Are website forms dying? Are chatbots a better experience? Should you still be gating your premium content?
On today’s Ground Table episode, we discuss and debate the current state of website conversions.
Ground Up Podcast | Feb 21
Jessica Greene on January 22, 2019 • 23 minute read
In our most recent survey, marketers reported that social media content promotion is more effective than email, paid social, community content promotion, and influencer marketing in terms of promoting new content:
It comes as no surprise, then, that posting to social is the first thing marketers do to promote new content after publishing it.
To find the answer, we asked 41 marketers to share their favorite channels, strategies, and tactics for content promotion.
Here’s what we learned.
Want an easier way to track and analyze the specific sources driving traffic to your website? Well, all you need is Google Analytics and this free dashboard. Once you connect, you’ll see instant visualizations of sessions by source, sessions by social network, and more.
“Sponsored social media posts and paid ads have worked for us in the past for campaigns and event-specific posts,” says alldayPA’s Natasa Christofidou. “However, we have found that organic content that appeals to our followers’ interests is the best way of promoting content.”
Not convinced? Jennifer Noto of Carolinas IT offers data to support the claim: “Any time we post a new blog or update some content on our site, we push that out to our social media channels. I track where our leads come from when someone requests information on our site. Approximately 85% of our leads come from our website and social media posts.”
So which social channels have driven all of that traffic to Carolinas IT? “LinkedIn and Twitter are the biggest traffic generators to our site,” Noto says. “It’s the best way for us to get in front of people who don’t always know what we do or are looking for services that we offer.”
Noto wasn’t alone in mentioning the effectiveness of sites like LinkedIn and Twitter in content promotion. While sites like Facebook may be sending less organic traffic to brands, many marketers are still having a lot of success promoting content on alternative social media sites.
“Our focus has always been on Twitter due to the effectiveness and strength of their business hashtags,” says alldayPA’s Natasa Christofidou. “However, we’ve moved to Linkedin more recently to tap into the power of being part of groups and engaging with other businesses.”
“This method helps build up your engagement and social reactions; different accounts within a group will support and encourage each other,” Christofidou says. “But it also exposes your content and helps encourage lead generation by building page views and backlinks.”
Samuel Meyers of Glacier Wellness agrees: “LinkedIn is a great resource for sharing relevant new content to people in your community. Twitter is best for targeting associated keywords.”
HQdigital’s Meghan Hultquist recommends LinkedIn as a great place to share videos: “The LinkedIn algorithm heavily favors video content, and LinkedIn users seem to really love it too.”
And Isabella Federico of WeBizz reports strong results from promoting content on LinkedIn:
“Last year, we produced a PDF guide with some tips for an effective B2B landing page. The content was free to download—didn’t require any input of user information—because our goal wasn’t to collect leads. We wanted our target audience to download the material, read it, and find out more about our competencies—to increase our exposure.”
Federico continues: “We joined the main LinkedIn marketing groups, prioritizing the ones with more members, and shared our post there with the download link. In three days, we had more than 1,200 visits to the page and more than 500 downloads. We were also contacted by many marketing agencies to write content for them and were asked for consulting sessions.”
“We now implement this strategy for our customers,” Federico says.
Other marketers have found success with Q&A site Quora.
ClickUp’s Josh Spilker agrees: “In addition to waiting for SEO to kick in (which does work!), we like Quora. Our blog posts can provide specific answers to questions, people are willing to engage, and they often convert.”
But how do you take advantage of Quora? Saric shares his strategy:
“The tactic is to find and answer questions that are relevant to the topic of my new post. But I don’t just answer any question—there might be hundreds of them. I do some research to find the most popular relevant questions.”
Saric continues: “I look for questions with the most page views. You can see page view numbers for free on the Quora website itself and in the Quora ads platform. I also look for questions that rank in Google’s top 10 search results for relevant keywords.”
“This reduces the number of questions I answer to promote new content to 5-10 per post,” Saric says, “but it also increases the chances that my answers will be read either directly on the Quora platform or by people searching for answers to these questions using Google.”
In terms of answering questions, Saric says he focuses on “making answers as valuable and informative as possible—but also linking them to the new post I’m promoting.”
To expand your organic reach on social, according to Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray, you have to do more than just post links to your new content. “Content is king, but promotion is queen. You need to spend 20% of your time creating content, 80% promoting it.”
So how should you spend that 80% of your time? Aufray says you should “engage with your community. Try to use social media strategies and channels that have been neglected by your competitors. Be original and creative.”
Coffey & Tea’s Meg Coffey agrees: “You have to customize your content for each channel. Each channel has specific wants and needs beyond just image sizes.”
“From my experience,” Pollard says, “the best way to promote new content is to share it in social media groups with relevant audiences. For example, I write primarily for people in financial services. I share my content in LinkedIn groups related to financial services, in Facebook groups for financial advisors, on wealth management forums, etc.”
Timing is another important aspect of getting the most traction on social, according to Peacock Alley’s Ryne Higgins: “Certain times of the day can get flooded with content. You can get around this and make your content stand out by posting a few minutes before or after popular times. If you know that most of your audience takes in content at 9 a.m., release your latest video at 8:57 a.m.”
And VitaMedica’s Stuart Ridge recommends using data from earlier shares to promote content again in the future: “Compile a list of interesting or engaging content fragments and use them to promote the article. You can use one at a time when you promote the article, and if the content does well, then you can use different fragments to repromote it down the line.”
Finally, ContentBacon’s Sarah Doyle recommends doing everything you can to leverage social media: “Don’t just post and link to the content on your site. Have key stakeholders share it on their personal profiles as well. And if the content is particularly valuable and can generate leads, don’t be shy about adding a paid promotion on whichever platform your audience is most likely to engage with it.”
“Anyone can look at their own organic numbers and see that reach is not huge and the resulting traffic is, of course, even smaller. And anyone who has done social ads knows that reach and traffic for paid social can scale much larger than organic—as big as you want to spend.”
“We could quote you specific data, but every single case study validates this,” Carter says. “I’d have to quote every content campaign and every client we’ve ever worked with!”
And while you could expand your reach further by spending more on paid social, some marketers argue that you can accomplish a lot by just spending a little.
According to Iconic Genius’ James Marques: “Social media advertising is by far the most affordable way to promote your content online. For less than a dollar, you can start sending traffic to your website.”
“The key,” Marques says, “is to provide as much free, high-quality content as possible in the ad. This will build your authority as well as your trust, making you more credible and more worthy of a purchase or sell. Don’t try to sell. Just promote great content in the ad and watch people flock to your content.”
UKU Inbound’s Emma-Jane Shaw has also enjoyed success with paid social with minimal expense: “The most effective content promotion tactic that we’re currently experimenting with is the process of promoting each new blog article on Facebook with highly targeted audiences. These audiences are always based on our buyer personas and their interests.”
Shaw says: “This promotion is generally done with a small budget to ensure that we’re able to drive initial traffic to the article. Inevitably, if it’s a great article, people will either subscribe to that blog or download the advertised content offer.”
And Michael Bibla of Atomic Reach says that LinkedIn isn’t just great for organic promotion; it’s great for paid promotion as well:
“The most effective way to promote new content is to use LinkedIn retargeting. By retargeting website visitors—or visitors who engage with a specific piece of content—it makes it easy to personalize the next content offering to them via LinkedIn. As a free value add, it encourages visitors to re-engage with your brand and drives additional traffic back to your website.”
“For us, leveraging LinkedIn retargeting generated over 50% more clicks than typical sponsored content,” Bibla says.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal claims that email is “the hot new channel for reaching real people.” But what does that mean?
As search and social algorithms have changed over time, brands have found it harder to get their content in front of interested audiences. At the same time, audiences have found it’s more difficult than ever to discover new content from their favorite brands and publications.
As a result, email has resurfaced as a great way for brands to get new content in front of engaged audiences—and for those audiences to make sure that they get to see new content from their favorite brands.
Our survey respondents agree that email is a great way to promote new content, voting it as the second most effective content promotion channel.
“The most effective way to promote new content is to include it in the monthly newsletter that you send to your subscribers,” says Fisher Unitech’s Jackie Tihanyi. “This ensures you’re pushing your content out to people who are interested in the topic and are more likely to engage with it.”
“When we include our content in our monthly newsletters,” Tihanyi says, “we see 5-10% higher engagement than when we post it on our blog page.”
Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing agrees: “If someone has visited your site and provided an email address, they’ve already confirmed that they want to hear more. Sending a regular newsletter with links and content updates takes just a few minutes, reaches your entire regular readership, and virtually guarantees an increase in traffic to your new content.”
Others suggest that combining email and social media is ideal for content promotion. “You want to share your new content far and wide,” says Advice Media’s Joe Sloan. “Social media posts and email blasts are a great way to get initial traction with your content.”
Accelity Marketing’s Cass Polzin agrees: “As soon as a new blog is published to our website, we share it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In the same week, we share it on Instagram and continue promoting it on Twitter.”
Then, Polzin says, “We incorporate our new blog into relevant workflows—ensuring it reaches an audience who has shown interest in the topic in the past—and share via 1:1 email sends for contacts interacting with similar content. As time goes on, we will continue to promote the content via our social media and on Quora.”
Other popular content promotion tactics our marketers recommend are all tied to building a content network: finding influencers to share your content, leveraging affiliates’ audiences, building content that sources industry opinions, and syndicating content on other websites.
“Syndication is the most recent way we’ve been promoting new content,” says John of GoodLife Home Loans. “We take content that we’ve already created and reach out to other blog sites to see if they would be interested in republishing our posts.”
“This is beneficial for our business,” he says, “because it means that other sites are resharing our content. But it’s also helpful for sites that are republishing our content because they have new material to post on their sites.”
Response Media’s Bailey Thompson also recommends ClickZ for content syndication and promotion: “Besides social media, one of the most effective ways to promote new content is partnering with a publication like ClickZ to promote our premium content, like whitepapers.”
If you have an affiliate marketing program, Emily Moore of Colorescience recommends taking advantage of your affiliates’ audiences:
“We do our best to share our upcoming products with our authorized affiliate marketing gurus. It is very effective because these marketing people thrive off of relevant and trending new words. They always want to have the most up-to-date blog post to attract a larger readership to their site.”
If you don’t have an affiliate marketing program, The Good’s David Hoos recommends working with influencers in your industry: “Your best bet when trying to promote your content is to develop genuine relationships with relevant expert influencers and ask for their feedback and notes on your content before it is published.”
Hoos continues: “Once the content has been published, you can then share it with them.
You won’t need to push them to share it. If they helped contribute to the article, they’re more likely to believe in its value and are more likely to share it anyway.”
When working with influencers, Clutch’s Riley Panko says influencers with large audiences provide the most exposure:
“Say we publish a report on social media marketing. If a big-name social media blog covers the data, we can be sure that many other sites that read that big-name blog will also cover our data. If we can only get coverage from smaller sites, we have to work individually for each one, as opposed to experiencing a beneficial waterfall effect.”
Another way to grow your audience is by publishing pieces that feature tips and advice from industry experts.
“Identify the top experts in your field and ask them for their opinion on the topic you are writing about,” says Atanas Valchev of Pixus. “When you publish your post, give them credit and let them know they have been featured in it.”
“This works very well,” Valchev says, “because most times you won’t even have to remind people to share your post with their audience. As an added benefit, this will help you to build a relationship of trust and will open the door for future collaborations.”
“We had over 100 professionals contribute. Once the piece went live, we let them know (using YAMM to bulk email), and many of them shared the piece with their social networks. We also encouraged them to comment on the post on Growth Hackers, which helped us receive a lot of views.”
Based on the volume of votes, our survey respondents clearly agree that social media is a powerful promotion channel. But that doesn’t necessarily make it the best channel for every business.
Instead, says Brand chemistry’s Christabelle Tani, it’s important to remember that “there is no one-size-fits-all approach to promoting content. It depends entirely on who you’re trying to reach.”
“If your audience is using LinkedIn,” Tani says, “then paid social should definitely be factored into your content promotion strategy. But if your audience isn’t at all tech-savvy, perhaps industry events are the best way to go. It all depends on who you’re trying to reach and how they consume information about their industry.”
Greg Schraff of digetry agrees: “In order to know the best channel to use to promote your content, you have to know where your target audience consumes content—you have to intimately know your target persona. Where your audience consumes content depends on its preferences.”
Additionally, different target personas may have different preferences for how they discover and consume content. For that reason, B-SeenOnTop’s Donna Duncan recommends “a broad and multi-site approach, the specifics of which are going to depend on your industry, topic, and audience.”
Here’s how Duncan, and several of our other respondents, use multiple channels to promote their new content.
“For most small businesses, I recommend an approach that typically starts with:
Once this is done, there are other tools and tactics which can be employed to identify other potential opportunities, but this is my starting point.”
“The best channel for content promotion really depends on your audience and how they’re connected to you.
For me personally, I usually post my blog content on Facebook to my personal page and group(s). I also send out an email to my email list(s) the morning the post goes live. I include a few highlights in the email and two or three links to the article within the content.
As I’m not always selling with each blog post, I tend to get a 40% or so open rate—and a fairly decent CTR as well.
This may not be the best solution for everybody, but it’s what works for me.
A client of mine simply posts updates on Instagram to his 250K+ followers, and that sends him hordes of traffic instantly.”
“After going live with new content on our sites, there are a few things we will do.
This way we can bring back new and repeat visitors to the site in hopes to get them to subscribe to our newsletter or act on an offer.”
“We used the tactics below to grow our traffic by 230% in just eight weeks. These tactics are replicable in pretty much any industry. Plus, no budget is needed. Just some time, hustle, and a little bit of elbow grease.
“First and foremost, we always start off with a promotional e-mail about new content, especially if it’s premium content offer. The email is sent to existing contacts in our CRM; we don’t buy email addresses.
The second step is always to promote via social media, mostly LinkedIn since we are in the B2B-industry.
Lately, paid social has proven to be a very effective way to promote content, once again mainly our premium content offers. Field tests have shown that we get at least 50% of our conversions from that channel, and the conversion rate is much higher than, for example, from organic search.”
“We work in three phases: pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.
During pre-launch, we’re trying to create goodwill and relationships with those who have the ability to create a burst of traffic and social proof for our content. This might be an email list of our own, influencers, and/or forums. Our goal is to get them on board with promoting the post when it goes live.
During the launch phase, we’re actively promoting the post, pushing social, some paid traffic, influencer outreach, and more. The goal here is to try and create a wave of impact. Just like no one visits an empty restaurant, its the same with ‘quiet’ content. If you can create early interaction, it’s easier to generate more interest and engagement.
During post-launch, we focus deeply on a few areas: link building via promotion, outreach, guest posts, podcasts, etc. We also start to scale up paid promotion of content so that it reaches a cold audience. The key with paid promotion is to learn how to do it at a profit. This way you can promote your articles to a new audience, while also covering costs and making sales.”
“To effectively promote content, it’s key to use multiple distribution channels to extend your reach. After publishing a new piece of content, I use the following tactics to promote it:
“We have a staff of nearly 30 editors creating content on a weekly basis for our 35+ websites. In order to properly track and train our editorial staff’s promotion of new content, I created what we call our ‘Content Amplification Plan’ (CAP).
Our Content Amplification Plan includes a set amount of promotions on various channels. It looks like this:
Our CAP is part of the process for every piece of content we create. We’ve found that including a social media schedule as part of the content creation process helps to ensure that new content receives the right amount of impressions to succeed, and it saves our editors time scheduling social media each week as our queues fill up (we use Buffer).”
“Just posting content and hoping people see it isn’t enough,” says SocialChimp’s Lauren Petermeyer.
She’s one of several respondents who stressed the importance of engaging with your audience to amplify your content promotion efforts.
Jake McKenzie of Auto Accessories Garage asserts that “the best way to get new content noticed is to engage with your readership. Be active and available on social media, integrate comments on your articles, and do whatever you can to start a discussion and participate in one.”
Michael Pozdnev of I Wanna Be a Blogger takes that a step further and says to engage with people who aren’t already a part of your audience:
“In my opinion, there is no better promotion tactic than to get your content in front of the eyes of those who genuinely need it. And the people who genuinely need it aren’t always your subscribers or followers. Yes, they subscribed, but they may not be interested in your new article. They may not need what you’re offering right now.”
“The people who need what you’re offering right now are people who are actively looking for answers,” Pozdnev says. “Often, you can find those people in comments on similar articles and social media posts. For each of my new articles, I find active commenters and contact them. The result? An average of 190 comments, 7,000 shares, and 50 links from different domains for each of my new pieces of content.”
“And most importantly,” Pozdnev says, “I made friends with all of these people. And now it is much easier for me to promote each new article because I can write to my friends about it, and I am sure that they will support me. As in real life, like-minded friends can be a significant driving force in your success. So always promote your content to those who need it.”
SocialChimp’s Lauren Petermeyer sums it up succinctly: “By emerging yourself into the social communities that exist around the topics you write about, you can position yourself and your brand as a thought leader in the space. That comes with the likely benefit of getting not only additional awareness, but also active engagement, shares, and comments on your content.”
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