drive customer conversion. A lack of focus and content coordination can undermine potential marketing ROI, even if the strategy is geared towards focusing on what are called “best performing channels”.
Here content ecosystems play a crucial role in controlling the strategic content creation. By harnessing the value of different types of content to achieve the same goal, you can improve audience engagement, get more conversions, and get more value from your content marketing efforts.
Why you need more than one type of content
Dealing with content in a diverse way does not mean trying to reach every type of consumer. Instead, the focus is on connecting with your target audience in different ways at the different stages of their marketing funnel journey.
A content ecosystem approach can help:
- Increase exposure: By creating a wide variety of content types, your brand will have more opportunities to engage with customers through a variety of channels. Search and social platforms continue to evolve to take advantage of new content formats and even innovate. From the rise of image search and VR to TikTok videos and Instagram stories, search and social platforms are prioritizing prime real estate for written content combined with rich visual and interactive media.
- Win the Convenience Battle: Research shows that 97 percent of shoppers abandoned a purchase because it was impractical. Customers have a similarly high standard of ease of use when consuming content. This could mean listening to a podcast only if it fits the length of their morning routine, downloading a PDF that they can securely access on a mobile device, or finding a video that provides clear step-by-step instructions.
- Create relevant moments: A purchase can be as simple as a one-click impulse, or it can be the result of dozens of hours of research and hundreds of micro-decisions. Each step is determined by a different need and may require you to jump between platforms for information. Some content types are better suited to specific needs or platforms: A successful content marketing strategy will achieve greater exposure with practical and accessible content that optimizes news for different contexts.
Diverse, strategic content creation lubricates the wheels for customers, making it easier for you to get in touch with your brand and reach the end of the buyer’s journey.
Using content types to create ecosystems
Different business strategies require different types of ecosystems. The types of content that make up your ecosystem should be determined by three main factors:
- Gates: What you want to achieve with your content marketing
- Audience: Needs and preferences of your target customers
- Platform: Where your content lives and is disseminated
Now, by the time you start publishing content, you’ve already created an ecosystem (although it may be messy and ineffective). Viewing this ecosystem with a wider lens is one way to make content creation more targeted, measurable, and efficient. A well-defined ecosystem provides a framework for the rest of your execution strategy. It also sheds light on how each piece of content supports your end goals and helps teams avoid wasting time on assets that are low on ROI.
4 types of content ecosystems
Different content ecosystems often contain familiar building blocks. The way these components work together makes the experience distinctive.
To help you define the right ecosystem for your brand, draw from these examples four common content ecosystems, including a suggested content mix for each. Think about the experience you want to create for your clients: what level of quality, personality and personalization can you showcase with your assets to make your experience stand out from the crowd?
Each content ecosystem is based on specific brand goals. In a thought leader ecosystem, content is used as a tool for building industry authority and attracting media advertising:
In contrast, the search ecosystem below is geared towards building its own audience and increasing organic search traffic:
In a lead generation ecosystem, content aims to generate and convert leads through the marketing sales funnel:
Ultimately, the e-commerce ecosystem is designed to generate transactions and encourage repeat customers to:
When planning your ecosystem as a guide for creating strategic content, make sure you also use it to target content to specific stages in the customer journey – including the often overlooked stages of conversion and retention.
With the right content creation ecosystem, marketing departments can focus their resources on content that aligns with organizational goals for ROI.
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