Struggling to achieve the results you’re looking for with your B2B content marketing?
It’s time to embrace pillar content.
This is one of the most effective elements of any content marketing strategy, but it has to be done right.
It takes time. It takes research. And it takes work.
But it’s worth it. Content marketing generates more than three times the leads of outbound marketing at over 60 percent less expense, and a pillar page is content at its best.
What is pillar content?
We’ve established that pillar content is important to your B2B marketing strategy. But what actually is it?
It’s more simple than you may imagine if you’ve never encountered the term before. A pillar page consists of long-form content, much deeper and more comprehensive than you might be used to.
These pages consist of thousands of words, breaking beyond the bounds of a standard blog post, article, or news story on your site. Pillar content is designed to deliver an in-depth answer to a user’s question, on almost any topic under the sun.
While providing maximum value should be the aim of all content, this is absolutely the case with pillar content. The scope is broader, the arguments are supported by accurate data, and the subject matter is discussed in the most engaging way it can be.
But pillar content doesn’t begin and end on one page. It links to various other types of content on your site, related in one way or another to the core topic. A good, well-written, well-designed pillar page is a fantastic way to interlink numerous pieces of content created over a number of months or years.
For example, you might create a pillar page offering a deep dive into the mechanics of a race car, but connect to other relevant posts you’ve written covering engine components, tire maintenance, brake pads, etc.
The key word here, though, is relevant.
All posts, articles, infographics, videos, etc. you link to in your pillar content must be related to the main theme.
Here are a few benefits of adding pillar content to your marketing strategy:
- Pillar pages are evergreen, offering the same value to readers over time
- Strong pillar content can attract social shares and backlinks
- Comprehensive, engaging, fact-heavy content can help encourage visitors to stay on your site for longer
- Search engines prefer long, high-value, relevant content, so your pillar pages have a chance of ranking higher than standard pages
But now that we’ve defined pillar content, we face the next — and harder — part of the creation process: generating ideas.
Key factors to consider when creating ideas for B2B pillar content
You can’t pull great ideas out of thin air. If only that were possible. We’d all be creating high-ranking content every day of the week.
But you can make it easier on yourself by answering the following questions:
- What do your target buyers have in common, aside from their pain point(s)?
- What questions does your audience have that you haven’t answered on your website yet?
- What are your competitors doing to answer buyer questions and provide them with high-value content that drives traffic?
- What types of content are most appropriate for your brand, mission, and audience?
Take time to think these questions over. Try to be honest and sincere with your answers.
But we’ll make it easier: let’s look at each question a little deeper to explore how they can help you generate ideas for your B2B pillar content.
Knowing your audience: Addressing critical needs and expectations in your pillar content
Your B2B buyers have their own goals, their own pain points, and their own clients to consider. It’s easy to think of them as just your customers, but they’re real people with their own audiences to satisfy.
And a key part of satisfying an audience is knowing them:
- Who are they?
- What is their occupation?
- Who are their customers?
- Why are they buying your products or employing your services?
The better you know your audience, the better you can serve them. Research shows this will pay off, too, with it costing between five and 25 times more to secure new buyers than to keep existing ones.
Another way to approach this process is to consider what unites your audience, despite their obvious differences. Your business is providing buyers with a solution to a problem, in one way or another. So, think about the objectives, lifestyles, issues, or working conditions they all have in common.
Your B2B clients may span multiple industries and demographics, but they’ll all share connections.
Perhaps they supply technology or software and need tips on communicating complex topics. Maybe they help people find the right insurance package but struggle with customer engagement.
Create a flowchart (Lucidchart, Mindomo or even Google Slides are great options) highlighting those connections, and come up with ways to provide value. Make a note of any ideas that come to mind, no matter how vague, and flesh them out later. For each idea you conceive, try to find as many sub-ideas to fit within a potential pillar page as possible.
The page with the highest number of sub-ideas wins.
Fulfilling unmet needs: Catering to your audience
Hopefully, you meet your B2B buyers’ every need.
But we have to assume you don’t if you’re to create valuable pillar content.
Look to your customers, their pain points, and the content you already feature on your website. Ask yourself:
- Are there any questions you haven’t answered yet, and if not, are there any that warrant a deeper insight?
- Which existing content on your site has potential to be expanded?
- What information or resources do your B2B customers expect when they visit your website?
- Which issues are people like those you target discussing on forums or social media?
The aim is to identify any and every gap you can. And the more you spot, the more ideas you’ll generate for your B2B pillar content.
Don’t be afraid to study your competitors, either. Check out their sites to assess what pillar content they’ve created — if they’ve created any at all.
If not, this gives you a tangible edge. And if they do have pillar content? Explore how you can go deeper than they have or focus on areas their page might overlook.
The matter of format: The right content for the right audience
Your pillar content must feel authentic and true to your brand. You can’t invest days and weeks building a comprehensive page linking across your site if it’s totally out of sync with your business as a whole.
You have multiple content formats to incorporate into your pillar page:
Text will make up the bulk of your pillar content, so you have to get this right. It needs to be written well and formatted in a clear, eye-catching style. Leverage white space to prevent the page appearing cluttered, and use short paragraphs to break blocks of text up.
Video is one of the most engaging, popular types of content. In fact, more than half of marketing professionals across the globe cite video as generating the best ROI of any form of content. The video below is a short piece of content we use to describe one of our main downloads – How to Use Empathy Maps for B2B Technology Marketing. Videos like this are a great way to break up the major text areas of a pillar page.
Just make sure to keep videos concise and appropriate to your brand. If your business has a wholesome image, an animation packed with foul language or violent imagery is obviously a poor fit.
The same applies to infographics, images, and audio, too. Look at your existing content and analyze its performance:
- Which types attract the most engagement?
- Which keep visitors on the page for longer?
- And which lead to the most conversions?
Here are two examples:
- Can you take a series of tutorial videos and adapt them into a long pillar page, linking to the original videos throughout?
- Do certain product or service images answer potential questions, and can they form the basis of your pillar content?
Take the time to evaluate your audience, your brand, and the type of content your B2B clients have responded to well in the past. Find inspiration wherever you can.
Creating a high-value pillar page has serious potential for real rewards. Get it right, and your pillar content will increase traffic, secure shares, and lead to conversions.
But generating ideas for B2B pillar content can be daunting, especially if this is your first attempt. Follow the steps discussed above to make the entire process easier for yourself.
And, if you pull it off, your audience will place more trust in your business and view it as a primary resource for reliable information.
Do you have any other tips for generating ideas for B2B pillar content?
Written by Tristan Pelligrino
Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.