The following is a guest post from one of our agency clients. If you need some guidance with your content strategy, reach out to RevenueZen, a Portland-based demand gen agency partnering with resilient, gritty B2B startups that want to grow in any market environment.
You’ve spent weeks coordinating with the writers. The content is stellar. You’ve researched the keywords precisely, and you tapped your best writer to work on it. They even turned it in early so you had just a few extra moments to edit it. The graphics are fantastic; you finally implemented that new color palette you’ve spent weeks fiddling with.
You deserve to be proud of it. You finally hit publish.
However, for some reason, no one comes knocking on your door to give you a Pulitzer for your content marketing. Has anyone read the piece at all? What’s going on?!
You can have the best content out there, on the most niche subject, but if you’re not adequately promoting your content after it’s published, in addition to optimizing your content from the start, your work will get lost in the void. As content marketers, it can be devastating to work so hard to build your brand’s content only to be met with crickets. Luckily, however, there are a number of ways you can beef up your content promotion strategy, right now.
This guide will walk you through the steps you can take to get your content seen by the right people, at the right time. But first:
Does Your Content Marketing Strategy Need to Include Content Promotion?
If you want people to actually access your content, then yes! Whether you’re blogging, hosting a podcast, or have your own Youtube series, the more people that see and engage with what you create, the more organic revenue you’ll see. As an agency, it’s paramount that you guide your clients not only through content creation but through content promotion too, so that you can make data-based decisions on what their ideal clients want and use. Every viewer and reader is a potential conversion, so don’t let a single one slip away.
Promotion Starts With Creation
Long before you’re about to hit “publish,” you need to set your piece up for success. As an agency, you’re likely navigating a number of different clients across a variety of industries. That means you need to be a pseudo-expert in all their fields. You need to know what people are looking for when it comes to your clients’ content. While Google Algorithm updates are constantly jostling marketers, they in fact make it easier for searchers to find what they’re looking for, which means the people who reach your content will be the ones who actually want to be there.
Conducting robust keyword research from the start means you’ve mapped out all the possible ways someone might ask the question that your piece of content is answering. There are plenty of tools to help you build a keyword portfolio, such as Moz, that let you assess keywords for different clients. There are of course always phrases that a program might miss, so it’s encouraged that you actually do a Google search on your own of your target keywords to see what else you discover. Perhaps there’s a really good phrase you might have overlooked that you can now incorporate into your content.
Depending on your client and their industry, you can also search forums like Quora to see what kinds of real-life questions are being asked that your content could answer. The more real value your content can provide to your audience, the easier it will be to promote.
Google wants to understand what your piece is about. Having your writers use appropriate headers and alt-text is a no-brainer for SEO, but there’s more you can do in the body of your text.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn
Social media platforms aren’t just for the sharing of your new piece of content—you can also use them during the creation of it. Find relevant industry experts to quote in your content so that later on, you can share the post with them to promote to their own networks.
If you’re not sure where to start to find experts, use the search feature in LinkedIn to look at hashtags that your content covers. For example, if you’ve tapped a writer to write a blog post on sales techniques for 2020, you could search #leadgeneration on Linkedin and get almost 12k results. With a little digging, you can find industry influencers to either reference directly from an existing post or make a connection with and ask for a specific quote. Of course, you’ll want to vet any quotes you use for legitimacy, but it’s worth it to have an expert speak on the topic if you can.
Content Promotion Strategies for New Content
Okay, you’ve tapped a solid writer and they have all your SEO requirements. Now it’s time to get that great content out into the world. How should you do it?
An ideal content promotion strategy will take a multi-pronged approach. Depending on the type of content, you’ll want to determine what makes the most sense in terms of paid advertising channels, email marketing, social media, and syndication for an effective marketing campaign.
1. Paid Promotion
Rumor has it that paid can be the biggest bang for your buck, but it also requires the biggest buck. If your clients know their target audience really well, then paid content promotion can be worth it. It’s really easy to track what channels work and what engagement looks like, so you can easily A/B test what channels are most effective.
Depending on your goals—whether it’s getting new email signups, ebook downloads, or just getting people to visit your site—you’ll want to ensure your ad makes sense for your goal. An ad promoting a specific article may fare better than an ad simply promoting your business, so definitely dive into your content calendar and utilize paid promotion on the high-quality pieces you think will resonate best with your audience.
It’s critical your clients have an airtight sales funnel because paying for ads only to have the leads lost in the sales cycle is a wild waste of money. Ensure they’re able to capture lead data when someone clicks the ad or downloads the content you’re sharing.
Every second there are nearly a million searches on Google. That’s insane. There’s definitely someone out there searching for what you offer, but there are also a lot of others competing to be seen. Google AdWords is sort of like an auction, where you bid on the search engine’s top spots based on how valuable certain keywords are.
You know when you search on Google and get results that are above the organic results with the label “Ad” next to them? Well, those got there because of AdWords!
To get started with AdWords, choose keywords that your client wants to rank for. You’ll then bid on those keywords with the ad you’ve created. To win, you’ll need as high a Quality Score as possible, which is dependent on a few things, including 1) how relevant your ad is to the search query; 2) how relevant the ad is to your landing page; and 3) if the Google keyword is relevant to the ad group.
Depending on how competitive the keywords are, (plus a few other factors, like demographics, industry, and ad quality,) you’ll be given a price for the ad. In the US, the average cost per click for a Google AdWords campaign is $2.32. Not bad, considering how expensive lead gen can be. However, you should only use Google AdWords for your clients if they have a precise idea of who their target audience is, so you’re not wasting any money. Pay-per-click money can very quickly dissipate into the marketing-money ether, so be cognizant not to set and forget.
Social Media Promotion
Social media can be a great option for you to promote content. Users are active and constantly taking in new information, so if you can find a good way to represent your content and make it work for each of the individual social media platforms, you will see results.
Reddit needs something different from Facebook Ads, and Linkedin requires a different style than Instagram. The ads you create need to be appropriate for the specific channels. For example, if you’re creating an ad for a piece of content on Linkedin, you might do something like this:
It’s a bit on the longer side, it still uses the brand’s voice, but it’s asking questions to prompt your targeted readers to think about something they might not have before.
If you were to make an ad for this on Twitter, you may just want to boost a Tweet that links to this article. It’d look something like:
Simple, to the point, and appropriate for Twitter language. We probably should have hashtagged #sales and #marketing, but you live and you learn!
It’s all about making sure that the ads are appropriate for the different social platforms you’re targeting. It can be extremely fruitful, and you’ll often gain some insights on your ads based on comments. This can be useful if your targeting is slightly off.
You know when you’re on a website and you get an ad for another site you’ve visited? That’s retargeting. Pretty effective for gently reminding people that you exist. Retargeting is effective because it increases brand awareness and visibility, which only amplifies every other promotion tactic you’ll take.
2. Email List
The most economic bang effort is often email marketing, so don’t forget about it! Your clients likely have some semblance of an email list if they’ve been around for a bit, so tap into them. These are the most loyal subscribers, and, when it comes to promoting content, they’re extremely valuable.
The best place to start is by segmenting your contacts. Hopefully your clients have been using some type of CRM to organize everyone, but, if they’re not, a good baseline would be dividing their contacts by who is a current client and who is in the various stages of nurturing.
Since your contacts fall into different categories, they should receive different newsletters. Current clients want to hear from you! Choose your most relevant content and send it their way in an email newsletter. Make a roundup of key takeaways from the piece you’re promoting, format it for email, and then include a CTA to the full post. A healthy cadence is monthly, but if you’re chock full of content and your clients love you, make it twice a month.
Leads you’re nurturing should receive inbound marketing content that meets them where they are in the sales cycle. It could be a case study or a guide you’ve prepared—something they’ll actually find helpful along their buyer’s journey versus a spammy advert. When it’s time for them to buy, you’ll be top of mind not because you directly advertised to them but because you shared valuable content with them. People remember what it feels like to be helped.
Keep in mind that having a clean email list can do wonders for deliverability. If you’re noticing diminished returns on your emails, consider doing a cleanse. Even more rewarding than a juice cleanse, eliminating all inactive emails from your CRM will improve deliverability. Besides, you only want to be hitting up folks that actually open your emails and engage. Consider eliminating recipients that haven’t opened any of your emails in the last 6 months. They’re clogging your email, and actually are negatively impacting deliverability.
3. Social Media and Influencers
We mentioned the value of paid ads on social media, but don’t forget about the potential to share content organically, too. After all, it’s free! Work with your clients to devise a content promotion strategy for their various social media accounts, depending on what makes sense for them and their industry. A local small business will likely lean on Facebook posts, for example, while a B2B client may be able to share content to relevant LinkedIn groups.
Even if your clients don’t have a large audience themselves, the power of social networks can be surprising. It doesn’t take much in terms of comments and retweets to start building connections with others in your industry, and it paves the way for future content promotion. Guest posting, in particular, can play a big role here by opening up a new audience. By inviting someone in your industry to write a post for your blog, or simply by getting quotes from influencers for your own content like we mentioned during the creation process, you create the opportunity for that content and your blog to reach those people’s networks.
Finally, ensure your client’s websites make it easy to share to social media, whether it’s a Tweet button, or a most-highlighted (a la Medium.) Do what you can to make sure it’s easy to get the content to leave the site. This might require some website reworking, which can be a burden, but the payoff is real.
Sometimes a piece of content is just so good you want everyone to see it, everywhere. That’s (sort of) possible with syndication. Syndicating content means you’re taking it and publishing it in other places, such as Medium or directly on Linkedin. We now know that roughly a quarter of the internet is made up of duplicate content, and luckily for us, Google doesn’t outright penalize people for duplicating content in the way we once thought, though they don’t love it either. Luckily for us, Google doesn’t outright penalize people for duplicating content in the way we once thought, though they don’t love it either. Hopefully you don’t penalize me for that duplicate sentence.
To syndicate content properly, you need to ensure that wherever you’re publishing the content includes a canonical link back to wherever the piece was originally posted. This helps search engines, like Google, (or Bing, if you’re weird,) determine which piece is the original piece and which is the syndicated piece. You’ve definitely seen a canonical link before. It looks something like:
“This article originally appeared in [Original publication + Link].”
If you end up finding a good syndication partner, see if they’d be open to publishing on a semi regular basis. A monthly piece could prove to be really valuable for getting your content seen.
Repurpose Existing Content
Promotion isn’t just for new content. If your client loved an article that one of your Verblio writers wrote, but in terms of readership it wasn’t quite a smash like you thought it would be, that’s okay! There are a few things you can do:
If new information has come out that’s relevant to the piece since it was published, feel free to update it. There’s no harm in updating the information in your post. It actually will improve the relevancy of the piece and the authority will be preserved. Make sure that you don’t accidentally change the URL, so any article that backlinks to your site isn’t impacted.
New information, on pretty much any subject, comes out all the time, so use that to your advantage. If your content is on a subject that’s significantly impacted by outside forces (such as the Cannabis Industry, where regulations are constantly changing) you might want to set a reminder to yourself to check the content every quarter or so.
If a blog post was high performing and offered a lot of value, consider repurposing it into something new. It can become a podcast or an infographic. Heck, it can even become both! And as an agency, you can upsell clients into taking on a package that will allow you to create different types of content marketing for them.
When it comes to digital marketing, having a solid content promotion strategy in place will really help you not only in the long run, but the short run too! Who doesn’t want some help in the short run? (In fact, why are we always so focused on the long run?) Regardless, these tips will benefit you now and in the future, so consider implementing them if you feel your quality content isn’t quite making it to the right people.