How to Use Paid, Earned and Owned Media Tactics to Promote Content

180521689_(1)Content promotion isn’t complicated. It’s just making sure content is optimized for the search engines, sent to an appropriate email list and broadcast socially, right? If it were only that simple.

Unfortunately, search algorithms aren’t as reliant on on-page factors at determining relevance anymore, organic social reach is declining and not every brand has a significant opt-in email database. As a result, brands that wish to rely on these tactics must have patience.

The amount of patience required is dependent on the level of inbound adoption within any given industry. For example, a bee keeper just getting started with inbound marketing might see results faster than a new marketing agency. Marketing as an industry is highly saturated with content.

Agencies across HubSpot’s partner network know this all too well because they see varying levels of success at varying timeframes across their clients and across industries. Unfortunately, most enterprises aren’t patient enough to wait six, eight, 12 or more months for the return they need to justify their budgets. They generally get one quarter to prove worth. 

The tactics described above are in the context of owned media (content broadcasting). It’s the exclusive reliance on broadcasting channels by newer inbound adopters that burdens the success curve. Building an audience to promote to from scratch takes time.

Many of the brands that have built large and boisterous audiences over many years still drive tremendous returns through content broadcasting. Unfortunately, late inbound adopters don’t have the luxury of broadcasting to large owned audiences that have been nurtured for many years.

For those marketers who find themselves in this position the below graphic details some of the best paid and earned media tactics for promoting content. These tactics can empower newer inbound adopters to see results quicker, help agencies reduce churn by driving client results faster and allow enterprise marketers to show a return within a quarter.

The Tactics of Content Promotion

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Content Coverage

This is perhaps the most powerful of the three content promotion channels. From getting the President of the United States to endorse your company to driving eight figures of incremental revenue, earning attention for a brand’s content can drive brand awareness, traffic and conversions to nurture.

Media Relations

This is a tried and true stalwart of public relations (PR). However, it doesn’t have to be all about pitching brand, product and service stories to journalists and editors. Marketers and PR professionals alike can pitch a brand’s ebook, guide, study, etc. if it’s prudent to the audience of the publication. Below shows the growth in leads (in purple) from one link to an ebook featured in a story on Inc.com.

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In total, this one link drove over 800 incremental leads in 30 days. The day after it was published one in five total website visitors downloaded the ebook.

Influencer Outreach

Also known as influencer marketing or influencer advocacy, influencer outreach is quite similar to media relations. Although, typically, the people targeted are influential in their industry and aren’t necessarily journalists or editors. Influencers can be bloggers or people that amass large social followings around their perceived expertise.

The result of outreach can lead to something as simple as a social share, a direct or indirect endorsement on a blog, or full-on collaboration with a project or campaign. The example below helped drive nearly 5,000 unique website visitors to the article and over 500 Google pluses in just two weeks.

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Bylined Articles

These result when media outlets invite company executives with very specific expertise to write for them. Some are one-and-done, a series of articles or even a weekly column. Bylines cost nothing, but the time it takes to research the media and pitch them why a brand’s executive should write for them. Once a byline is earned citing ebooks, guides, studies and blog posts can drive copious amounts of traffic and conversions.

Below is my own byline from UK’s The Guardian.

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Syndication

This tactic was a cornerstone of the newspaper business for many years and turned some journalists into cult celebrities. While not a cornerstone of the Internet, having content syndicated to other websites serves the same purpose – getting content in front of many more eyeballs. Any calls to action or citations leading back to landing pages in the original content can drive massive amounts of conversions over time.

Below is an example of one of several syndication relationships Relevance.com has. After publishing it’s not uncommon to see the article syndicated to five or more other websites. Each one credits the original source of the content, as seen below.

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Content Distribution

Distribution in the context of online content was first coined by Ryan Skinner of Forrester in his report, “Put Distribution at the Heart of Content Marketing.” He clearly delineates between traditional online ad networks and the quickly growing ecosystem of native advertising channels. Native distribution is more conducive to content marketers than banner ads and lacks the pervasiveness of banner blindness.

However, aside from marketers and publishers, not everyone is convinced that native advertising is a good thing. The Federal Trade Commission can’t even agree on how to regulate it and John Oliver pokes fun of it on his show.

Native Advertising (Content Discovery)

Networks like Taboola, AdBlade and Outbrain are quickly growing. With more than 90 percent of companies admitting to content marketing adoption, it’s not surprising. Outbrain reports a six percent click through rate across its 100,000-plus publisher network.

These networks allow marketers to get their content in front of very large audiences while simultaneously helping traditional media outlets grow revenue – something many of them haven’t been able to do for more than a decade.

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Advertorials (Sponsored Content)

These are another way for brands to tap into another website’s audience. Brands using this paid tactic publish articles on other websites or media outlets. Popularized by Forbes, online advertorials are beginning to crop up all over the Internet. However, media buying for sponsored content is still in its infancy. Pricing varies widely across the media – from six figures to a couple hundred dollars.

Here is an example of how one website features its advertorial content.

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Below are six advertorial networks that brands can use to publish content on other websites:

  • Business 2 Blogger
  • Blogsvertise
  • Markerly
  • GroupHigh
  • Syndicateads.net
  • Buysellads.com
  • IZEA
  • Adproval
  • Web.Blogads.com
  • BlogHer

Native Social

Advertising helped both Facebook and LinkedIn experience spikes in the value of their stock when they were announced. Both networks have successfully given brands the option to move advertisements from the doldrums of banner ad space into users’ newsfeeds. This is powerful for marketers because engagement, trust and eyeballs reside in the newsfeed.

Marketers who choose to use social networks for native advertising should experiment. Some are more conducive to blog content and visuals while others are best suited for landing pages. Cost per click can vary between 25 cents to over 20 dollars on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Press Releases

These have traditionally been a mechanism for brands to earn media coverage. However, last decade when they moved online they were high jacked by the SEO industry as a way to build links. This caused a giant spike in the amount of content in the form of press releases being distributed.

As a result, press releases are unlikely to drive earned media organically unless they come from a major global brand. Good media relations professionals know this and use distributed press releases in conjunction with their pitch and outreach to journalists and editors.  

Native Newsletters

These have been around for quite some time. Most marketers can likely find several examples in their inboxes now. Some companies that have amassed large email databases will allow marketers to include their branded content or offers in their newsletter.

It can be a part of a broader sponsorship package, cost per click, cost per action or cost per lead. Paying for placement in a newsletter is another way for marketers to distribute their content in a native manner.

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Content Broadcasting

Unfortunately, broadcasting is exclusively what most marketers use for content promotion today. For some it can be highly effective, but for others it can feel like no one is listening. It’s exceptionally difficult to get needle-moving results for companies just getting started with inbound marketing in an industry that’s embraced it already. For content broadcasting to have a big impact a brand needs an existing audience of significance.

Social Media

This is a tried and true broadcasting channel for brands. Unfortunately, Facebook is slowly, but surely, limiting the social reach of brands. It’s not a coincidence that its stock price has raised in conjunction with the deflation of brand-reach over time.

Companies that wish to be seen must pay. This business model is working for Facebook. Other networks like Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn are certainly taking notes. It’s just a matter of time until organic reach on those channels begins to diminish, too.

Email

Email, as a medium for broadcasting content, is highly effective. Valuable content can be delivered to subscribers, leads, customers and partners alike. Whether it’s a one-off campaign, a regular subscription, triggered automation or nurturing, email works. Unfortunately though, without a significant email database to tap into brands don’t have anyone to broadcast to.

By embracing both content coverage and distribution and not relying solely on broadcasting, marketers can expedite the success curve. As marketers, we’re used to telling our customers to be patient with inbound marketing – that it takes time.

It only takes time if broadcasting is the only content promotion channel used. Understanding and leveraging the content promotion landscape and the tools of the content promotion ecosystem empowers marketers to eliminate the word patience from their vocabulary.

This post was a sneak peek at Chad Pollitt’s INBOUND 2014 presentation entitled, “How Content Promotion Changed Our Inbound Marketing Forever.” Don’t forget to register and stop by this actionable session on Wednesday, September 17th.

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