If you’re a content marketer, you’ve probably noticed that content marketing is growing. If it seems like everyone is doing it, that’s probably because pretty much everyone is.

The Crowded Content Landscape

crowded content landscape

Here’s what Google Trends tells us about content marketing. You can see that people have been talking about content marketing for several years, but we start seeing a definite uptick toward the end of 2012 and through 2013.

Which makes sense, since 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing today. In addition to the number of marketers using content marketing, there’s also been an increase in the kinds of content, blogs, videos, white papers, ebooks, social media messaging…but it still isn’t enough. 58% of marketers plan to increase the amount of content they’re producing over the next 12 months.

reality

That’s a whole lot of content, and a really crowded space. With so much competition, and knowing your intended audience has a limited amount of time for research, you need more than just great content to attract people’s attention. You have to actively work to get your content in front of them.

Distribution Channels at Your Disposal

Marketers have always had three primary channels to get in front of their audience. While the specifics of these channels have changed a bit over the years, the basic gist remains the same:

  1. Owned – blog, co-marketing, social, SEO
  2. Earned – viral, PR, word-of-mouth
  3. Paid – display, search, social

The owned space is immensely crowded. Remember, 91% of B2B marketers are doing content marketing. Earned is really hard, not everyone can be the Dollar Shave Club. And paid channels aren’t a place where content marketers have traditionally ventured.

Why is this? Content marketing started as an alternative to the “BUY NOW!!!” approach of traditional advertising. What’s so great about paid content marketing, however, is that you’re not insisting the reader “buy now.” If your content is good and you’re putting thought into who you’re targeting, you’re offering something of value to the very people who would be interested in your message — they just haven’t started actively searching yet.

Using Paid to Drive Owned

Running paid ads to your content can help you increase the impact of your content marketing efforts, getting you leads today while growing the size of your owned audience over time.

Understanding Intent

To get started, choose a channel and know the intent of that channel. If clicks are coming through organic search, retargeting, or paid search — you know that person has a high intent to purchase. They’re looking for something like your product! But, if a potential customer finds you through display, mobile, or social ads, they’ll need a softer approach.

highlowintent

Prepare follow-up to match customer intent.

High intent: You can direct high intent traffic directly to a landing page with a free trial offer. These people are already in the market, and they’re receptive to your actual sales messaging. You can pair the trial with emails and calls to get these leads to conversion.

Low intent: Since low intent customers weren’t already searching for your product, they need to be treated differently. Instead of directing them directly to a trial, they’re more likely to appreciate a content offer. You can stay in touch with these low intent leads through emails intended to nurture the relationship before launching the actual sales message through email or phone calls.

Some Final Advice

Tag your links. Tag your links. Tag your links. Later, you’ll want to measure what’s working; and, to do that, you need to tag your links. Keep your naming conventions simple. Use lowercase letters exclusively. Google will treat uppercase as distinct, so consistency now will save you headaches later.

tagyourlinks

And remember, if you don’t tag your links to track your successes, sometime down the road, there won’t be any data proving the worth of your work. Furthermore, you’ll have no idea which of your campaigns succeeded, and which flopped. Definitely tag your links.

bob

Once you’ve gathered data on which of your paid campaigns worked to increase your owned audience, you’ll know how to start scaling up, and find yourself getting a better return on the content marketing investment.

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