Last Thursday, jWeb’s content team went to our first HubSpot User Group event. There, Matt Kamp from Influence & Co. discussed getting content published on influential sites. This LeapClixx-hosted lunch was a great opportunity to dive into one piece of the content marketing puzzle and discuss all the dos, don’ts, hows, and whys of off-site content.
The Real Results of Influencer Marketing
According to Influence & Co.’s surveys, 80% of consumers would rather learn about a company, product, or service through a series of informative articles rather than a straight up advertisement. That stat has changed the way marketers think about brand awareness over the last few years to focus less on traditional ads and more on content marketing.
However, many companies are already aware of the limitations that come with publishing content only on their own websites, from content fatigue to high content competition. Kamp explained that by writing useful, quality articles for other publications, companies can greatly expand their brand awareness and the public’s perception of that brand.
Help Customers Down the Content Marketing Funnel
Why is publishing content around the web important? Kamp outlined a basic funnel to describe how content marketing works best:
- Off-site content (published on other sites)
- On-site content (published on your website)
- “Gated” content (requires the user to provide some information—usually an email address—to access the content)
- Continuous engagement
Publishing content on other sites builds brand awareness, authority, and the customer’s trust. By using another site’s audience to grow your own, people will be more likely to come to you for when they have a question or need. Even so, companies spend so much time developing on-site and gated content that they don’t even bother with the first step of this funnel.
Crowd Source Your Content
The biggest problem that companies have with writing content—any content—is finding the time to do so. Writing a piece of useful, quality content takes an incredible amount of time that many businesses don’t have to spare. Luckily, there are ways to streamline your content that won’t damage its quality.
One of the ways you can cut down on the time it takes to write content is to get everyone at your company to chip in where they can. Kamp suggests you create a company “knowledge bank” where everyone from employees to owners can contribute relevant topics, answers to frequently asked questions, or stories about their company. By combining or expanding on this information, you can create unique, authentic content from your company with half the effort.
Create Mini-Campaigns for Each Piece of Gated Content
Once you’ve generated a wealth of topics and snippets of content in your company’s knowledge bank, it’s time to organize specific information into one of the three types of content (off-site, on-site, and gated).
Gated content is a great way to collect targeted leads, but you have to convince users that the gated content is worth giving out their information. Following Kamp’s content marketing funnel is a pretty solid way to prove that content’s worth. However, you can’t just publish a bunch of disconnected content on different platforms. Kamp stressed the importance of creating individualized campaigns for each piece of gated content you create.
If you don’t lead your customers through their journey with a unique campaign, there’s a good chance they’ll never reach your gated content. When creating a campaign for Kamp’s funnel, think of off-site content as your big-picture discussions. Then, users can gradually work their way toward narrower, specific discussions. By the time they reach your niche, gated content, they’ll understand and appreciate its value.
Write for a Specific Off-Site Publication
Like we discussed earlier, people are always looking for ways to cut corners on content creation. While crowd sourcing is a valuable time-saver, there are other tricks that can actually damage your company’ reputation and chances of getting published on other sites.
One common mistake companies make, Kamp points out, is writing one broad piece and blindly sending it all over the place. This simultaneous submission strategy neglects one important step to attaining your off-site publishing goal: publishers need to think your content is uniquely valuable to their audience, not yours or anyone else’s.
“If publishers know you’ve done the leg work to understand their audience and have written a piece specifically for them, they are far more likely to publish [your content],” Kamp explains. No one feels spammed. Not the publisher, not the intended audience. As a result, your company is seen as a valuable and respected resource.
“Don’t Neglect Niche Sites.”
Being published on an all-around popular site like Forbes is great, but even these come with a downside or two. For one, sitting at the popular table is hard. You’re much more likely to get rejected simply because everyone wants to sit there, too. For another, these audiences are so varied that it may be difficult to get your piece seen by the right people.
Niche sites, on the other hand, rarely have those problems. “Niche sites have better audience activity,” Kamp continues. Since they already share an interest with you, they’re more likely to continue through the content marketing funnel to your gated content and they’re more likely to convert in the long run.
In addition, “niche sites are a great way to build a resume” for larger publications. When that Forbes publisher is able to view your work on smaller-but-reputable sites, they are more likely to publish your content on theirs.
How to Contact Publishers
“You’d be surprised how many publishers have their direct emails freely available,” Kamp laughs. Look in author or employee descriptions on the website where you’d like to be published. If they don’t provide a reliable way to contact them, reach out to them on social media. “LinkedIn is probably your best bet,” Kamp specifies. “Only use contact forms as a last resort.”
Create Non-Promotional Content
Receiving a blatantly promotional article is the “most common reason publishers reject content.” In my experience, this is the fact that companies most frequently dispute and it felt good to have it reinforced at Matt Kamp’s talk. When creating content for an off-site publication, don’t make it about your company. Make it about the reader. As a result, publishers will know they are providing their audience with useful information and not an advertisement.