Content Promotion Campaign Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.


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A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers.

We segment our audiences based on the value they’ll get from the content. For example, one group might be new to online marketing and would use the guide to level up their skills. Another group might be people in charge of outreach teams who could incorporate our guide into their training materials. A third group might be influencers who don’t really need to learn anything new but who appreciate good outreach content to share with their followers. These segments become the foundation for influencer lists and outreach messaging.


Before beginning content creation, you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate to each of your audience segments. (Developing personas can be really helpful here.) Think about what benefit each segment will get from consuming your content. Ask yourself what will motivate people to share it, and then spend some time thinking about reasons why people might choose not to share.

If you’re a team of one, this process can be more of a mental exercise than a physical document. If you have a team, creating a shared doc that everyone can refer back to is extremely useful.

Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this stage:

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Once you nail your audience segments and messaging, you can be more confident about content creation. You’ll know exactly how and why you’re benefitting the groups of people who are most important to your business, and that knowledge can guide you as you make important decisions about the piece.

2+ Weeks Before Launch

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As you’re developing the actual content, you should also develop a list of people and websites that you want to share it. The earlier work you did on audience development can is your foundation here. For each segment, create a list of top-tier and mid-tier influencers.

As you go, make note of what medium you want to use to reach each of the influencers (email, social, etc.) You should also figure out whether a cold pitch will work or if you’ll need a relationship first.

List Size

To figure out how big your influencer lists should be, think about what your coverage or sharing goals are. How many people do you expect to write about you? Take that number and divide it by your usual outreach response rate. That’s how many people you’ll need to send outreach to.

Good content marketers often begin with long lists influencers and then narrow them down to only the most relevant, targeted prospects for outreach. It’s a time-consuming but worthwhile process. If you want to work this way, your initial list length should be about 5X the length of your ideal outreach list.

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Engaging Before Launch

Next, take your influencer lists and make a goal to engage with each person or website on that list at least once before you pitch your content.

For those influencers that you think would be okay with a cold pitch, you can do something simple like a tweet a post and @ mention them. This will at least get your name on their radar.

Influencers who you want more of a relationship with will require more involved engagement. Begin monitoring them via Twitter lists or and look for opportunities to provide commentary on something they’ve written or shared. A single @ mention on Twitter isn’t enough. Try to reply to a tweet and spark a conversation or consider leaving a thoughtful comment on one of their blog posts. If you have the time and resources, look for opportunities to meet them in real life at conferences and events.

Week Before Launch

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The week before your content goes live should be a very busy one. This is when you’ll need to draft all of your social media posts, outreach emails, and customer messages. You may want to queue up social media ads and plan targeting, as well.

Pretest Content

One of the best things you can do before your content goes live is pretest it with influencers. You get the benefit of their buy-in and their good advice about ways to improve your content or messaging before you share it with the world.

You can be really strategic and send your content to a subset of influencers who you want to target, but we’ve honestly seen a lot of success just by asking for volunteers.

However you go about it, be sure to give the influencers enough time to actually look over your content and provide feedback.

Outreach Emails

You should plan to write at least two email templates for each of your audience segments. (If you have three segments, that’s at least six templates total.) The template variations should test elements like subject line or CTA. They should also leave room for personalization.

Your most important influencers (the top 5 or 10 people and websites on your list) should get completely custom messages. To save yourself time on the day of launch, write them in advance. Hopefully by this point you’ve chatted or engaged at least a few times, so that personalization can refer back to previous conversations you’ve had.


Influencer campaign framework

Day of Launch

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The day your post goes live, your goal is to share it as much as you can. This means post it to social media, put your ads live, and begin outreach.


As you work through your outreach list and begin sending messages you’ll start to see patterns in the results. Certain templates will perform better than others. When this happens, kill the bad ones, go with the good ones, and then maybe even create a new variation to try.

You’ll also often find that you’re connecting with some groups better than others. If this is the case, invest more deeply in the segment that’s working. Expand your influencer lists and try more outreach to that group.

Moderate & Respond

Make yourself available to moderate comments on what you’ve shared, retweet the nice things other people have said, and reply to any questions that come up. This will help you build stronger relationships with the audiences you care about and give you opportunity to further amplify your content.

Week of Launch

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The initial buzz your content created will likely begin to fade out as the week continues. Use this time to do more of what’s working and claim some of the easy victories.

Paid Social

Look to see which of your paid social media campaigns performed the best on day one. Invest more heavily in those channels and that messaging. If you find that everything has flopped, try again with a different headline or different targeting criteria.

Social Media

Continue to share and retweet the nice things people have said about your content. Pay special attention to major influencers who say nice things during off-peak hours. A well-timed retweet could provide a nice traffic spike.

Easy Wins

Make sure you take the time to submit your articles to email newsletters and weekly roundups. Be sure it’s been shared within relevant subreddits and social bookmarking sites. These are simple things to do that can bring nice, qualified traffic to your content.

Reclaim Links

If your content went even a little bit viral, there’s a good chance people shared it without crediting you. Use reverse image search, tools like Fresh Web Explorer, and other link reclamation tactics to find all of those instances and secure the link.

On-going Opportunities

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As things wind down, don’t close the door on your content. Keep a Tweetdeck search running in the background so you’ll catch when people share it. Be sure to send a genuine thank you when they do.

Use the twitter and feedly lists you created to continue to engage with influencers. Odds are that if they were important to this campaign, they’ll be important in the future, too. The more you can do to build relationships, the better.

Monitor social media, email services like HARO, and the web in general for opportunities to repurpose or reshare your content. You may find opportunities to turn it into a case study or suggest it as a resource.

You could also use tools like BuzzStream to schedule regular site prospecting and get a batch of fresh contacts delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis. Scroll through these sites for opportunities to place your content.

Project Wrap-up

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After your promotion campaign draws to a close, spend some time reviewing metrics like shares, visits, and conversions. Call out things you’ll want to remember for next time.

You should also refer back to your original influencer lists. It’s likely that some people who you initially considered moderate tier 2 influencers proved to actually be tier 1 advocates. Reorganize the list based on the results of your campaign, so you can be better equipped to move into the next project.

Complete Content Promotion Plan

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Content Promotion Plan, from The Advanced Guide to Content Promotion

What do your content promotion campaigns look like? Let us know in the comments or tweet to us @BuzzStream.


How to Pitch: Outreach Tips from Lifestyle Bloggers

We’ve talked before about best practices for pitching journalists and bloggers when you have news to share, but what should you do when your goal is partnering with a blogger to promote a product or brand? I reached out to a few lifestyle bloggers to see what they had to say about pitches, priorities, and PR people. Read their advice below.

How to Pitch (2)

First, A Little Bit About the Bloggers

I interviewed bloggers from Hither and Thither, OhDearDrea, PopCosmoand Small Fry Blog. According to Moz, the bloggers had Page and Domain Authority scores ranging from 34-54. Most have at least a few hundred linking root domains. Each of the bloggers had between 6K and 16K followers on Pinterest, 1K and 5K followers on Twitter, and 2K and 40K followers on Instagram.

Advice on Pitching and Partnerships

The bloggers talked about how many PR people screw up the basics - getting names right and making sure the blog is a fit for what they’re pitching – but they spoke more deeply of professionalism and authenticity. They don’t expect fake compliments about being a huge fan of their site. “Just be honest and be direct. We’re both professionals.” said Ashley from Hither and Thither. Bloggers expect you to respect their time, value the audiences they’ve built, and to be straightforward about your intentions.

What makes a good PR pitch stand out?

Ditch the mail merge. Personalized messages go a long way to earn bloggers’ trust. You can still use templates to save time, but you should do research and customize each message before sending.



 “A concise, simple pitch combined with a personalized approach.” 

- PopCosmo


“We respond to genuine, heartfelt correspondence. It’s easy to spot a canned email a mile away. Just take a moment to personalize it, actually LOOK at our site and gather intel before approaching.” 

- Small Fry Blog


How do you decide to work with a company you’ve never heard of before?

It’s easy for big brands, like Target, to partner with bloggers. It’s much more challenging for smaller brands to stand out. When I asked bloggers about what makes them want to work with new brands or brands they’ve never heard of, the overwhelming response was fit. They want a good fit, not just in the traditional sense of “Would my audience like this?” but fit in terms of aesthetics and brand values. They also appreciated the brands that compensate them for their time.


“If the product or service is relevant; if I haven’t already covered the same product/service by another brand;and if it’s clever. Sponsored posts are of course most enticing, because they value my time and support me to continue to grow the audience I’ve built.”

- Hither and Thither




“Branding and style. Secondly, I do my research. If it’s not a quality company, I can’t promote it.” 

- ohdeardrea


Have you ever gotten unreasonable requests from PR people?

When working with bloggers, understand that they know their audiences best and understand that they’re doing you a favor. Try not to force them into a rigid promotion plan, and be respectful of their time.

ohdeardrea-oval“I’m not a blog that promotes-promotes-promotes— I like things to be thoughtful and planned out— or things that are incredibly fitting for my life. It always feels a bit off when I’m contacted from companies (big and small, but especially the big ones) asking for a lot of free or trade work. My blog isn’t one big ad— no one would stop to care about it if it was. What I write is valuable, to me at least, so I don’t like when companies act as if it’s not.”

- ohdeardrea


“Unreasonable… no. But if you’d like coverage free of charge, be clear about: “would you be interested in sharing this with your readers?” Don’t pretend like it’s a fabulous opportunity to hand out free advertising, even if I might be interested in arranging that.”

- Hither and Thither


“We just had a PR company repeatedly asked us to promote an event in a city where we are not located. And we had another PR company that kept sending the same request over and over. We wanted to work with them and responded, but they never answered.”

- PopCosmo

“We understand that every company has requirements and goals to meet for campaigns but flexibility is key! Don’t ask us to re-write a tweet because we said May 23rd instead of May 23. True story.”

- Small Fry Blog


What do you expect from the PR people you work with?

Blogger expectations for PR people are very reasonable. They want you to respect their time and do your research (a theme present in almost all of the interview responses.) They expect you to be reasonable, too. Putting posts together is a lot of work on their end, especially for beautiful, photo-heavy blogs like these.

Hither-and-Thither-Oval “[I want] respect for my time. Also, it’s nice when others are mindful about how quickly they send a follow-up email: I’m not in a traditional office (most bloggers are not), so if I don’t get back to you that day please don’t send the follow-up the very next day. Give it at least three, ideally a week, unless it’s terribly time-sensitive. Also, a pitch that doesn’t require a reply does not warrant a follow-up email.”

- Hither and Thither


“Firstly, to know who we (Popcosmo) are. We are not just a teen site, although one of us is a teen! (Our blog appeals to moms, teens and everyone in-between.) With such a wide demographic, both moms and daughters visit, but a lot of 20-30 year olds love our site and are huge fans of our #ChicChat on Twitter… but some PR folks just see read the latest story and don’t check our “About” page. It’s obvious who takes the extra 2 minutes.”

- PopCosmo


  “[I expect PR people to have] an understanding of the business. I want to work with companies that know the business well. Companies that don’t just see a large number, without looking in the engagement. And companies that understand that yes, maybe hashtags are useful and catchy, but different blogs and audiences work different ways— so there needs to be a flexibility at times.”

- ohdeardrea

Small-Fry-Blog-Oval“Flexibility, respect for the work, a genuine knowledge of what our site represents and promotes. One thing that is frustrating about blogging is that some companies want to put all their emphasis on clicks, and conversion etc. But, that same company is willing to pay top dollar to grace the pages of a magazine where they have no physical proof of any conversion at all. They’re paying for their presence. And their paying for taking up a page in that magazine. In a way it should be the same for blogging. Taking up a post or a day on a blog is worth something in and of itself. You can’t always track success for that kind of promotion.”

- Small Fry Blog

Bottom Line: Be Professional

Bloggers understand that you’re a marketing professional and not just a fan of their site. They’re professionals, too. Every blogger I interviewed said she spends at least an hour on every post she writes (in addition to the time spent taking and editing photos) and even longer on posts that are sponsored by brands. Be open to bloggers’ ideas about what will work on their sites and what will resonate with their audiences.

Additionally, think about how you can make these partnerships even more valuable. All of the bloggers I talked to mentioned monitoring traffic/pageviews, and many talked about having specific social media goals. You as a PR person have a lot of power to drive traffic via social media and promotion. If you can use your brand’s channels to promote their posts, you’ll help them meet their own goals… and everybody wins.

About the Bloggers

Here’s a little more about the bloggers I worked with and where you can find them.




About: Children’s lifestyle blog

Run by: Nicole, Emily, and Jenna

Instagramsmallfryblog -37K followers

Twitter: @smallfryblog – 4K followers

Pinterest: smallfryblog – 14K followers






About: Lifestyle blog (for teens and moms)

Run by: Mother-daughter duo Kim & Chloe

Instagram popcosmo -2K followers

Twitter: @popcosmo - 4K followers

Pinterest: popcosmo - 7K followers






About: Lifestyle blog with a focus on natural living

Run by: Andrea Duclos (Drea)

Instagram: ohdeardrea  -30K followers

Twitter: @ohdeardrea - 2K followers

Pinterest: ohdeardrea - 4K followers





About: Lifestyle and travel blog

Run by: Ashley Muir Bruhn

Instagram: ashleymuirbruhn  -2.5K followers

Twitter: @ashleymuirbruhn - 2K followers

Pinterest: ashleymuirbruhn - 10K followers


Learn More about How to Pitch

Check out our previous post (by @kevin_raposo) on how to pitch journalists. If you’d like to see a certain group featured in our next round of interviews, or if you’re a blogger and have opinions to share, please get in touch: 



Worfklow Improvements to BuzzStream: BuzzBar Defaults, Bulk Monitored Link Editing, and More

Today we’re excited to announce some new features that make it easier to accomplish your workflow in BuzzStream.  With these improvements, BuzzStream should map to your process in a more natural way, saving you some clicks and enabling you to spend time on the important parts of outreach.

Default Fields in the BuzzMarker

You can now set default fields when adding new websites in the BuzzBar:

default panel

Default fields are perfect when you’re working through a prospecting list, looking for one type of opportunity, or bloggers in a specific vertical. For example, if you’re looking through a list of finance blogs, you can pre-tag every opportunity as ‘Finance’ and every site type as ‘Blog’:

example of default panel

You can set defaults by clicking on the Defaults link in the upper right corner of the BuzzMarker for Chrome.

Bulk Editing of Monitored Links

Now mass editing monitored links is easier in the Links tab, including mass-assigning link type, acquisition method, and more:

mass edit links

You can also mass update link records by uploading .CSVs, so you save time and show your impact.

Add Follow-Up & Reply Notifications in Templates

 You can now add follow-up notifications and reply notifications to templates by default – so your campaign won’t fall through the cracks:

reply notifications by default

Simply check the notification boxes when you create a template, and you can add reply notifications or follow up notifications to every outreach message automatically.

Let Us Know What You Think!

Please let us know what you think – drop us an email at, leave a comment, or tweet us @BuzzStream. We read every single message, and we’d love to hear from you as we continue to make BuzzStream more powerful and easier to use.


Using Google+ Ripples to Find Influencers

Today’s post comes from Amanda DiSilvestro, a writer from SEO company HigherVisibility. Amanda regularly writes on search optimization and influencer marketing.  

Most people know the ten or twenty biggest influencers in their industry, but what many don’t realize is that there are actually quite a few people out there who maybe aren’t quite as publicized and popular, but still have a lot of pull within certain communities. Google+ Ripples is one tool that can help you find these influencers.

How Google+ Ripples Work

Google+ Ripples is a feature of Google+ that allows you to see who has been re-sharing the posts you’ve shared on Google+, along with who they’ve been sharing the posts with.

As you might imagine, the way these ripples can look varies greatly based on the number of people who publicly shared the post (ripples don’t show private shares). As you can see in the screenshots below, they can appear complicated:


Or they can appear to be very simple:


Those who have shared the post the most often and with the most people will appear as larger bubbles. You can zoom in and out as you wish with the tool on the left hand side of the screenshots. This is particularly useful for those complicated posts because you are able to see the specific names of people who have shared.

A list of everyone who has shared the post also appears on the right hand side. If you put your cursor over any one of the names, you can see what that person said about the post and connect with them easily if you’re interested in building a relationship.

Watch the Post Spread

Under the ripple image, you will have a small graph that will show you how the post has spread across the network over time. If you move the dial to go backwards in time, the ripple image will change based on what was going on with the spread of the post at that time. The screenshot below shows what that first screenshot above looked like on February 24, 2014, along with the dial on the bottom:


This is more of a cool-looking feature than anything else, but it can definitely give you an idea of who started the ripple and help you manage the information by breaking it into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Influencers, Statistics, and Languages

Lastly, you have the option to look at several statistics. These will tell you who earned the most public shares for your post, the languages that people used to engage with the post, and the length of a chain. The statistics are right at the bottom of the page and look like this:


How to Find Ripples:

Click the small gray arrow next to any post you see on your homefeed and choose “View Ripples.” Remember that only public posts are shown with ripples, so if someone didn’t share something publicly, this option will not exist.

How to Use Google+ Ripples to Find Influencers

Using all of the information Ripples can offer is actually easier than it looks:

  1. Start with people who have big circles or are explicitly listed in the “influencers” section at the bottom. These are the people to connect with immediately to start building a relationship.
  2. Visit an influencer’s Google+ page and see what content he/she is sharing. View the ripple of the content they shared and discover where the post came from initially. You’ll quickly learn who is influencing your influencers. Consider building relationships with these people and websites, too.
  3. Compare the ripples for different types of posts you’ve shared. Look for trends about which content performs the best and try to find patterns about how things are being shared. Do one or two influencers seem pivotal in getting a post to take off? If so, you might want to manually reach out to them the next time you have something to share.

Bonus Tip: Scott Langdon, managing partner of HigherVisibility says that you should always keep an eye out for some of the influencers you recognize. He said, “You may also notice that one of those very top influencers is connected with someone or something associated with your ripple. Follow the ripple to see where it all started so that you can hopefully have that influencer get involved again.”

In the end, having your posts shared by someone who has a large following (particularly a following that is also apt to share) is a great way to get your posts out there to a larger audience. The image can definitely seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand what the bubbles mean it can actually be fun!

Have you used Google+ Ripples in the past? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.


Manage Your Link Profile with BuzzStream & LinkRisk

Today we’re excited to announce LinkRisk, the leader in backlink auditing and risk analysis, is now integrated with BuzzStream.  Now you can move data from your LinkRisk account to BuzzStream with the touch of a button, so it’s even easier to keep your link profile in tip top shape.

If you’re involved in link removal and link profile management projects, this is an integration you should definitely check out.

What’s LinkRisk?

Link Risk helps search marketers assess and manage their link profile risk. The product provides a score of risk based on links, as well as providing some workflow for auditing, investigation, and removal.

As Link Risk CEO Paul Madden explains, “ The LinkRisk score is calculated using a complex algorithm. The score itself runs from 1-1000 with 1 being good and 1000 being very bad. Every link starts at a LinkRisk score of 500 and each of the signals we detect when we analyse the link will nudge that score up or down from its starting base of 500.”

Send Links to BuzzStream from LinkRisk

You can use LinkRisk’s algorithm and BuzzStream’s outreach and collaboration capabilities to both remove your poor links, along with identifying the competition’s best links and adding those sites to your list.

To send your LinkRisk data to your BuzzStream account, log into your Link Risk account, select a website’s link profile, and choose “Profile Control Panel”.

linkrisk image 1


Then, you can export data into your BuzzStream account through the ‘Export’ button. You might choose to look at your riskiest links, or alternatively, your competition’s least risky links.

linkrisk image 2

Then you can use BuzzStream’s outreach and workflow capabilities to remove bad links and try to get the best links from your competitors.

More Resources

For more on BuzzStream, LinkRisk, and link profile management check out these great posts:

LinkRisk on LinkRisk and BuzzStream

How to Use BuzzStream to Clean Up Your Link Profile

Reconsideration and Link Removal Using BuzzStream

Removing a Manual Link Penalty: A Reconsideration Request Accepted By Google






Case Study: Leveraging Video to Educate Your Market

This week’s blog post comes from Will Fraser, CEO and Co-Founder of Referral SaaSquatch. Follow him on Twitter @getFraser

When we started Referral SaaSquatch, we spent a lot of time educating the SaaS/subscription market about our platform and how we’re different from ‘competitors.’ Honestly, a lot of the questions, while valid, were the same. What is a referral program? Isn’t that an affiliate program? Can’t I build that in-house?

There was clearly an education gap and even though we were writing about it, we felt we had to build more engaging content to help educate people and streamline answering these questions. We decided to take the cue from our friends over at Moz with their great ‘Whiteboard Fridays’ campaign and started creating video content.

Why video? It’s rich content, easily consumed, and helps establish brand credibility. The concept was simple in essence, take the core lessons from our educational blog articles, then distill them into short-form explainer videos. Spend half a day talking in front of a videographer with another team member producing. Then start promotion campaigns around the content.

Easy enough right? … Not exactly? Well, let me take you through the steps that we took to make our 19 Videos to clear it up.


Image courtesy of

The Decision

Our strategy had consisted primarily of producing articles and promoting them on different online communities like Quora,, and Twitter. After a couple of months, we were clearly building a following but knew we still needed to experiment with other ways of telling our story.

We asked ourselves, ‘What’s a better way to educate our audience about referral programs?’

Although we were open to experimenting with different content, our goals remained the same: create and promote online content educating our target audience about referral programs.

Building video content was clearly the next step for us to take. Video is easy to consume on multiple platforms, rich content is more memorable than text, it’s easy to share, and can be done on a budget.


Image courtesy of

Building the Content

Okay so we knew we had to make videos to educate our market and increase brand awareness. Now the problem became how?

How do we create video content that’s compelling, but not spend a huge amount of time and money on it? We came up with the idea to repurpose the core concepts of our blog into short 3-5 min videos, which helped immensely reduce the time required for pre-production and scripting. We had one person on the team spend an afternoon and read through our blog to come up with the outline for each video with 2-3 talking points.

Next, we scheduled our shoot, which was 3 hours in a local studio with the key responsibilities laid out like this:

Videographer: Directing – in-charge of framing the scene, audio, and lighting.

Myself: Hosting – speaking and drawing illustrations on whiteboard.

Team member: Producing – setting up each scene’s talking points, checking quality of content, water breaks.

It went off without a hitch. These are videos about things we already knew, so there wasn’t much to learn or remember for each shot. It was easy to speak with confidence. We actually got through the majority of our videos in one take.

So in three hours’ time with two breaks, we shot 19 videos in 26 takes. Not bad for our first adventure into the world of video production.


Image courtesy of

Distribution and Promotion

Now came the part you’re all really interested in, how do we get the word out? We have this rich content, where do we promote it?

We ended up breaking it down into a list of promotion strategies, and it came down to two ideas. One was to wrap up all the video into an E-Course for the Udemy Ed-Tech Platform and the other was to host the content ourselves with a video service like Wistia.

We liked the idea of Udemy because we could take advantage of an emerging education platform with a strong tech worker presence. Its recommendation engine and review system were both convincing factors, but there wasn’t a smooth way to move the students over to our site (read: No Lead Capture).

Hosting the videos ourselves was an interesting option, as well. We could use a tool like Wistia to perform email capture within the player. We could also promote the individual videos on our blog and social channels.

We ended up building the E-Course and creating an auto-responder email course of the 5 core videos for lead capture on our website. The course has signed up over 1,350 people and helps drive overall brand awareness – while the auto-responder course helps drive conversions to product demos and sales.


Image courtesy of Iosphere /

Activation and Community

The course has built a great way to interact with the community of students who want to talk about referral programs. They can leave reviews, and we can push company updates to the list of over 1,350 people.

Our video content helps support every interaction we have with potential clients. It fills the top of the funnel by driving lead acquisition as well as activating and nurturing our leads throughout the sales-cycle, which really helps to accelerate our growth and impact the bottom line.

Content continues to drive results for our company. Creating videos to reach our audience is a great campaign for us and we can keep re-purposing these videos to help educate and convert incoming visitors.


Our goal was to build more engaging content to help educate our target audience, and video ended up being a low cost, quick, and effective way to do it.The video content was created in an afternoon and continues to increase brand awareness while capturing leads and supporting every other stage of our marketing and sales funnels.

Some things to think about if you want to do this are:

  • Reuse existing educational content. You’re an expert and have probably already written about the most important things to your industry.
  • Video doesn’t have to cost a million dollars or be over produced. Just be real and make sure you get the point across.
  • Take advantage of distribution networks such as Udemy or YouTube. This is often the hardest part of any content effort.

Not every channel or medium is right for your audience, but, in our case, video helped us diversify our educational content, grow brand awareness, and increase conversion metrics.


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Webinar Recap: 500 Writers and Editors on How to Pitch

Perfect Pitches

Kelsey Libert, VP of Marketing, and Ryan McConagill, Promotions Supervisor, oversee the Media Relations team at Libert and McConagill partnered with BuzzStream for a webinar to share exclusive research on what publishers want for content creation and media outreach. They interviewed over 500 writers, editors, and publishers to present a story about a noise:value ratio that has gotten out of whack.

Libert created a survey that helps us master the art of the perfect pitch. Here are her findings:


And here’s the video from the webinar:


Did you know: In 2014 the US department of labor announced that for every single journalist, there are 5 PR professionals beating down that writers’ door. Editorial voices are outnumbered by PR professionals by almost 5:1 and on average, PR pros earn 40% more than journalists.

Q: About how many stories do you write per day?45% of writers write one story per day
The majority of people you’re pitching to only write ONE STORY per day. These are not favorable odds. Therefore, it is imperative that you craft a perfect pitch.

Q: About how many pitches do you receive per day?

How many pitches writers receive per day

Although most writers publish one story per day, 44% of them get pitched a minimum of TWENTY TIMES per day. According to Harvard Business Review, the average worker receives 12,000 emails a year, while writers at top tier publications receive 38,000. Because of this, many writers are unsubscribing – so make sure to never put writers on mailing lists unless they have given you permission. Make sure to wait until after big conventions to follow up or send a pitch- sending one while the writer is at a convention will be a waste of time.

Q: How often do you write a story based on something that was sent through a pitch?

How often do writers write a story based off a pitch?

Although writers are inundated with pitches, only 11% often write a story based on content that was sent through a pitch. However, 45% said sometimes, so there is an opportunity for change. Here are some tips on how to find out if the writer is a perfect fit for your content…

1) You want to make sure you’re doing your research. Go through the writers’ posts  from several months back, and go through publisher’s bio.

2) Look at their twitter timelines to get a sense of their personality.

3) The Principle of Liking, based off a Northwestern Law Study states, “The degree to which we perceive another person to be similar to ourselves in traits and attitudes and to be worthy of our generosity or assistance, depends on the extent to which we perceive a personal connection with that person, no matter how trivial.”

4) Do a cursory google search for the writer.

Outreach Strategies

Q: Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?

Would you rather be pitched ideas that you can collaborate on or get a finished asset?

STOP spamming writers with poorly matched assets. Instead, collaborate on mutually beneficial ideas. Here are some tips on how to go about collaborating…

1) Tap into existing publisher relationships to see if they would be open to collaborating.

2) Try to collaborate with editors.

3) Always use a static asset, a lot of publishers have said that their content management systems can’t handle embedding interactive content

4) Have your standard assets smaller with your option to make them bigger upon publisher requests (work with designers, many publishers can only hold content 600 pixels wide).

5) Don’t make the pitch all about you, it should be about your relationship with the writer and how you’re connected in some fashion

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

There is a vast difference between what writers prefer.

Q: What types of content do you wish you saw more?

What types of content do you wish you saw more?

Networking Lesson

Q: How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

How important is it for a person to establish a personal connection with you before pitching content?

Strive to make a personal connection with every writer that you pitch. 64% of writers think it is of some importance that you establish a personal connection before pitching. Use Twitter as a platform to socialize with your prospects weeks prior to the pitch. Engage in blog posts. Try to get on their radar and connect on a personal level by favoriting or retweeting their tweets. Dig deeper than just “hey great post I really liked it.” Write them a friendly email if you’ve noticed an error or a typo to engage in conversation.

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Q: Which of the following channels do you prefer to be pitched on?

Put down your cell phone. Stop spamming on social media. Start writing sincere emails to the best-fit person for your campaign. Use CRM such as BuzzStream to manage your relationships.

Pitch Lesson

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Q: What time of day do you preferred to be pitched?

Use a pre-scheduling tool, like BuzzStream, to send your emails in the early morning hours. Pitches are generally more successful when sent during the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Enable a pitch freeze around holidays and long weekends.

Q: What email length do you prefer?

What email length do you prefer?

88% of writers prefer a pitch be less than 200 words. Make sure to check your word count before sending. Get to the meat of the data as soon as possible. Make sure your intro has value and isn’t just fluffy.

Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?Q: Do you open an email based on its subject line?

Test your subject lines in your inbox. What stands out? The golden rule is 45-65 characters. Have a call to action. Don’t be vague, be descriptive.

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

Q: Which of the following subject lines catches your attention the most?

An overwhelming number said they want a subject line that is:

  • Direct
  • Concise
  • Descriptive
  • Includes keywords relevant to the writer’s beat

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Q: How likely are you to delete a pitch based on a spelling/grammar error, regardless of the content’s quality?

Avoid errors by clearing your head and taking a walk before sending your pitch.

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Q: Do you auto-delete pitches that contain certain words?

Refrain from using these words in your pitches at all costs.

Q: If you could give 1-3 points of feedback to people who pitch to you, what would you say?

  • Do your research
  • Know the publication
  • Be relevant
  • Make it newsworthy
  • Know my beat
  • Don’t use all caps
  • Be personal
  • Be concise
  • Don’t cold call
  • Does it fit my beat?
  • Use spellcheck
  • No giant attachments
  • Don’t pitch on social media
  • Know my audience
  • Avoid phony friendliness
  • Get my name right
  • Avoid the fluff
  • Tailor your subject lines

Q: What characteristics does the perfect piece of content possess?

  • If your content isn’t top notch, the pitch isn’t going to matter
  • Breaking news
  • Exclusive research
  • Emotional stories
  • Timeliness
  • Relevance
  • Data
  • New hook
  • A story
  • Interview opportunities
  • Data visualizations
  • Useful information
  • Innovative
  • Interesting analysis
  • Storytelling
  • Well-researched
  • Meets editorial mission
  • Original content
  • Solutions to problems
  • Engaging
  • Amusing
  • Useful insights
  • Humor
  • Unique Angles
  • High-quality graphics


Do the findings match your experiences? Share them below or tweet to us @BuzzStream. You can also follow Kelsey and Ryan, our wonderful webinar speakers.


Come Meet Us at #MozCon

mozcon image

We’ll be hanging out at MozCon  in Seattle as a partner company this week.   We have lots of excitement planned, so please give us a shout if you’re a customer or fan of BuzzStream and happen to be there.

Stop by the Pod and say Hi!

We’ll have a demo pod in the  Partner hub, where we’ll be handing out BuzzStream bottle openers and showing off the latest features of BuzzStream. Come say hello to the people that answer your emails and put a face with the names.

The #BuzzBar will be Open

buzzbar lindas

On Monday night, we’ll be turning Linda’s Tavern into the real life #BuzzBar, complete with drinks and games. Please stop by, enjoy an adult beverage on us, and network with your fellow attendees.

Sidebar: Linda’s Tavern was actually founded by the same people who started Sub Pop records (who gave initial visibility to some bands you may have heard of, including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Postal Service, Fleet Foxes, and more), and has a long and storied history associated with Seattle’s grunge and indie scene.  We promise to play cool music on the jukebox all evening to reflect this unique legacy.

Our Own Stephanie Beadell is a Community Speaker!

Our own Stephanie Beadell will be rocking the stage as a community speaker.  She’ll be giving a talk called ” Bad Data, Bad Decisions: The Art of Asking Better Questions” at 11:10 AM on Tuesday. Stephanie will be talking about easy ways to improve your surveys to get better, more meaningful results.

Please come say hello if you make it out to MozCon, and enjoy the conference!


Case Study: A Fish Story for Link Builders

This is a guest-post by Kelley Starr and contributor Jon Giacalone. Kelley is a partner at LeanTech Group, where he works as a growth accelerator and advisor to early stage digital companies seeking venture capital. You can connect with Kelley on LinkedIn, or Google+. Jon is the Digital Marketing Manager at Fishidy, a map-based fishing social network.

Drawing on Lessons Learned in a Startup Environment

In this post I’ll explore off-page SEO, link building and blogger outreach strategies in a dynamic digital startup environment. I cover venture-backed Fishidy, a map-based online platform for casual and serious anglers (60M in North America) in the $42B annual recreational fishing and angling market.

Connect with local anglers
Fishidy’s core business model relies on converting site visitors to free members and a percentage of those to paid subscribers – a classic freemium to premium business model.

Although Fishidy is an early stage digital startup, the link building strategies executed below can be leveraged by influence marketers building brands at any stage of growth.

Fishidy had identified more than a dozen online and off-line channels in its sales and marketing roadmap to drive customer acquisition – each with its own cost and conversion assumptions predicted. Fishidy needed to test each and determine the most effective channels, but also discard those with the highest costs or performance metrics outside conversion goals.

Digital advertising (PPC) programs were already underway. Conversion rates were being monitored and optimized as an initial baseline to gain early traction. These were measured against on-page and off-page SEO channels which would take time to deliver new members and subscribers.

It was assumed in Fishidy’s business model that link building, influencer distribution and referral traffic would be a key growth driver. Like most companies, link building’s customer acquisition cost (CAC) was expected to be lower than paid search.

Identifying Link Building Targets

As a unique, fun and social online platform, Fishidy was a natural for classic link building tactics including:
• Guest blogging – anglers love an edge and the latest tools
• Editorial article mentions and coverage (digital PR)
• Product reviews
• Blog commenting
• Resource page links (lots of government and tourist sites reference fishing resources)
• And more…

Fishidy Groups
Each of the above was defined as one or more “value exchanges” with the targeted publisher, blogger, social connection or partner. Each value exchange target required different sourcing techniques, tools, outreach process and resources to acquire.

In addition to acquiring guest blog and article posts, Fishidy wanted to establish a national network of angling writers and influencers (ambassadors) by location, fishing type (bass, pike, fresh, saltwater) that could contribute to Fishidy’s social channels, news feed, local community and blog. As a side benefit the link building outreach program would uncover social influencers and build their angling community.

The Marketers Challenge – Time and Resources


Fishidy’s CEO and recently recruited marketing team (including Jon) had plenty on their hands at the busiest time of the year. Link building and community outreach was just one of many critical activities. It was important to guard the time of the team, but leverage them at key points throughout the outreach process. To fill out the team, a marketing intern was assigned and two part-time outside consultants would assist in the execution of the off-page brand referral program.

Jon took the lead from Fishidy’s team. I collaborated with Jon to build the strategy and test the process and execution.

Creating Strategy

To build our execution strategy, we had a number of decisions and discussions to build around. We found Basecamp to be a great platform to create key tasks, monitor discussions and document the process. The team was in three geographic locations and allocated time as needed.

Defining Project Funnel Stages

Next we looked at the milestone activities needed to execute Fishidy’s link building strategy, analogous to stages in a sales funnel. This would be critical for monitoring progress and ownership of assignments as we developed our influencer partnerships. Key milestones are listed below:

Sourcing involved the tools and processes to identify site and influencer targets out of the 1,000’s of potential suspects. Example: Google advanced search: fishing apps inurl:guest. Or tools like Citation Labs Link Prospector.
Researching involved reviewing, scoring, prioritizing and segmenting each suspect to get from 1,000′s to 100’s.
Outreach strategies and followup to qualified targets – email, social, phone (yes phone!)
Engagement – engaging with those that had mutual interest and defining the value exchange, initially 100’s and over time 1,000′s .
Partnership Acquired – defined the point where we had successfully established a relationship and defined a specific value exchange, i.e. guest post, product review, mutual social engagement, initially dozens scaling to 100s.

Tools For Execution and Scale

It was clear that something much more sophisticated than a spreadsheet was required to stay organized. Fishidy had a marketing automation platform in place as one option, but after a review of specialized outreach management tools, BuzzStream was evaluated and selected.

BuzzStream’s focus on link building research, contact discovery, outreach integration with company email and team collaboration could operationally scale with Fishidy’s expected growth. It was essential to keep data organized at the critical hand-off points to the virtual team doing the work.

Taking the stage and funnel approach further, the team exchanged a number of ideas and put more detail into the stage definitions documented below. The lower stages represented deeper engagement.

Relationship Stages
BuzzStream’s custom fields were then used to build the milestone definitions into the system.

You can see in the Basecamp screenshot below, we had a number of iterations and online discussions to build our plan quickly. Jon makes a great point that a conversion on a resource page is different than acquiring a link from a strategic partner.

Viewing history


Assembling a Link Building Team With Roles

Using the defined relationship stages gave us a sense of what roles were needed for the team to move from 1000’s of targets, to selectively working with valued partners.

Defining roles was important since Fishidy would be adding staff with growth. Titles and names didn’t matter as much as what role would be used. This concept was important for the virtual team process as we launched. On any given day, any team member might have to jump into a role to move the process along.

Researcher – The researcher role could focus on a number of stages, including executing sourcing tactics, researching and reviewing targets and initial approaches through email/social outreach. Most of the work would be process and detailed oriented and required a full time effort. Automation could be used to scale. Fortunately this role could also be performed by a marketing intern at a lower cost.

Analyst – The analyst needed more experience than the intern and would assist on the outreach stage, developing relationships through email, social channels and phone, follow up and hand-offs to the strategic team (see below). Automated tasks were balanced with building one-on-one personal relationships. The analyst would also develop quality content as partners were identified.

Strategic Team – Focused on personalization and influencer engagement vs. automation. This effort required engaging with qualified targets, developing mutual relationships, defining partnerships and content development. The Strategic Team was time constrained and focused on the bottom of the funnel opportunities which were managed and handed off by researchers and analysts. The company opportunity cost is the highest with the strategic team.

With the roles defined, Jon assigned Fishidy’s internal team and external consultants (including me), to the project.

We used BuzzStream’s custom field option to map out the relationship stages. See below.

Edit custom fields
Jon and I played all the roles so we could go through each step of the process, determine friction points and modify as necessary so we could scale link building down the road.

For review, we built the ranking system below combining objective and subjective criteria.

Ranking System

Monitoring Progress Through Filtered Views

As I mentioned, the team worked virtually and in spurts. It was necessary to make it easy to login to BuzzStream and quickly determine the state of campaigns and next steps. With filters and column sorts, each team role could focus on their targets. The screenshot below shows various stages and the role assigned.

Adding stages

Campaign Illustration

To illustrate outreach process, I’ll cover a campaign we executed to test engagement in a localized market. Fishidy felt that each state had its own customer segment and local influencers to target. Many casual anglers stay within a two-hour radius of their home so locally generated content was of value to them.

A campaign was developed with the following goals:

• Target local angling bloggers and publishers for engagement. These writers may accept guest blogs, write reviews or create fishing reports and other content that could be developed for or syndicated through Fishidy.
• Some in this campaign could be recruited to publish their work as a “featured outdoor author” contributing to Fishidy’s national blog.


For this campaign, we targeted local outdoor, tourism and angling-related sites that used guest authors. This was supplemented with in-house lists from trade shows and local events. We created a CSV file and imported to a project within BuzzStream so the campaign could be managed.


Outreach templates were created to scale the campaign. Along with email, we collected phone contact information for follow up. (Note: we found that phone follow-up increased our engagement by a factor of two.)

The image below shows a successful outreach and engagement with one of Fishidy’s eventual “featured outdoor authors.” All activity was captured through a BuzzStream email template and integration with Fishidy’s email environment. Following the email below, the Strategic Team was introduced to finalize the partnership expectations.

Response from high quality influencer
Getting Traction With The Model

Below is the Basecamp update on the campaign results with comments and additional feedback.

Basecamp exchange on campaign metrics
Measuring Results

With a strategy to test and scale link building strategies, Fishidy was able to validate the cost and effectiveness of referral and influencer marketing channels against other traffic building tactics.

On a year over year comparison period they were able to:

• Increase overall referral traffic by 157%
• Validated a lower on target CAC for referral and social against a paid search baseline
• Increase traffic to from the blog by 660%
• Increase social referrals by 2,600% on Twitter and 292% on Facebook
• Acquire more than 60 resource links

To the Fishidy Blog
• Increase of 687% in organic traffic
• Increase in social by 630% on Facebook and 1,617% on Twitter

Whether you have a startup budget or the resources of a global brand, the strategies Fishidy used apply. Test your link building assumptions against other digital channels and make sure you have the tools and roles defined to scale for growth.


Promoting Interactive Content: Getting Ahead of the Content Marketing Pack

In 2013, the most popular pieces of content on both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common.

Was it that they were well-research pieces by respected journalists? No. In fact, the NYT piece was created by an intern. Did they break news? Nope, no new news was made. Were they beautiful, Snowfall-like visual constructions? Nope. They were designed from templates.

They were quizzes.  The writing is on the wall: interactive content is the future of content marketing.



But let’s back up a step:

We’re drowning in content.  Absolutely drowning in it. 93% of businesses are doing content marketing, and 99% of software companies (and what seems like 150% of our own special little category of marketing software) are employing it today.  And it is getting worse.

And while I normally write about how content promotion solves this problem, today I want to look at it from another lens: with today’s interactive content, what’s the best way to market it? (I’ll leave making it for another post.)


Interactive Content: What it Is

Broadly, interactive content is calculators, quizzes, free tools, and other things of that nature that users can interact with – instead of just read.


BuzzFeed & NYT Quizzes

In 2013, the most popular piece of content on both the New York Times and Buzzfeed was a quiz. On both the Grey Lady, inventor of journalistic objectivity, and the new publishing upstart best at pushing viral buttons with lists, an interactive quiz was the most popular piece of content.

Let’s unpack these a little more:

Because you are alive and have an internet connection, you have likely seen a BuzzFeed quiz.

BuzzFeed offered the quiz “Which Pink Lady Are You?”, helping users understand, well, which female character from the movie Grease they should be. It was one of the most shared pieces of content in 2013.

In 2014, they came aback at quizzes in a big way with a new graphic layout, leading to winners like “Which City Should You Actually Live In.”

BuzzFeed- What city should you live in?

These graphically oriented quizzes put up some great traffic numbers:

Traffic history

Referral Breakdown

How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk

The New York Times created this amazing, incredibly popular quiz about language patterns in the United States:

Sunday Review

This twenty-question quiz was shared millions of times, and was one of the most popular pieces of content on the New York Times website in 2013.  It was created by graduate student intern Josh Katz, based on the 10-year old Harvard Dialect Survey.


In the nation’s most influential paper, which regularly breaks real news and hosts some of the best and most sough-after journalists alive today, the most popular piece of online content was a quiz, created by an intern from 10 year old public data.


How Americans Die

Bloomberg published a remarkable interactive data visualization on death in America:

How Americans die

While it didn’t put up the amazing numbers the previous two samples did, it definitely meaningfully outperformed other content on Bloomberg:

How Americans Die #2


Why Interactive Content?

So we know that interactive content can be very successful – particularly if we include final states people can share that show their own identity to their peers on social networks. (In some ways, BuzzFeed can be thought of as a venture-backed experiment in social networks and identity behavior.)

This content has several key advantages:

It Sticks Out

Useful and fun tools have not been beaten to death yet by marketers, unlike, say, infographics, ebooks, white papers, and everything that came before them. When you see one, it is still novel, different, and potentially delightful.

It Can Be Evergreen

This is huge – these things can keep on giving MUCH longer than a traditional blog post. They’re new every time people visit.  Effectively moving to interactive content can help publishers create pieces that last a long time, instead of hits driven pieces.

As Summer Anne Burton, managing editorial director of BuzzFeed, said:

“We had been making quizzes slowly, but nothing crazy. Then, around the end of last year, I was looking at some stats and what posts had done really well. Our most shared post was this quiz called “Which ‘Grease’ Pink Lady Are You?” that Louis Peitzman in L.A. did. It had not been a big hit when it was first published, but it had this super long tail.

I had noticed a couple other things like that — posts that were quiz-related or quizzes that had a second life. “

If you’re a working content marketer, you know that consistently coming up with new material and “feeding the beast” is a major challenge. Well-architected interactive tools gie you a chance to step off the treadmill and create a system.


They can be designed with a UX that drives conversion

Calculators like this one and other similar pieces can not only attract traffic and serve the top of the funnel, but can also show people relevant offers and drive visitors through the funnel.  I would expect to see more interactive experiences that show off merchandise or offers in the next 12 months.

For example, Julep, the Seattle-based A16Z funded nail polish company uses a quiz to help new users discover their style profile, and sign up for an appropriate package:



Building a Data Asset for Future Work

When people fill out these quizzes and interact with these pieces, that data can go somewhere.  The low-end version of this is taking email addresses and adding them to your list.

The more elaborate version of this is adding this quiz data to a cookie or persistent identifier associated with the user.  This can be a game changer for lead scoring or personalization, and I expect this to be become a pretty typical marketing technique in 2-3 years.

Scott Brinker of the Marketing Technologist Blog has written extensively on this topic as well. He’s even betting his whole company on them:

Marketing Interactive Assets

While the creation of these interactive assets is dramatically beyond the scope of the article (and left to the reader), some of what I’ve observed in seeing people promote these universally applicable.

Think About How People Will Link To, Mention, or Feature Your Piece

Often I see marketers pitch interactives without thinking about how the linking/featuring site will post it.  Most journalists and content creators know how to feature images and studies – but how do you feature a quiz, a calculator, or an interactive multi-part graphic?

Consider making versions that are easy to embed and look great – either a version of the interactive that can be embedded (which you may or may not want to do depending on your marketing objectives), or good images or animated gifs of the tool’s operation.  Then you can make it as easy as possible for your outreach prospects to feature you.

Make Sure Your Device Support and Your Promotion Plan Are Aligned

The rise of the multi-device world has really caught a lot of marketers by surprise and can cause some interesting issues in content promotion.

For example, much of the inventory available on some ad units good for content promotion, like Twitter ads, is mobile. If your piece of interactive content isn’t mobile friendly, you might very well find yourself with an expensive fail if you use them without segmenting to desktop/tablet only.  (I often play a game of clicking on promoted Tweets on my mobile phone and seeing if it leads to a responsive page or not.)

In a perfect world, marketers would have lots of technical resources and get everything working perfectly on every device. (If you’ve worked in more than one or two marketing organizations, you’re probably laughing quietly to yourself at this statement.) But we do not live in such a world – so if you don’t support mobile devices, make sure you don’t unintentionally end up pushing mobile traffic at the piece.

Pitch the Value, Not the Tool

When marketing technology products, marketers are classically told to focus on benefits and advantages instead of features.  Marketers still focus on features, and people still say this, so this is something of an existential problem in marketing.

But whenever marketers get something new, they often get lost in the shinyness and forget about the customer value they’re communicating.

This cognitive bias has two factors:

  • Often people are so excited to do a quiz or an interactive, they forget the editorial and results fall flat.  These still need the same level of knowledge and editorial care and planning that would go into a whitepaper or an ebook.
  • A quiz in and of itself isn’t that novel – pitch the value rather than the technology.


You Still Need a Campaign Launch Plan

While this will be a familiar concept to readers of BuzzStream material (we even created a guide about it), even the best pieces of interactive content need a promotion plan and  alaunch plan, ideally across paid, owned, and earned media.


While the New York Times and BuzzFeed don’t have much in common, they’re both succeeding with interactive content.  As interactive content trickles down to marketers,we’ll see this employed more and more, with varying degrees of success.  While the challenge of interactive content is largely in its creation, marketing it effectively is still extremely important, and reducing friction and creating promotion plans are needed to achieve the full ROI of these strategies.