Dorothy Cheam

Content Marketing Lead

January 31, 2020

A Content Strategy That Makes You Stand Out from The Noise

Hint: It involves pirates! AAARRR.

In this multi-screen world, media dynamics are rapidly shifting, creating a looming clutter in the advertising space overcrowded by brands fighting for a share of voice. Delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience remains an elusive concept to many brands. 

The missing ingredient? Curating a user journey based content strategy that is tailored to every user stage in order to establish context. 

In a 2007 article “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad”, the New York Times article mentions that a user is exposed to an average of 4,000 – 10,000 ads a day. 11 years later, one can only imagine absurd that number might be. 

To avoid any dilution of brand message, brands must modernise their marketing approach ⁠— beginning with the end user itself.

Step 1: Define Your User Personas

When meeting your potential employer for an interview, you would do your due diligence and research on the company and your interviewer to come prepared right? Same applies in this case. 

Before you start building your content strategy, do learn about your potential users — what are their profile attributes, habits, frustrations, likes, dislikes, and motivations. This will guide you in shaping your messaging.

Here is an example of a user persona:

Step 2: Define Their User Journey

Map out various touchpoints where a user interacts with your brand. 

The touchpoints should not be viewed in isolation as they indirectly affect one another. Draw out a user’s interaction from when they become aware of your brand, to becoming a lead, to first trial, to becoming a new customer, then an advocate and finally, becoming a loyal customer. Identify user actions, goals and feelings at every touchpoint for a clearer picture.

The user journey framework can be explained by the Pirate metrics developed by Dave McClure of 500 Startups. The framework consists of 6 stages — Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral (AAARRR), now you see why it is termed the “Pirate metrics”.

Now that we have defined the acronyms behind the Pirates model, it is time to map out a user’s behaviour at every user stage. Here is an example of a user journey map:

Step 3: Define Your Objective

Marketers often make the mistake of making broad goals, resulting in an unmeasurable content strategy. So how exactly do we define specific goals? Firstly, here are some standard goals of content marketing.

A useful method in defining specific goals is the S.M.A.R.T. method. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Let’s review a good example vs. a bad example of a content goal.

With an established content strategy goal, you can proceed to map the relevant content to each user stage.

Step 4: Map Content to the User Journey

The customer journey today resembles a leaky bucket rather than a funnel. It is no longer as straightforward. Customers are harder to retain throughout the sales funnel, especially if no proper user journey marketing is put in place. 

Now more than ever, customers are seeking value when buying a product. This is where a well-designed content strategy comes in as a killer sales pitch.

What type of content goes into each stage? It depends. Some contents are specific to a certain user stage, some are more versatile and can apply throughout. 

Shorter content like promoted posts might work better for acquiring new users at the top of the funnel. Long-form content like product demos might interest users in the Activation stage. The Hero-Hub-Hygiene content pyramid is an effective model to refer to when defining the right type of content at each stage.

1. Awareness

Content at this stage is aimed at catching attention and leaving an impression. Hero content which is the big, “Aha”, tent-pole events works at grabbing attention on a larger scale. 

The Hero content can be further supplemented by Hygiene content—  always-on “pull” content that ensures your brand remains top-of-mind.

2. Acquisition 

Content in this next stage should offer an incentive to users to become a lead by providing their details. Content here can be anything from promotions to drive first purchase, to e-book and whitepaper downloads for more information. 

3. Activation

Consider this stage as the final part of the sales pitch, consumers are already educated about your brand at this point and are now considering a purchase.  

So how do we move a user from lead to customer? We need to persuade. Any content that solidifies your product benefit will help to eliminate doubt at this stage.

4. Retention 

A balanced mix between Hub content — regularly scheduled content for your prospect and Hygiene content helps to maintain engagement and increases brand recall. Content at this stage should be designed to create product value. 

5. Referral 

The value you have created in the Retention stage will pay off in this stage. Even if your referral effort is incentivised (or not), customers will become advocates if they believe in what your brand stands for.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is a powerful amplifier at this stage and content should focus on generating WOM.

6. Revenue

Content here zeroes in on upselling, cross-selling, or even introducing product packages to drive repeat purchases, making a sale profitable. For example, in terms of a subscription-based service, promoted posts or e-newsletters can be used as subscription renewal reminders.

Step 5: Measure and Review

Often one of the most overlooked steps in creating a content strategy is review. To fully gauge the effectiveness of your content, you should measure your content’s performance with quantifiable metrics. 

Thereafter, you can strategically tweak your content based on its performance.

Here is a helpful infographic to know which metrics matter at which stage:

To conclude, there is no one-size-fits-all content strategy out there. A thoughtfully crafted, data-driven, user-centered approach to content strategy is the way to stay ahead of competition. More importantly, your brand will start to see the positive domino effect of a solid content strategy— forming a sustainable, long-term impact of creating value and growing revenue.


  1. Skole, Jordan. “AAARRR! What Are Pirate Metrics?” Active Campaign, 22 Nov. 2016,
  2. Balke, Melanie. “AARRR Framework- Metrics That Let Your StartUp Sound Like A Pirate Ship.” Medium, Medium, 26 Nov. 2017,
  3. Story, Louise. “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Jan. 2007,
  4. Patel, Neil. “How to Create a Content Strategy That Will Actually Drive Results.” Neil Patel, Neil Patel, 15 Feb. 2019,

If you would like to enquire or learn more about our Content Marketing and Strategy services, drop us an email at [email protected].

Dorothy Cheam

Content Marketing Lead

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