Content Marketing

3 Angles to Create Magnetic Content with the Triangle of Relevance

Guest post from Angie Schottmuller, an interactive Jedi, e-commerce expert, and multi-channel strategist at Interactive Artisan.

What makes online content great? Is there a tangible metric, or is it purely subjective? I think it comes down to relevance. The more relevant the content appears, the more magnetic it becomes. Within this relevance I’ve discovered a formula for brands to magnetize content and optimize click-through rates… the Triangle of Relevance.

Last year I was challenged with teaching my novice content management team how to write magnetic headlines and create remarkable content. Since such programs involve a myriad of tactics, I began thinking of how to break it down into a tangible, non-subjective checklist or generalized principle.

content-strategy-triangle-of-relevance-by-angie-schottmullerThis resulted in the birth of the “Triangle of Relevance” – a content strategy principle incorporating three angles – business interest, user interest, and time significance – to maximize relevance and magnetize content, creating user action.

Triangle of Relevance Content Strategy

  1. Business Objective. The products, services, company mission, goals, or people relevant to the business or organization.
  2. User Interest. The goals, aspirations, pet peeves, turn-ons, values, hobbies, favorites, values, etc. of your target audience.Tip: Define personas to make this step easier.
  3. Time Significance. Seasons, weather, holidays, life events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), major sporting events, current events, trending news and more. Present urgency, popularity, or seasonality. Why is this content relevant now?Tip: Incorporate time relevance with clever word plays. Check Google Trends, Twitter Search, or Trendistic for trending topic inspiration.

The key to magnetizing your content is effectively incorporating ALL three angles of relevance. The foundation of the triangle is business and user interests, but any angle can be used to initiate a relevant content concept. Time significance is often forgotten, and it’s also usually the most challenging to include.

Content Planning with the Triangle of Relevance

For your content strategy or blogging calendar, create a table or spreadsheet with columns for each Triangle of Relevance angle. It will help bring accountability to your headlines. Create separate tabs for each angle to list ideas for reference. Triangle of RelevanceDownload the Content Calendar – Triangle of Relevance (Excel Template) to get started.

(Tip: It’s very useful to have a database list of time significant events relevant to your target audience. Include holidays, major TV or sporting events, movie release dates, school breaks, etc.)



Company Business Objective User Interest Time Significance Sample Content Heading
Wegmans Sell Citrus fruit products Wellness Winter Fight the Winter Blues with Sun-Sational Citrus!
Mayo Clinic Health care support services Patient recovery National Heart Month Survival stories from WomenHeart Champions
Whole Foods Market Trial of new Pork products Family-friendly New animal welfare legal standards This Little Piggy Went to Whole Foods Market



Optimize Click-Through Rates with the Triangle of Relevance

In my experience, this principle has proved invaluable in planning email subject lines, blog titles, and Twitter posts. From a metrics standpoint, this principle can most effectively be tested by comparing and optimizing click-through rates. Below are some content elements to target for using this principle.

  • Email subject lines
  • Copy for PPC and Facebook ads
  • Display ad copy and graphics
  • Web page titles
  • Twitter, Facebook, or microblogging posts (Vary to re-purpose content)

As an Interactive Jedi, I created the Triangle of Relevance as a means of wielding the Force to lure target audiences into my inbound marketing strategy.

What are your thoughts on the triangle? Is it the wrong shape? Have I missed a critical element of relevance that doesn’t fit? Can you think of other exceptional headlines that meet all three relevance criteria? Please add them to the comments below. Feel free to use this tool for your content strategy planning.

(Congrats to Angie for writing the most popular post in the history of Convince & Convert last time she guested here: 7 Ways to Thank Someone for a Retweet —- Jay)

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Good stuff because it gives specific direction to phrases like “use an editorial calendar” and “create relevant content.” Many people don’t struggle with creating something… they struggle with creating the RIGHT something. Using personas and a relevance filter like the Triangle of Relevance provides a framework for creators to use to test their content. It’s easy to say “Be Relevant.” It’s harder to teach someone how to think about relevance and how to define and create for an audience.

  2. says

    Excellent! The most difficult thing is effectively teaching clients (or even co-workers) how to create compelling blog posts. This doesn’t cover the body of a blog post, but is such a great way to organize WHAT content will be developed.

  3. NitinTate says

    Hi there,

    Let’s consider this triangle to be 4 dimensional. 1st is Business Interest, 2nd is User Interest, 3rd is Common Interest and 4th is Time.

    Using this logic the above statements could be written as:

    Let’s Fight Together Winter Blues with Sun-Sational Citrus!
    Survival Stories from WomenHeart Champions among us.
    Our Little Piggy went to Whole Foods Market.

    I am naive to the whole social media concepts but I’m working really hard to get to know the nuances of this trade. Any comments on this would help me a lot.

    Thanking You.

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing the triangle of relevance with us. I think this triangle concept create more depth to an editorial calendar. I will put a link from my blog to this post.

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing such amazing tool for content creation. Now that I am using it, one suggestion that I would give is to include one new column in the Content Planning: Keywords that you want to rank in Google. With that, you will have a better relationship with your SEO team and of course, it will help you increase your organic traffic by creating content which make sense for users, business objectives and SEO.

    • says

      Good tip, Ivo! The template definitely has room for customization. Use caution in communicating that to teammates though. I’ve seen content calendars be overtaken by merchandising, marketing, and e-commerce teams to include so much info that the micro-management is counter-productive. As long as the owner of the calendar can stand their ground to qualify what adds value to help them write effective content, by all means, add more columns. =)

  6. says

    Found myself here via an interview on Jay Baer from Mark Schaefer and {Grow} website/blog; recent #SoSlam event in Knoxville. Liked this article a lot.

    My thoughts and experience.

    Visual always trumps text at first, it hits the emotion of the thing: hearts, kisses etc.

    That makes your diagram rock.

    Reading is the logic that supports the emotion why? how? who? and so on.

    That grounds your stuff.

    The Calendar gives it a way to move.

    Round is always more fluid and allows for flow.

    Triangles always make for stops and a need for turns in attention.

    That said, I will use this in my own posts because it’s honest. The calendar that you offered is a key way to interpret the diagram and the diagram is the directions.

    I hope that my $.02cents are O.K. with you.

    Thanks for a very thoughtful article, now off to check out some of your other stuff since you got my attention with this one.


  7. letstalkandchat says

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out:

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