Decoding The Authority Marketing Model Of Content Marketing

Authority marketing is a term that has been around from at least the early part of this decade. The strategy revolves around establishing yourself (or your business) as the ‘go-to’ authority for topics related to your industry. In doing so, your brand becomes the face of the industry and thus, a leader in your space.

Public speaking, webinars, and event marketing are some examples of authority marketing that predate the term and have existed for several decades. More recently, content marketing emerged as a ‘poor man’s’ version of authority marketing but has quickly risen to become the most popular and effective strategies. 

An excellent example of this is the help desk startup, Groove. The company grew from basically nothing to over $5 million in revenues solely on the back of content marketing. Today, both Groove and its founder Alex Turnbull are considered authorities in the industry

What Groove did was to use their blog to provide a ‘behind the scenes’ account of their own growth story. This allowed them to offer a unique perspective that was hitherto unavailable. As Groove grew, their content established them as an authority that other entrepreneurs (who are part of their target audience) looked up to.

While Groove’s strategy might have worked for them, that is not necessarily the only way to establish authority in your space.

Understanding your unique offering

Content marketing is commonly done, with great success, with recycled or repurposed content. While this may work for content geared towards SEO or lead generation, authority marketing hinges on originality of thought. Creating a unique hook or angle to your content is vital.

Being a thought leader

It is not easy to adopt this hook. To be a successful thought leader, you must be an exceptional observer of the trends and patterns in your industry. Many a time, you should be among the first in the industry to experiment with and write about these emerging trends.

A good example of authority marketers who adopted this technique is Brian Dean from the SEO blog, Backlinko. He identified a trend among SEO marketers who looked up existing pieces of content on a topic and produced an article that was exceptionally superior to the ones that already exist.

In doing so, these marketers were able to capture backlinks and citations that were otherwise pointing to these relatively outdated pieces. Brian named this technique the ‘Skyscraper technique’ which is today considered one of the core fundamentals of content marketing for SEO.

Dig into your own proprietary data

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to create a hook is by digging into your own proprietary data. Email marketing company Omnisend looked into the thousands of messages sent by their own customer to come up with an original research piece titled, “The best time to send emails”.

Using your organization’s proprietary data gives you insights that are not available with anybody else. Not surprisingly then, such content pieces help in establishing authority in your industry.

If you run a product where you do not own proprietary data, then you may rely on publicly available third-party data to produce unique insights about your industry. For instance, a travel website may apply regression analysis or other statistical models on publicly available information pertaining to flight routes, timings, etc. to come up with unique insights like the best time of the year to fly on-time, or the routes that experience the most turbulence.

There are hundreds of such content topics one could come up with, and this will establish your authority in your industry.

Creating tools and metrics for your industry

Every industry is governed by metrics that is used to measure and segment the various stakeholders. The financial industry, for instance, uses credit scores to segment customers based on their creditworthiness.

In the automobile sector, cars are segmented based on the mileage they deliver, their safety rating, and so on.

A great way to build authority in your industry is by establishing the guidelines and creating tools that help industry watchers define the players. A popular example (albeit not from the content marketing space) is Michelin’s using of their star rating system to classify restaurants.

While Michelin is not really in the food business, they have successfully established their brand as an authority in the fine-dining space.

In the internet world, similar metrics have been designed by companies like Moz that developed an in-house metric called the ‘Domain Authority’ to measure a website’s online authority that defines their ability to rank on Google.

When Google stopped making their in-house metric ‘PageRank’ public, marketers moved on to alternatives like DA that have made Moz an authority in the SEO world.

From a content marketing perspective, perhaps the best example of this is LonelyPlanet’s annual listing of the top places to visit. By producing a scientific list based on emerging travel trends, LonelyPlanet’s lists have emerged as one of the top trusted destination guides in the travel industry.

After the guide featured Iceland in their list, tourism to the country surged, forcing the country to take dramatic steps to stop the small island nation from being overrun by tourists.

Devising an authority marketing strategy

While content marketing is a cheap and effective way to establish authority in your industry, your strategies are likely to be more effective if this is combined with other forms of authority marketing like webinars or events.

In a way, this is also an extension of content marketing since a lot of popular conferences and events are covered in mainstream media outlets. Your participating and speaking at these events provide these media outlets an opportunity to include your thoughts, and this is an effective strategy to enhance your industry authority.

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