The struggle is real: it’s hard to be heard above the noise when it comes to online content marketing.
We know, from our own experiences, that the web is full to bursting with content: from blog posts to magazine articles; viral videos to memes.
Everyone is jostling for attention and it can be difficult to find the gems among the stones. So how can you get your blog posts noticed?
While we don’t want to impose our message on an unwilling audience, there’s nothing wrong with a little gentle, targeted cajoling.
If you’ve spent time producing useful content, isn’t it worth publicising the fact? After all, this is information that your readers want and need.
And promoting your blog helps them to find your content - and your business.
Content versus distribution
There’s a well-established saying in the content marketing industry: “Content is king.”
But that statement, coined by Microsoft founder Bill Gates back in 1996, has since been challenged. In recent years people have advocated toppling the content monarch.
Speaking at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in 2012, Vayner Media chief executive Gary Vaynerchuk said: “If content is king, context is god.”
And writing on HubSpot in 2014, Shannon Johnson said: “Content isn't king. Distribution is.
“Content marketing is useless if the content doesn’t get consumed. You should spend just as much if not more time thinking about how you distribute your content as you do creating it. Creating a content asset is only the very beginning of the process.”
By ranking promotion (or context, or distribution) over content, these statements are in danger of undervaluing the fundamental importance of the latter. It’s true that content doesn’t exist in a vacuum - but content is the fuel for your B2B marketing strategy and really has no substitute.
Instead, we should consider how the two work in tandem, each to the mutual benefit of the other.
Promoting your blog allows you to engage with the readers who will benefit the most from it - but you can only successfully promote your content if it’s appealing to those people in the first place
Writing for the Huffington Post last month, Richard Armstrong said: “Like any great love story, content and distribution are stronger together.
“… 2015 should be the year for marrying the two, creating a powerful, strong and successful union that sees a strong creative supported by an effective and well thought out plan behind it.”
Promoting your blog in practice
Before we even think about distributing our content, we need to consider whether it is the best it can be. Does it have a clear message for the reader? Does it deliver on the promise made in the headline? Is it grammatically correct and easy to read?
Once we’re sure that we’ve created something worthwhile, it’s time to get the word out.
Where is your audience?
Where can your readers be found online? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a more niche forum, wherever they are, is where you also need to be.
Take some time to find out where you can engage with the people you want to reach and share your own blog posts on the relevant platform. It’s also a good idea to post links to other useful content in your industry - and join in with those conversation and debates to which you can add value.
By forming connections you can establish yourself as an authority on the topics you are discussing, making it more likely people will seek you out as a source of information.
Repurpose your content
A single piece of content can be utilised in multiple ways. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Jason DeMers says: “For example, a blog post can be excerpted to provide social media status updates, included in your e-mail newsletter, syndicated on LinkedIn, and more.”
So don’t worry about promoting your content again and again – as long as you’re distributing it in a way that benefits your readers. And remember, a lot of B2B content tends to be evergreen, so don’t shy away from sharing old posts if they’re still useful and relevant.
How marketing automation helps
The marketing automation industry is growing larger by the year. Research by Frost and Sullivan found that the industry generated revenues of $550.7 million in 2013 – and this figure is estimated to reach $1.9 billion by 2020.
And when it comes to promoting your blog, the right technology can prove invaluable. Depending on the type of tool or platform you choose, you can achieve a number of things.
But one of the key advantages is the ability to analyse your content. For example, you can see how many people have viewed your blog post; where they came across the link; and the next steps they took. With the data there in front of you, you can see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to distributing your content.
Promoting your blog goes hand-in-hand with creating it. It's not a case of forcing everyone to take notice of your content, but of helpfully guiding the right people to information that will benefit them.