02 Dec 2014

How to Drive Real ROI with Content Promotion

December 02, 2014Content Marketing

How many times have you or your team created an awesome piece of content, posted it to your site, and sat back in complete confidence, only to see a few weeks later that only a handful of visitors even saw your content?

You may have asked yourself,

  • Why did nobody share it?
  • Did we target the right keywords?
  • Was the content good enough?
  • Are we producing the right kind of content?

If you are one of the 86% of marketers who use content marketing today, there is a 93% chance that you DO NOT consider your content marketing efforts “very effective”. There are many ways to fail at content marketing, but one of the most common ways is by starting and ending with content creation.

Doing that is the equivalent of producing the greatest TV commercial of all time and then only airing it for 1 day, between 2am and 5am, to the local news station in a town of 10,000. You, and the rest of your team who had a hand in creating the commercial, may stay up and watch it live but you can be pretty certain that almost nobody else in the world will ever see it.

So how do you skyrocket your content to reach more of your audience so you can actually create those relationships that turn prospects into loyal customers? How can you show your boss that content marketing is really worth it?

Enter: Paid Content Promotion

Like any holistic content marketing effort, strategy is critical to driving a successful paid content promotion campaign, especially one focused on providing measureable results. A good content promotion plan can be simplified into four major sections:

  1. Setting Goals
  2. Understanding Your Audience
  3. Producing the Right Content
  4. Targeting and Optimizing Ads

Setting Goals

Setting goals is a critical first step and should be openly discussed and understood by all parties involved, prior to kicking off work. Setting and communicating goals helps align expectations, focus efforts, and drive optimization.

Goals should be:

  1. Clear
  2. Measureable
  3. ROI-driven

ROI-driven does not mean that direct sales need to be measured from day 1, though this would be a long-term goal. Because content marketing often times reaches prospects in the very early stages of their decision making process, capturing email addresses or other contact information is a common goal.

Determining the value of an email subscriber can be a bit more difficult, depending on what email provider you use and how well you are tracking your current email campaigns. Keep in mind that someone who completes your “Contact Us” form likely has a very different value than someone who opts-in to your newsletter, and should be treated differently.

How to calculate (roughly) the value of an email subscriber:

  1. Calculate number of active subscribers
  2. Calculate revenue attributed to email over X months (Timeline will likely be different depending on sales cycle. If email subscribers typically purchase within one week, a shorter time period will be needed than if email subscribers typically purchase after three months)
  3. Divide Revenue/Subscribers

If it is determined that an email subscriber is valued at $15, you will need to determine what your ROI goal is and ultimately your cost-per-email subscriber.

Understanding Your Audience

In this context, understanding your audience means more than just demographics and purchase behavior. Those are important and will be helpful later, but at this point what you really want to know is:

What are your audience’s pain points?

More specifically, what are your audience’s pain points that are so painful that they would be willing to provide you with their email address (or whatever info you’re looking for) in exchange for the answer?

Common audience pain points are:

  • Confusing product/service
  • Too many options
  • Limited knowledge

This deep understanding of customers will help you not only determine what content makes the most sense to promote, but also what language and tone should be used on the landing page in order to maximize conversion rate.

Producing the Right Content

Depending on your goals, not all content makes sense to promote. Especially with increasing web security concerns, users are placing higher and higher value on their email addresses. Along with higher value comes higher expectations.

If you want to turn prospects into customers, it’s critical to surprise and delight with your initial content and never underwhelm. A 600-word PDF that doesn’t provide much unique value probably shouldn’t be gated behind an email form.

If you want to capture an email address the following must be true:

Perceived Content Value > Value of NOT Joining Your Email List

Your audience is smart and knows very well that an email sign-up means joining a marketing list. Although the content may be free, the barrier of email privacy must be overcome with content that is so tempting it cannot be turned down. When this correctly executed and perceived content value is greater than the value of NOT joining your email list, conversion rates can exceed 20%.

Every situation is unique, but some of the content types that we have seen the best results with are (and are my personal favorites):

  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Checklists
  • Buying Guides
  • “How-To” Videos
  • Webinars

Adding value through an initial content piece and then building upon that relationship with a well-thought-out lead nurturing process is what will ultimately lead to content marketing success.

Platforms for Promotion

Let’s now discuss the specific platforms you can use to promote your content online. We usually move to this step when we see that a piece of content starts to gain some traction from either an organic or a pilot promotion program – or both.

What’s Changed?

A few years ago, you could cost effectively rely on key influencers to help your content get some attention online. Today, it has become more cost effective to use paid promotions. Below I cover various platforms for you to consider using in order to get your content the visibility you were hoping for when you created it.

As ad networks have become more sophisticated, audience targeting has improved dramatically. The ability to granularly target your exact audience is critical to ensure your content’s promotional budget is not spent targeting the wrong people. The key is knowing your audience, understanding their behavior, and promoting your content where they are, not where you hope they will be.

Though we will explore Google remarketing, Google display, and Facebook in more detail as they tend to work well for the majority of advertisers, some of the most popular networks for promoting content are:

Google

Social Networks

Native Advertising

Google Remarketing

The conversion rate for most sites typically falls somewhere between 1%-10%, meaning that a whopping 90-99% of your website visitors don’t convert.

website-conversions-by-industry

Some of your site visitors intentionally chose not to convert, but most likely just weren’t far enough down the buying process to pull the trigger. This audience is your “lowest hanging fruit” as they have already expressed interest and are already familiar with your brand.

Remarketing is a display network targeting option that allows you to re-engage users who have previously visited your site. Instead of worrying about finding new visitors, focus on those who have already shown interest in your brand. It’s cheaper and you’ll find that they are you’re best prospects.

Google’s display network is the world’s largest and reaches 94% of US internet users. Google display ads are available on 65% of comScore’s top 200 websites, giving you the ability to show your ads alongside the web’s best content.

Google remarketing examples

Who it’s right for

Most B2B and B2C content marketers.

Targeting Options

Setting up a remarketing campaign in Adwords is simple and just requires a small snippet of javascript code on your website. Targeting strategies can be as simple as “All Visitors” and as complex as you’d like. It’s generally best to target audiences of no less than a few thousand users for data collection purposes.

Your remarketing campaign’s targeting can be aligned extremely granularly with the on-site browsing habits of the audience your content is designed to help.

Create a remarketing list

Results

While CPC can vary quite a bit, $.50 is a fair estimate for most advertisers. Remarketing is almost always a very cost-effective lead generator due its granular targeting options and pre-qualified audience.

Quick Tip:

You can also target remarketing ads to users that have already converted into a lead. These users are your highest value prospects, and re-engaging them through a channel other than email may help push them to become a customer. Here are some additional targeting options:

Targeting visitors who did convert AND

  • Placed an order of more than $100
  • Completed the Free Trial but not yet the paid subscription
  • Converted more than 30 days ago
  • Bought a television but not surround sound

Content designed to help convert prospects into customers or turn first-time buyers into lifelong customers can add tremendous revenue to your business and efficiency to your sales cycle. By allowing content to tell a story and educate consumers, your sales team can spend more time closing sales and less time with unqualified leads.

Google Display

Who it’s right for

Most B2B and B2C content marketers.

Targeting Options

Google’s display network provides a great opportunity to get your content in front of a targeted audience that isn’t searching Google for information related to your business, but is reading about it elsewhere on the web.

Ads can be targeted on the Google display network by any combination of the following targeting options, which can be found under the ‘Display Network’ tab in Adwords:

Adwords targeting options

  • Keywords – Target websites across Google’s publisher network based on keywords and content found on their site
  • Placements – Explicitly target sites, subdomains, or even exact URLs that are extremely relevant to your audience
  • Topics – Target many sites across the web that contain similar topics and themes.
  • Gender – Target users by gender
  • Age – Target users by age
  • Parental Status – Target users who have kids or not

Results

CPC can vary dramatically depending on your industry and competitive landscape. Expect CPCs between $.25 and $3.00, though it is not uncommon to reach outside of that range. The Google display network provides a great opportunity to expand your reach and capture prospects that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily be searching for your product/service, though they may be interested.

If budget is limited, starting with Remarketing is a good idea, though there is substantially more opportunity on the greater display network.

Quick Tip:

Be very mindful of mobile performance, especially on the display network. If budget is limited and your site does not convert mobile traffic particularly well, opting to target only users searching on computers is a best bet.

Facebook

Who it’s Right For:

Targeting Options Facebook AdsJust about all B2B and B2C content marketers. Facebook performs especially well for those whose audience is highly targeted by demographic.

Targeting Options

Most marketers know that you can target by Facebook’s basic targeting option, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Relationship status

Behavior Targeting Facebook AdsBut, you might not have known it’s possible to target audiences on Facebook based on:

  • Remarketing
  • An email list
  • Household income
  • Job title
  • Charitable donations (and to what causes)
  • Whether they are a recent homebuyer
  • The car they drive and when they purchased it
  • If they hold travel credit cards or high-end department store credit cards

This doesn’t even begin to crack the surface of the advanced targeting options available on Facebook but should provide some insight into what is possible with advanced behavioral targeting.

Quick Tip:

On Facebook, a high click-through-rate is vital to keep traffic volume high and cost-per-click low. Because of “ad fatigue,” or a gradually reducing click-through-rate caused by the same users seeing the same ad over-and-over, updating ad copy regularly is critical.

As a general rule of thumb, anytime ad frequency gets near or above 5 in a given 7 day period it’s likely time to update your ad copy.

Ideally, frequency is in the 1-2 range, to keep ads fresh and users from getting “ad blindness.”

Facebook Ads Reporting

Results

With well-crafted targeting and copy, a cost-per-click below $.10 is very attainable. Considering that content creation may have cost you thousands, $.10 to reach your audience is a great investment.

Conclusion

By leveraging content promotion, you don’t have to get stuck alongside your competition, following the “if you build it, they will come” mantra. Five years ago, yes, your audience likely would have come. In today’s competitive landscape, it takes a little something extra to be heard among the noise.

With great content comes great opportunity. With great content and content promotion comes great content marketing.

Beginner's Guide to Content Promotion