In the digital marketing world, there is an overabundance of content about content marketing. If you’re marketing a business, the promise of consistent, top-of-funnel organic traffic growth from content marketing is extremely promising!
So you digest content about creating content, open your blog subdomain and check the proverbial check boxes for SEO optimization, keyword targeting, and a strategic call-to-action to generate leads. Maybe you even outsource the design to take it to the next level.
What happens when you press publish? It’s like a ceremonial ribbon-cutting: People might show up, but they’re really just friends of the person holding the big scissors or passive onlookers who were walking by when they saw someone with large scissors.
That’s what creating good content can feel like. You put in a bunch of upfront work that feels worthy of a great launch party, only to realize you didn’t invest nearly enough in the next step: distribution.
More often, the next step turns into complaining that “content marketing is nothing but a buzzword!”
Let’s face it: Content marketing isn’t easy.
Every minute, 400 hours of content are published to YouTube. In the first half of 2017, content creators published an average of 2.7 million WordPress posts per day. It’s impossible for content consumers — i.e. your target audience — to sift through the noise and find you without a highly targeted paid distribution strategy.
Since you’re here and have read the headline, I’m assuming you’ve already invested lots of time and energy in producing great content — a blog, an e-book, an independent case study, a high-converting webinar — but aren’t seeing the returns you need to justify content creation. Today, we’re going to cover a few paid strategies that will help you out.
But first, you need to ask yourself….
Is your content actually great?
Content goes beyond the typical blog post. Ebooks, downloadable templates, case studies, demos, guides, white papers, and podcasts all serve their own purpose. The more valuable, trustworthy, and important these resources are for your audience, the more likely they are to convert.
Great content is timely, consistent, experience-focused, and relevant to a specific audience (hat tip to Robert Rose). Start off by taking a moment to ask yourself these questions:
- Have you documented your content strategy and performed adequate keyword research?
- Are you creating highly visual and engaging content?
- If you have a catalog of video content, have you tried creating YouTube ads to drive more traffic?
- Are you providing enough value in your downloadable content, trials, courses, and ebooks to capture qualified email leads?
If you’ve checked all these boxes, great! Now take out the guesswork and use data to validate your hypothesis. You can A/B test by sending traffic to different pieces of content and looking at conversions to see which content is great and which isn’t.
Use paid media to enhance organic performance
Your content strategy shouldn’t be 100% paid and 0% organic, or vice versa. These two work hand-in-hand. Think Harlem Heat. Think Batman and Alfred Pennyworth. Think Sam and Frodo.
Effective paid strategies are the yin to the yang of organic strategies. Engaging with your audience, doing plenty of email outreach, and building partnerships are all best practices that cannot be ignored, but let’s talk about paid strategies that can scale.
Strategy 1: Double listing
Playing the long-tail SEO game is particularly powerful when you can double the amount of owned real estate on a search term. If your piece of content ranks highly already, create an ad for the same term so that you dominate the search engine results page (SERP).
Remember, search volume and audience size are not as valuable as targeting highly qualified leads. If you know a keyword converts well for you in organic search, target it with paid, even if the search volume is low.
The more focused your content, the better able you’ll be to alleviate your audience’s pain point(s) and convert them into customers.
Strategy 2: Build an audience with Gmail Ads
Gmail boasts over 1 billion active monthly users.
With that stat in mind, it makes sense to take full advantage of their advertising opportunities — especially considering it only takes a few minutes to set up a Gmail ad.
One way you can build a highly qualified audience on Gmail is by providing free and valuable content to people receiving emails from your competitors. They’ve already gone out of their way to find content similar to yours, so snatch them right up and show them how you can do things better.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Go broad and target keywords that are associated with your competitor. Gmail will target anyone using those keywords within the body of an email, so anyone who is talking about or sharing your brand. (Note that this method will no longer be available by the end of the year.)
- Get granular by simply adding the URL domains of your competitors. A note of caution: If you add keywords on top of domains, AdWords will treat your targeted domain as a keyword.
Strategy 3: Remarket through custom messaging
Remarketing provides a second chance to reach interested users, which can turn bounces into leads. According to paid search expert Larry Kim, a user is about 15% more likely to engage with a remarketing ad than they would a new display ad, even if they’ve seen the same ad 6 times before.
When remarketing, use different pieces of content based on the stage they are at in the funnel.
For example, if a user bounces on the landing page, send them a remarketing ad with different messaging and a different value proposition.
If a user hits the sign up page but doesn’t fill out the form, use a remarketing ad to remind them to fill out the form because they will get XYZ benefits from your service.
If a user gets to the final confirmation of a form but does not convert again, offer them a discount through remarketing.
What is your best strategy?
The same rules apply to any paid ad campaign. Look beyond your vanity metrics, review your copy, rewrite your callouts, improve your extensions, and experiment with expanded text ads.
Feel free to reach out with any and all questions or success stories @ToddSaunders — I read all my tweets!
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.