25 Jul 2017

What is Content Amplification?

The role of content in a digital marketing strategy has not diminished in importance. Having a robust content plan that includes frequent publishing, 10x content, and solid SEO best practices should still be your #1 priority. That’s all step one. But, what’s step two? What happens after you’ve done everything right and still aren’t seeing the ROI you were expecting? So, often we find this scenario with clients and others getting started with content marketing:

They’ve worked hard to ideate, create and publish the world’s best pieces of content. Now that the content is published on their site, it’s ready for organic action!

They feel that “this is it, this is what we’ve been waiting for” and then they kick back, and wait for tons of traffic to start rolling in. Surely, content this great will grab people’s attention, drive revenue and bring in leads for their business.

But then, crickets… For months.

At this point, some get impatient, some give up before seeing the rewards of their efforts, and some start to blame content marketing itself for their lack of success. For so long they’ve heard, “content is king” and we at Vertical Measures (and other major players in the world of content marketing) made it seem as though content creation would solve all their digital marking woes.

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The truth is: content marketing takes time.

The very best content marketing strategy can only go as far as a great content #amplification strategy will take it. Click To Tweet

We aren’t, by any means, negating the value of creating fantastic content. That’s never been more essential than it is today. We are saying, however, that companies who are successful at content marketing tend to diversify their traffic sources to get the most out of the content they create.

Why Content Amplification?

Consistent content creation can and will drive traffic to your site (we’ve seen it time and time again). Organic traffic is the life-blood of a content marketing strategy, but when you’re struggling to see traction with organic traffic, there needs to be a plan-B. That’s where content amplification comes in; having a plan to amplify your content beyond organic is the difference between success and mega-success. And who doesn’t want to be a mega-success?

What-is-content-amplification-content-reach

Consider content’s “reach threshold.” Organic reach is a factor, but depending on the type of content and audience you’re trying to reach, other sources might be equally as important for your audience. Ignoring all other channels beside organic could mean you’re missing out on an opportunity for expanded reach to new audiences.

Take the below example taken from a client’s Google Analytics account. For this client, organic and direct traffic consists of roughly 50% of all sessions in the past 6 months. But if you add up the other channels—email, social, paid, referral, etc.—that’s the other 50% of their traffic in the past 6 months! If they weren’t actively pursuing other traffic sources, their traffic would be cut in half!

What-is-content-amplification-Google-Analytics

You can’t ignore these metrics when creating content, you want a healthy mix of traffic sources. Because organic searches will only yield so many visits per month, you’ll want to have a strategy for boosting traffic to that content beyond organic.

It does not need to be one or the other “paid” vs. “organic.” They should work in synchrony. Click To Tweet

If you’re unhappy with the amount of organic traffic to your website, it’s time to branch out and see what other channels might offer more traffic volume and qualified leads.

The Definition of Content Amplification

To define content amplification, let’s first talk about what it isn’t.

Amplification is NOT:

  • A tactic,
  • A one-off task
  • Something you can easily mark off your checklist
  • An alternative to content creation

Instead, our definition of content amplification is the use of paid, owned and earned media in promoting content in efforts to increase brand reach and to encourage new and existing users to move through the sales funnel.

What-is-content-amplification-media

The goal of content amplification is to increase your contents’ reach threshold as much as possible by aligning all your promotion and distribution efforts towards a common goal. As shown above, if you’re using paid and owned channels effectively, it will help you gain earned media attention such as:

  • Brand mentions
  • Press coverage
  • Organic engagement

Of course, organic traffic is always a goal, but you’ll likely need to amplify your content and get it in front of the right people before it starts earning that kind of attention.

How to Develop your Content Amplification Strategy

1. Define your goals

Because content strategy and amplification strategy work together, establish what you’re looking to accomplish with content amplification efforts. What do you want your content to do for your business?

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Once you know what your aspirations are for promotion and distribution, determine how you will measure the success of those goals. If you’re not sure what your specific goals are, it will be difficult to determine whether your amplification efforts are really working, so take time at this stage.

Common goals and metrics to measure

Determine which KPIs make the most sense for you to measure based on what you know about your target personas and audiences, your content strategy, and your goals for your brand.  Set 3 specific goals and metrics that you will regularly measure and base your success from.

What-is-content-amplification-kpis2

2. Audit your content

As stated, content amplification without quality content just won’t work. You need to ensure that you have the right content assets to support promotion and distribution efforts at every stage of the customer journey.

Model your amplification strategy after the customer’s journey. At each stage, your customer needs diverse types of content, possibly delivered in different formats and from various sources.

what-is-content-amplification-audit

The role of content changes at each stage of the customer’s journey. With these changes, the delivery channels that work best also change. You will want to match up the content role with a delivery strategy aimed at getting the message in front of the right audience, at the right time.

Your content amplification strategy should be catered to your audiences’ needs, where they hangout online and what content formats they engage with most. Below are some specific content amplification tactics that we have found work well at each stage to spark action among audiences.

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Awareness

At this stage, the goal is to entertain, spark emotion, create brand awareness and encourage research among your target audience. People at this stage have never seen your brand, offering or service before—so there’s no way that they could know to search for you, yet. Some content examples at the awareness stage might include quizzes or interactive content, video, contests, etc.

Some great content delivery channels are:

  • Remarketing (paid search and paid social)
  • Influencer marketing
  • Digital PR (press releases and media coverage)
  • Paid social media

Consideration

At the consideration stage of the customer’s journey, the goal of content is to educate, be helpful and specific to your offerings. These are people evaluating your product, and considering their options. They might be searching for you organically, so you’ll want to support them in other ways to keep bringing them back to your site to use as a resource. Some content examples might include articles, how-to, comparisons, or eBooks.

Some great delivery channels to consider:

  • Programmatic and paid search
  • Organic social
  • Lead nurture and email marketing

Decision

At the decision stage, your audience is ready to make a purchase decision. The content you present at this stage should create urgency, offer an exclusive value or promotion, and provide reassurance that they’re making the right choice by choosing you. You can deliver these promotions, testimonials, offers, and incentives through tactics such as:

  • Paid search
  • Paid social
  • Influencer marketing
  • Lead nurture and email offers

Advocacy

Once your customers have chosen to do business with you, that doesn’t mean you stop delivering content to them. Instead, you’ll want to utilize the below tactics to re-engage them, offer support, ask for feedback and provide updates.

  • Lead nurture & email marketing
  • Organic social

3. Create Content (if you haven’t already)

We can’t stress the importance of this enough: have a clear connection between amplification strategies and content creation strategies.

If you find that your goals, KPIs, and current content are not aligned, start to ideate content topics needed to fill gaps in your customer journey. You’ll likely find that there are stages of the journey that aren’t being addressed with your current content. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself when planning for content that’s fantastic to promote and distribute:

  • Can you interview experts in your industry or community for either a blog post, video interview or other content piece?
  • What free guides, case studies or e-books could you develop in the next 90 days?
  • What presentations have you given recently that you could re-purpose?
  • What customers can you interview for either a blog post or video interview?
  • What webinars or podcasts could you create in the next 6 months?
  • What major events, conference or holidays could you create content around?

If you need more help organizing your content, use a content calendar to keep you and your team on track and regularly publishing great content.

4. Promote and Distribute your Content – a.k.a. Amplification

Finally, you’re ready to plan how you will promote all this fantastic content. First, you’ll want to perform a thorough analysis of what channels you currently have access. Second, consider if this channel helps you reach your target audience(s). If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely an effective place to promote your content

What channels do you have access to?

Audit your existing channels, and determine whether they will reach the audience that you are attempting to connect with. Consider both organic and paid channels, and how they might be used in tandem with one another. Remember: paid, owned and earned media should work as one unit not as separate strategies. Organic (owned) channels and paid channels are the best ways to start because you have control over these channels, and can easily manage them and optimize your efforts.

what-is-content-amplification-distribution-channels

Can you map your amplification methods to your customer’s journey?

After you’ve selected your ideal channels to promote through, you’ll want to establish what place those channels have in your customer’s journey towards working with or buying from your brand.

First, consider the actions your audience takes along their path to conversion (whether that be a sale or a micro-conversion like a download). Write down what actions they commonly take in a step by step order; if you’re unsure, consider looking at your behavior reports in Google Analytics, or simple survey or interviews some of your loyal customers.

Next, after mapping out the steps to conversion assign a promotional channel to each step aimed at meeting the needs of that customer based upon their actions. Then, identify what the role of content is or should be to meet the needs of that customer.

what-is-content-amplification-amplification-journey

You’ve now completed the first step toward content amplification success! You’ll want to establish processes around executing each step of the above within your own organization. Content amplification takes an army of subject matter experts in paid media, social channels, content strategy and more. It isn’t simple, by any means, but when mastered and done well you can grow your content’s reach beyond its organic potential and drive more leads for your business.


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