Why Your Amazing Content Isn’t Helping Your Small Business
This article is #4 of 6 in our series about content marketing. As a certified Content Marketing Expert, I share what I’ve learned at the Hubspot Academy and as Sunbird’s Content Manager.
You’ve created an interesting, educational piece of content. It’s gone through multiple rounds of edits and revisions. It’s been polished and published. Now you get to sit back and relax while the world eats it up. Right?
Wrong. Promotion is as important as creation when it comes to content marketing success. The most exquisite blog post, infographic, ebook, or web page won’t do your business much good if you don’t promote it properly.
At best, a poorly promoted piece of content will give some value to a handful of people and waste a relatively small amount of your time. At worst, poorly promoted content will drain your resources without any return on investment. A decent piece of content with excellent promotion, on the other hand, has more potential to boost your business! That’s why Hubspot Academy’s motto is “Create less; promote more!”
So what is content promotion? It’s the distribution of content through a variety of media channels. In other words, it’s letting your audience know, “Hey, I just put out this new piece of content and you’re going to love it. Come check it out!” Without a clear, compelling invitation—at the time and in the way they prefer—people won’t know that your content exists, why they should care about it, or how to access it.
You believe that your content is worth promoting, or you wouldn’t have spent precious resources creating it. Where do you start? Let’s begin with the difference between the two types of content promotion: organic and paid.
Organic Content Promotion
Organic promotion is distributing your content without spending money. You can organically promote your content in four different ways.
1. Good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth
Tell your peers, your friends, and your loyal customers about your content. The people who already trust and support you are often your greatest advocates. Be specific; tell them about how that new e-book you wrote could help them or someone they know. Your enthusiasm may rub off on them, and they’ll feel honored to be remembered and singled out.
Some business owners avoid email marketing because they associate it with spam. But, done well, email is much more effective at converting customers than social media (according to the Data & Marketing Association, Radicati, Campaign Monitor, and others). McKinsey found that email is 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter! So, if you don’t have an email mailing list already, go set one up!
In addition to keeping subscribers up to date on recent content via a newsletter, you can also include a link to your latest piece of content in your email signature.
3. SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Make sure people who aren’t already your subscribers or followers can find your content. We’ve spoken about the importance of using popular keywords in our previous post about writing the perfect blog post. SEO is about making sure you rank high in search queries, so that people who are asking the questions you answer will find your content and learn about your business.
4. Social Media.
Social media is one of the easiest and most effective ways to promote your content. Having social media accounts for your business is becoming less and less optional. A simple post on social media with a friendly caption, link to your content, and some popular and relevant hashtags is one of the most effective ways to reach a wider audience and drive engagement. Don’t forget emojis if they’re on-brand! 😉
Paid Content Promotion
Paid promotion advertises your content to a very specific audience. The two most common paid promotion channels for small business are search engine ads and social media ads.
1. Search Engine Ads.
Most businesses buy search engine ads on Google, through Google AdWords. With Google AdWords you can choose who you want to promote your content to, globally or locally. When someone is searching for a topic related to your piece of content, your content will show up in a Google Ad in their search results page. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and you can start with any budget.
Whatever your ad promises (remember to include keywords!), make sure you deliver on that promise as soon as the person has clicked on the ad. No one wants to scroll through the entire piece of content looking for what was advertised. And you don’t want to spend money advertising to a visitor that leaves your content within a second of landing on it.
2. Social Media Ads.
You can buy ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Choose whichever platform(s) your target market prefers!
Twitter Ads allow you to target based on keywords and demographics. That means you can target an audience with specific interests, geography, gender, or device. Similar to Google AdWords, you only pay if someone follows you after seeing the ad or engages with the promoted tweet. You can also start with any budget.
With paid ads, always start with a small budget. Figure out what works best, and then start to invest a little more.
How do you know if your content promotion was successful?
The more specific you are about your goals before you promote a piece of content, the better and faster you’ll be able to improve your strategy over time. Content promotion proves to be successful if it achieves at least one of three things.
It brings more visitors to your website.
Getting someone to your website is an important step in your relationship. Visiting your site shows an interest in who you are and what you offer. It’s an opportunity to show a potential customer your value, bringing them one step closer to a becoming a customer or advocate. No matter what platform you choose to use for promotion, make sure your website link is clearly featured and accessible.
How will you know if your content led to more visitors? Use Google Analytics, a free application that tells you how visitors are engaging with your site and how they got to your site (whether from search results, a social media platform, an email, or an ad).
It improves engagement.
No one is staring at the homepage of your blog, constantly refreshing the page, waiting for you to post something new. Most people don’t go looking for content—they’re looking for answers or entertainment. When people see your promotion of a piece of content that’s relevant to them, they’ll be more likely to both read and engage with it. Likes, comments, click-throughs, and shares are examples of successful engagement with your content.
It generates leads.
Content is meant to build a relationship with your audience. Successful content gets people to trust you. But how are people going to know you consistently put out relevant and helpful content if they don’t hear about it? The more you promote it, the more likely those who are still unsure about you will get to see it and engage with your brand.
How do you know if your content is generating leads? Without complex tracking software, it’s hard to pin down exact numbers. But good signs to look for include the number of direct messages you receive through each platform (e.g. your Facebook posts are doing well if you’re getting more inquiries through Facebook), an increase in mailing list subscribers, and site visitors who return often or stay on your site for long periods of time.
Don’t assume that someone who views your content will engage further with your brand. Make it easy for them to take the next step in their relationship with you. Every piece of content you put out should have a clear call to action. It could be as general as a link to more relevant content or as direct as an invitation to buy your product or service.
Always make sure that the content fulfills its promise and answers the needs of your audience. Great content is all about providing real value and building trust.
Bottom Line: Don’t let all of your amazing content go to waste! Promote your blog posts, social media posts, ebooks, videos, infographics, etc. using organic or paid channels that make sense for your business and your budget. Then measure the success of your content by tracking your site visitors, engagement, and number of leads.
Any questions or thoughts? Leave a comment below! We love to hear from you.