Effective promotion gives your campaign legs. Without it you won’t be discovered and without discovery you’ll be unlikely to achieve any of your goals.
In this article I’m going to address the myth that promotion is a low value and low cost exercise and discuss how to get your ducks in a row for the most effective outreach.
Content Promotion: The Highest Value Part of the Process
Content promotion is considered a low value, high volume kind of service. We get lots of enquiries for outreach, always with a low expected budget. This creates somewhat of a quandary, because the planning, data collection, research and direction for most creative projects is entirely influenced by the promotional aspect of the plan. Unless all of this is in place, jumping straight to outreach is taking a shortcut.
Good promotion creates the opportunity to get your message in front of your target audience and all of their friends, family and acquaintances. Provided the message they receive is compelling, you’ve achieved a highly valuable goal.
Good promotion should happen almost at the very beginning of the marketing process and a good promotional plan absolutely dictates the research outcomes, content, message and targeting. Put simply it’s a high value exercise if it’s done well.
Your Content Strategy, Ideation and Planning Should Have Promotion Baked in at the Start
We’re going to start on the assumption that your promotional work is baked into your content strategy. As Steven put it:
“A content marketing strategy is your key to creating engaging content. It’s your ticket to understand what content to produce, when to produce it, and who you’re producing it for. A strategy also helps you gain insights into who is actually reading your content and what separates you from your competitors.”
To have absolute clarity on where to promote your content, what content to produce (read more: every type of digital content for the buyer’s journey) and when to produce it, you absolutely have to understand who you’re producing it for.
I asked one of the members in our amazing in-house team: “When do you start pulling together potential targets for your outreach?”
“For me, the outreach process plays a key role from the start. When researching topics and ideas, we look at what has done well previously, what has been successful for certain publications; the style and tone of articles. Some clients have very specific target publications, in these situations I’ll look directly at these, and try to gauge the kind of articles which are featured in the relevant sections. This helps focus the ideation.”
The “how”, “who” and “where” of your content strategy is the very essence of your promotional plan. Underpinning all of that with the all important understanding of “why” something works, you’ll be accumulating all of the raw materials you need for your outreach plan. If you understand this, you’re definitely ready to move your promotional game up a level.
Choose Your Goals and KPIs Wisely
Monitoring input metrics such as “number of emails sent” might seem like a useful proxy to performance, but counting the emails you’ve sent will not automatically entitle you a link from The Telegraph or the New York Times. Blogger outreach is much more of a volume game, but of course the quality of the outcome can always be lower. If you really want reach, you need to take a more PR focused approach to your work.
During your KPI setting, just be sure that you’ve considered all of the possible goal outcomes for your campaign, with an awareness of the challenges your business actually faces. Put simply, make sure you’ve chosen your KPIs wisely:
- Awareness of the product, service or brand
- Communication of the (unique) features and benefits of the brand or service
- Product sales, revenue or other conversions
- The opportunity to establish and communicate brand message or core values
- Audience growth via email subscriptions, social followings
- Referrals from news, partnerships, related sites or content curation
- Strong customer retention and repeat sales
Read this post on on the many goals achievable with content marketing for more or a background on the right KPI’s to set.
Our team set themselves overall volume targets for individual items of content, and these numbers are generally based on the competitiveness and style of existing links in the search results. They also set must have website targets that fit perfectly with the target audience.
Getting Your Targeting Right
Working smarter, not harder is the name of the game at this stage. A well targeted outreach campaign can, if executed in the right order, can gain plenty of momentum on its own.
Typically, the targeting process looks a little like this:
- Identify your prime audience
- Identify linking sites that appear to be the norm in that search result
- Expand upon the list of sites you find to broaden your targeting
- Use some of your existing contacts where relevant
- Target your existing audience and lean on social followers and email lists
To learn more about how to find the right linking sites, take a look at this post on gathering information for linkbuilding outreach.
All of this preparation is key to maximising your content promotion efforts, before you’ve even started contacting publishers, and very much worth investing in.
To learn more about how we do outreach and how to improve your own content promotion, take a look at our Guide to Successfully Promoting Content to Publishers.