Have you heard of the ACRE content marketing strategy or framework? I believe it’s one of the best approaches for “fixing” the content of large websites when something isn’t working but you can’t figure out what exactly.
I’ll detail the framework below and explain why, when, and how to use it, as well as what to expect in terms of time, effort, and money investment.
The acronym comes from Audit — Consolidate (or optimize) — Repurpose (or curate).
The reasoning behind this content marketing strategy is that less content, but properly optimized, is better than more content of mediocre quality.
The framework has three pillars:
the content audit
the content optimization plan
the content distribution plan
I’ll detail each of them in the How it works section.
The ACRE strategy is suitable for websites with a lot of content but little to no results, where the goal is either getting more traffic or collecting leads.
I wouldn’t recommend it for e-commerce websites, but for verticals like SaaS, banking, religion, manufacturing, health / medical, engineering, even fashion if, for example, the website belongs to a designer.
Unless we’re talking about highly specialized products, such as 3D-printing supplies, for example, e-commerce content isn’t consumed by users in the same manner as medical content, or engineering content.
With e-commerce, the typical intent of the user is to buy, not to get educated, or to learn how to do something. If I’m searching for some jeans on Zalando, I surely don’t care about the history of denim, I just want to buy a cheap pair of jeans.
For this reason, I believe the majority of classical e-commerce websites can do much better with a framework like campaigns/always-on, or community-driven/UGC (user-generated content).
As its name suggests, this strategy consists of three basic steps:
Audit your content
Decide which content needs to be optimized (consolidate)
Decide which content can be repurposed (curated)
The content audit will help you make informed decisions regarding the pages that need to be retired/redirected and will show you your website’s content gaps.
I’ve detailed the process for auditing the content in the article below.
The second step of the process — the consolidation, or optimization of content, looks at what you currently have and where you want to go.
So for example, if you own a large health/fitness website and you produce a lot of TOFU (top of the funnel) content, it could be that you’re generating a lot of organic and social traffic.
However, your goal is to get some conversions. Hopefully, you know what type of conversion you’re expecting; for example, appointments for personal training sessions, or leads for a book on Crossfit diet.
These are good conversion goals. So you know what you want: conversions. You know what you have: good content that attracts organic traffic. What you don’t have is pages that actually convert visitors to leads.
What you can do, instead of creating more content, is to consolidate or to optimize what you already have, by fitting in sections focused solely on converting.
For this, you need to research keywords/search queries with conversion intent, and to choose articles to merge them into.
How do you choose those articles?
I generally recommend optimizing the articles that have already shown good results in social — comments, shares — or that are ranking for keywords with commercial / conversion intent.
For example, if you have a page talking about the benefits of Crossfit and you see that the article is ranking for queries like Crossfit gym, you can consolidate it by adding a CTA (call to action) block that talks about your service, and so on.
I wrote about content optimization and keyword research in other articles, feel free to check them out:
The audit will very likely reveal a lot of pages that produce nothing. No traffic, no leads, no social engagement. That content, especially if it’s published months ago, is completely useless and very unlikely to suddenly start producing results, unless you do something with it.
Now, a logical question is why shouldn’t you optimize these pages too? Why repurpose them instead, and what exactly does it mean to repurpose?
I believe that the only time anyone overcame death was when Jesus rose from the grave. Your dead content is dead, and optimizing it means trying to bring back to life something that has no future.
Instead of wasting time with such pages, this framework opts for repurposing them: extracting the good bits, as small as they are, and retiring the rest.
Those small bits can be shared in social media, in newsletters, or can serve as a starting point for new, conversion-focused articles.
Depending on the size of your website, the ACRE strategy can be more or less intensive and expensive, but I strongly believe it’s one of the best frameworks for websites that are stuck.
So on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high), I would estimate:
The effort needed: 5
Time investment: 3–5, depending on the website’s size
Money required: 1–5, depending on the tools available
Potential results: 3–5
The effort is rated 5 because this method requires a lot of attention to detail, manual work, and strategic thinking for identifying patterns and gaps at the end of the audit.
Time investment is rated 3 to 5 because it really depends on how much manual work you intend to do. This is highly correlated to the budget needed: if you’re willing to invest in content auditing and keyword research tools, then the time expenditure will be lower, and the budget higher.
Potential results are rated 3 to 5 because the method is really powerful when done properly.
As already said, I don’t recommend the ACRE content marketing strategy to conventional e-commerce websites and I also don’t believe it’s the best choice for websites with less than a few hundred pages.
If your website is 100 pages only, you’re probably not done experimenting with types of content, audiences, or distribution channels.
If you manage a large website and content isn't performing well enough, get in touch with our team. We'll use the ACRE framework to audit your content, set KPIs, and get things moving.
When can this strategy fail?
When you lack the specialist knowledge required for the niche. In this case, you’ll end up with “mirage content”. This is content that seems good but is actually not focused on commercial intent keywords and it's not written for the knowledge level of your audience.
The ACRE framework can also fail when you rush the content audit, or if you don’t have the patience or ability to spot content gaps. It can fail when your website’s UX is really poor, or when the promotion channels aren’t chosen wisely.
As an example, you can have the best fitness website, with awesome content that gets you a lot of traffic. If you promote it on LinkedIn, you may not get the most out of it, and definitely not enough ROI.
On the other hand, if you share your knowledge in a fitness-minded community on Reddit, the results can be much, much better.
I hope this was useful! If you need help in implementing this framework, get in touch with our team.