Great content is a tremendous asset to any business. Creating and then not taking full advantage of that asset is a missed opportunity, and all too many marketers make that mistake. Using paid content to promote your content marketing across search, display, and social media networks will allow you to capture a significant volume of otherwise unreached prospects and help them turn into customers.
However, paid advertising content marketing strategies are not nearly as simple as choosing a budget and pressing “Go.” Starting with a poor strategy is as good as throwing money out the window; but with a solid strategy, paid online advertising is one of the least risky investments any business can make.
Here are six tips to make sure your paid content promotion strategy is built for success.
1. Select the right content to promote
While all of the content you create should be useful, informative, and interesting, this becomes especially true as you begin to invest advertising dollars to generate content visibility. A number of factors should come into play when choosing content to promote, including budget and goals for the campaign. Typically, the smaller the budget the further down the sales funnel the campaign’s goals will be, meaning that the content needs to drive a more direct and immediate value, like a newsletter sign-up, lead, or sale.
Gated content like free guides and white papers is great for this kind of promotion, as it provides a benefit that is valuable enough to get visitors to provide their contact information in exchange for your content. In this scenario, it is vital to make sure your messaging and content are targeted to potential customers, or you may just be filling your email and lead lists with low-value contacts. This doesn’t mean that the content needs to be promotional in any way — just that it should be of high value to an audience that is relevant to your target audience and your company.
Video content and infographics can also make for great content to promote. If you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on something that you believe has the potential to “go viral” but just can’t seem to get any traction, paid promotion may make sense. Often, these types of content just need a bit of a publicity boost to get the viral ball rolling and then the power of social media will do the rest.
Regardless of goals or budget, your content must be relevant, valuable, and engaging. Irrelevant or uninteresting content will drive low click-through rates. In the world of paid advertising, this will end up costing you much more than just your advertising budget.
2. Select the right network for promotion
Choosing the right network to target is equally as important as choosing the right content, and the decision equates to the question, “What comes first, the chicken or the egg?” — you can create great content specifically for a network, or you can choose a network and create relevant content for it. Certain content will resonate better with users on certain social media networks, so try to put yourself in the shoes of the user and think about what content interests you based on what network you use.
For example, a highly technical white paper related to your business may be a great piece of content but that doesn’t mean that it should be promoted on Facebook. Same goes for gauging success of social media promotions — sometimes shares aren’t everything if the content doesn’t lend itself to being shared. A better network to test may be LinkedIn, where you can target users by profession and job title, increasing your odds of getting in front of a highly technical audience that is already in a more professional frame of mind. Some of the best networks for promoting content are Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and Buzzfeed.
3. Decide on useful measures of success (KPIs)
Using great content to drive direct response-form completions can be a powerful source of business leads. Too often, advertisers launch an ad campaign “hoping for the best,” and months later shift to “looking to improve.” Neither of these goals is sufficient, and both will lead to wasting significant amounts of time and money.
Unless you are creating a new lead type, by working backwards you should be able to calculate exactly what each lead type is worth to you and how much you should be paying for a lead. For example, if you would like to start promoting a free guide, take a look at your current data and calculate the percentage of free guide downloaders who turned into customers and how much those customers are worth to you.
Let’s look at some specific numbers:
- You determine a customer is worth $1,000.
- 5 percent of people who download your free guide turn into paying customers.
- You can then pay $50 per download in promotion to break even ($1000 x .05).
- In this case, using a KPI of “cost-per-lead” and a goal of $25 or $30 per download may make sense.
KPIs don’t have to be limited to cost-per-lead, but should provide information about your content marketing ROI. While calculating website and the social media engagement can be much more difficult, tying it all back to value created is a must. Just measuring clicks, impressions, and shares simply isn’t going to cut it.
4. Create compelling ad copy
A major factor in the overall effectiveness of your paid advertising campaign is ad copy. Generally, the higher your click-through rate, the less you’ll pay for each click. Testing, retesting, and then testing again is an absolute must. Your ad copy should provide a clear message, a killer call-to-action, and a relevant, eye-catching image (if applicable).
While click-through rate is a vital piece of the puzzle, it is just a data point — not an end-all-be-all metric. Improving click-through rates at the expense of conversion rates by making false or misleading claims in your ads is not the way to go. You may have a high click-through rate but you will waste a lot of advertising dollars, as visitors will likely bounce from your site almost immediately. Not only will they provide no value to you in the short-term, they will likely have a negative opinion of your business going forward.
Writing effective ad copy truly is an art — one that few get right the first time. Remove opinion from the optimization process and let your audience, through data, decide which ads perform best.
5. Design your landing page with your KPIs in mind
The landing page of a paid ad campaign is possibly the most important piece of your ad campaign and is too often the most neglected. No matter what the goal of your campaign is — e.g., leads, sales, phone calls, video views, etc. — your page should be optimized to drive that specific action.
Your landing page should:
- Deliver a clear, consistent message that mirrors your ads
- Have a clear call-to-action
- Place important elements in highly visible locations
- Pass the 3-second test: Every site visitor should know what you want them to do within three seconds. Studies have shown that the average site abandoner does so within five seconds of landing, so communicating your message quickly and clearly is vital.
A landing page that does all of these things well will set your campaign up for success from the start.
6. Track your campaigns effectively
Data and knowledge are power. This is true for any business effort, online or offline, paid or unpaid. Despite the recent Google (not provided) update, online media is still the most trackable marketing channel available. Taking advantage of free resources like Google Analytics and using them to their full capacity will take your content efforts to a level you’ve never known was possible.
This all starts with selecting a tracking “naming convention” that makes sense for your business and enables you to segment your data in the most useful ways possible. If Google Analytics is your analytics package of choice, taking advantage of all of the UTM parameters (little bits of code that you attach to custom URLS in order to track your campaigns via Google Analytics) is a great way to make your campaigns more effective. Some items that are useful to track are source, campaign targeting, and any pertinent ad information (headline, text, image). Depending on your network there may be many more or fewer.
Unlike traditional media, real-time data, low-to-no ad budget minimums, and extensive optimization opportunities make for a highly controlled and track-able marketing channel. Solid analysis and a good pre-launch strategy for content promotion will make these assets more valuable than ever.
For more great ideas, insights, and examples for supporting your content marketing, read Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi.