If you’ve ever created or inherited a content strategy, you know the feelings of frustration when things don’t go to plan.
The sense that things are not on track, even when publishing velocity matches what you set out. Or the uncertainty that you’re moving the needle, especially if you’re not hitting your growth targets. Or the pressure to build an SEO moat to prove the ROI of your content.
Content strategy is at the core of what we do as content marketers, and yet there’s no one size fits all approach. What can help is looking at other people’s strategies and finding common denominators. I’ve noticed every successful content strategy has some sort of “atomic unit” that the rest builds off of. Historically this has been keywords that match business intent, but companies are evolving and changing this model.
Even when things feel out of whack, knowing your center of gravity (COG) helps you continue driving the strategy forward. Below are three examples of real-life content strategies, each with a unique focal point.
Contento is a B2B SaaS startup that offers a headless CMS for marketing websites. We touched on this in our global content strategy guide, but a headless CMS delivers content through an API or web service without a graphical user interface. It allows developers to access content from any device or platform, such as websites or mobile apps.
They have two main audiences: developers and non-technical marketers. They differentiate from other headless CMS providers by creating content for non-technical folks
“I'm writing the content to try and make it accessible to a similar audience, but broadening it beyond the tech people into marketing,” said Alan Gleeson, CEO and Founder. “We're trying to educate the marketing side of the fence rather than the technology side.”
Their resources consist of:
In a nutshell, their content strategy centers around SEO. “We did some keyword research around some broad topics, where we could see that there was some decent volume, but the competition wasn't excessive,” Alan said.
He’s also been doing guest posts and podcast appearances to boost the site’s domain authority. As the company grows, Alan plans to shift the COG from keyword-driven content for marketers to content for developers, which will involve pulling insights from technical SMEs.
Making SEO the atomic unit of their content strategy keeps KPIs simple. Their overarching goal is to have five or six of their target keywords in the top ten positions in Google later on in the year.
It can be tempting to make your center of gravity SEO, but this isn’t always the best move, especially for new sites. In a podcast episode, Ethan Smith, CEO of growth agency Graphite, recommends waiting to invest in SEO until you have:
If you start ramping up SEO without having these benchmark metrics first, the results can be slow and frustrating. And there are alternatives, as you’ll see below.
Scribe is a great example of a company that is evolving from a keyword-driven center of gravity to a use-case one. They’re a mid-sized SaaS company selling a freemium productivity tool with paid plans starting at $23/month.
Scribe is built for client-facing knowledge workers who are always answering questions, building process documentation or training team members. It lets you record your screen, and instead of giving you a video, Scribe uses AI to create a written how-to guide with annotated screenshots.
Their content verticals consist of:
“We evolved from vertical-centric content to prioritizing use cases,” said Lauren Funaro, the Content Editor for Scribe. “From the SEO perspective, we're really garnering success from publishing content with high intent that our product is a solution for.”
Put simply, they’re focusing on what a user needs and aligning their content with those needs.
“We've been able to create a pretty fully-fledged strategy around what that pain is, which is people need to develop documentation,” Lauren said. “They're looking for templates. They're looking to make their lives easier and work faster.”
Their two-way communication with users is done through their community Slack group, support channel, and onboarding calls that the product marketing team supports. So they’re able to hear the words people use when describing the tool, see templates people are creating themselves, and then optimize and research those content ideas for SEO through Ahrefs.
Since they started focusing on use case centric content as well as user-generated templates, they’ve diminished their publishing velocity from 100 blogs per month to about 40 per month. In the future, Lauren is toying with the idea of creating content that’s not SEO optimized but provides hacks and solutions for users.
The last example, Testimonial Hero, deviates from SEO and uses their podcast as their center of gravity. They’re a media company that produces both remote and in-person B2B testimonials. Their primary audience and, by proxy, podcast guests, consists of mid-senior level B2B SaaS marketers and salespeople.
“The podcast was a good way to get a big meaty piece of content and then repurpose it since we don't have a full-time writer to create content,” said VP of Revenue Dustin Tysick. “We're also a video production company, so we're playing to our strengths.”
As with most podcasts, the actual full episodes get way fewer listens than the repurposed clips. So they use podcast clips as a “demand lure” for LinkedIn ads, then retarget their audience with traditional video or image ads. They then use YouTube clips to magnify their audience reach and get more eyeballs on their content.
They’re also very strategic about who they choose as guests. Bringing “micro SaaS influencers” onto the show helps them amplify their message. Additionally, they bring ideal customers onto the show as a way to network, build familiarity with their company, and form connections.
Their KPIs involve measuring how many podcast guests turn into customers, which LinkedIn posts serve as first-touch attribution, and views growing across channels.
To recap, the three examples highlighted in this article show the power of having a center of gravity in your content strategy:
Trial and error is key here—there’s no denying that content strategies are living documents that will change and evolve over time. But having an anchor, whether that be a podcast or use case content, will help your strategy succeed in whichever season it’s in.