(Blade Creative Branding Blog, April 2015.)

Content SilosIn content marketing, many professionals decry marketing “silos,” meaning different campaigns or components are separated from each other and exist as their own things. The next evolution of content marketing will not be larger hubs for content or even necessarily bigger content, but networks of content, or ecosystems of content designed like an interactive game.

Online, people will sometimes stumble across a topic, a Wikipedia page, or some event and “go down the rabbit hole” following it through to a number of other associated pages, spending hours. True exploratory interactivity triggers peoples’ curiosity, and it’s that curiosity we want to code into campaigns themselves. That is the momentum we want to capture.

Think of it like a Google Analytics goal flow, where we can track the user’s journey from clicking an ad, to going on the site, selecting a product, going to check-out, and buying a product. But it’s about content and the user has the freedom to explore it like a game. The momentum comes from them exploring a system of smaller pieces allowing content creators to influence the flow.

Ecosystem Chart

Within this ecosystem, we can control which path the user takes like an “audience funnel.” It won’t just be that the content is dumped on the internet in the hope people stumble across it. For example, let’s say the client is a pet store. We can decide to guide people to the Ebook landing page through social media, ads, or wait for people to find it. The ebook is about how to groom your pet. On that page, maybe we decide that we want to highlight a blog post about the best groomed pets of 2014, listing some exceptional (possibly curated) entries from dog shows. We then want to route the user to a video about a pet owner who describes how pet grooming helped her dog and that it’s not just something reserved for rich owners. From there, we link it to the final conversion, which could be a store, a specific product, or an email list.

Interaction MapThe point is that, even for digital ads and websites themselves, it takes several smaller conversions to reach a final goal. In this way, we can tailor how the content feeds into other content to target different types of buyers. The trick is that the connection needs to be within the content itself. It can’t just be a link above below or aside from the main content; it needs to be an interactive video that links directly from a stage in the game once it’s completed. The final conversion point is coded into the interactivity of that video.

In this model, we utilize the freedom the user desires in their visit, combine it with content that highlights interactivity and exploration, and guide the user through additional channels and pathways woven into the pieces of content themselves. Good content can be used for months or even years, so the network can keep revising and cycling people through it towards a profitable goal.