“What do you mean nobody read my whitepaper? We spent over a month researching, writing, and designing it.We even interviewed our buyer personas to make sure it was content they’d want to read! How can nobody be clicking on it? You’re the consultant, what’d we do wrong here?!”
Surprisingly, in situations like these, my answer is oftentimes, “Nothing.”
I’m not just covering my own backside. We did do everything right, but there's a catch. To put it bluntly, it’s no longer good enough to just write great content. Marketers now have to budget both time and money to get their content noticed. This is called content amplification.
One of the biggest concerns in the inbound and content marketing world today is “content overload” or “content shock.” Every company, both big and small, is writing something in hopes of reaching their target audience, and that means that no matter how top notch your content is, your work often gets buried in a sea of similar competition.
It’s really scary stuff, and according to Buzzsumo’s in-depth analysis , which pulls data from some of the industries biggest names, it’s only getting worse.
I already know what you’re thinking: Your boss is stingy (wait, aren’t they all?), and won’t be thrilled when you march into his office demanding more time and money, but I promise you that if you do your homework and develop a strategy that includes content amplification, ready to fight for it as a necessary expense, it’s a battle you can win.
With that said, here are three ways deal with content shock and get your content engagement rates up.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): Targeted Amplification.
As I wrote in a previous article, PPC can be a gold mine for getting your content to the right people at precisely the right time. In Boston, we call that a “wicked good” approach to amplification.
Knowing how scary good it can be, it drives me nuts that the second-most common way I see PPC being used is to send visitors to a homepage, hoping visitors will be able to somehow follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the content that matters. (The most common way is with a “contact us” or “request a quote” page, which isn’t much better.) Why not cut out the middle man, make it easy on them, and just send them right to the good stuff?
Am I really the only person who thinks this is crazy?
PPC still seems to be an underutilized way to amplify your content. Some companies get it, and use it to promote content, but many still don’t. In my mind, it shouldn’t be an “either/or” approach.
We’re all budgeting time and money towards social to promote our content, and we’re probably still talking about voodoo SEO tactics and whether or not that H2 tag really makes a difference, but what if we asked for a small PPC budget to help boost content in other channels and break through the noise, right away, guaranteed?
This approach works especially well for content that is time sensitive, and the nice thing is that you’re paying only for ROI, be it clicks or actions taken. If you can work out a true cost per action campaign or a pay per download campaign, all the better, but don’t be surprised if ends up being more expensive in the long run; in PPC anything can happen. With all things PPC, testing non-stop is the key to success — and a well spent budget!
Syndication Networks and Industry Publications
These are becoming harder to find, especially free ones, but it’s still worth a shot to see if there's any that you can use.
For example, our agency, Innovative Marketing Resources, has published frequently on Business2Community, a site for business professionals to network and share their ideas.
There are hundreds (thousands?) of other sites that can help you get even more granular in your targeting. Try to get your work published in business journals that cater to your industry, location-specific networks, or other areas your potential customers may be hanging out or view as reputable resources. You can really hone in on your audience and drive improvements to your ROI.
Get creative about where you publish. I can think of dozens of placements that will help you get noticed:
- A restaurant supplier might publish in Pizza Magazine. (Yes, this is a real magazine. A former boss of mine actually subscribed to it.)
- A distribution company might write a targeted piece towards an industry vertical, such as health and beauty products. They could then shop it around to relevant trade publications (in fact, here’s a whole list of them from the FDA!)
- A solar panel installer might publish in a publication that writes about small business management, with an article that explains how solar can help reduce costs and keep overhead in check.
- That same solar panel installer might also submit an article to a publication that reaches business accounting professionals with tips on how solar helps companies save on taxes.
Those last two examples might get the solar panel installer more attention than the usual green living or alternative energy specific publications. There’s less competition. The idea is to avoid just putting your article in the most obvious place possible and move downstream so you can break away from the crowd all fighting over the same set of eyes.
Q is for Quora...and Quality!
Remember how your professors used to say, “Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question; chances are if you have it, so do half the other people in the class”?
That’s the problem Quora set out to solve. There was a time I honestly had no idea what Quora was. When working with a client of mine in the logistics industry, I started seeing leads trickling in from this outlier on the social media reporting page in HubSpot. It wasn’t a lot of interaction, certainly nothing like what we saw on LinkedIn, but as time went by I noticed they were quality.
For those of you who don’t know, Quora is a question and answer site. I was honestly kind of surprised when I signed up just how many of my networks used it, so I picked some topics that interested me, and I gave answering a few of the questions a shot. Truth is, answering those questions can become kind of addicting!
I’ve found the site is really great add-on for content marketing efforts. There are two ways I like to approach Quora:
- As a pure lead generation system, kind of like a “contact us” page, to open conversations, although on an outside site.
- As a content research and amplification source. What are people interested in (Quora is a great place to find new ideas for blog articles, by the way) and what pieces of content can we share that will help them answer their questions or solve their problems?
Like all content, Quora answers should be transparent and not overly salesy. People are looking for honest answers in an open environment, and they can see right through any blatant attempts at selling your product. What people are looking for is honest help — which is what our goal should be in the first place — and just imagine the credibility if they got it directly from the VP of marketing or product development or customer support? What if that same individual doesn’t just share a long-winded answer or say, “Give us a call,” but instead shares an actual white paper, research report, or other piece of content that clearly says, “We get your problem, and we’re one step ahead of you.”
If I got a response from someone like that, I’d be totally impressed. Wouldn’t you?
Give this a shot, and you may find yourself surprised at the results. What I’ve seen typically happen is that the individual who started the conversation will probably reach out, the people reading it will probably reach out, and it turns into a key piece of evergreen content that can help whenever another prospective visitor goes searching for that same question again.
Need a Recap? Here’s Your 30 Second Takeaway
Make it a point to discuss an amplification budget while everyone is still excited about the potential results your content will bring. Tell the guys and gals in the big corner offices that you’re about to spend thousands of dollars of time and money on the creation of killer content. Don’t you think it’s a reasonable request they also approve a few hundred bucks to help get in front of the people who need to see it? I certainly do.
Fail to do this, and by the time anyone realizes you need help, the experiment of inbound marketing will have been written off as a failure, and you’ll never again get the budget (or respect) you worked so hard for. Win it upfront, and you’ll already have half the battle won.
As always, if you have any comments or questions regarding these methods or others, feel free to reach out to me directly or by using the comments section below; I'd love to hear what you think!