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Defining 8 Content Levels to Shape Your Brand Experience

The numbers behind content say all that we need to know that it is a useful marketing tool.

For reference:

  • Content marketing will cost less but still generate 3x more leads than outbound marketing (Source)
  • 56% of businesses on the global scale are tuning their budgets to allow them to spend more on content and (Source)
  • 72% of companies agree that content marketing increases their leads (Source)

Those are just a few testimonies of how content changes the marketing landscape in favor of a brand.

Most marketers know this too. The challenge crawls in with the kind of content to create, how, and how often.

We take the spotlight to that today, identifying the different content levels that will help build your brand image and perception from the ground up to what you want it to be.

The 8 Content Levels of your brand experience

We have seen a ton of content types already, and we know that there are more to still come in the future.

If you don’t believe that, think back to when there were neither podcasts nor live videos. Today, they are fast becoming a staple for content marketers.

So that you don’t get into a strategy that will be out of touch in a little time, we have taken a different approach.

Rather than discuss the types of content that will yield success for you, we check in on the content levels instead. Thus, you can choose what kind of content to plug into these levels for your brand’s best ROI.

Level #1 Core Content

Your core content is not the foundation of the content marketing strategy.

A wrongful assumption is seeing core content as multiple kinds of content that support different campaigns that you put out. Far from it. The core content should be created such that it, alone, resonates the message throughout ALL of your campaigns without requiring a tweak to fit into any of those categories.

Core content should be amplified on the brand’s primary messaging channel while trickling down into every supporting channel. This means that your blog is not the only place where your core content shows up. If you have a YouTube or Facebook page, and they happen to be your primary channels, they should be amplifying your core content too.

An example of the core content is the brand mission and vision statement.

Once set, they do not change like every other kind of content would. Still, they bear heavily on the direction of your content creation, the user experiences you hope to create, and the overall perception you seek for the brand.

Level #2 Vertical Content

Vertical content does not refer to a single piece of content but a group of themed content.

For more context, let’s take a real-life example of this.

Forbes is a successful magazine and brand today, so much that it has established thought leadership in a lot of niches. Forbes has a mission statement that drives it to curate and cover the most influential leaders in the world in a way that no other brand can manage. That informed the various verticals they have, from 30 Under 30, Billionaires, and Forbes 400 to Self-Made Women.

Under each of these verticals is a myriad of resources and content that supports the vertical itself’s goal—the vertical acts as a cog in the wheel to drive the core content’s message.

Generating verticals like this for your content involves:

  • Understanding your products better
  • Knowing your target audience
  • Establishing segments in the target market and
  • Segmenting your offerings for better in-depth treatment

Level #3 Hub Content

This is an excellent way to follow up with the verticals above.

The hub content is an aggregation of like-minded content contained in the same place.

That said, a vertical can play home to hub content. However, not all hubs are in verticals. This is where things get interesting.

We have seen brands take a different approach to social media than they use on their blogs. It is the same for employing unique strategies for the YouTube audience than on every other social media.

Of course, that allows you to take advantage of such social media’s uniqueness while catering better to the specific needs of the target audience found in such channels.

That is not the discussion for now, though.

When you create like similar on a platform/ channel, it becomes a content hub.

Building the hub right means that your audience knows where to go for a specific type of content.

For example, your blog could be the content hub for whitepapers, surveys, and in-depth research, while the YouTube channel is the hub for show-and-tells. Then, your podcast channel features you talking to other industry professionals, people who have used your products to varying degrees of success, etc.

Level #4 Pillar Content

The pillar content structure is one of support.

You have important content (let’s call this your asset), which is linked to other smaller content.

It needs no telling that the pillar content should be very meaty, and most likely, the final stage of a funnel/ first stage of aggressively capturing leads. That is why you are spending so much time sending your audience there from the other support content.

Let’s retake Forbes, for example.

They could create a pillar content about the top ten billionaires in the world. Supporting content could expose the lives of each one of these billionaires, done one after the other. Each of these supporting contents then creatively links back to the main content, which contains an even deeper dive into the topic.

But doesn’t this sound like a content hub already?

The difference between pillar content and content hubs is simple: focus.

Pillar content focuses on just one topic (billionaires, for example) while hubs focus on related issues (wealthy people: millionaires, multi-millionaires, billionaires, successful start-up founders, young execs, etc.)

Level #5 Campaign Content

It would help if you were not one of those marketers who use this term loosely.

We have heard many marketers refer to ‘campaign content’ as any content they develop in a content marketing campaign. That means they lump all content levels we have discussed so far, as well as the ones coming after this.

Campaign content is specific to those assets you create to elevate your brand’s other kinds of content. Campaign content is so loose, and you can choose to do something outside of the core values (core content) of your brand to get the job done.

Running promotions is one of the most commonly deployed campaign contents in the market. These promotions can be discounts on your product sales/ promise of a better deal than ordinarily available. It could also be a presence at events, speaking engagement, or the organization of such events yourself.

Campaign content level should not be kept running for very long. It can be planned into the content calendar, but it must always have an entry and exit date.

The most reputable brands that we have seen are those who stick to their exit dates. If you are planning on running a campaign, never extend further than your publicly published timeframe. Otherwise, the target market will not take your campaign seriously next time.

PS You can also tie into longstanding campaign traditions to boost your campaign content. Here, you have holiday sales, Black Friday deals, and related considerations to leverage.

Level #6 Skyscraper Content

You won’t always have the time to knock out in-depth and long-form content. Planning it into your content marketing calendar will help you prepare to create such content with better frequency.

Oh, we jumped the gun. Those high-quality, long-form pieces of content are your skyscraper content.

Try to think back to the last skyscraper you saw. No matter how small it compares to the tallest one globally, we bet that it is still very tall. That is the same feel of ‘tallness’ your audience gets when they scroll through your long-form content – hence this name.

Most content marketers face a dilemma in knowing that attention spans are lower these days – and they are going down the drain the more.

On the flip side, though, your audience wants long-form and in-depth content from you. If they can get all they need on a topic from you, why go anywhere else?

You don’t have to take our word for it, anyway. Believe these numbers instead:

  • Articles with between 2200 – 2500 words get the most organic traffic (Source)
  • Reading audience spends more time with long-form content (over 1000 words) than they do on short-form content.
  • Longer content does better on Google – which happens to be the most crucial search engine when considering organic traffic (Source)

Level #7 Foundational Content

Foundational content should have come way earlier than now.

We left it till now so that you can understand every other kind of content you will be building on that foundation before you got here itself. We also need to reiterate that your core content is not your foundational content.

The pillar content could be foundational content (but not all pillars are foundational). Your foundational content can also be the start of a campaign, product descriptions, newsletters, etc.

Identify the piece of content that is crucial to each of your content levels. That is your foundational content for that stage.

Level #8 Thought Leadership Content

This came in last, and deservedly so.

Thought leaders – or thought leadership teams – should have a solid understanding of all other content levels before they dive in.

Often, we see supposed thought leaders doing mere content marketing and wondering why they are not making any difference in the market. For the needle to move in your favor, you would have to do it right. One way to do so is to know how to do it wrong to avoid that.

Thought leadership content takes a different approach to every other content level here. Instead of being a direct part of the content marketing exercise, it only seeks to support content marketing.

That is because real thought leadership is never about:

  • Promoting the brand
  • Driving sales
  • Boosting the thought leader’s ego or
  • Always being in the audience’s face.

In retrospect, that is very ironic. Effective thought leadership will drag brand promotion, sales, and boost your engagement/ reach along with it.

To get started with effective thought leadership, check out some of our resources on the topic.

How Do You Fare?

Embracing the different content levels is way more comfortable when you have a dedicated content marketing strategy.

As of now, 69% of B2B marketers use a documented market strategy – and these make the crop of the most successful marketers too. Get planning today, making provisions for the different content levels, and you can start boasting a better level of success with your content marketing.

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