Content Marketing

What Is a Content Flywheel? [+Tips to Create One]

Team Pepper
Team Pepper
Posted on 28/02/229 min read
What Is a Content Flywheel? [+Tips to Create One]

Table of Contents

  • What Is a Content Flywheel? 
  • 10 Key Tips to Create a Content Flywheel
  • Key Takeaways 
  • Conclusion 
  • FAQs

For the past two decades, businesses have thought of customers as the end goal. They saw customers as a data point in an Excel sheet, which, once converted, served no direct benefit. Such business leaders and marketers developed earlier-used content models like the funnel. 

But now, customers are given a more important and active role in the marketing strategy of businesses. Marketers are finding new ways to reach existing customers to drive new leads for their business. This not only saves them time and money, but the results are also more positive. This strategy turned into the content flywheel, a new, refined content marketing model conceptualized by HubSpot. There’s not enough information about the flywheel effect on the internet. That’s why we curated this one-stop guide to developing a content marketing flywheel

What Is a Content Flywheel?

Before we discuss the content flywheel, let us first understand where the term “flywheel” comes from. The flywheel was invented by James Watt as an energy-efficient tool. When at rest, the flywheel is heavy and hard to rotate. You will need to consistently push it to set it to motion. But once it starts spinning, you will need to spend less and less energy to keep it moving. It is because the flywheel stores energy as it moves.

Now let’s make a parallel between the flywheel and your content marketing strategy. When you just start out with your content marketing efforts, it can be hard to create an impact and drive leads. You spend a lot more energy and time but get scarce results. But with consistency and quality content, it becomes easier to create value for your customers and attract new leads. 

It is because your existing customers also help you get new leads with referrals, reviews, and word-of-mouth. Thus, it sets your strategy in a self-sustained circulatory motion, similar to the flywheel. That is why it is known as the content flywheel. Customers, marketing, service, and sales are the four key elements of a content flywheel, and your content needs to be centered on them.

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As the flywheel catches momentum, its energy increases with its speed. So if you want to keep it spinning faster and longer, you need to add more force. The “force” in a content flywheel refers to tactics applied to areas that have a huge impact on customer experience. We’ll discuss these up next in the blog.

To keep your flywheel spinning, you need to ensure there is minimum friction in its movement. In marketing, friction can be any opposing force that hinders your efforts. It can be a negative review or internal issues that affect performance. Reducing this friction is a top priority in flywheel effect marketing.

The size of the flywheel also determines its energy and the duration of the spin. The more expansive your content strategy is (multi-channel), the better results it will yield. You can adjust the size of the content flywheel as per the resources you have.

10 Key Tips to Create a Content Flywheel

Designing a content flywheel is not as easy as it seems. But it helps if you get adequate support and know all the right tricks. Chances are, you already have some parts of the flywheel in your content strategy. From here, you just need to put the pieces together and kickstart your flywheel effect marketing. Here are some tips you can use while creating a content flywheel.

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1. Identify the steps in your customer journey

Earlier, marketers used to chalk out a funnel-based model that outlined the customer journey. It is important to first think of all the stages in your customer journey. Of late, the flywheel is being chosen over the funnel, and for good reason. You can choose from many models to create your flywheel. It can be as simple as the attraction, interest, and desire (AID) model or a more complex one, such as the attention, consideration, interest, purchase, and retention (ACIPR) model. 

This activity will help you identify different parts of the flywheel. It is necessary to determine which points in your flywheel will bear more impact on the business growth. These points can then be highlighted to increase the efficiency of the flywheel model. 

While deciding on the various stages of the customer journey, you also need to clearly define what each stage means to you. It will help you clearly understand customer goals, motivations, and triggers at every stage. One stage or step in the flywheel should not coincide with another. 

2. Determine the scale and size of the flywheel

Next, you need to decide how big and expansive your flywheel is going to be. This is a critical step in the process of creating a content marketing flywheel. The size of your flywheel determines how hard it will be to set it in motion and keep it going. It also determines the impact it will have on your business growth. The bigger the flywheel, the more results you are likely to get. 

But it’s not always a good idea to have a bigger-sized flywheel for your content marketing strategy. It is because a bigger flywheel takes more resources and time to be actually effective. If it does not align with your marketing budget, you might end up incurring negative returns on investment. So a good content marketing tip is to decide on the size of your flywheel based on the marketing budget you have and your business’ overall capacity. 

3. Ideate content specific to each stage

Align all the content you have on your site with the key problems and goals your customers have. The more valuable your content proves to be in solving these problems, the more visitors it will attract. This will help you build awareness, which is the starting stage of the flywheel. At this stage, you can work on creating long-form blogs, listicles around interest areas, videos, and more. 

Everything you post has to be aligned with the needs of your customers. That’s how you will get the right leads at the right stage of the buyer journey. Their experience with your content at this stage also determines whether they will continue to the next stages. Make sure you are also working on creating good lead flows on your site, which can be in the form of lead-capturing forms. The easier it is to sign up, the more likely are visitors to move to the next step.

4. Build relevant content to ignite interest

This is the stage wherein your prospects start considering your products as one of the possible solutions to the problems they face. The content at this stage focuses on clearly communicating the unique selling proposition (USP) of your business. Here, you help your customers find the best possible solution (preferably your product). 

Content formats like ebooks, tip sheets, gated blog posts, guides, manuals, etc., are good to engage customers at this stage. The landing pages and forms offering such content should not ask for too much information in return. 

Since customer interest at this stage is delicate, all friction must be reduced. So a content marketing tip would be to ensure the content shared at this stage offers quick bites of valuable information. The customer should not face any stress when digging for information at this stage. This will help them make a quick decision and choose your brand as their preferred alternative.

5. Make your strategy more persuasive

At this stage, your prospect is no longer a stranger to your brand. They often consume your content and know well about your services. That’s why the next step is creating content that moves them slowly to the purchase stage of the flywheel. Content that creates delight and builds subconscious bias towards the brand in the customer’s mind is the way to go. 

The best type of content at this stage are videos, informative case studies about your brand, webinars, whitepapers, and industry reports. The goal is to establish your brand as an authoritative source of information and a market leader in your domain. So, the next time they think of purchasing a service, they will consider your brand as their top preference. 

However, you do not want to overwhelm the customer at this stage. Information overload at the consideration stage can be more harmful than lack of information. An expert content marketing tip: see what fits best with their schedule and provide bits of valuable information regularly.

6. Work on increasing the speed of the flywheel

The speed of the content marketing flywheel is a driving factor of the success of your overall flywheel model. As the speed of the flywheel increases, customer interaction and the number of leads also increase. You can improve the speed of the flywheel in two ways: by increasing the force or by reducing friction. It can also be a combination of both. 

To increase the force, you will need to create content that has a greater impact on the customers. For example, one well-researched market study offered to your customers for free is much more impactful than five short blog posts sent to their inboxes every week. It will pace up the process of the customers moving across your flywheel. Similarly, reducing friction can also increase the speed of the content marketing flywheel. We will talk about this in the next segment.

7. Reduce friction as much as possible

Friction in the flywheel not only results in decreased opportunities for conversion but also wastage of precious resources. By working on minimizing friction, you can sustain the flywheel effect for longer. Some possible causes of friction in the flywheel can emerge internally or externally. 

Internally, you can have bad performance in teams, inefficient technology, miscommunication among team members, lack of management support, etc. Externally, you can expect bad customer reviews, non-cooperation of service partners, industry-wide decline in sales, and unforeseen situations like a pandemic. 

Friction is important for the movement of the wheel, so it’s neither good nor possible to completely eliminate it. But you can ensure it is not hampering growth. Develop strong communication internally, streamline your processes, build a robust customer support system, and have a change management strategy in place. All this will help you avoid any possible hiccups in your customer journey map.

8. Take an agile approach to flywheel development

Since flywheel effect marketing is quite new to most companies, it should be treated with an agile approach. It means, you should first build the minimum viable version of your content flywheel. As you put the flywheel in action, you will notice several problems and faults. You can also seek customer feedback to know where things can be improved. And then, you can refine your content flywheel as you go. 

The reason why this approach works is that it’s almost impossible to come up with the perfect flywheel for your business in the first go. Trying to do so will only cost you too much time and money. Thus, it’s smarter to launch a basic version and then expand, based on customer feedback. 

9. Think long-term

Although short-term goals are important to keep your business running, your focus should always be on long-term success. Many marketers are willing to trade customer experience for short-term benefits. While it might look like a good strategy, it slowly rusts your flywheel. That’s why your priority should always be the customer experience that you are offering. 

A business can survive with a breakeven for long if it has a loyal customer base. But short-term profits with low customer retention have never done any company well. So align your marketing efforts and content strategy to look after the long-term needs and goals of your customers. Constantly think “What now?” and find ways to improve the customer experience offered by your organization. This vision will not only retain existing customers but also build a loop that will bring in more leads.

10. Make relationships, not mere transactions

Unlike a funnel, acquiring a customer is not the end goal in the flywheel effect. Instead, you work on nurturing your relationships with the customer even after the sale. This is also an overarching content marketing tip that all marketers should follow. 

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It’s done with the expectation that your customers will turn into brand promoters if satisfied with your services. But if you treat your customers as mere transactions on an Excel sheet, the relationship will just end there. It leaves no room for further referrals, word-of-mouth marketing, or repurchase. So, your content strategy should not only cater to customers in the buying stage but also to customers who have already bought. This can include special offers, loyalty programs, personalized offerings, and more, to build a sense of belongingness among existing customers.

Key Takeaways

  • A content flywheel is a way to create a loop of customers across the various buying stages. The energy of a flywheel depends on its speed, size, and amount of friction.
  • First, identify the steps in your customer journey that are relevant to your business goals. Next, determine how big a flywheel you need to capture your buyer’s journey, and sync it with your budget.
  • Start building content that attracts the customers to your brand, ignites interest for your products and services, and finally engages the customers in the long run.
  • Focus on increasing the speed of the flywheel by strengthening the impact of various content offerings or by reducing friction, both internal and external.
  • Take an agile approach to building your content marketing flywheel. Launch a viable version first and then improve based on feedback.
  • Always think long-term, and don’t trade customer experience for short-term profits. Focus on nurturing relationships and not just closing transactions.

Conclusion

That’s a wrap on how to design a content flywheel. If you’re new to the process, building the ultimate flywheel that works perfectly for your business will take time. These tips will help you overcome the initial hurdles, and give direction to your content marketing strategy. Good luck!

FAQs

1. How do you make a flywheel effect?

The flywheel effect is created by interconnecting all the stages in a customer journey to form a closed loop. It’s done to utilize your existing customer base to bring in new leads for your business.

2. What is a flywheel model?

The flywheel model is a closed-loop variation of the funnel, created by HubSpot. It emphasizes customer experience. It aims to create great experiences for both new and existing customers. 

3. What makes a good flywheel?

A good flywheel has distinguishable stages of a customer journey that do not overlap. It also has an optimum speed and size, and minimum possible friction. 

4. How do you start a flywheel?

You can start a flywheel by first identifying the various stages in your customer journey. Next, start creating content to engage customers at various stages. In the final stage, you should focus on referral-based marketing to create a continuous loop of leads.

5. What should I look for in a flywheel?

There are three things you should look for in a flywheel. 
How expansive it is
How much friction it has
How fast it is
These factors will determine the quality and frequency of leads you get from the flywheel.

6. Why is a content flywheel important?

A content flywheel is important to streamline your content strategy. Without a flywheel, you won’t be able to engage and retain your customers. It gives a goal, a direction, and a medium to all your content efforts.