There’s a lot of content created every day — and most of it gains almost no attention.
In 2015, Moz and BuzzSumo looked at more than one million articles published on the web. They found that 75 percent of blog posts had no inbound links, and more than half had two or fewer Facebook interactions.
“It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.” – Content, Shares, and Links: Insights from Analyzing One Million Articles
And the web publishing environment has only gotten more cluttered. Most content simply never reaches its target audience. It’s no wonder so many people believe that content marketing doesn’t work, even when we have significant evidence to the contrary.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve taken the time to write a well-researched blog post that can educate your reader or inspire them to take action, there’s no reason you can’t get more eyeballs on your content by taking a few simple steps.
Defining content success
Before we can talk about how to make blogging work for your business, we have to understand the roles blogging, and content marketing in general, play in your business.
It’s useful to think of the customer journey in stages.
Eugene Schwartz did a great job of outlining these stages in the brilliant book Breakthrough Advertising:
- Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”
- Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for them.
- Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result she wants, but not that your product provides it.
- Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.
- Completely Unaware: The person has no knowledge of anything except, perhaps, their own identity or opinion.
If we understand that one of the most important roles content plays is to aid the customer journey by moving the reader from one stage of awareness to the next, then we can see how important it is to reach those people.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see that a successful blog post is one that moves a subset of the audience from one stage to the next. In order for that to happen, we need to be sure that we’re driving the right traffic to our content very deliberately.
If you’re interested in learning more about the stages of awareness and how this applies to the content you create, I highly recommend Brian Clark’s Copyblogger article The 5 Types of Prospects You Meet Online, and How to Sell to Each of Them.
What successful content marketers do differently
Successful content marketers don’t subscribe to the belief that “if you build it, they will come.”
They often spend as much time promoting their content as they do creating it, if not more.
Large businesses often have separate roles on their marketing teams for content creation and promotion, or they supplement their in-house team with an agency to ensure each gets the proper attention.
So, what does a practical content promotion strategy look like?
#1: Begin with promotion in mind
Before you even start writing, consider these questions to tailor your content and prepare your promotion:
- Do I have a realistic shot at ranking for search terms related to this content, given the authority of the domain it’s being published on and my ability to generate links?
- What audiences would be interested in this sort of content?
- Where is my target audience already spending time? What are they already reading?
- What’s the most likely stage of awareness for someone interested in this content?
- Is there a specific action we should ask readers to take next?
Answer those questions while you plan, draft, and edit your content for a head start on an effective content promotion strategy.
#2: Share (almost) every post on social media
If a post isn’t worthy of sharing across every social media channel your audience frequents, it’s probably not worth writing in the first place.
That being said, don’t just start posting the link to your latest “hot-off-the-press” blog post to Facebook and Twitter without a plan.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you craft those social shares:
Take a look at your Open Graph settings
Have you ever noticed that some posts shared on social media have a well formatted image, title, and description, while others may be missing an image or have a description that was obviously written by software? This is due to publishers not paying attention to their Open Graph settings. It’s worth googling how to adjust those for your CMS if you don’t already know how.
Encourage and participate in conversation around the post when you share it. You want your audience to view you as approachable, not as a diva who can’t be bothered to interact. Those people could eventually become your clients or customers, or refer business to you.
Don’t share alone
It’s useful to get early traction, so try to line up a few others willing to share your content before you post it on social media. One of the best ways to do that is to reach out to any person or company you referenced in the article and ask if they would check it out and consider sharing.
Another useful tactic is to have a small group of peers who are also producing high-quality content who will thoughtfully like, comment, or share your latest work. This is sometimes known as an “engagement pod,” or just a “pod.”
#3: Reach out for relevant links
Not only do well-placed links offer the potential to get valuable referral traffic, they’re also one of the most powerful factors influencing search rankings.
Here are a few ways to get high-value links to your content.
Consider round-up posts
Many people publish “best of” lists, or collections of resources they feel may be of interest to their readers. If you have something genuinely valuable, you may have some success pitching your piece to be added to these lists.
If you already have a good relationship with a publication, they may be willing to republish your article on their platform. This will give your content a second life by allowing it to reach another audience, and will also require that they link to the original piece with a canonical tag in order to avoid duplicate content penalties. Republication can also be a smart strategy on important content platforms like LinkedIn and Medium.
Perhaps the most straightforward way of earning high-quality links is to write a piece of excellent related content for another publication, and link to your original work in a contextually relevant way. In my experience, high-quality guest posting has the highest success rate of any link-building technique. Many online publications are looking for good content — just make sure it’s your strongest work.
#4: Build an active email list
Sharing your content to other people’s audiences and trying to write in such a way that your content is discoverable by search engines is wonderful, but nothing compares to having your own audience of potential customers, partners, and advocates waiting to hear from you.
It’s smart to add a simple call to action at the bottom of every piece of content you produce, inviting readers to join your list so they won’t miss new content in the future.
#5: Use content to guide prospects
Chances are, you’re publishing content with the primary aim of helping your prospect as they move through the various stages of awareness — hopefully concluding in a decision to pick up your products or services.
There’s no reason to be bashful about this. In fact, it can be far more helpful to your prospective customers if you make it as easy as possible for them to discover additional content they may be interested in.
One powerful way to do this is with systematic internal linking.
There are a few different ways to go about it:
Often it makes sense to link to other resources that provide a more in-depth explanation or additional thoughts on a particular topic beyond the scope of the current article. Include these links throughout your content.
We’ve all seen the widgets at the bottom of an article that suggest other articles you may be interested in reading. If you’re anything like me, this tactic has caused you to open a ton of tabs if you like the content you’re consuming.
Sometimes readers need a bit more context, allowing them to understand what content is most relevant to them. One way to do this is to create a category page, which details the strongest content you’ve written on a particular topic, divided into subtopics or by level of sophistication.
You could also create a help center or knowledge base that links audience questions to articles you’ve published, using a tool like Intercom Articles.
Deliver value first
Despite the fact that you’re writing in order to further your business, it’s important to remember that your first goal should be to educate and entertain your reader.
Failure to honor this obligation will make the process of growing your audience (and business) far more difficult.
Build trust with your audience over time, create content strategically with a well-defined business purpose, and the business results will follow.
By the way — if you’d like a free copy of the content promotion checklist we use at Conversion Creatives to ensure the content we create gets read, you can pick it up here.