Photo credit: Steven Depolo
In parts 1and 2 of Content Marketing Explained we set out the case for content marketingand showed you how to put together a content marketing plan.
We arguedthat it was possible to create quality, highly targeted content by segmentingyour audience into well defined customer personas. Each of these personasshould spring from an understanding of the different stages of the buying cyclefor your products and services.
Knowingwhat information your customers need at each step of their buying journey, andhow to present it in a suitable way, is key to gaining their attention andproducing engagement, conversions and, ultimately, sales.
But great contentisn’t enough by itself
Most onlinemarketers have experienced the disappointment of pouring hours of work intowhat they think is a fantastic piece of content – be it article, infographicor, ahem, 3 part blog post – only for it to sink without trace in the vastocean of the internet.
Why doesthat happen? Because the content wasn’t actually that good? Doubtful – if ittook you a long time it’s likely that other people would find value in it. Theproblem is much more likely to be one of promotion.
Content needspromotion like you need oxygen
It’s true.Think about how many pieces of content reach out for your attention via socialmedia, internet searches, email, mobile apps and various other channels everyday.
No one hasto go looking hard for great content anymore – not unless you’re in a verysmall niche. But even then, you’ll probably settle for a sub-standard piece ofcontent if that’s the only thing that presents itself to you.
Your greatcontent will find no life outside your blog or website if you don’t push it infront of people and use every conceivable, appropriate channel for doing so.
How to promote yourgreat content
You have tostart thinking about content promotion right at the conceptual stage. Manyfactors affect how well the content will fare and it’s important you don’t lockin features that will hamper the spreading, sharing and engagement that itdeserves.
1. Make it promotion-ready
The format,style and tone of delivery of the content must be appropriate for the intendedaudience and for the channels through which you’re most likely to reach them.
Forexample, if your audience is made up primarily of mobile users then you have tomake sure your audience can access it via a mobile device – flash is out andpdfs or other exotic filetypes are dangerous.
If yourtarget audience is a business one then should your video rely heavily on avoiceover to deliver its message? Many office users won’t have sound enabled ontheir computers.
Small,easily overlooked details can kill a piece of content stone dead. Try to thinkabout every aspect before you invest in the creative process.
2. Give it a decent name
The titleof your content is hugely important. It doesn’t matter how well put togetherthe piece is, if you give it a bad title it’s going nowhere.
3. Make it shareable
You’ll probablytry to bake calls to action and links to your website into the content whenappropriate but the same goes for social sharing buttons. Make the contentsocial-friendly and lower the barriers to people who want to forward it on.
4. Pre-promote it
Create abuzz around your content prior to release. There are many great social mediatools like Buzzstream or Followerwonk that can help you identifyinfluential social media users to whom the content will be appropriate.
They mightbe bloggers, journalists or even suppliers in related industries who might beinterested in republishing your content. With a little digging you can normallyfind their email addresses.
Give theseusers a jump on the pack with a sneak-peek prior to the official publication ofthe content and you’ll encourage them to make use of it. Exclusivity is a bigdraw – everyone wants to be the first with a piece of news.
You canalso trail the release of the content (if it’s news-worthy) via social media orin your newsletters – prepare the ground and get people looking out for it.
5. Spin it off
If theinformation you’re sharing is valuable then you can present it in a variety ofways. There’s no need to settle for just one.
If yourheadline content is an infographic based on a piece of research then write ablog post about the implications of the findings. Or even a whitepaper if youhave enough material.
If yourmain piece of content is a blog post, don’t just post the link on Facebook,write a mini-version to post there with the link.
If you’vegot a video which is an interview then get it transcribed as well.
Everydifferent way you can repurpose a piece of content for new channel or newmedium opens up new ways to get it in front of users who might have missed theoriginal. It widens your reach and makes your social footprint larger at almostno extra cost.
6. Don’t be a wallflower
You andyour team put the hours in with the content and your business spent money onthe resources required to put it together – now is not the time forself-effacement.
Promote thecontent through every appropriate channel. Tweet at various different times ofday to reach as broad an audience as possible. Write several different postsfor Facebook and Google+ which link to your content. Find appropriate groups onLinkedIn and share your content specifically with them (check that the groupallows general sharing first).
Of courseyou have to stay on the right side of the line when it comes to not annoyingyour users and followers but don’t just Tweet about your content once andexpect that to be enough to send it viral.
7. Don’t be afraid to spend some money
Contentmarketing isn’t advertising but don’t be afraid to advertise your content.
The use ofsponsored stories, videos and Tweets can really help to get the ball rollingwhen it comes to promoting your content via social media.
The majorsocial networks provide a ton of options for narrowing the focus of yourcampaigns to target your audience and let you predetermine your budgets so makesure you explore them.
After all,if you spent a ton on your content and spending just a little more can push itover the threshold of profitability, isn’t it worth it?
8. Track your success (and yourfailure)
Keep goodrecords of all your content creation and promotion efforts – including all thepeople you reached out to with your content and whether they respondedfavourably or not, the social media interactions, extra traffic to your siteand, if possible, how many conversions and sales resulted.
Only bykeeping track of what works and what doesn’t can you refine the type of contentyou’re producing and the methods you use to promote it.
9. Think long term
Don’t bedisheartened if your first effort is a dud – you’re exploring new ground so ofcourse you’re going to make a few mistakes along the way. As long as you’reprepared to learn from those mistakes and make your next effort better thensooner or later you’ll find a big win.