We’d like to welcome Toby Murdock as the author of today’s guest post. Toby is the CEO of Kapost, the leading provider of content marketing software. This post is an excerpt from the eBook, How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine, to co-published by Marketo and Kapost later this month. You can reach Toby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As many digital marketers now enter into Content Marketing, they are publishing all sorts of content: blog posts, eBooks, videos, infographics, and so forth. But after they take this big step of becoming a publisher, they look at their traffic metrics, and a new challenge confronts them: how am I going to generate an audience for this content? Or, more bluntly: if I produce content and no one reads it, does it have any impact?
The answer, of course, is no. B2B marketing professionals must realize that producing content is only half of the content marketing challenge, and that an equivalent effort must go into promoting the content.
I have worked with a publisher who really learned this lesson. Confronted with low traffic, he instructed his content team to cut content output by a ⅓, and to spend the resulting time running “miniature marketing campaigns” for each content asset. After six months, his overall traffic more than tripled.
So how to do this component of content marketing known as “Audience Development”? There are 4 major tactics:
Let’s look at each one in more detail:
Influencers. Influencers are the most important component of Audience Development. Begin by identifying the influencers in your space: the individuals and organizations in your topic that have lots of visitors to their sites, followers to their Twitter accounts, etc. In other words, these are the places on the web where the prospects who you want to read your content hang out.
Your objective is to win links from these Influencers to your content. Get started by building relationships. Retweet their tweets. Comment on their blogs. Get into a dialog.
Once you’ve gotten on the influencer’s radar and are crafting content with the end objective of the Influencer link in mind, ask yourself: what content would be of enough interest to this Influencer that they would want to share it with their audience? Or try to bring the Influencer into the process from the start: tell them that you are working on a piece of content and would appreciate their feedback or a quote. Each piece of content should have its own “mini marketing campaign” that looks to gain traffic-generating links from relevant Influencers.
Search. Winning these Influencer links is the key to getting referral traffic to your content. It is also the biggest way that you can improve in the second bucket in Audience Development: search traffic. In the past, SEO was a “black hat” game where technical tricks won high rankings. No more. Now you must win links from authoritative influencers, and then the Search Engines will improve your rank, driving more traffic.
To succeed in search, monitor how your content efforts move the search needle. First, identify the search keywords that your personas will search for. Be sure to target and optimize your content for the appropriate keywords. Then monitor keyword by keyword how your content efforts–both content produced and quality links earned–are affecting your search ranking and your search traffic.
Paid. Despite all of the inbound, organic goodness that Content Marketing centers on, paid traffic does have a place in the mix. Whether it is SEM, Facebook ads, sponsored Tweets, or paid Email newsletter distribution, using paid tactics to drive traffic is part of the Content Marketing Machine. What’s interesting to note however, is how Content Marketers are using paid to drive traffic to their content pages (about the prospect’s interests) instead of their product pages (about the marketer’s products). The process of developing a relationship with a prospect built on informative content is so powerful that marketers are using their media dollars to increasingly drive traffic to their content.
Syndication. Finally, the content you produce need not be limited to your own properties, whether your site, YouTube account, Slideshare account, etc. The most straightforward way to earn a link from a site where your prospects frequent is to get your own content published on that site. Be sure to insert a link or two in your content that links back to your own site. But beyond links, syndicated content also begins to develop a relationship between you and your prospects before they have ever visited your site. Particularly at the beginning, others sites may have a lot more traffic than yours does, so syndicating content is a great way to get your traffic off the ground.
So yes, as a modern digital marketer, you need to become a content publisher. But producing that content is only half the battle. You need to actively market your content–through Influencers, through Search, through Paid and through Syndication–to generate the audience that will drive success at the top of the funnel.