Are You Making the Most of Your Content Marketing or Just Wasting Money?

Portrait If you are paying to get someone to visit your site, the last thing you want is for that visitor to bounce off your site. That’s just money wasted.

Depending on your organization’s business goals, you want that visitor to sign up for a product demo, join your e-mail list or simply share the story they read on Facebook.

Regardless, you need to think about two things: One, what does this person want and Two, how can I meet that need, while also promoting my business objectives. If you don’t do this, you are going to waste precious paid media dollars you are spending on “promoted” or “sponsored” content.

Contently, a company that helps companies create great content for their sites and marketing campaigns, runs a fantastic content marketing blog with practical tips for their customers and thought-leader pieces to raise awareness of their company generally.

Contently does two very smart things on their blog.

They have a very useful e-book called “The Beginner’s Guide to Blogging and Content Strategy” that’s very good – and you can get it simply by giving them your e-mail address. And there’s a clear and easy way to get it. At the end of every post, there’s a box that offers it to readers.

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The second smart engagement thing they do is use Contextly to surface relevant, engaging and personalized content recommendations. This is a bet that they can entice readers to dive deeper, find more great content and become a loyal reader.

It’s a notion that’s backed up with research. In January 2014, Chartbeat released a report that found the single most important factor in whether a Google, Facebook or Twitter visitor to a publication would return was whether they read more than one story. That’s another way of saying that reducing your bounce rate will increase your return readership.

Contrast that with AARP’s sites. I don’t know what the long-term value of an AARP member is, but dues are $16 per year and they have a magazine packed with ads targeting a lucrative demographic.

Like Contently, AARP buys traffic into their site and they have a few calls to action in their content.

But at the end of their stories, they include Taboola ads that take readers off of the site. So on a story about “10 Great Small Cities for Retirement“, AARP is showing ads for “Here’s the Navy’s awesome new stealth-fighter drone in action” that takes the reader off the site.

That’s not just not relevant; it’s nuts. AARP has a reader who is interested in the best places in the U.S. to retire — and AARP is a group that helps retired people — and someone there decided it made sense to make ten cents sending that reader off their site to a story about stealth fighters, instead of showing that reader their best content for retirees or those about to retire?

Taboola is what publishers use on their own site if they have a large amount of traffic, no concern for their brand and no way to make enough advertising money. (And yes, I’ve heard the argument that publishers use the money from sending people off their site to bring new ones in. It’s a great sales pitch, but it’s economically ridiculous. One does not buy high and sell low from the same arbitrager. Only one party wins there and it’s not the publisher.)

If you are a content marketer, you *might* want to buy traffic from Twitter, Facebook, Outbrain or Taboola to see if you can profitably acquire users, but you shouldn’t be selling traffic.

Jay Baer, who runs Convince and Convert, does some smart state to engage readers on his content marketing blog, as well.

He uses a smart “Hello Bar” that is currently promoting an upcoming conference his company runs. His header promotes his newsletter tied to his book “Youtility, while the top of his blog post suggests that readers ought to buy the book, with links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble to make that easy.

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And finally, he also uses Contextly — in a different configuration than Contently, to show off his relevant and popular and evergreen content (he’s got a *lot* of evergreen content.

If you are a content marketer, you want to convert your readers into a loyalist and eventually an evangelist.

This is especially true with paid promotion of your content. Don’t waste your marketing budget by not taking advantage of every opportunity to provide value for the readers you paid to get to your site.

There’s a large continuum of loyalty when it comes to readers.

It could start as simple as someone who will recognize your company name the next time your content shows up on their Facebook page or in their Twitter stream.
That means they might remember that the last time they read something on your site it was good, so they don’t hesitate to click.

And on the far end, you get to someone who uses your service, who visits your site regularly – who recommends your site or product to friends and colleagues – and searches out your content to share because it makes them look smarter.

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