What Is a Content Pillar? The Foundation for Efficient Content Marketing

6 minute read

Upland Admin

Creating content isn’t easy. But it’s more important than ever.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute reports that 71% of B2B marketers say content has only become more important in the last year. This isn’t exactly surprising when you consider marketers need to create content to fuel every stage of the buy cycle, stand out from the completion, and build trust.

Keeping the content presses churning can be a daunting prospect. Many marketing teams find themselves in a constant state of anxiety as they work to keep calendars and channels full, sales teams happy, and prospects engaged.

Luckily, there’s a better way to fill your content needs without resorting to panic-induced, ad-hoc projects. Content pillars help drive web traffic with better SEO, keep your message consistent, and make coming up with new ideas a breeze.

What Is a Content Pillar?

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 long-form webpages.

Basically, it’s 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.

It can also help you build strong interlinking within your site that can work wonders for your SEO.

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.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Planning for Efficiency (AKA, Working Smarter, Not Harder)

The first step in planning your content pillar is figuring out how you’re going to create that larger piece of content, and strategizing how to get the most out of every section.

Let’s use an eBook as an example. Usually, you’d want to conduct interviews with thought leaders to get their feedback on the topics you’re covering. You’ll also write text that expands upon specific ideas and includes best practices and how-tos. Maybe you’ll collect data to back up those claims and create an infographic to be featured in the eBook.

Whew! That’s already a lot of work, isn’t it? Well, before you dive in, let’s think about how you could turn each of the tasks into content gold mines.

When you conduct interviews, why not record your conversation to capture interviewees’ answers on video? Then, not only can you use their answers to inform the text portion of your eBook, but you can create videos around specific themes covered in the eBook to further promote your content and present your organization as a thought leader. You can also write a blog post on each video produced, which you can then share on social media. The relevant blog posts and videos can also be incorporated into your marketing automation campaigns.

From just one piece of an eBook, you have tons of derivative items filling up your blog, social, and marketing automation channels. You’re also reaching buyers with different formats and can test which works best for your audience to further improve outreach in the future. The same goes for text in an infographic. Splice the text into different sections and turn them into blog posts and emails. Pitch the infographic for syndication or write a guest post about it on an influential site that caters to your target audience. Let’s list out the potential elements from that one eBook:

  • 1 eBook
  • 2 infographics
  • 3 videos
  • 1 guest blog post
  • 15 blog posts
  • 1 webinar
  • 3 unique landing pages
  • 3 outbound email campaigns

The above assets were the basis for an additional 90 (at least!) social promotions.

That adds up to over 100 content assets from 1 content pillar.

Content Pillars and SEO

Creating a web-based content pillar is a powerful way to improve your search engine optimization. Choose a topic your company has deep authority on, and write a broad overview hosted on your website. For each section, link out to blog posts that go in-depth on each subtopic. This hub-and-spoke model keeps your audience engaged, builds strong interlinking, and makes it easy to prioritize new content creation.

Making Content Pillars Work For You

It’s easy to make a lot of content out of a content pillar. If you are writing an eBook, for example, just follow these steps:

  1. Schedule interviews with thought leaders or experts on your topic. Make each of these an independent blog post, and then create social language that promotes each blog. (1 blog post + 3 social promos)
  2. Summarize the main points of your eBook in a video interview. You can promote the video on YouTube or Linkedin and put it on y our site. (1 video + 3 social + 1 blog)
  3. Do original research. Original research is a great way to gain traction for your asset, have other blogs cite your work, and create a meaningful evergreen piece of content. Put your research results in an infographic or break up the stats into snackable graphics.  (1 infographic + loads of organic inbound links + 2 blog posts + at least 3 social promos)
  4. Develop gated landing pages. For each “main asset” in your content pillar, develop a quick and easy landing page. This builds out your site’s total site map (improving SEO) and also gives your company multiple opportunities to capture the contact information of your web visitors. (3 landing pages)
  5. Create email nurture campaigns around the eBook topic. If you did your research and are dedicating resources to building out an entire eBook, the subject matter should interest your target audience. Develop an email nurture campaign around the topic that uses pieces of the campaign to engage users mid-funnel. Marketing automation software makes this easy and provides unique data and insights about each of your customers as they engage with various pieces of content. (3 emails)

Voila! You’ve done it.

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