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This Content Marketing Riddle is No Joke

We’ve all thought about it.

It’s one of life’s big questions.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

The answers hypothesized for “prominent” thinkers can be found on the internet:

  • Aristotle: To actualize its potential.
  • Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken nature.
  • Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.
  • Capt. James T. Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.
  • Bob Dylan: How many roads must one chicken cross?

Content marketers ponder a similar question: Why does your target audience cross the road? What calls to action were they responding to?

But only asking why omits an essential question to better understand the chicken and your audience: How did they find the road?

How does your audience find the road to cross, asks @mrstrongarm. Click To Tweet

How did they find your post, your site, your case study? It might have been dumb luck, but more likely, they were guided to the road. Someone or something gave them directions. 

And guess what? That someone or something needs to be you and your brand.

Let’s look at eight less expected examples of directional content that points your audience to your content marketing road.

1. Include links in your email signature

Email signatures are marketing tools. Include a content link in your signature or tack one on underneath. Encourage your team and others in your company to include a content link in their signatures too.

Include a link in your signature to further the reach of your #content, says @mrstrongarm. Click To Tweet

Promote a piece of content that’s timely and relevant to the target recipient audience. For example, the content shared by a sales team member (targeting customer prospects) may be different than the content shared by an HR team member (targeting employees).

I insert a small graphic (400 by 146 pixels) below my signature and ink to the related content.

2. Ask your content consumers to share a sentence

Click to Tweet is a link generator that allows readers to share your content through their Twitter account.

Find a catchy line in your blog post – something “tweetable.” It could be a quote, advice, or a statistic. Then compose the tweet: text (about 100 characters) + short link to post + handle + hashtags.

Go to Click to Tweet’s site. Type in the tweet and click “generate link.” Incorporate the newly created custom link into the blog post’s text.

Image source

Readers who click on the hyperlink will see the tweet, which automatically connects to their Twitter account. All they must do is click “tweet” to share it with their followers.

I took Click to Tweet to another level – incorporating the tweet link in a graphic instead of plain text. The visual treatment gets more attention and showcases the featured quote more prominently.

3. Promote internal links via helpful resource section

Internal links not only help Google index your site to see the depth of your content on a subject, they can also guide your current readers to other helpful content. You can incorporate links naturally into the text as hyperlinks. Say you’re writing about topic A. Another page on your site talks about an aspect of topic A in detail. You pick the most relevant phrase or word in the primary content and hyperlink it to the more detailed page. It’s natural, helpful to your reader, and it also induces the reader to spend more time on your site.

You also can include internal links in a list in the primary content. Use a header or intro like Helpful Resources (or Handpicked Related Content as CMI does). You can include these at the end of the post or incorporate them throughout the article.

10 More Helpful Resources to Get Your Audience to Your Content Road

  1. Buy ads – Social Media Advertising 101: How to Get the Most Out of Your Ad Budget.
  2. Write guest posts – The Ultimate Guide to an Effective Guest Blogging Strategy in 2019
  3. Promote posts via email marketing – How to Deliver Emails That Will Increase Reach
  4. Post others’ content on social platforms – Cathy McPhillips on How CMI Uses Social Media
  5. Leave comments on others’ posts – Your Must-Have Checklist for Successful Blog Promotion (Infographic)

TIP: Include internal AND external links to best serve your audience.

Include internal and external links in your #content to best serve your audience, says @mrstrongarm. Click To Tweet

4. Write original promo posts for every social share

You know to promote your new content on social media. You also know to promote it several times on a platform like Twitter to maximize exposure. What you may not appreciate is the value of going beyond cutting and pasting the title and link or the intro over and over.

Use social platforms to test what aspects of the new content appeal to your audience. Vary your social promotion text. Use different points or themes from the post. What doesn’t pique the interest of one follower might arouse the curiosity of another.

TIP: Tailor the promo text to the platform.

When promoting your content on #socialmedia, tailor the promo text to the platform, says @mrstrongarm. Click To Tweet
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 4 Secrets to Building Social Momentum

5. Create a ‘talk trigger’ to generate word of mouth

I discovered Jay Baer’s idea of a talk trigger earlier this year. A talk trigger is an amazing and unexpected experience that gets customers talking about your brand in a positive way.

Here’s the catch – the trigger must be something you can do for every customer. It also has to have a natural association with your business.

How does this relate to content marketing, you ask? Your talk trigger leads your customers to post content for you.

For example, Jay talks about the talk trigger the DoubleTree by Hilton chain gives each guest – a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Guests share their enthusiasm for the cookies on Twitter – even when they haven’t eaten one recently like this person:

6. Use Pinterest to promote posts

Pinterest isn’t just a lot of pretty pictures of things for sale. People use it to find products and information. It’s a search engine.

Think of @Pinterest as a search engine. Promote your #content in pins, advises @mrstrongarm. Click To Tweet

Post an image (“pin”) or all the images from your post and link it to your blog post, landing page, etc. You can see which images resonate better with your target audience and focus on those types of images for future content.

Since Pinterest is a visually oriented platform, take time to design an appealing pin. A good place to start: Peg Fitzpatrick’s How to Create a Successful Pin for Pinterest.

Here is a nicely done pin from social media expert Kim Garst. She created a fresh graphic to fit the Pinterest format (vertical) and fit the style and imagery from the originating post.


7. Promote your post in a LinkedIn status update

Many people republish their posts on LinkedIn. The drawback is that the reader stays on the LinkedIn platform.

Drive traffic to your site by promoting your post through a status update on LinkedIn. I usually start with the words: “New on my blog,” then add a description, hashtags, and the URL. LinkedIn pulls an image from the link to show in the status update. When readers click on the link or the image, they go to your site to consume the content.

8. Get your name out

Help A Reporter Out is a free service that connects sources with writers. Become a source to raise your and your brand’s profile in third-party media, such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and BuzzFeed, as well as business magazines, and lesser-known trade journals, and blogs.

Here’s how it works: Content creators submit a request for experts on a topic to HARO. Three times each day, HARO sends an email with those queries to potential sources (i.e., you). If the publishing outlet and topic are relevant to you and your brand, you can reply to the content creator with your insight. The content creator picks the best responses to include – or be interviewed – for their stories.

Don’t limit raising your and your brand’s profile to HARO responses. Look at requests for sources in relevant Facebook groups, on Twitter, etc. Identify media covering your industry and introduce yourself and your brand as a resource. Write guest blog posts for third-party sites that reach the audience you’re targeting.

Always give directions

You should continue to ponder – and answer – why the chicken (i.e., your target audience) crosses the road. They need a reason to get to your brand’s content, to connect with you, and to trust you.

But never forget, they need to find the road first.

Want to find the best road for your brand’s content marketing team to cross? Make plans for a road trip to Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 3-6, for the world’s largest content marketing event. Register today using code CMIBLOG100 to save $100. 

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used). 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute