How to make content marketing the centre of your earned, owned and paid strategy

Despite content frequently being looked at as the answer, that doesn’t mean that it’s always the first solution for your business.

I’m often asked the question “why great content matters”, and that can be very difficult to answer, mainly because despite running a large amount of content campaigns for clients, it’s never a question we would start with first.

Content Strategy

Going back a step, it has to be about strategy. You really need to think about your business goals and marketing objectives.

This could be anything from:

  • Raising brand awareness
  • Improving your SEO and online authority
  • Building your social audience
  • Increasing direct sales or leads
  • etc…

Ideally it will be a combination of all of the above, and more. That way you can have a fully integrated strategy, where everyone is involved towards having success across all of your owned, earned and paid media channels.

Integrated Digital Marketing

Once you have defined this, then and only then, can you start to think about if content is the right way to execute your strategy and achieve the goals you are looking for.

If you’ve decided it is the way to go, great! But in order to visualise what great content looks like, you need to know the goals you’re looking to achieve first – otherwise you’ll never know what success looks like! In some cases you might create something that you consider great, for example, you generate lots of online attention, links and social engagement – but if it’s not valued by your business/client and/or their customers, it’s likely to be wasted or undervalued.

Great content isn’t produced in a silo

When thinking about how to create great content, it’s rarely (if ever) done in a vacuum, this is because there’s so many elements that need to fall into place.


For example, just at BlueGlass we have a team consisting of:

  • Digital strategists
  • Content production specialists
  • Outreach & promotion specialists
  • Biddable media specialists

Each content project is likely to involve someone from each of these teams, because great content alone isn’t enough. You need an audience to tell your story to.

As mentioned above, it’s important to think about strategy and goals at an early stage. But it’s also important to start the outreach and social/paid promotion process early too – otherwise the content you’ve spent so much time producing, may fail to deliver when it comes to getting the attention of high quality publishers or social influencers.

However, If you can get their input and involvement early, you’ll find that they can help you to mold your content into something that’s far more likely to be a success, because that way you’re all working together as part of the same team.


Often the biggest mistake I still see in content is that the metrics of measurement are often very fluffy and beyond loose KPIs, such as links, search rankings or social metrics there’s very little to be able to demonstrate ROI with.

If a video, for example, generates 1 million views, but that doesn’t have any uplift in customer engagement/sales/word of mouth referrals/organic visibility etc (at any point in the customer lifecycle, not just directly) that isn’t really the great success it might be considered. Whereas a video that has 100 views and resonates with your top customers in order to help retain them as loyal customers into the future, is far more powerful. But it’s all about measuring and proving it!

We would very often use software to measure and report on the uplift in organic market share uplift. Closely tracking how the content we have created has contributed towards an increase in online market share, organic leads delivered or directly referred sales. Ultimately proving return on investment, so that it’s much easier to say “the value of that content campaign = x, so let’s do more of it!” – because you’re tying it back to real-world business metrics that matter.

What does great content look like?

When I start to think of great content, I’d think of the following traits, it:

  • Tells your brands story to a targeted audience
  • Resonates with current & potential customers
  • Engages with a social audience, journalists and bloggers
  • Influence sales at consideration buying phase
  • Builds your brands reputation and online authority
  • Grows your audience
  • Useful, insightful, creative, funny, topical
  • Is as concise or as detailed as it needs to be

These can quite clearly tie in with your business goals, it still allows you to be as creative as you need to be with your content, but you’re linking it back to the success metrics that really matter.

There’s a key difference here between your goals and what good content looks like too. SEO isn’t what good content looks like, links should be a by-product of great content and increasing organic visibility is a knock-on effect of publishing content that resonates with your target audience, which is aligned with your SEO strategy.

The goal should be to create the best piece of content on a given subject and to promote it to a targeted and relevant audience. The SEO strategy should be to honestly believe that you’ve created the best piece of content available on the web, and have faith that if promoted well enough the search engines will reward this – because it provides the best results to searchers.

Quality vs Quantity?

There’s certainly a high emphasis on quality over quantity, with bigger campaigns and more focus on less projects. This has involved a large re-education in many ways, where it’s no longer about the number of links you generate, for example, it’s about the quality and the impact that this has from passing authority and link equity.

That said, there’s still an argument for more agile marketing campaigns too.

A huge amount of content that is shared online today is topical, so there’s a big opportunity in being quick onto the latest news story or trending topic.

This often can’t afford the luxury of high quality – as it’s all about being first. So this is where you need to have a team who can think on their feet, and be available to take advantage of any opportunities which may come up within your industry. Then you can add to it and build it up afterwards.

Target audience

It’s always very useful to carefully consider your target audience when creating any content. Quite often the first thought when publishing content is to think of attracting the attention of bloggers and journalists.

Content AuditHowever, that often misses a big opportunity in consumer-led content. Everything you publish should support, re-enforce and strengthen your brands reputation.

This means from a branding perspective it’s vital to consider the impact towards current and potential customers, so that your content can add value and give content that the client/customer wants as well as the user/reader.

If you are a big brand with thousands of customers and subscribers/social followers, wouldn’t it be great to be able to create content which they can engage with and share?

That way, they can become your influencers and they you can help to share your brands story in order to leverage the influence of your content, in addition to the outreach and PR you have lined up.


Define your goals early and integrate content into your overall marketing strategy to get your whole team involved and behind you.
Digital Marketing Synergy

To answer the question “why great content matters”, your marketing strategy should be driven by the key business goals you want to achieve. Content in itself shouldn’t operate in a silo, it should play a key role within a multi-channel strategy which supports you to hit your overall marketing goals and business objectives.

Kevin Gibbons is UK managing director of BlueGlass - he has been involved in digital marketing since 2003 and frequently speaks/writes at industry leading events and publications. Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter.

by Kevin Gibbons
  • Roxy Chan

    Content is the king. No matter how much we try to deny it but content is crucial for digital marketing success. Your content marketing strategy plays an important role in bringing success to your business or website.
    Content marketing strategy is not something that we can come up with in a few hours or overnight. Research is very important to come up with an effective strategy.

  • What a wonderful post !! Precisely written with in-depth information which gives an insight to a newbie as well as pro writers.

    Totally agree with each of your points to consider when planning to write content as your marketing strategy. The step 1 was pretty impressive and one must emphasize on that by taking enough time for researching the company as that is the crux on what you’re going to plant a tree called your Content.

    Indeed, keyword research is utmost important before you start planning your content elements as they will be roots of your content tree, as I have mentioned it earlier. Very few people concentrate on the power of feedback collected by customer survey to be a pin point for popularity of your product of service you are focusing through your marketing strategies.

    A unique, fresh and rich Content is the King, you can win the battle with it as it gives viral effect to the readers through social media. One must consider the influence of social media which contribute to spread your content over a huge population within a short period. The consistent effort on social media can change the whole game and gain overnight popularity which has been proved over and over again. Assessing the impact of the content is the last phase which can give feedback through comments and shares on social networks. Staying tuned with readers and giving satisfactory resolutions to their query gives a positive vibe to your future content too.

  • Excellent post Kevin, thanks! This is one I’ll bookmark. The content strategy model you describe sounds a lot like web presence optimization (WPO), which also ties content strategy to owned, earned and paid media channels. It also incorporates multi-channel marketing metrics, competitive analysis and a feedback loop for continual improvement of content marketing and promotion tactics. Anyone interested can check out What is Web Presence Optimization” here:

  • Hey Kevin- We loved your article and wanted to let you know it was featured in our Monthly Resource Roundup

  • Very detailed analysis of content marketing, completely agree with it.

    Any marketing needs objectives – traffic and views with no clear benefits is useless. One needs to plan well so that after execution, targeted benefits are achieved.

    Speaking specifically, in terms of content marketing – planning, creating, promoting – success! It works every time, but every client has specific objectives, that needs to be kept in mind.

    It is not that expensive too, all you need is a quality infographics, good promotions and getting a link from huff post or forbes… and you get instant success. Rinse and repeat.

    • Thanks for the comment Uttoran.

      “every client has specific objectives, that needs to be kept in mind.” – this is key! And it’s important as an agency to support and challenge that, so that you can put together the best strategy to get results.

      • “Every client has specific objectives, that needs to be kept in mind.”

        Very true, Kevin. I’ve heard grouses from clients who’ve had bad experiences with previous agencies they’ve hired. Agencies NEED to open their ears and minds, and find out their clients’ needs. They get too overzealous sometimes and forget that clients have needs too.

  • What a great post, something that customers don’t always understand and is exactly the reason why strategy is so important. I am intrigued with how you demonstrate this point thou “a video that has 100 views and resonates with your top customers in order to help retain them as loyal customers into the future, is far more powerful.” I understand totally that quality over quantity is the way to go, but how do you prove the video has retained your clients? Thanks so much!

    • Thanks Ruth – it’s more of an analytics/attribution modelling issue in a lot of ways…

      But if you can narrow it down to that exclusive target audience and measure the impact closely in terms of average LTV you should be able to start tracking the value behind it.

      Hope that helps!

  • Love this so much.

    Great for bringing teams together with a simple overview of the content that is expected.

    Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.


    • Thanks Charlie – I really don’t think it needs to be over-complicated at all, it’s just simply getting everyone on the same page and sharing that vision together.

      • Kevin, can’t say I have heard the term vision ever being associated with content marketing before, but it makes so much sense!

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