But that begs the question – how do you build a content promotion strategy that gets the word out, accomplishes your goals, and dazzles your clients and/or boss?
Today I’ll show you how to craft your promotion strategy, so you can get seen in all the right places, and ultimately, achieve your business goals and a strong return on investment from your content efforts.
Start with Your Goals
Start by defining your goals and KPIs. Without sounding too much like a management consultant, what gets measured gets managed, and if you can show your accomplishment against goals, you can more effectively lobby for more budget, a raise, etc.
Well-publicized, great content can:
- Generate Revenue thru Leads, Sales, or Ad Impressions
- Grow Permission Marketing Assets like Email Lists and Retargeting Pools
- Increase Customer Retention
- Build Inbound Links for Search Marketing
- Grow Mindshare and Increase Influencer Awareness of Your Product/Offering
- Build Your Brand and Grow Top of Mind Awareness
Many of these goals go together – but picking one as your primary goal is key to success. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to get there.
Define Your Key Performance Indicators
After you choose your goals, it’s time to define your KPIs. KPIs, or key performance indicators, are metrics to evaluate the success of a particular activity.
Good KPIs give you the ability to gauge not only the success of your content and promotional efforts, but give you a goal to optimize towards. Consider your time and resources (be they staff resources, connections, or a budget) like bullets in a gun – if you only have 2 shots, where should you aim? With a goal KPI, you know exactly where to aim.
You can also understand how to justify the ROI fo your intiative, as opposed to going to your client or manager and saying “It got 800 pageviews and shared a bunch,” versus “We accomplished our goal of getting 300 opt-ins to our email list, with a predicted economic value of $3500″.
Some good key performance indicators are:
- Dollars of Revenue, Either Through Direct Sales or Influenced Sales (if you’re using multi-touch attribution)
- Pageviews (if you monetize on pageviews via an ad-supported model)
- Improve Customer Retention (this is an interesting one so we’ll come back to it)
- Grow email opt-in lists, or cookie pools for retargeting
- Grow social following on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/etc.
Work Backwards from Your KPIs to Understand Placement Opportunities
Once you have a your goal metrics, it’s time to figure out how you to get the sort of traffic you’ll need to reach your goal. Different goals will result in radically different promotional strategies – if your goal is revenue, you’ll want to find promotional opportunities further down the funnel, while if your goal is raw awareness and pageviews, you’ll want to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible, without being deeply concerned about their level of customer qualification.
If you’re trying to:
- Ring the cash register with direct sales, you’ll need to get in front of people when they’re in a ‘buying state’ – typically from search, product-heavy blog posts (like review posts), and product –oriented social networks like Pinterest or Houzz
- Get email opt-ins, it’s relevant to appear on any site where people who might one day be customers hang out. Additionally, appearances in other people’s newsletters are great places to get opt-ins – because you know the people that come from those receive, open, and take action based on emails.
- Grow customer retention as a goal, you’ll need to place your content into your customer retention flows, and in other places where your existing customers will find it.
- If you’re trying to grow your social following, you’ll need people from that network. For example, if you’re trying to grow your Facebook fan base, Facebook traffic will be much more valuable to you than traffic from other social networks.
- Gain mindshare and build your brand, you’ll want to appear everywhere your target audience hangs out. You’ll want to do everything to drive traffic – without breaking the bank or reaching folks who will never be prospects.
For example, if you’re marketing a WiFi-enabled slow cooker on KickStarter (long a dream of mine, if you’re making this please tell me), the obvious place to go after is tech blogs.
But if you know something about crock pots, you might know that the Paleolithic Diet community is very fond of them, as are people that do a lot of Southern/Creole cooking. (These segments have almost nothing else in common.)
You could reach out to paleo blogs and communities, blogs about southern cooking, and maybe even something like Southern Living magazine. (I would hazard to guess somewhere there’s a ‘how to be a high tech southern gal’ blog that would fit perfectly and probably drive tons of sales and backers.) There are also techy home-making sites like brit.co you could connect with.
You could also work with blogs that cover kickstarter, home gadgets, kitchen appliances, and iPhone apps, and more.
You’ll also want to appear on Facebook pages, Pinterest, StumbleUpon (in the cooking and tech categories), any email newsletters, relevant subreddits, and maybe the mainstream media. Think laterally, and cast a wide net.
While that example is a particularly compelling one for multiple verticals, thinking outside of your community – particularly with beginner level content – is a very valuable content promotion technique.
Develop and Expand a Placement ‘Wish List’
Now that you have some idea of where you need to be – be it websites, email newsletters, social networks, or major media outlets – you can begin developing your placement wishlist.
This is where you go from “I need to be on websites that serve tech-savvy women 25-34” to make an actual list of domains.
Once you’ve figured out what sort of sites you need to be on, you can work backwards and find some good prospects.
You’ll probably have some ideas based on your knowledge of the market and the customers. If you don’t, don’t be afraid to ask your target market with a survey, or analyze what they tweet.
The Google Display Planner can also be quite helpful – simply plug in a concept, and Google will find sites in their network that might be good matches:
And remember that, in many cases, things like Tweets, Shares, and inclusion in Email newsletters drive remarkable results. If you can’t get a feature on an important website, often a Tweet, Facebook Share, inclusion in an email newsletter, or a mention in a speech can still drive lots of engaged visitors, and potentially social shares and sales.
(If you’re strongly focused on search and want links, these type of inclusions can still have great value to your campaign – often bloggers and journalists subscribe to a number of newsletters and social feeds to find things to write about. For example, if you make the front page of Reddit, you’re almost guaranteed to appear somewhere on the Gawker media network.)
Now that you have the start of your wishlist, it’s time to expand it into a very large list.
This is where tools come in handy – typically even the most knowledgeable marketers don’t know every site or Twitter influencer in a given space.
Some tools that can help you create a quality list are:
- Similar Site Tools
- Social Media Influencer Search Tools
- Backlink Tools
Build a List of People to Reach Out to
Now that you have a list of places you’d like to appear, you can begin to convert it into a list of people. After all, websites and social accounts can’t feature you – only people can do that.
Take the time to research the owner (in the case of single-author sites), or the writer most relevant to you. Tools like BuzzStream can help you find contact information for site owners.
You might also find the social media manager or newsletter wrangler – in this case, tools like a LinkedIn search or Rapportive can help.
Segment Your List
Now that you have a list of people and their sites, it’s time to segment them. We suggest you bucket them into a ‘high/medium/low’ classification, in order to save time and not drive yourself crazy.
You can separate these buckets according to the influencer’s ability to drive your KPI results. Someone who’s deeply influential and a great fit will be a high influencer, while someone who is just getting started or speaks mostly about a tangential market can be a low influencer.
Make a huge effort for the high influencers, a modest effort for the medium influencers, and focus on speed for the low influencers.
Build Relationships & Outreach
While discussing outreach and relationship building is beyond the scope of this post, now that you have a strategy in place, it’s time to do outreach.
We’ve written about outreach extensively before, but here are some quick tips:
- Always remember the person you’re reaching out to gets lots of pitches, and the vast majority of them are some blend of deeply self-interested and terrible.
- Give before you get. Do something for someone else before you ask them to do something for you. This can be something as simple as sharing an article or answering a question on Twitter, to something more elaborate.
- Take the time to do some research and understand how their audience reacts to ideas like yours. Things like a “site:” search in Google and tools like Social Crawlytics can help.
- Good outreach follows the 3 Ps – it’s personalized, positioned, and persuasive.
Measure and Follow Up
Once you’ve launched your content and reached out to everyone on your list, it’s time to measure and see what you’ve learned.
You can use whatever web analytics package you have to understand the impact your content promotion campaign had on your KPIs.
Take the time to add everyone that promoted your stuff to a spreadsheet or a CRM like BuzzStream and thank them for helping you. This cements your connection for future work together.
To use an example from my own BuzzStream experience, Greg Ciotti of HelpScout and Sparring Mind once linked to one of my posts and told me about it via Twitter. Since then, I’ve asked Greg to contribute to several content projects and interviews and regularly consult him on startup marketing.