The prescribed recipe for success in today’s content marketing game looks a little like this: write as many mid-to-high-quality blogs for as many targeted keywords as possible. Write at a breakneck pace, and write your competitors under the table. Challenge the Klingons for interstellar domination. That kind of thing.
It’s all very noisy; and, as it turns out, occasionally ineffectual. Even if you control all your content for quality and originality, writing for quantity can be an easy way to sink your site’s search visibility. Why? There reaches a point of diminishing returns. Duplicate content comes into play. Multiple blogs begin to challenge one another for the same keywords. That piece you wrote about how Napster had a timeless platform, and was going to change music forever, didn’t age well, wasn’t de-indexed, and is now awfully cumbersome for Google to crawl.
Content marketers in the habit of working smart while their competitors work hard take their work-promoted-to-work-produced ratio seriously; one, notably, to the tune of 80:20. From a manhour standpoint, that’s a full day spent finding creative ways to promote a blog that took two hours to write. That might sound like an aggressive time commitment, and for your purposes, it might be.
The goal of today’s blog is to give you some creative ways to spend the time you’ve allocated to content promotion. Your goal should be to find the ratio that nets you the best return on your work.
Data shows companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get almost 3.5 times more traffic than those that publish 0-4 posts per month.
Image via HubSpot
If your blog is on the newer side, therefore, and your content budget is low, your ratio might look more like 20:80—you’ll be spending most of your time building your cache of quality content.
If your blog has been around for several years, on the other hand, some of the below strategies are worth considering. It’s time to get more traffic from the content you’ve already created.
Let’s hop in!
1. Embrace Video for Social Media Promotion
Video marketing is projected to account for more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. The state of video marketing in 2017 is comparable to that of content marketing in the mid-2000s—companies understand the importance of incorporating video into their strategy, many just aren’t sure how to go about doing so. The landscape is underdeveloped and ripe for cultivation. A Fertile Crescent of yet-realized-content, if you will.
Per HubSpot, almost 50% of marketers are adding YouTube and Facebook channels for video distribution in the next year.
Image via HubSpot
Today, you have companies like Wistia SEO-ifying transcripts (embedding your descriptions in metadata for a more streamlined on-page experience); and you have access to free tools like Lumen5, which make it easier than ever to create compelling videos with virtually no talent.
By way of example, I used Lumen5 to create an introductory promo to one of our recent blog posts, “14 Fun & Festive Holiday Marketing Ideas for 2017.”
Here are two snapshots: our best performing tweet in which we used the Lumen5 video, followed by our best performing tweet in which we used a standard gif.
16 more engagements: not the worst! And all it took was a few snippets of copy from our blog’s introduction and a few light-hearted gifs.
Based on the nature of your content, you might decide that a summary works better than a teaser. Perhaps you haven’t invested much in your visual design team, and you decide to turn the camera around on some choice members of your marketing team (think Whiteboard Fridays).
Longer, more informative videos have a benefit of their own—a valuable piece of video content is more likely to generate shares than, say, a teaser; it’s more likely to drive traffic to your YouTube or Vimeo channel; and it’s more likely to be of lasting value for your brand.
That said, comprehensive social videos can discourage the need to click through to the blog you’re marketing. If blog traffic and on-page conversions are your bottom line, incorporating short, fun promos into your social strategy (particularly in Instagram stories, if you have the ability to link-in-story) might be a worthy experiment.
2. Ditch Headlines on Social
A sad and tasteless creation. By yours truly.
If a theme begins to emerge in this post, I hope it’s this: Don’t do vigorously and with abandon that which you can do deliberately and with care. Not that writing a million blogs and tweeting 10 tweets with the same headline isn’t its own kind of deliberate. But it is, I’d like to think, a less sustainable kind.
You need look no further for a social account that “does it right,” in my opinion, than SEMrush’s Twitter account. What do I mean by doing it right? They rarely waste copy space on throwaway headlines. Check out the below two tweets:
Which blog got less engagement? The second one. Despite being all industry-leading, and stuff. My theory? It’s because more effort went into the teaser copy; they didn’t just copy and paste the headline.
Actually, mixing in a few standard headlines is totally fine in moderation. The problem for most social managers is that they’re low on time, they lean on their bulk schedulers, they’re spread thinly across several responsibilities, and on top of it all, J Crew Factory is 50% off site-wide and practically giving away those v-neck sweaters that display just the right amount of chest follicle. What’s an optimized marketer to do?
Get more human! Comb through your content for three or four snippets of text you can use as social copy. Statistics perform well, as do quotes from influencers. Perhaps your author had a sexy line in the introduction.
Whatever you choose to go with, the idea is to treat your social posts like ads. Pretend you’re paying for them. You’ll take better care of them, and you’ll turn off less followers in the process.
3. Experiment with Influencer Marketing
When companies pay social influencers to market their products, they’re paying for credibility. They’re buying the trust of an audience they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. They’re skipping hours of targeting, exposure, and nurturing.
Per DemandGen, 87% of B2B buyers give more credence to industry influencer content. The ramifications of that statistic go beyond having the ability to create effective Twitter copy, though.
When you take the time to reach out to an influencer for a quote before you write your piece—or even if you just quote a line from one of her blogs or videos and cite the source—you put yourself in a position to receive exposure on her platform once your content goes live.
Perhaps she retweets your post on Twitter. Perhaps she’s flattered by the mention, or takes a liking to your content, and decides to link to you in a future post. Whatever the case, you’ve put your content in a position to thrive in a wholly new environment. And we’re not talking Vader-mug thrive.
This is valuable content we’re talking about!
The one constant in all this is outreach. There are several tools you can use to gauge a person’s “social influence”—Followerwonk comes to mind—and once you’ve identified the big players in your market (you probably already know them), you can proceed to send out emails. Do this before you write your blog (to acquire quotes) or after (to tell them you mentioned them). In fact, it’s a good idea to experiment with both.
Take a look back at any statistics, studies, companies, or people I’ve mentioned thus far. These are all opportunities to expand the promotion strategy for this post.
4. Set Aside Some Budget for Paid Promotion
An advertisement about advertisements.
There are plenty of unpaid options worth exploring before you start paying for blog traffic. That said, if you have the budget, paid promotion—in particular paid social—is the fastest way to get your content in front of qualified readers. Because you control audience creation, you get to deliver your blogs all neat and pristine-like to your ideal readers’ social feeds.
A favorite strategy of ours here at WordStream is to serve our most evergreen blog posts—the posts that have accumulated the most traffic over the longest periods of time—to people that have visited our blog in the past 30 days. It gives us the opportunity to build brand loyalty while providing readers with content tailored to their past consumption.
We have other audiences too, though—created based on interests, behaviors, locations, ages, and genders—and for our efforts, we usually average out at around $0.12 per blog visit ($0.14 for Facebook, $0.10 for Twitter). Here is an inside look at one of our Twitter audiences:
The first image shows you some of the Twitter handles we target (this is called follower targeting) in this specific ad group; the second, some of the locations. We also targeted men ages 25-54. Follower targeting is a particularly useful feature for audience creation because it allows you to target the followers of users closely tied to your business. Not sure what those are? Twitter tells you!
Now, $0.12 per blog visit is a relatively low cost across both platforms—the average cost per click (CPC) of Facebook Ads in the business-to-business sphere is $2.52.
But again, if your blog is on the newer side, you might not have much budget to devote to promotion. If that’s the case, you may want to make friends with the other four promotion methods on this list.
For more on paid promotion in its various forms, Quick Sprout put together a solid guide here.
5. Leave High-Value, Non-Spammy Comments
If you like guys in suits, you’ll love our thing!
Comment sections are a great place to show authenticity, because there’s so very little of it. They’re dominated by spam links, robots, pent up consumer vitriol, and introductions to the Illuminati. A relevant, valuable resource, offered in earnest, is a miracle.
You can be that miracle! The consensus among internet folk seems to be that, if it is your first time contributing to the comment section of a given blog, it’s best to leave out the link to your resource and merely offer an opinion. Then another opinion. Then, when you’ve convinced your fellow opiners you have legs, a pulse, and a valid perspective, you can lay the hammer—that great piece of relevant content—right on ‘em.
There are blogs—blogs that attract a lot of meaningful commentary—for which I think this is true. That said, there are also tons of blogs whose comment moderators are so inundated with crap that they’d be relieved to offer your gem of a resource a share, a link, endless praise, what have you. Here’s an example of a good comment from a recent post of ours about AdWords budget changes.
A genuinely useful script for budget pacing.
Not only did Nils earn a perky response from our perennially surly author:
He was a unanimous selection for Comment of the Week in our team’s Slack chain (prestigious), and he also earned an unsolicited mention in this post. Good on ya, Nils!
The takeaway: be genuine, find blogs that might actually benefit from your resource, and don’t hesitate to comment liberally.
If the theme I mentioned earlier hasn’t come fully to the fore, allow me to continue to force it on you: so much of content promotion is about marketing like a human. Narrow the scope of your work and be deliberate about who you place your content in front of. Before you move on to that next targeted keyword, reward the time you spent crafting your last piece of content by putting it in a position to thrive.
About the Author
Gordon Donnelly is a college hockey washout, failed poet, and all-around oxford comma enthusiast. He's a sucker for: fly fishing, mudslides, and the dwindling half-light of Clery's basement. Tweet him @gord_donnelly.