A content marketing strategy is crucial for long-term content marketing success. Why is that? Well, first of all if you don’t set goals you’ll never know how to measure your success. However, a strategic content roadmap not only clarifies goals but also defines actions that will get you there. Having a strategy thus is important to ensure sustainable and healthy growth for your business.
Companies achieving strategic growth have a clear competitive advantage in the market.
Now, the challenge is to develop a target-aimed strategy keeping all the important factors in mind. There are some old but gold tools for strategy development that can be easily applied to content marketing, too. In this article I’ll show you how to use a classic such as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix for developing your own custom-tailored content marketing strategy for long-term success.
The Concept of the BCG Matrix
The BCG Matrix visualizes the relationship between market growth and market share. Both axes are cut off in the middle creating four fields representing different strategic business units. Since the fields also depict the common product lifecycle going from Question Mark to Poor Dog, corresponding investment strategies can be derived from a product’s position in the matrix.
Question Marks can both take off and become very successful or fail in the long run. They’ve just entered the market and still need to position themselves against competitors. Stars are the products with the highest potential. They are promising business assets of a company as they’re normally in a period of rapid growth. Cash Cows on the other hand need to be milked as long as possible before they get to the end of their saturation phase and become a Poor Dog. Poor Dogs are those products that depending on their criticality either need to be revived or taken off the portfolio.
The BCG Matrix for Content Marketing
The same principles can be applied to content assets too. In order to create a matrix for your content marketing topics I suggest comparing traffic numbers since the necessary data is easy to access. Google’s Keyword Planer, for instance, shows you the development of search volume for a specific term over time. With the help of this data you can then calculate the Traffic Growth Rate.
Most of the time I am writing for the linkbird blog on which we tackle topics like SEO, Content Marketing and Online PR. So I’ve looked at relevant search terms such as “storytelling”, “keyword research”, “white hat SEO”, and “on page SEO” at two different points in time – in December 2014 and in November 2015. I’ve then calculated the Traffic Growth Rate with the help of the formula above.
Secondly, I’ve checked the visitor numbers for articles we’ve published on the topic to decide for our absolute traffic share. Since competitors’ traffic data is hard to get I’ve calculated the relative traffic share dividing the absolute traffic share by the search volume from November 2015 as the highest possible traffic potential. The following Excel sheet serves as data base for the matrices below.
What the Content Marketing Matrix Tells Us
Both matrices look at our content portfolio but in different ways. While the relative traffic share in comparison to the overall traffic growth rate visualizes how our content is positioned on a micro level taking potential competition into account, the absolute traffic share compared to the overall traffic growth rate reflects how our topics are positioned on a company level without considering the absolute traffic potential in the market.
Combining the evidence of these two graphs I can now derive recommended actions for sustainably optimizing my content portfolio and in consequence my traffic numbers.
While the topics “keyword research” and “traffic” pretty much keep their positions in both matrices, “storytelling” moves from Question Mark to Star and “white hat SEO” makes its way from Cash Cow to Poor Dog. These movements are in line with the topic lifecycle depicted by the BCG Matrix according to which content starts off as a Question Mark and finally ends up as a Poor Dog.
“Keyword research” is the clear winner in our topic portfolio. Looking at both relative and absolute traffic share it has a stable Star position. We should thus invest in the content assets we have for this topic pushing them further and strengthening our expert position in the area. This way we can perfectly leverage the topic’s high traffic potential while extending our traffic share even further.
“Storytelling” is the second promising topic we tackle. Traffic growth rate is high and on an internal level it is one of the topics driving most traffic to our blog. However, in comparison to the absolute traffic potential this theme has in the market it becomes clear that there’s still room for improvement. We thus need to invest time and resources into distributing this content asset and making it Star content not only on company level but in comparison to potential competitors too.
“White hat SEO” on the other hand is a Cash Cow in the left hand matrix due to its rather high relative market share. Looking at the topic from an internal perspective however shows that the topic doesn’t bring any considerable traffic in comparison to the big traffic drivers “keyword research” and “storytelling.” We can thus simply leave this content asset as it is without putting too much effort into it. This topic doesn’t get too interesting until its traffic growth rate rises again.
“On page SEO” is the Poor Dog in our content portfolio. Due to its rather low traffic growth rate and its very small traffic share we now need to evaluate if it makes sense to invest into pushing this topic any further or if we should let it go. Since “on page SEO,” due to latest developments in the SEO industry, has been largely replaced by “content marketing” and “user experience” it seems reasonable to move away from the topic “on page SEO” and instead take a new and different approach to related topics. This means creating new content assets for other keywords whose development you can then again evaluate with help of the BCG Content Matrix over time.
Wrapping It Up
The BCG Matrix can be easily applied to Content Marketing and is a good indicator for your content’s traffic potential in the long run. It visualizes a topic’s lifecycle from beginning to end and thus derives corresponding content strategies. You can use the tool as an internal traffic radar on which you can base your strategic content marketing decisions.
There are many more traditional strategy tools that can be applied to content marketing. Naming all of them would have gone beyond this article. But maybe I can present you another one in my next post. So stay tuned and let me know in the comments below which strategy tools you use for your content marketing or which ones you’d like to learn more about.