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So you’ve got a great piece of content.
You’ve spent time, energy, budget, and other resources producing it.
It will help your target audience solve a real problem, and it will establish your company as a credible expert.
What’s your plan to make sure that your audience sees the content?
Without promoting your content, it just sits there on your website looking pretty. If your website has enough SEO power, some people might stumble upon it through search engines – but that’s about it.
Without promoting your content, it doesn’t actually go anywhere. It’s like a car without an engine.
No content marketing strategy is complete without a promotion plan. Yet this is one thing that many smart businesses leave out of the equation.
Think about it this way. Everyone’s “doing” content today ...
In 2016 alone, 42.5% of companies planned to increase their content marketing staff levels.
In this study of over 600 marketing professionals, 65% were blogging, 64% were producing case studies and/or white papers, 47% were creating videos, 45% were writing online articles, and 39% were creating infographics.
That’s an insane amount of content being produced! To stand out in that sea of content, you have to do more than create content to be successful.
You have to promote it, too.
There are three critical steps to creating a content promotion plan:
Analyzing the audience
Choosing your channels
Measuring your results
Read on for a step-by-step walkthrough.
Who is your target audience? And where are they spending their time online?
If you’re already producing content, you should already have a handle on who your audience is (because you’re creating content that’s relevant and valuable to them, right?). But for the purposes of content promotion, I want you to dig a little deeper.
Look at your analytics. Where are people coming from? What sites are referring traffic to your website and content?
If you can survey your buying audience, do so.
If you can’t survey your audience, then interview 10 buyers that you believe represent your ideal customers.
If you can’t interview your customers, then research those 10 buyers online. Look at their social media profiles for insights into their activities online. Google their names and see what comes up.
Ask deeper questions about how they are spending their time online …
If your audience spends time on social media, which platforms do they use most? Are they a part of any groups or organizations there?
If they prefer email, what kind of email content do they respond best to? Full articles? A brief intro with a link to the full article? A list of curated content?
If they spend time on forums, what are they commenting on or liking?
Are they creating any content of their own? Are they in certain LinkedIn groups? Or asking questions on sites like Inbound or Quora?
Add this information to your buyer persona – or use it to create one if you don’t have a buyer persona yet.
Now that you know where your audience is spending time online, promote your content there.
With a deeper understanding of how your customers are interacting and consuming content online, you can pick the channels with the highest chance of reaching them.
Side note: This is also an opportunity to repurpose the content you’ve created. Align your content format to what works best on the channel. If your best channel is one that is primarily video-oriented, for example, create a video out of that blog post you just wrote.
Whichever platform your target audience spends the most time on should be your top priority.
That said, sometimes it seems like your customers are everywhere … and you’ve only got so much time and money to spend promoting your content. In that case, I suggest focusing on the platforms that have the highest usage AND have proven the best for delivering content and engaging audiences:
Once you decide on where, you can decide on how you promote your content on these platforms. (Regular posts and updates; paid ads or sponsored posts; posting the full article à la LinkedIn Publisher, etc.)
Here’s an example of an article I republished using LinkedIn Publisher:
But unless you’re paying for play, don’t expect the best results unless you also plan to interact with the community.
Comment on others’ content. Share content that isn’t your own from time to time. Make yourself a valued part of the community and readers will pay more attention to what you’re posting.
There are a few ways to do this.
You can do it the old-fashioned way and send out an email to your subscribers with every new piece of content. This works great for some businesses – but sometimes it overwhelms customers and leads to a lot of unsubscribes.
You can send out less-frequent emails that include more than one piece of content. That content can be everything you’ve produced since the last time you sent an email, or a “best of” list of content you think your audience would appreciate.
OR, a tactic few businesses are using, but I think has a lot of promise right now, is creating an autoresponder series. Create a sequence of emails that include your best content, and send that sequence to your new email subscribers. When you publish something new that gets great results, add it to the end of that sequence. That way your email subscribers are always getting the best-of-the-best content from you.
Which tactic should you use? Well, go back to step number 1! What would work best with your specific audience?
Even if your audience doesn’t say specifically that they spend time on question-and-answer sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, and StackExchange, they can still be effective places to promote your content because they appear higher in search results.
It’s worth your time to explore this option for promoting your content.
Scan through questions in your topic area of expertise and see if there are any you can answer for people. Pay special attention to questions that your content can answer. Give the answer there on the site, but point the asker back to your content for even more detail.
These are some of the major ways to promote your content online today, but there are dozens more tactics that might work for you. This article from Kissmetrics includes 17 more methods to try.
Make sure you’ve got your analytics systems set up to track the results of all your content promotion efforts.
I suggest you measure everything you can, from spikes in traffic, to email list sign-ups, to engagement (comments, likes, and shares). Then prioritize your key performance indicators (KPIs). Why measure everything? Because a year from now, you might realize another metric is a better indicator of success – and if you haven’t been measuring it, you’ll have no historical data to pull from.
Once you’ve got some metrics under your belt, use them to tweak your content promotion plan to focus the most resources on the tactics that are getting you the best results.
Like your content creation strategy, your content promotion plan should grow and change with your business.
Once a year (if not more frequently), go back through the three steps in this article. Touch base with your audience again, reconsider your promotion channels, and reflect on what your metrics are telling you.
Your audience is made up of human beings – and people change. What worked a year ago won’t necessarily work today. So save this article and refer back to it to revisit your content promotion plan over time. Your bottom line will thank you!