During Q4 2019 my colleagues and I ran a series of breakfast briefings discussing the key digital changes impacting content marketing today – you can read a full round-up here. There was one key element across all of these briefings which really resonated with the B2B marketers in attendance – the idea of a using central content stack to support their key marketing campaigns.

What is a content stack?

You may have heard the phrase ‘marketing stack’ used to describe the marketing technology a company uses. For example, with a customer database, an email marketing solution and a website powered by a CMS you already have a three-tiered ‘stack’.

But from a B2B marketing perspective, a content stack is far more granular than a martech stack. It is a core set of assets centralizing on a key topic or campaign theme. It follows the theory of ‘content atomization’ – a phrase coined by globally recognized social media innovator Todd Defren – whereby a large piece of content is broken down into smaller pieces for use across multiple platforms.

The IBA International approach to a content stack usually takes the form of creating written or multimedia assets to form a messaging nucleus which can be re-used and re-purposed in a variety of ways.

Help your content get stacked

A campaign-based approach to content marketing may not sound like rocket science, but the beauty of thinking about assets in terms of a content stack means you may be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in your content repository or asset library.

Start by thinking about your key campaign focus, are you trying to ‘verticalize’ your core solution or product set across multiple industries? Or have you got a highly specialized topic apply to one particular vertical market or industry. Either way, start by establishing your high-level message.

Then it’s time to think about building your stack, what content do you need to create or might already have on file? You might be surprised at this stage, you may have relevant white papers, factsheets or blogs sitting on your website, you’ve just never aligned them to a particular core campaign. The opposite can also be true, you may be missing any content developed with your core message in mind.

Creating the content stack is half the battle – next comes the delivery

The ultimate aim of a content stack is to generate and nurture sales leads as they embark on the extra-long buying cycle for a B2B product, service or solution. We have a saying at IBA that you can create the best content in the world, but if you can’t get it in the right place then you may as well frame it and hang it on the wall.

So, once you’ve created a content nucleus for a particular campaign, there’s still work to be done. No atom is complete without electrons bound together by electrostatic force. In the case of content atomization, it’s the delivery mechanisms you choose which provide the electrostatic force to get your content working.

Delivery mechanisms can vary depending on the content in your stack. Can a white paper be localized for individual regions if you’re a large international enterprise? Have you got a thought-leadership article to pitch and place in key media outlets? Can a downloadable asset be used as part of an electronic direct mail or account-based marketing effort? Are you amplifying assets and media coverage over social? There are so many tactics and channels to use to deliver your core content stack.

Industry case in point – get maximum mileage from every piece of content

Most recently we’ve been helping our A&D software client ‘own the theme’ of Industry 4.0 in A&D manufacturing, which in some industries in not a new topic, but in A&D is an important emerging development.

The team moved quickly to create a bylined thought leadership article to be pitched to global A&D publications. This market test was overwhelmingly positive and resulted in 14 placements in tier one A&D publications. Subsequent content stack items were then created, including a white paper and blog hosted as owned media on the client website, shared via social media and used for demand generation in EDM programs.

The campaign has just culminated in a webinar hosted with a leading international A&D publication, attended by 140+ industry experts and potential customers – spanning A&D manufacturers, independent MRO organizations and airlines. We managed to use data from the attendees for a press release on market trends – ensuring our client really owned the theme and blazing a wide SEO trail for them.

Drop the IBA team a note to discuss how you can start building a content stack to boost your SEO and lead generation today!

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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