Whether you’re just getting started in the content marketing game, or you’ve just been tasked with building out a new content team, identifying a handful of content themes to focus on is one of the most important exercises in developing a content marketing strategy.
In this post, we’ll cover the “what”, “why” and “how to choose them”, and then dig into how they are used as part of your ongoing brainstorming and day-to-day content planning process. Ready? Let’s do it…
What are Content Themes?
In simple terms, content themes act as high-level buckets of topics that align with both your company’s goals and your audiences’ needs, and guide your brainstorming and content planning efforts.
Choosing a limited selection of themes when you’re planning your content calendar ensures that you focus on topics that meet the needs of your audience and represent your brand. You also prevent yourself from haphazardly creating content on any topic that takes your fancy.
There are several benefits to this approach:
- Brand Authority: You’ll strengthen your brand and gain authority as an expert in your chosen areas.
- Better SEO: Limiting the breadth of your content helps with SEO. Search engines can more easily categorize your site.
- Easier Topic Ideas: Limiting content to themes can actually make it easier to come up with topic ideas, as you won’t be paralyzed by too much choice.
- User-Friendly: Categorizing your content into 4-6 themes makes it easier for users to navigate and find the information they need.
Hubspot refers to content themes as “topic clusters” and explains how they can be beneficial for SEO in this short video.
Why Content Themes Work for You
If you visit the blog of any brand known for their excellent content, you’ll see that they limit their content to several key themes.
For example, here at DivvyHQ, our main themes include:
- Content strategy
- Content marketing/software
- Content/editorial calendars
- Content planning
- Content automation
- Content analytics
Apart from general news and updates, all content on the DivvyHQ blog fits into one or more of these categories or themes. This post comes under “content marketing” and “content strategy,” for instance.
Defining these key themes means that our marketers and writers have a starting point for coming up with new content ideas. And our audience (aka you!) knows what to expect when they visit our blog.
Randomly publishing content about wider topics outside the scope of these main themes could lead to some marketing blunders. This would dilute our marketing messages, risk confusing or annoying our regular readers, and could be damaging for SEO.
In some cases, less is most definitely more. It’s better to focus on just a few themes and explore them fully. A scattershot approach that has no theme or focus would muddle your message.
How to Choose Your Content Themes
Before deciding on your content themes, you need to be clear on what messages you want to convey via your content.
Your marketing messages should account for both your organization’s values and offerings and your audiences’ challenges and pain points. It should focus on that cross section where your company’s subject matter expertise meets your customers informational expectations.
If you already have an overall marketing strategy in place then you should have already defined your brand’s messages. If not, you need to go back to basics with your brand messaging strategy. You must come up with several statements that sum up what your business stands for.
The content themes adopted by DivvyHQ align with our business goals and the needs of our customers:
- Maintain alignment with your content marketing strategy
- Organize and simplify your content planning and production processes
- Track content performance
- Create better content
Your themes may be guided by service areas for your business or different markets you target. But they must relate back to your underlying business goals and marketing messages.
It’s also essential that each theme you choose should have enough scope to keep producing content for the long-term. A theme that’s too narrow means you will quickly run out of topic ideas. This will make it difficult to keep producing content.
Ask yourself: “Can I keep producing engaging content under this theme for years to come?”
Using Content Themes to Structure Your Content Marketing
Once you’ve decided on your main content themes, you can use them to form the structure of your content marketing plan. This will ensure you’re covering all your key marketing messages in your content planning.
Content themes become your foundation for brainstorming and then, eventually, article titles and ideas for each individual piece of content.
Think of your content as a tree where your marketing messages form the trunk. The themes represent the main branches, sub-topics sprout from the minor branches, and they grow leaves, your individual pieces of content.
This is a top-down approach focused on the needs of your audience and your business goals. This goes counter to the keyword-focused approach that may have produced positive SEO results in the past. That old way is certainly not recommended now.
Instead, you can use your themes and topics as a basis for your keyword research as illustrated in this slide by Mike Corak.
Mapping out your content to a particular theme will help you to assess how much content you need. It will also help ensure that you have an even distribution of resources across your themes and topics. Individual team members can be assigned to “own” certain themes or subject matter areas, and they may be responsible for regularly pitching their ideas to cover their theme.
Changing and Updating Themes Over Time
You should decide on your content themes with your long-term goals in mind. Theme-driven content should keep providing value to your audience for many years to come. However, this doesn’t mean that your content themes are set in stone.
As your business grows and evolves, your content should do the same. Look at your content strategy and make sure that your main themes are still aligning with your business and marketing strategy.
Maybe you’ve taken on a new line of business. In this case it would make sense to add a new theme to your content repository. Or maybe your audience needs have changed and you need to adapt your content to suit.
Reviewing your content strategy at regular intervals will give you an opportunity to identify these changing needs. That way, your content themes are still relevant and represent your core business goals.
Crafting a Theme-Driven Content Strategy
Do you need help nailing down your main marketing messages or content themes? Maybe you’re looking for a more streamlined way of plotting out your content?
A robust content marketing platform can help you to organize all your content and campaigns across multiple platforms, with full visibility for your entire team.
If you’d like to learn more about how DivvyHQ can assist your content planning, collaboration, and workflow, get in touch today for a free 14-day trial.