What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? Content, Ideas, Audiences and What’s in Between
You just finished writing a post. You read it from start to finish, lean back in your chair and think, Damn, I did a good job here. What now, where should I publish it?
Stop. If that’s your process, then you’re getting it all wrong!! First you write and only then think where to publish it?! You can say damn again. It’s an important question nonetheless, one that marketers face continuously – where to publish? On your own company blog, or third-party industry blogs?
Content Marketing Is On the Rise, But So Is Content Waste
If money makes the world go round, then content makes the web unbound. The web is content; an absurdly huge and diverse treasure trove of content, cats included. Content becomes intricately linked to every activity on the web. Whether you want to sell, promote, market or gain traction, you need content to do it.
No big news, right? You knew that already, you and every other marketer in the world. Actually, marketers have internalized this fantastically well. According to the 2016 CMI report, 28% of B2B marketers budget, is spent on content marketing, with 51% saying they will increase spending.
One can only imagine the massive content creation crusade taking over the marketing world. Phew! But excitement subsides when you hear about a different survey done by SiriusDecisions that found that 60-70% of content created by B2B companies never gets used. That’s a shame, a very expensive shame by the way; SiriusDecisions’ VP Marisa Kopec estimates the cost of waste in the “tens of millions of dollars a year.”
The reason for this is the upside down working process – Create First, Think Later.
Thinking Leads to Content, Not The Other Way Around
The question still remains – where to publish in order to maximize content benefit? It’s a good question, but there’s a different one to ask first – what is the benefit you are looking for? The entire thought process needs to happen prior to the writing. Two things you must know before you start writing:
- WHO: Who you are writing for? Who is your target audience?
- WHERE: Where are your prospects coming from? Where is your target audience consuming content?
Every audience has its own unique interest and jargon, exactly as every publication has its own unique fields of interest and editorial style. To decide where is the best place to publish the post, you need to figure out what is your objective for writing.
Objectives for Publishing On Third-Party Sites
There can be many different reasons to write a guest post: SEO, brand awareness or even developing connections.
The first one is pretty straightforward. The bread & butter of dancing to Google’s flute, having links pointing to your site. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done that, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you are into the long haul of SEO and that’s your focus at the moment, you should write and publish on third-party blogs.
If you are into increasing brand awareness, whether you are a young startup or an established company looking to strengthen yourself, having content published on third-party blogs and publications is also a smart move. But there’s a catch. Most respected industry blogs don’t tolerate self-promotion, just like the blog you are reading now. They will reject a post that is obviously written with self-promotion in mind, or a post that is littered with links to your product pages or home page.
So when writing brand awareness-driven content, don’t focus on your own brand. Share your knowledge and expertise, skirt around your product or service without directly discussing it. What’s the point? When a post is relevant and informative, readers tend to check the writer’s bio, where there is info about the company, and a link. That’s where brand awareness comes into play.
The third objective, developing connections, is akin to lead nurturing. Once you have published on a third-party blog or publication, you’ve initiated a relationship. Their door is now open for you, and your company is on their radar. A good way to go about guest posting, is to reach out with a content suggestion from time to time and when your company achieves something impressive, you can offer them to write about it. Publications are always after stories. If you have a good story, they’ll be highly appreciative and might even publish it. Which is a win-win situation. You get high-quality and unbiased promotions, while the publication has a great story!
The Afterlife of Blog Posts
Blog posts have a short life span. They thrive on the blog’s homepage, but pretty quickly descend into the blog’s abyss. There, in the inner pages of the blogroll, who knows what’s going on with them. Not many visitors bother to drill down the blog; what they see is what they read.
Since you’ve invested considerable effort in researching, writing and promoting the post, you want to benefit from it as much as possible. The best way to extend its lifespan is to use personalized recommendations on your website.
Personalized recommendation tools, or engines, or algorithms use the entirety of your content assets. If a piece of content is relevant for a specific visitor, a good content recommendation engine will suggest it, saving them the trouble of digging through long lists of blog posts, whitepapers or case studies, especially if the prospect has no idea what they are looking for.
When an anonymous visitor is being served a personalized reading recommendation, there is a strong effect. It’s like someone is paying attention to you, answering your question without you needing to ask it. And there are numbers to prove it. Personalization is increasing engagement and conversion rates across the board. E-Commerce sites have been using it for years, and it is now finally arriving to content-centric sites, B2B included.
The example below shows the A/B testing of a leading business intelligence and analytics company. Site traffic was divided to two, one was exposed to BrightInfo’s personalized content offers, while the other did not. The two tables below clearly show how engagement and conversion rates increased due to the introduction of content-based personalization.
With the large investment being made to write and manage your company blog, where the end-goal it to increasing inbound traffic, how are you making sure to get the most out of each visitor? If a prospect has arrived because they were interested in the blog post you were promoting, build a relationship and gain their trust by giving them a piece of content that is tailored just for them!