You’ve mapped out your Buyer’s Journey, you’ve done your keyword research, and you’ve created an editorial calendar chock full of fantastic content ideas. Awesome – you’ve done more than 90 percent of businesses out there.
Pat yourself on the back and call it a day.
Just kidding! Your real work is actually just beginning. But there is good news.
Since you’ve already done your “homework,” moving onto the next step should be easy: Creating, formatting and optimizing content with your team. But what happens after you hit publish?
Why Your Content Marketing Plan Will Probably Fail
Who’s going to consume your content (e.g. blog articles, white papers, social posts, videos)? And how are they going to find it? If the distribution portion of your content marketing plan consists of posting article links to a vacant Twitter account, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated within the past 120 days. That means an astounding 95 percent of blogs are left abandoned. The reason most of them fail? No strategic plan of distribution!
So, how do you do it? How do you successfully get your content in front of new eyes and ears?
Well, both search engine optimization and Google PPC advertisements are fantastic ways to draw targeted traffic to your content; as are advertisements on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social mediums (when targeted to the right audience).
But in this article, we’re going to talk about something different. Something that largely remains a secret of the Internet’s most heavily trafficked blogs.
A practice that you just may be able to copy on YOUR industry blog. And that is – partnering with other blogs.
Partnering With Other Blogs
The hands-down BEST way to grow your audience is to “piggy-back” off the audience of someone else. You may be wondering – why would another business, or blogger, want to share my content?
Well, if you both serve complementary target markets, and are not direct competitors of one another, there may actually be a high incentive for them to introduce your content to their audience. After all, the whole point of content marketing is providing prospects with the kind of value that builds long term relationships.
While this practice may not work for every industry (very little do), it can work for many with a little creativity.
For example, say you run an architectural firm specializing in corporate renovations. Do you know what other providers your prospects may need to work with before calling you?
A leasing agent. Imagine – having your guest post on “the top 5 mistakes made in office redesigns” featured in a local leasing agent’s company newsletter. Assuming the post is well-written (for the right audience) and with a clear CTA, you can expect to generate a healthy stream of well-qualified leads from that ONE post!
You see where we’re going here?! As you can guess, there is a specific process for forming these types of relationships. Here are the basics for getting started:
1. Identify Your Influencers
Begin by researching the company blogs that would be best suited to your niche. There are several tools for finding relevant blogs to collaborate with, including:
Alltop: A curated list of quality blogs in nearly every industry.
Technorati: Another great resource for searching blogs by keyphrase.
Google: Don’t underestimate the power of good ole’ Google search.
Aim for about 30 relevant blogs. Create a spreadsheet to house your findings. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; just columns for the blog, associated social media handles and contact information (the more direct, the better).
2. Separate Blogs Into Tiers
This is about separating the businesses you’d LOVE to partner with (think: big audiences and similar company cultures) from the ones that would “just be nice.” You’ll want to save your most desirable selections for later on, as you define your relationship-building approach.
How do you determine who’s on your “love list?” Check the Web page’s domain authority using Open Site Explorer. Also, consider the company’s social authority: How many followers do they have on social media? How many comments do their blog articles receive?
3. Get Noticed By Your “Ideal List”
If you haven’t already, subscribe to the newsletters of the business’ on your “love list.” Many of today’s autoresponder sequences for company newsletters directly ask their readers to reply back detailing their most common problem, frustration or concern.
Don’t be afraid to hit reply. And if you’ve had a personal story that demonstrates how you’ve benefited from the advice they’ve given (or product they provide), even better.
You can also share their social media posts, comment on their blog posts and provide them with resources you think would be of value. At this point, your goal is just to learn more about THEM and get noticed while doing so.
4. Reach Out to The Rest
Meanwhile, you’ll want to begin reaching out to the rest of your blog partnership list. This is literally as simple as it sounds – sending a targeted friendly email and asking for what you want.
Examples of what you may want to ask for:
A tweet of your latest blog article.
A guest post opportunity on their blog.
A backlink for your site.
The caveat with all these requests? You need to have something that is 100 percent worth sharing with their audience. That means, sharing this piece of content needs to make them look good and provide their audience with value. Again, think about what would be win-win for you and them.
Once you’ve gotten used to approaching people and have received some “head nods” from the more authoritative blogs on your list, you can begin to extend your reach. Though this is by no means an overnight content distribution method, it is highly effective.
Finally, research consistently shows those who document their strategies are more effective in nearly ALL areas of content marketing (e.g. content curation, social media and paid methods of distribution). When surveyed, only 32 percent of respondents surveyed said they have a documented strategy, according to The Content Marketing Institute’s latest report.
Translation: Document your content marketing distribution strategy, review your progress and modify as needed!
Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.