It is unfortunate that many novice marketers have the misguided belief that promotion only starts after the content creation and publishing phase. While this approach may have worked for some lucky marketers, the proper approach is to consider promotion as a process that runs in parallel to creation and should be built before the actual launch. To help make it easier to follow this process, you can rely on this guide for your next content promotion plan:
This is the first stage. It consists of getting to know the target audience first as well as laying the groundwork for targeted messaging.
- Audience Research – while this may be an added expense in terms of time and money, survey analysis is a must due to their usefulness. However, those under a limited budget can still do their own audience research by taking advantage of analytics data provided by previously published content, or on posts on social networks such as Twitter. This analytics data can be used to segment audiences with regard to the value they can get from the content. For instance, one set of audiences may be complete novices, while another set are veterans looking for a refresher. There are also influencers who no longer need to learn anything from your content, but would want to share the content in order to corroborate their own. These audiences need to be targeted differently and it helps if you can segment them.
- Communication – even before the start of content creation, you need to plan ahead with regard to the method you will utilize when communicating with your different audience segments. The approach may be different depending on whether you’re doing everything on your own or can rely on a team. If it’s the former, coming up with an appropriate communication method for an audience segment will be a matter of taking the time to sit down and do some thinking. But if it’s the latter, you would benefit from creating a shared document that all members of the team can access and use as reference.
To help in this phase, you need to be answering the following questions:
- Who is the audience?
- What are you offering them?
- How do they normally the content you are offering them?
- Why should they choose your content over the others?
- What should they do after reading the content?
The answers to these questions will help you create working profiles for the difference audience segments, and will allow the content creation phase to have more direction. It’s also a lot easier to tweak and improve marketing plans if you have the profiles made from answering the above questions.
A Couple of Weeks Before Launch
While the content creation process is ongoing, you should use the data you have gathered from the previous steps in order to build a list of actual people (or traffic sources) that you want to share the content to. If you did the previous steps and managed to create a profile for the different audience segments you want to target, you won’t have much trouble looking for actual people and influencers to share your content to. Make sure you also have an idea when it comes to the most effective mediums to use when trying to reach these people. Some people respond better to email communication, while others prefer social media, etc. Take advantage of their communication method preference to achieve favorable results.
- The Ideal List Size – in order to find out just how big your initial list of influencers should be, you should take into account your coverage and sharing goals. Decide on how many people you think are willing to write about you or your content. Then divide that number with your usual response rate. The resulting figure should be the number of influencers on your list.If you have the time or the patience, the most foolproof way of going about this is by making a list that is at least 5 times the length of your ideal outreach list, then winnow that list down by retaining only the most relevant, targeted prospects.
- Pre-Launch Engagement – once you have an influencer list built, make a point to try and reach out to those influencers at least once before you make the actual pitch of your content. Those that are receptive to a cold pitch should get at least a simple tweet with their names tagged, just to get your name on their radar.
More often than not, most of the influencers will need a more involved engagement. You should take the time to acquaint yourself with them by reading up on their Twitter list or their social media posts, just so you’ll have something to say about the things they have written in the past or shared. Try to engage them naturally, by replying to tweets or starting conversations on their pages. If possible, you may even want to meet them personally at conferences or events.
One Week Prior to Launch
You should be very busy in the last week before the content launch, as this is the stage where you now have to draft all pertinent promotional materials such as marketing emails, social media posts, customer replies, as well as plan the upcoming social media ads and targeting.
- Content Soft Launch – before you publish the content, you should try and test it with influencers at first. This will give you ample time to receive crucial advice about improving the content before you unleash it on the public, and you will also get the influencers’ buy-in. Make sure you give the influencers enough time to digest the content and give feedback.
- Draft Outreach Emails – draft at least two versions of an email template for each of your target audiences. This will let you do some AB split testing for important elements such as the subject line or the Call to Action, but don’t make the mistake of making the templates too generic. Leave ample room for personalization.
The most important influencers on your list should be excluded from these outreach email templates. They need to be sent completely custom or personalized messages. This is where meeting them in person (as advised earlier) comes in handy – you can refer to your past conversations and write letters that are more personal in nature.
Day of Launch
On the day of the actual launch of the content, you must expend effort to get it out there to as many eyeballs as you can. Share it on social networks, start your planned ad campaigns, and launch your outreach.
- Outreach – when going through your outreach list, you’ll be able to see patterns in the results. Some influencers will be more receptive to the messages, and some templates you have made will be received better than the other one. Use this opportunity to tweak things, kill the non-performing templates or come up with a new variation. Prioritize the segments that are performing well and reach out more to similar audiences.
- Moderate and Be Responsive – do not be an absentee marketer. At this stage, comments and feedback may be coming in. You should be available and willing to respond. Provide comments, reshare or retweet positive feedback, and answer all the questions that come up as best as you can. This is the way to building rapport with an audience and may even lead to a community being built around your content.
Week Of Launch
Try not to be discouraged as the first week of the content launch goes by. It is normal at this stage to see the initial hype and buzz generated fade out. This downtime should be used to reflect on things that worked and things that did not, so that you can optimize the future launches.
- Paid Social – Find out which ones of your paid social media campaigns performed the best for the week, so that you’ll know which ones to spend on the most next time. If none of your social media campaigns found success, you can try again with a different approach – such as modifying the headline or targeting a different audience.
- Continue Engaging Social Media Followers – pay close attention to the responses you received on social media, particularly from influencers. Share and retweet positive responses, especially those that occurred during off-peak hours. You could get lucky with sudden traffic spikes from these well-timed retweets.
- Low Hanging Fruits – submit your articles to weekly roundups and email newsletters, as well as online content aggregators that accept the types of articles that you product, such as reddit and other social bookmarking sites. Doing this is simple enough, but could bring additional traffic to your content.
- Reclaim Links – if your content launch is really successful, you may have a number of instances where people shared it without providing proper credit. Use the tools at your disposal, such as Reverse Image Search, Copyscape, or other link reclamation strategies in order to find those shares and secure a link back to your content.
Maintaining the Buzz
With things winding down, there is a tendency for many marketers to lose steam. Don’t. There are still ongoing opportunities that you can take advantage of. Continue monitoring your stats in case other people continue to share your content. Make sure you send a genuine thank you to people who do. This will help build more relationships with audiences and influencers.
Do not forget the influencers that helped in your campaign. Continue to engage with them, as promotion is an ongoing process and you may need their help again in the future. Strengthen your rapport with these influencers and don’t give them the impression that you only care about them when you have something to promote.
Look for more opportunities to repurpose your content, or more opportunities to get your content and name out there. Things like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which is an online service that matches journalists to experts in certain industries and fields, should be considered. Guest posting could also lead to further opportunities.
After the end of the promotion campaign, you will now have time and opportunity to hunker down and review your metrics, such as shares, visits, and total conversions. Make a note of things that would be useful for your next campaign.
Lastly, you should also revisit your influencer list. There is a chance that some people that you rated low may actually performed well enough to be considered high priority influencers next time, or those that you put a lot of faith in turned out to be duds. Reorganize your list using the data you gathered from your campaign. This way you will be ready to take on your next project with more knowledge at your disposal.