What is the content stack?

May 17, 2020

Most people have heard of the idea of a “technology stack” – a set of technologies where each fills a specific role in getting something done.

A web development stack might have: A database, a backend language for things that happen on the server, and a frontend language that controls interaction with the user. A marketing technology stack might have: Email marketing software, CRM, web analytics, and a bunch of other stuff that all works together to run all of marketing.

People think about the “stack” as something technical – and the term does in fact have a technical origin – but all it means is a bunch of different solutions for smaller problems, working together to solve a larger problem.

We think that this “larger problem” exists for content marketers today – and so we like to talk about “the content stack”.

What’s the content stack?

There was a time that you could produce content, distribute it digitally, and know that in many cases, it would generate revenue for your business.

A reasonably good article might rank on Google, and draw someone to your site. And you might not have a lot of competition, so that visitor would probably be interested. Then some proportion of those visitors would reliably convert to leads that you could close.

Today, there’s a lot more competition than ever before – lots of other channels, lots of other content, and lots of other products.

Far more content is being produced, which means getting people to click on your article is harder. There are more channels, which means visitors are spending less time overall on any one channel. Once a visitor arrives on your site, you have very little time in which to convert them to a lead. And even once they’re a lead, odds are there are more products competing for the deal than there might have been a few years ago.

In the past, you could ask your content marketers to produce whatever seemed right, but today, that doesn’t solve those problems. Instead, you need a solution for the entire “content stack” – creating the right content, distributing it across all your channels, ensuring that visitors convert when they land. And of course there’s also strategy and analytics that underpin all of this.

Components of the content stack

Production: In some ways, this is the part of the content stack that’s most straightforward to solve. How do I convert my ideas about what to produce, into (generally written) content? This used to be enough, all by itself, but now it’s the foundation of a successful content performance strategy.

Distribution: Once your content has been produced, how do you get it into visitors’ hands? Organic search is an important channel to master, so as part of your content stack, you’ll need to consider whether your website is set up for SEO from an organization and technical perspective, whether your content is indexed efficiently, and so on. But there are so many other channels as well. For social, are you using the right hashtags? Do your reps know about their content, and can they easily distribute it to prospects? What about customer success? Email?

Conversion: If you can produce the content, and effectively distribute it, that’s important. But for new visitors, are they actually converting to leads? This is where landing page best practices, high-quality copy, and easy-to-use forms come into play.

Strategy: You’ll need a strategy that underpins all of this. We really like using search data as a general guide to what you should create – the data is public, it’s easy to use and verify, and it’s easy to understand. But you’ll also need to consider things like what’s relevant to your business right now, and where in the funnel you should focus.

Analysis: Rank tracking is important, and so are clicks. But ultimately you want to see, for each piece of content, how many conversions it led to, and ideally, what kind of revenue that generated. Other important pieces of data include form conversion rates over time, for example.

Conclusion

If you want your content to perform, you have to produce high-quality content that’s valuable to your customers. But there’s so much else to address to make sure that content reaches them, and generates revenue for your business. If you’d like to talk more – we’re happy to; reach out anytime.


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