Content marketing is a dream. I don’t know why more people don’t do it! Did you know that content marketing generates as much as three times the amount of quality, organic leads as traditional outbound marketing?? Crazy right? No wonder everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
The only problem now is that the marketplace is so crowded. The amount of content out there is staggering. How can brands be expected to stand out and be noticed?
Which is why it’s not enough to have a good idea, you need to get the message out. Amplifying your content and getting it in front of the people that matter is the real test of a good content marketer.
In the effective content marketing guide, I touched upon how you can successfully activate your content – but I thought we could drill down into this a bit more and get more granular, along with some real-world examples. So here we go.
Owned channels are the ones that usually get the burden of being expected to drive the best results – but that’s simply not true.
Don’t forget to utilise your owned channels, but don’t rely solely on them. If you’re creating content, no matter how big or small, you should be maximising the coverage it will get across all owned channels.
Just to recap; when we talk about owned channels, we’re talking about your site, your social channels, and email lists.
Is the content easily discoverable? Homepages can often be a no-go area, but product pages should be looking to answer all questions a customer has. Are there relevant posts that could be used to form a carousel? We see a lot of content sidelined away in a blog when it should be streamlined into the user journey.
If you’re planning a big hero campaign, why not consider a homepage takeover? Or if not a takeover, at least a banner? Something to not only direct traffic, but also raise awareness.
For our Breaking Barriers campaign, we created a homepage banner to raise awareness, whilst still leaving the rest of the homepage intact so we didn’t negatively impact conversions.
Social is usually responsible for driving most of the traffic – or at least, that’s the expectation. But if you’re a smaller, unknown brand, you can’t expect that by simply posting your content on social, it will resonate with your tiny audience and somehow go viral.
I’m not saying don’t use social media, but don’t expect the whole world from it. Just make sure you’re consistently pushing your content out through social, but look at other ways to ensure people are interacting with it.
Let’s just assume that you’ve already segmented your email lists (please tell me you have!), you should now be looking at which segments would be interested in the content you’ve created.
In a perfect world, you’ll be planning this ahead of time – especially if it’s a larger hero piece of content. Think about who would get this email blast. What’s the header? What’s the hook? Re-segment your audience based on that. The open rate of segmented email campaigns is almost 15% higher than those that aren’t segmented properly, and the click-through rate is a whopping 101% higher.
We tend to think of the earned channels as the ones that usually make something go “viral” but, plot twist, nothing really goes viral anymore. Viral content usually goes viral because all the channels are plugging away together, helping amplify the content.
Earned channels are much harder to navigate and master than owned and paid – but they can drive incredible successes for your client when done right.
As we all know, the key to maximising on your earned channels is to create shareable, snackable content. By creating content like this, you’ll encourage people to help share it across social media channels.
However, this is easier said than done and isn’t always possible. In all honesty, the brutal truth is that branded content is highly unlikely to be shared – unless you’re a big brand or you’ve made videos about dogs.
Infographics and nice charts still work well for earning shares, but don’t centre your whole campaign on it. Comedic content also really stands out here, but again, that’s not always possible for clients.
For THAW, we ensured that everyone who wanted to share our pictures had the relevant assets to hand. We also encouraged others to RT and regram our pictures to spread the message. This worked well because we were tapping into a very active and involved group – those interested in climate change, including Leonardo DiCaprio.
Digital PR is the newest buzzword on the block, and for a good reason. More and more clients are looking to maximise on the potential overlap between PR and SEO.
Digital PR can be one of the best ways to amplify your content to new audiences, alongside earning links back to the site. A win-win for most clients.
If you don’t already have an in-house team, start to develop a good network of freelance PRs. Get specialists for each specific niche. For example, we work with a lot of finance clients, so we have quite a few finance PRs that we work with.
The value of utilising digital PR to try and earn links back from high-quality sites can’t be underestimated – as SEMRush’s Ranking Factors Study showed. But it’s also important to make sure that you widen the net. Don’t just repeatedly go after the same ‘enormous’ names. The Guardian and the Daily Mail seem to be popular ones for clients’ to want to see, but there’s more to explore out there.
Instead, if you can, get coverage from more niche sites. Local and regional presses always need stories. As do minority presses. Think about LGBT, BAME, or niche specific publications, like trade press, when building out your media lists. They’re far more likely to pick up a story, as long as you can find a way to make it relevant.
As Rand Fishkin pointed out, it’s also worth getting links from sites that rank on pages 2-3. There will be less competition for these sites, and a link can be just as valuable. Have your digital PR team reach out to them for a placement.
As an agency, we distinguish between influencer marketing and blogger outreach in that influencer marketing tends to be more social sharing, whereas outreach tends to be blog coverage.
When reaching out to influencers for a social share, we tend to stick to social. If this is where they’re most active, there’s more chance they’ll notice you there, rather than over email.
A lot of journalists are particularly active on Twitter, so if they’re ignoring you on email, try reaching out to them through a Twitter DM instead.
However, you should try and avoid Facebook like the plague. Facebook is too personal, too homely. Messaging influencers on Facebook can feel intrusive and overbearing. Definitely, one to avoid.
Make sure if you’re going with the social model of influencer marketing that you track the traffic in some way. We like utm codes, as they’re (relatively) easy to implement.
Outreach is a double whammy here. You should be drawing attention to the content that you’ve created and leveraging the audiences that bloggers have created for themselves to help spread your message.
If you’re worried about a penalty, remember that most bloggers won’t be using follow links anyway. It might not seem like the value is there, but there is definitely a “hidden power” to nofollow links.
Let’s not forget that bloggers are also very active on social, so this will often overlap with your influencer marketing strategy.
Finally, the last channel is Paid. This covers any activity that you pay for, shockingly. We’ll look at Native, any paid social media activity, and Display.
Native seems like the obvious choice to amplify content here, especially for smaller pieces or anything that is timely.
However, some native platforms (i.e. Taboola, Outbrain) can really cheapen a brand so you might want to steer clear of them. We’ve had limited successes with other providers so far, and I do believe there is a way to utilise Native better.
I can absolutely see the benefits of Native for certain campaigns – perhaps Hub content? – and I’d love to try and expand on the capabilities of Native in future campaigns. (And if you’ve got a case study where you used Native, I’d love to read it!)
Paid social is where a lot of threads of a content marketing campaign can really pull together to form a cohesive strategy.
We all know Facebook is a great paid distribution tool for your content. You can use both boosted posts and ads for this purpose. Boosted Posts can sometimes work well with lower level pieces of content, for example, Hub content does well when routinely boosted.
But Facebook can be good for more than just sharing content. Remember the media list you pulled together for your digital PR? Well, you should be uploading that and using it as CRM data for Facebook. Typically the match rates are low, but at least you know that you’re hitting people who have already had a touchpoint with your content.
That media list will also come in handy with some very targeted Facebook audiences. You should be looking to target journalists at the publications that you’ve sent press releases to, so they are interacting with your content across multiple touchpoints – and therefore more likely to cover it.
Set the job title to ‘Journalist’ or ‘Editor’ and see what kind of reach you get. Try and narrow down the list by whitelisting certain publications that you want to hit.
A lot of journalists will use Twitter too, so don’t forget about it. Twitter Ads are still quite rudimentary compared to other networks (i.e. Facebook), but we’ve seen some success with them. It’s another touchpoint for journalists and can help you rack up some video views if that’s what your content is about.
Influencer marketing is a grey area. I’ve put it in both earned and paid channels for now because, although you should target higher-level influencers to help spread your content, there is also value in reaching out to micro influencers to help amplify content. Although it’s cheaper to use micro influencers, most influencers at this level will still want to be paid for their time.
However, this doesn’t devalue the reach of these influencers, and paid for advertising on this channel shouldn’t be underestimated.
Similarly to PPC, I’ve never really been able to get Display to work well for a hero content piece, but I know it works well for other brands.
For example, SEMRush routinely targeted me with Display ads for their new Ranking Factors Study (and it worked! I read the study), so I’d be loath to say don’t explore it.
However, think properly about whether it is right for your campaign. Display ads aren’t always an effective content distribution tool, but they have their uses.
Ultimately, you need to maximise the value of your content. It’s not supposed to just lie there dormant, waiting for people to stumble upon it. You should be actively pushing it out to the people that matter.
Making content into a success is crucial to your success and the success of your clients.