I had the opportunity to speak at the incredible Brighton Dome again this morning as part of BrightonSEO, a conference that has fast become a UK favourite in our industry.
My talk, “Your Content is Awesome – Now What,” was about content promotion. Here’s the deck and a summary of the talk.
It’s a pretty good time to work in content marketing. Budgets are on the up and most companies are investing in content.
But anywhere that something becomes as heavily invested in as content marketing, you’ll find marketplaces getting busier and busier. And, as it stands today, competition for eyeballs on your content is at an all time high.
Yet in spite of this, and in spite of the fact that budgets for content marketing are increasing, promotion remains something of an afterthought in many cases.
In both agencies and within brands, we’ve seen examples of large budgets being ploughed into creating something innovative and “shiny,” with a very brief promotion plan of simply “doing a bit of outreach” at the end.
And it doesn’t cut it anymore.
Even great content can be so easily overlooked without the right promotion.
Let me put this out there – outreach is not the same thing as promotion.
Outreach, the way I look at it, is the process of manually sourcing a target contact list, building relationships and contacting people with a view to getting them to notice your content and take your desired action.
That’s one promotion tactic. It’s a valid and a valuable one, granted. It still makes up a significant proportion of what we do to promote content.
But I would argue that if the only promotion you’re doing is outreach, then you’re not doing enough. There are two reasons I say that:
At the outset of any content campaign, promotion should be in mind. Early on, you’ll need to ask yourself:
In order to identify the places we want our content to be seen, we need to identify our audience’s “digital hangouts,” and the publications they’re reading online.
Among the tools you can use to identify this information are:
With YouGov Profiles, you can type in a brand or an interest and get a host of demographic information about the people who like that thing. You can also get media information – things like the magazines and newspapers they read. This is, of course, valuable insight for those of us looking to get content in front of these people.
Facebook Audience Insights allows you to find out far more detailed information about a target audience. You can create a custom audience based on things like demographic data, brands they like, parental or relationship status and location. Then you can find out what else that audience likes – whether that’s brands, newspapers, magazines or the Facebook content-based communities they’re engaging with. Again, this is valuable data.
Google Display Planner is designed to sell you ad inventory on Google’s Display Network. But what it can also do is provide you with access to a list of sites based on a topic or keyword.
So, let’s say you want to reach people who like gardening, you can simply type that in, go to “placements,” and get a list of websites running Adsense where people go who are interested in gardening. You also get estimated impressions numbers, so you can start to build a picture of the audience size, etc.
A list of publications is a good start. But then identifying specific named contacts within them (or influencers that influence people within them) is another vital step.
For the record, I have no problem with contacting news desks if need be. They exist for a reason. But I have a preference for dealing directly with individuals. I use a ton of tools for finding contacts:
I have many of these tools listed in a Product Hunt collection.
A long list of contacts, of course, needs organising. And I’m a fan of a tiered approach. I typically organise contacts into three tiers. Of course the number and type of contacts in each tier will vary based on projects. But loosely:
Particularly with tier one contacts, I like to get buy-in early and contact them first. Certainly, your tier one contacts are worth getting in touch with early and sanity-checking your ideas with. Using some good old human psychology (do read this), you can get users bought in early (see slides 59-63). Getting feedback early has two benefits:
How you describe your content is as important as how good your content is. Headlines can make or break content.
You can split test headlines incredibly cost effectively using Simitator and Google Consumer Surveys. Create “fake Tweet,” images based on what your headlines would be and then image based surveys. You can effectively then ask 500 people for their opinion on your headline for $50. Bargain.
Similarly, if you’re doing a lot of outreach, make sure you send emails through MailChimp or a similar system where you can measure the impact of various subject headers or times of day on open rates.
I’ve already said that I consider outreach simply to be one tactic (albeit it a valuable one) within the promotion side of SEO. Some others (there’s more detail in the deck) for scale include:
Ultimately, content promotion should be as intelligently planned and thought out as product promotion. Multiple tactics with real strategy behind them, and measurable goals, are absolutely essential.
And, of course, a degree of trial and error!
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About the Author
Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she's a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US - including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.Visit Stacey's Page
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