Promoting Your Content To Increase Traffic, Engagement, and Sales

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing

Written by Neil Patel & Kathryn Aragon

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The secret to content marketing boils down to three things: creating great content, making sure it gets found in search engines, and promoting it to your followers.

You've learned the secrets of creating great content and making sure it ranks well in search engines. Now let's talk about ways to promote your content.

The day content goes live

On the day your content goes live, you want to announce it to your list so it can generate traffic to your site.

Here's a basic plan for getting the word out:

Email it to your list.

  • Option 1 - Newsletter

    As a content marketer, you need an email list. Each time you publish, notify your list that the content is available.

    A few ways to handle this:

    The day content goes live #1
    • Newsletter with full article and, perhaps some ads. Readers may read the content without clicking through to your website.
    • Newsletter with blurbs to several articles and "read more" links. It may or may not have ads since readers must go to your website to see the articles.
    • Email from you, introducing the article and linking to it.
    • Automatic email with title and link. (Sent from your email service whenever you publish to your blog.)

    Note:

    Automated emails tend to get lower engagement. If you can, write a personal email to announce your content. It takes more time, but the results are worth it.

  • Option 2 – Promotional email with landing page

    The day content goes live #2

    If your content is a special report or other long-form content, consider creating an HTML email to promote it to your list.

    In this example from Marketto, the subject line is:
    New Content | The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation

    The email includes a picture of the report, a short description and bullets highlighting the information it provides.

    Click through, and you arrive at a landing page with an opt-in form. This type of promotion leverages your existing list to gain even more followers.

    The day content goes live #3

    Note:

    Be sure to include share buttons in your email (and on your landing page too) so your followers can share your content with their connections.

  • Tweet about it three to four times

    The day content goes live #4

    If you are active on Twitter, plan to tweet about your post in the morning, midday, and evening on the day you publish. You may also post a fourth time, late at night.

    Experiment with the times that work best for your audience. The hours that get the best responses will be different, depending on your audience.

    Note:

    Only 20% of your posts should be about your own content. So if you tweet once or twice a day, you should only promote your content once on the day it goes live.

    Make sure that 80% or more of your tweets are non-promotional.

  • Post once in Google+

    The day content goes live #5

    It's a good idea to include a comment introducing your post. If you do, you can optimize the post to show up in SERPs.

    Include hash tags (as in Twitter) with keywords. And if you mention an influencer in your post, tag them in your comment.

    The day content goes live #6

    To tag someone you mention in your comments, type a plus (+) and their name.

    As soon as you start typing after the plus sign, a drop down will appear with people in your circles whose names begin with that letter.


    The day content goes live #7

    Select the one you want, and s/he appears in a light blue box. His or her name also appears in the "Share with" box, and s/he will be notified when you click "Share."


    The day content goes live #8

    Of course, you don't have to leave a comment with your Google+ posts. If you are in a hurry or if the title of your post says it all, you may simply post the article with no comment.

    Generally, one post in Google+ is plenty. Any more than that could be perceived as spam.

    Note:

    When you post content, be sure to set your privacy setting to "Public." This will help you rank better in Google.

  • Post once in Facebook

    The day content goes live #9

    As on Google+, just one post per piece of content is usually sufficient.

    You may include an introductory comment — or not.

The week content goes live

You may continue to post about your content throughout the week. But don't overdo it. Your followers want to see more in your social streams than posts about your own content.

Here are some tips for promoting your content on the days following publication.

  • Tweet about your post several more times throughout the week.

    The week content goes live #1

    Don't retweet the same post all week long. On Day 1, you probably posted the title of your content. Here are a few ideas for tweeting without mentioning the title:

    • Tweet a quote from your content.
    • Tweet your thoughts about the post.
    • Tweet the big benefit of reading your content.
    • Tweet a comment about how well it's being received.

    Here's a sample schedule for tweeting during the week:

    • Twice on Day 2: morning and afternoon at your peak response times.
    • Once on Day 3: at your morning peak response time.
    • Once on Day 4: at your evening peak response time.
    • Once on Day 5: at your afternoon peak response time.
  • The week content goes live #2

    Share on your LinkedIn status update.

  • Share your post in related LinkedIn groups.

    The week content goes live #3
  • Share you post in other social media sites you belong to.

    The week content goes live #4

    If you're active in a social channel, share your content with your followers.

    Just be careful to follow the accepted rules for sharing in that channel.

  • Respond to social shares

    The week content goes live #5

    Like or +1 shares in Facebook and Google+. Respond to mentions and retweets in Twitter with a friendly thank you.

    Always reward social interaction with more interaction. It is social media, after all.

Ongoing promotional activities

Promotion isn't all about increasing your numbers. It's about finding and connecting with a community. And true promotion is reciprocal. So if you mention others, they may start mentioning you too.

But if you don't create a strategy for building a community, your efforts may be haphazard at best. So it can help to create a list of people you would like to develop relationship with.

Here's how to do that:

  1. Create a list of influential
    bloggers and tweeters in your industry.

    Ongoing promotional activities #1

    Add a tab to your Content Planner and call it: Bloggers

    Create tabs across the top:

    • Blogger
    • Brand
    • Website
    • Expertise
    • Twitter
    • Google+
    Ongoing promotional activities #2
    • Then build a list in influential bloggers, brands, and tweeters in your space.

      Your goal is to generate anywhere from 50 to 500 people who blog or talk about your core topics. You want to find people with influence in your space.

      Include people who:

      Ongoing promotional activities #3
      • Are already engaging with and commenting on your content.
      • Well-known bloggers and reporters in your space who haven't discovered you yet.
      • Are already members of the community you're trying to join.
      • Are on the fringes of the community you want to join.

      Ongoing promotional activities #4

      Once you've created your list (we'll cover how you do that in a moment), select 10 to 20 people on that list to be your targeted high-value influencers. Place these people at the top of your list.

    • How do you find bloggers for your list?

      Technorati.com is a great resource for finding blogs in your space.

      1. Click "blog" at the front of the search bar, then enter your search term in the search bar. Click the magnifying glass icon to begin your search.

        Ongoing promotional activities #5
      2. Review your search results.

        Ongoing promotional activities #6
      3. Click on the name of a blog to review its stats.

        Ongoing promotional activities #7

        Look for blogs that are related to your own core topic and that list writers you can connect with.

      4. Copy and paste your favorites into your Blogger List.

        Ongoing promotional activities #8

        Enter the name of the blogger in the first column, the blog or brand in the second. Copy and paste the link to their website/blog in the third column.

        If there are multiple writers at a blog, create separate entries for each blogger you want to connect with.

        Remember, you can't connect with a brand. Only with people. So emphasize "bloggers" rather than "brands."

      5. Take a look at the blurb under the blog's URL.

        This is the brand's description of what they do. In other words, it's their expertise.

        Ongoing promotional activities #9
      6. Take a look at the blurb under the blog's URL. Copy and paste some or all of this description it into your blogger list under Column D, "Expertise."

        Ongoing promotional activities #10
    • Now find the bloggers' social media profiles.

      The easiest way to do this is with a Google+ search.

      1. Enter the blogger's name in the search bar.

        Ongoing promotional activities #11
      2. At the blogger's profile, click the "About" tab.

        Ongoing promotional activities #12
      3. Scroll down until you see their social media profiles.

        Ongoing promotional activities #13
      4. If the blogger is on Twitter, his or her Twitter handle will be here.

        Copy and paste it into your blogger list. (Excel doesn't like the @ symbol, so leave it off.)

        Then copy and paste the blogger's Google+ URL into your list.

        Ongoing promotional activities #14
    • If you find email addresses, add them to Column G.

      If you have an email for the people in your list, it will be easier to communicate with them. Unfortunately, it isn't always available. Well-known people don't always make their email address public.

      It's not the end of the world if you can't find an email for the people on your list. If you have their twitter handle or Google+ profile, you can still communicate with them through direct messages.

      Followerwonk.com is a useful resource for finding Tweeters in your space.

      In addition to collecting bloggers' names, you can find tweeters who are influential in your core topic.

      Ongoing promotional activities #15
      1. Click on the "Search Twitter bios" tab at the top of Followerwonk.

        Ongoing promotional activities #16
      2. Enter your keyword in the search bar. This indicates the expertise of people you want to connect with.

        Ongoing promotional activities #17
      3. Review your results.

        Ongoing promotional activities #18

        Notice in the left hand column:

        • A blue arrow indicates you already follow this person.
        • A green arrow indicates that they follow you back.
        • A red circle with a line through it indicates that you don't follow them or they don't follow you.
      4. Add the people you already follow to your list of bloggers. Put their name in Column A and their Twitter handle in Column E.

      5. Click on people's name in Followerwonk, and you'll be taken to their Twitter profile. There you find their website.

        Ongoing promotional activities #19
      6. As you did above, search Google+ for additional contact information.

  2. Categorize your list

    • When your list is complete, segment it according to that relationship's value to your business.

      Rank bloggers into an A, B, or C category.

    • A = High-value contacts that you want to target for relationship-building purposes.

      Ongoing promotional activities #20

      These people have a high level of influence and are accessible. They often share links to good content, and if you tweet or mention them in a Google+ post, they respond.

      There should be 10-20 people in this list. No more.

    • B = Valuable connections, but you aren't targeting them right now.

      Ongoing promotional activities #21

      These people may have a high level of influence but are not prone to interact. They could have a medium-level of influence or be up-and-comers.

      This list may be 200-300 long.

    • C = Lower-priority connections that you still connect with.

      Ongoing promotional activities #22

      These people are likely less influential than the people in you're A and B categories. They may be people who cover your topic, but not as their core topic. They may have little influence but actively share your content. They could also be people who aren't well-known but are fun to interact with.

      This list may be any length.

    • Start recording your interactions with these people

      Ongoing promotional activities #23

      In order to build connections with the people on your list, you need to get to know them. And to do that, you need to keep track of who you reach out to, who responds, and what the results are.

      When you reach out to someone, either by email or through social media, put the date and the connection made.

      If they respond, put the date and whether they liked your idea, whether they responded favorably, and other details that could help future interactions.

    If you don't have time to create this list, try hiring someone to do it for you. ODesk is a good place to do that.

  3. Link to the bloggers in your list.

    Ongoing promotional activities #24

    Now it's time to start leveraging your list to promote your content. The name of the game is:

    • Name recognition
    • Credibility

    Connect with the bloggers on your list and begin following their work.

  4. Send a personal email to high-value contact.

    When you create content that could be of interest to one of the bloggers on your list, send them an email to tell them about it.

    Use the "Expertise" column of your blogger list to decide whether the article is relevant to them.

    Only send them information you feel will be particularly interesting to them, and only about subjects that are relevant to them.

    Note:

    This email is similar to the "Link Bait" email we told you about in Chapter 8. But when dealing with your high-value bloggers, don't ask for a link.

    This is very important. Your objective here is relationship. So don't ask for anything. Treat this email as a courtesy, not a request, and you'll get it right.

    • If the topic is relevant to the blogger:

      SUBJECT: Wanted to share…

      Hi [insert name here],

      I've been following your work for a while now. And I have to say, I'm a big fan!

      Actually, that's why I'm emailing. I just published a [type of content] about [topic], titled, [insert name of article]. Because you talk about the same topic, I thought you might be interested.

      If you'd like to see it, you can find it at this link:

      [insert link here]

      Just wanted to let you know… and to thank you for all your effort making [insert their website here] such a fantastic resource.

      Cheers!

      [your name]

    • If you featured the blogger:

      SUBJECT: You were featured in a blog post today

      Hi [insert name here],

      I just wanted to let you know that you were featured today in my article, [insert name of article].

      If you'd like to see it, you can find it at this link:

      [insert link here]

      Just wanted to let you know… and to thank you for all your effort making [insert their website here] such a fantastic resource. I continue to be one of your biggest fans.

      Cheers!

      [your name]

    • Does it work?

      Yes, if the content is valuable. Take a look at this post:

      Ongoing promotional activities #25
    • A few tips:

      Don't email too frequently. (That's one of the reasons to keep a record of your interactions.) If you do this too much, you'll come off as a stalker (at best) or a spammer (at worst). Neither will help you reach your goals.

      Only alert your A-list to well-written, high-quality content. If you don't think it's the best content you've ever created, hold off.

  5. Ask for Tweets

    If you create some content that is relevant to people in your blogger list, notify some of them and ask them to tweet it to their list.

    Here's a sample tweet you could use:

    I'd love it if you'd tweet my post to your followers. [insert link] Let me know if you need a tweet from me.

    Be aware, most people will not do this. When we've done it, we've seen 3-8 tweets for every 100 requests.

    As an alternative, you can promote them in a tweet to your own followers:

    Learn [topic] from the best: @twitterhandle @twitterhandle @twitterhandles. [insert link to article]

    This may generate a retweet by the people you promote.

  6. Email website owners to ask for a link.

    First, write a blog post that could be of value to the blogger or brand.

    Second, send them an email alerting them to it.

    Third, let them know you're a fan and would appreciate a link to your post.

    The email could look like this:

    SUBJECT: Thought you might like this…

    Hi [insert name here],

    I've been following you for a while now, and I notice that your followers really engage when you publish [topic or type of content].

    I thought you might be interested in a [type of content] about [topic], called [title].

    You can find it here: [insert link here]

    So far it's gotten a lot of response from my followers.

    Number of shares

    Number of tweets

    Number of comments

    And I wondered if your followers would like it too.

    If you think so, feel free to share it with them… either in social media or a link on your website.

    No pressure, of course. I just thought it might be of use to you.

    Thanks, and have a great day!

    [your name]

  7. Leave comments on other people's blogs.

    In Chapter 8, we talked about using optimized comments to help your blog posts rank better. Here we're talking about comments you leave on other websites — in particular, you're A-list bloggers.

    Your objective in commenting in other people's blogs is not to gain back-links or to generate traffic. Your objective is to add value to the post you're commenting on.

    When you do this, you will get noticed by the blogger whose posts you're responding to. You'll also get noticed by others who read the comments. And because you have no ulterior motive (other than adding value to your target blogger), you'll leave a positive impression that could cause people to look for your website to learn more about you.

    • Here's how to do it:

      Ongoing promotional activities #26
      1. Read the article carefully so you fully grasp what it's about.
      2. Select one point in particular you like, or one question you'd like answered.
      3. Write a thoughtful, interesting comment that responds to that one point or asks your question.
      4. You may add ideas or dispute points, but be very respectful of the writer.

      Again, your goal is to add value to the content.

      Here's an example of a comment that does just that. It responds to the article, then adds a link to one of his own posts on the same subject. Ordinarily, if your objective is to add value, you don't leave a link. However, in this case, the additional information is received as a value-add because the commenter responds to specific points made in the post.

High-powered promotion strategies

  1. Create an annual "Top 100" list.

    You already have a list of bloggers and content creators in your space. Put it to use by creating a "top 100" list and publishing it on your website annually.

    1. Create a badge.
    2. Put the 100 people on your list.
    3. Contact them and let them know.
    4. In your email,
      give them the code for the badge to put on their website.

      In that code, include an "href" back to the "Top 100" post on your website.

      <a href="http://yourdomain.com/your-top-100-post/" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/title-of.png" title="Named in the your-brand Top 100 topic list for year" alt="Top 100 topic badge">

      Want to see how other Top 100 lists are done? Check out these sites:

  2. Create an annual benchmark report or survey

    High-powered promotion strategies #1

    A survey or annual report on a particular aspect of your industry can give you instant status as a thought leader in your space.

    It needs to be data that is helpful to people and that they often ask themselves.

    It needs to be thoroughly compiled, with graphics and results clearly discussed.

    Here's how you can do it.

    1. Compile a list of data or information that would be
      useful to members of your community.
    2. Create a survey and send it to everyone in your list.
    3. Compile the information.
    4. Present your findings in a special report.
    5. Publish and promote the special report.

      Repeat annually.

  3. Create a certification program in your industry

    High-powered promotion strategies #2

    If you're the brand that trains people to do what you do, you have built-in authority and trust. As a result, all your content will be perceived as higher value — which will cause people to seek out your content and engage better.

    Note:

    We aren't talking about a free course for sign-up, such as this one, which we use to build our list.

    We're talking about a training program that requires payment for enrollment and a test to complete.

    An example of this type of program is Success Works' SEO Copywriting Certification training.

    High-powered promotion strategies #3

    Certification is achieved by completion of the training modules and passing the test.

    After completion, the participants get a badge to put on their website.

    While it takes a lot of work to prepare this type of program, if you already create content, you have the skills to do it. We'll cover this more in-depth in Chapter 10, but here's the short version:

    1. Choose a topic.
    2. Design your program, including delivery and format.
    3. Prepare your sales materials.
    4. Create your materials.v
    5. Upload your materials.
    6. Test the program.
    7. Edit your program and sales materials.
    8. Promote your program.

    When it's all done, you can add to your bio that you're the creator of the industry certification program. This type of authorship is an incredible clout booster. If the program is well-received, it gives you instant credibility as an authority in your field.

  4. Write a book

    High-powered promotion strategies #4

    Another way to build authority in your space is to write a book. It could be an ebook like this one… or it could be a print book or a digital book sold on Amazon or your website.

    The creative process for writing a book is the same as for shorter content. But it does take more time to complete. If you don't have time yourself, consider hiring a freelance writer to co-author it or ghostwrite it for you.

    See Chapter 7 for tips on finding writers.

    As with a certification program, the content in your book needs to be of the highest quality.

    Follow the same steps for creating a certification program:

    1. Start with your back-page copy.
    2. Do more than your average amount of research.
    3. Write your content one chapter at a time.
    4. Prepare an introduction and a conclusion,
      and any appendices you want to include.
    5. Edit, edit, edit. It isn't unusual for
      a book to require ten or more rounds of edits.
    6. Hire an editor for the final edit.

      Some good resources for writing and publishing your book are:

      • Publishize: How to Quickly and Affordably Self-Publish a Book That Promotes Your Expertise

        by Susan C. Daffron (Nov 12, 2008)

      • The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living

        by Peter Bowerman (Aug 1, 2006)

    We realize that developing industry-recognized programs and writing books don't seem like promotional activities for your content. And it's true. They don't drive traffic to a particular blog post or Web page.

    However, after reading a well-written books, people often search for the writer's website, subscribe, and follow him or her in social media.

    As an author, you are considered an expert in your topic, and you gain Authority with Google, your peers, and followers. So indirect or not, it's one of the most powerful forms of promotion available.

    If you have an idea and the time to write a book, it's definitely worth the effort.

Make promotion a daily activity

In this chapter you learned direct and indirect ways to promote your content.

Direct promotion involves sharing the content with your followers through email and social media.

Indirect promotion depends on your ability to build relationships with influencers in your space and your ability to develop name recognition and credibility.

Both work. But they work best if you implement both strategies. And you need to do it on a daily basis.

Make it a habit to perform all these promotional tasks — promoting your individual pieces of content and building your authority as a thought leader — and your content will get noticed, engaged with, and ultimately, help you grow your business.

Growing your business is the bottom line objective with content marketing. And promotion is a great way to ensure your content leads to growth. But there's one more thing you need to do to gain all the benefits of content marketing, and that's monetizing your content.

Learn all about it in Chapter 10, "Driving Business Objectives with Content: 5 Simple Strategies for Monetizing Your Content."

Sound good?

Let's start …