Content Promotion Strategies That Move the Needle (Paid and Earned)
Ashley is a content writer and brand developer. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from the bizarre world of on-camera acting to the practice courts of NBA basketball players to the virtual meetings of inbound marketers. Today she specializes in building memorable brand voices online, with a focus on the travel & tourism, e-commerce and tech industries.
You've researched your target market. You've written about a topic they actually care about. And you've done it in a way that won't bore them to tears.
Time to hit "Publish" and watch the leads roll in, right?
How do you expect these mysterious people to find your article?
Depending on the competitiveness of the keywords you're going for, it can take anywhere from months to years to build enough organic search traffic to draw people your way. In the meantime, simply throwing out content with no distribution plan is a recipe for disappointment.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what a surprising number of companies are doing.
Throw in a little SEO optimization, post the article to the company blog, share via social media accounts and get a couple "likes" before disappearing into the ethers of the Internet – FOR-EV-ER!.
Stop Wasting Time
A writer may have spent anywhere from 2 to 10 hours crafting that piece of content.
But as the saying goes—If a tree falls in a forest, and no one's around to hear it, did it really fall? And if an amazing piece of content gets written, but no one's around to read it, was it really worth the effort?
A link's average shelf life is 3 hours. On Twitter it's even worse—just 18 minutes of exposure time. To put the abundance of new information available in perspective, around 1400 blog posts are published every single minute of the day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
If you want to cut through the noise, you need a distribution plan. Otherwise, you might as well be baking bread or something. Huffington Post co-founder Paul Berry illustrated the importance of ongoing promotion in an internal Innovation Report where he said, "At The New York Times, far too often for writers and editors the story is done when you hit publish. At Huffington Post, the article begins its life when you hit publish."
Powerful words from one of the top media experts in the country. The same logic applies to your company's blog articles. Sharing content with your existing network isn't enough. Here's how to begin amplifying your content with promotion.
1. Set Traffic Goals
Before you begin promoting content, take stock of where you are: How many unique page views does your website receive per month? What is your bounce rate? Where is the majority of your traffic coming from? Answering these questions will provide a baseline to build from.
At Lean Labs, we set 6, 12 and 18-month traffic goals on behalf of our clients. This pushes us to routinely evaluate what we're doing, what's working, and what could be improved upon. In general, distribution methods fall into three categories: Owned, Earned, and Paid.
Since we've already written about owned distribution methods here (i.e. your company's social media channels) we'll be discussing the latter options for the remainder of this article.
2. Integrate Paid Promotion
Once you've determined your traffic goals, begin exploring paid promotional opportunities. Paid media has a number of distinct advantages, including guaranteed placement across various platforms, instant content and design feedback, and the ability to recycle old content for new audiences.
Additionally, campaigns can be formulated to meet virtually any budget. The platforms you choose will ultimately depend on your Buyer Persona. Where is the best place to reach them?
Here are some options:
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram all offer paid promotional opportunities. Most offer a variety of customizable targeting options to help you get in front of the right people. Again, that's why nailing down the demographics and psychographics of those Buyer Personas is so important.
Content widgets allow brands to embed standalone applications in third-party websites, often used to promote additional content or help readers easily share the content they’re currently reading. Although fairly new, they are worth exploring for the right demographics.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is the most common paid method used by brands to boost their online visibility. PPC promotes content on search engines that attracts clicks from users. Once you've done your keyword research, online advertisements can be a great way to increase the top of our funnel. The only downside? Each time a user clicks on an ad, you will pay for it. Stop paying and the leads stop coming.
There are two types of PPC ads: Search and content. Search PPC requires the marketer to select specific keywords that, when searched by a prospect, will generate the display of paid search ads for your website. Traditionally, paid ads direct users to a company’s product page or website. Content PPC ads work exactly the same way, only their end goal is to direct searchers to original content.
Native advertising is the paid strategy of reaching target audiences with branded or sponsored content. The sponsored content is designed to blend in seamlessly with a user's overall digital experience. They're kind of like modern-day advertorials.
Advertorials are newspaper or magazine ads that provide information about a product using journalistic writing and design style. The advantage of native advertising is that it offers businesses the opportunity to reach target customers across the platforms they already know, love, and read frequently.
3. Integrate Earned Promotion (PR isn't dead)
Finally, never underestimate the power of name dropping from key influencers and media. While many would have you believe public relations is dead, that couldn't be further from the truth. Earned media attention can quickly bring in loads of traffic that can multiply your leads overnight.
The thing is, getting that attention doesn't usually happen overnight. Popping on the radar of key influencers, offering ways to provide them with value, and forging win-win partnerships is time-consuming, but worth it! Examples of earned promotion include being retweeted by an industry heavyweight, being featured as a guest blogger, and being quoted in major media posts.
50 Percent Creation + 50 Percent Promotion
At the end of the day, you want to aim for 50 percent content creation and 50 percent promotion. Meaning, don't create more content than you can promote effectively! Work smarter by publishing fewer pieces and promoting more frequently.
If your business has been churning out content for a while with little to no results, look carefully at your distribution strategy. Though promoting articles may initially seem like a lot of work, it's worth it. One outstandingly, entertaining or useful piece of content can have a cumulative effect on lead generation, bringing in fresh leads long after you've hit publish.
And that's because the truly useful never loses its usefulness. There will always be someone at that particular phase of The Buyer’s Journey looking for the information you've provided.