Content Marketing: Make 2014 the Year of Distribution

Content is a powerful marketing asset. According to a recent study from HubSpot, 43% of marketers found a customer from blogging in 2013. Organizations like Dell are launching content portals to develop a steady pipeline of leads. Others, like Qualcomm, are utilizing content marketing to inspire engaging and thoughtful conversations.

Brands are jumping into the content world with million-plus dollar marketing spends. They’re hiring professional journalists to produce high-quality, compelling stories. They’re all competing for the same eyeballs, hoping to reach customers through social and search.

If your goal is to build an audience, content production will only be half of the marketing equation. Brands need to invest in a distribution strategy to help kickstart and consistently grow audiences. Paid distribution is one solution that marketers can use to make that happen.

What Is Paid Distribution?

Paid distribution is a solution for advertisers, content marketers and publishers to reach a broad audience.

Dissecting the Conversion Funnel. What Is the Conversion Funnel?

Dissecting the Conversion Funnel. What Is the Conversion Funnel?

Image Source: Prestige Marketing

Marketers can acquire traffic on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, a common cost model that advertising networks use to connect marketers with prospective customers.

Paid distribution widgets are integrated within a native content experience. In other words, when you finish reading an article, you may see a set of “recommended articles.” Those recommendations are often contextually relevant to what the visitor was just reading.

Is Paid Content Distribution Right for You?

Paid content distribution is a strong fit for for organizations that are (1) tracking analytics, (2) monitoring their conversion funnels, and (3) rigorous about monitoring ROI. Prospective advertisers should also have an idea of what audience groups they’re trying to reach; examples include general consumers, women in a particular age range, gamers and news enthusiasts.

Brands engaging in this channel can drive traffic to articles, picture galleries and videos that help build awareness and interest at the top of the conversion funnel. Consumers at this stage of the buying cycle are likely just learning about a company’s product or service for the first time.

The following best practices can help you make the most out of your invested time and valuable advertising dollars:

1Use ROI to Determine Your Spend

Marketers who are new to paid channel advertising will frequently wonder how much to spend. The way to determine your CPCs and budgets is to determine how much you expect to earn. Take a look at your existing web traffic conversion rates and user acquisition value. These metrics will help you determine what to spend.

2Start with a Test

There is no need to jump in blindly, especially if you’re not sure how your traffic will monetize. Start with a small test budget that allows you to experiment with CPCs. Try different levels to see how much traffic you can drive at different costs.

Then, take a look at how much ROI you’re driving at these different levels to see what you can afford. Once you strike that balance and your campaigns are ROI-positive, you can increase your budget.

3Create a Great Reader Experience

CPCs will not be enough to drive traffic to your content. It’s equally important to make sure that your ad units are generating a strong clickthrough rate (CTR). You can optimize your CTR by testing different image variations and headline titles.

Catchy titles will typically take the form of top-10 lists and include words like “top”, “best” and “ultimate”. Whether you’re driving traffic to articles or videos, make sure that your titles provide a teaser for an interesting read.

4Test Lots of Content

The way to increase your chances of driving traffic is to test lots of articles on the ad network. It’s tough to predict which articles will resonate with audiences. The more articles, picture galleries and videos you have to try, the better chances you’ll have of acquiring traffic.

5Optimize Conversions

When you’re driving traffic to articles and videos, you’ll typically want audiences to complete a certain action – watching a predetermined number of minutes, diving into multiple article pages or clicking on a free trial offer.

An account manager can help you implement something called a “conversion pixel” on your website. This piece of technology helps you focus your traffic acquisition efforts and connect with audiences who are more likely to complete your conversion goal.

6Optimize for Social Sharing

Paid distribution will kickstart visibility for your content. Audiences who find your articles and video through paid advertisements might even share your content through social media. That’s free, extra web traffic. Make sure that social media sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are easy for your audiences to find.

Final Thoughts: Never Stop Testing

The paid traffic acquisition is always evolving. Keep testing new content, headlines and conversion opportunities on your article and video pages. Measure results, and when something works generates an ROI, scale it.

About the Author

Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri is a San Francisco-based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology.