Building “Content Trees” in Your Content Strategy [CMO tip]

Intermediate Level
Written by Luke Summerfield
    Tuesday, 02 July 2013
Building “Content Trees” in Your Content Strategy [CMO tip]

If you're like most CMOs, there's a good chance that you're really interested in Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing but don't quite understand how much content you need to create and how to position, target and promote that content.

In today's blog I'm going to explain a critical structural concept to keep in mind when creating an Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing strategy.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the structure your content strategy needs to have, I want to first mention that the success of your content marketing (and in general) all stems off creating accurate personas and tailoring everything you do around them. Everything.

This is the only way you can truly target and create meaningful content that will change behavior and drive action. If you're not familiar with personas, please read these other great blogs:

Once you've created some solid personas you can now use them to create a content strategy around your personas. In your persona creation step you should have identified certain characteristics that differentiate this persona from others. Things like:

  • Problems
  • Types of solutions
  • Common objections
  • Obstacles to overcome

All of these items that you created in the persona creation step offer different directions you can start creating "content trees" from. 

Creating a "Content Tree"

A content tree is a the basic layout of one content campaign that you're going to use to target one specific persona in one specific stage of the Inbound Marketing funnel.

Step 1: Choose Persona and Stage of Funnel
To create a content tree first pick a persona you would like to target and decide which stage of the funnel you would like to focus on: The top, middle or bottom.

Then you will want to review their persona profile to decide a great topic for a premium content piece. This topic should target one of those characteristics identified in the persona creation process. Things like questions, problems and objections and needs that this specific persona has in that specific stage of the buying process.

For Example: We may have a persona, "Marketing Mike". After talking to our sales team, we know that Marketing Mike has 5 characteristics he looks for when selecting a vendor. We also are seeing a lot of drop off in the middle of the funnel and know that this is the typical point where prospects start evaluating vendors.

So our persona is Marketing Mike and we are targeting him in the middle of the funnel.

Step 2: Decide on the Topic & Create the Tree Trunk
Based on the persona and the stage of the funnel they are in, you will then want to decide the most influential topic that you can create a large, premium piece of content around.

The media you choose to create this topic around will depend on your persona. Some personas may have a preference for ebooks and others may prefer webinars. You will want to pick one media to start with, however, remember that the best strategy is to reposition each piece of content into a wide arrange of media options.

An Example: We decided on using ebook format because from our past experience we know Marketing Mike likes reading PDF's over watching video. Our Marketing Mike middle funnel offer we decide on is "The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a (insert industry) Partner".


Step 3: Create Supporting Content & Create Tree Branches
The next step to creating a successful content tree is to start developing ideas for content that you can use to support your premium content. Many times these can be blogs but also could be other smaller pieces of content (memes, infographics, video, etc) that you can use to help support and promote your premium content piece.

One of the best ways to create tree branch content is to simply look at your premium piece of content and pull 5-6 points from it that you can expand or reposition into blog posts.

Once created, you will want to surround that tree branch content with call to actions focused around driving downloads to your premium content piece. This makes sense, if someone is coming to your website to read one of these "tree branch" blogs, then they are probably very interested in downloading your premium content download on the same topic.

An Example: We've created the middle funnel offer for Marketing Mike, "The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a (Insert Industry) Partner". In this ebook, we talk about 15 key considerations that you must look at when choosing a new vendor.

We will pick 5-6 of those points in the ebook and expand on them into blog posts. These blog posts will also be targeted towards Marketing Mike and the middle of the funnel. One example title might be, "Why Education is Critical for a (Insert Industry) Partner".

I'd also suggest picking 1-2 of these topics and writing guest blog posts that you can place on blogs that are "hot beds" for visitors who fit the Marketing Mike persona. You can see if the blog will allow you to link directly to your premium content offer and if not, link to the supporting blogs on your website with CTA's for the premium download.


Step 4: Promote Your Tree Branch Content
In addition to promoting your actual premium content offer, you will also want to promote your tree branch content. You can leverage all your communication channels to help get the word out about all this great content.

Posting on relevant social media, create targeted Marketing Mike (middle funnel) email lists and promote the content to that list, include in your monthly newsletter, etc. There are many ways to promote this great content and people will be excited to read it because it has real value to them.


Once you have done this for middle funnel Marketing Mike, you will then need to go back and do the same process with every other persona in every other stage of the funnel.

Additionally, this is just one step of the Inbound Marketing process (lead conversion). You will also need to leverage lead nurturing campaigns, relationship building and other pieces of the Inbound Marketing process to help drive qualified leads to the sales team.

This is the global overview of a successful way to structure your content strategy, but I hope this helps get the gears in your head turning. If you'd like me to review some content topics/strategies, I'd be happy to in the ASK AN EXPERT section of our website.

Any other comments or questions, please post in the comments below.

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Photo Credit:
Luke Summerfield

Luke Summerfield

Greetings! My name is Luke, Inbound Marketing Specialist here at Savvy Panda. I love helping businesses supercharge their growth via Inbound. When i'm not working, I'm training Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Crossfit.

You can learn more about me on our team page.
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