The surge and importance of content continues at a never ending rate. I remember about 5 years ago where the term “Content is King/Queen” was mentioned at every conference I attended, and everytime it was projected, you could hear the groan among the attendees – louder from the ones who had not started or realised that content forms a big part of the backbone to the customer journey, advocacy, social, inbound marketing and so on and so on…
Content Marketing Checklist at the ready
You’ve taken on board that (quality not quantity) content is crucial for your readership, imparts knowledge, information and advice, helps in SEO, broadens the depth of your site and is great for engagement via your email newsletter and the following content marketing checklist is done;
- Content Marketing Strategy -check
- Customer focused rich content being crafted by professionals – check
- Content easy to reach and navigate to on your site – check
- Optimisation of content to include key terms – check
- Content is easily shareable from your site to social networks – check
So everything is in place, you are developing and publishing content, adding it to your site and pushing it our through your social and perhaps CRM/email newsletter channels, well done!
You look at your analytics and find that its not hitting the KPIs or metrics that you had hoped for – no big growth or pull in traffic, content isn’t being “found” or having the wider reach, so what to do next? Don’t worry there are lots of options to amplify the reach of your content, but I am going to focus on two companies (there are a few more) that have really grown over the last few years that could help and should be included in your content marketing mix.
Amplifying Your Content
Outbrain (561 million people reached per month) and Taboola (550 million reach per month) have positioned themselves in a perfect place. They’ve leveraged the ability to amplify your content, seeding onto other publishing sites or by monetising your site by adding a small API into your code, to pull content from other publishers and have it display on your site. When a reader clicks the heading of the content they end up on your site and you pay a small fee, or if you are a publisher, they click the content and you get paid a small fee – see below.
This image was taken from the Telegraph tech category, the Telegraph is displaying content from other websites on its own site (promoted stories), every-time a reader clicks on one of the articles it gets taken to an external site. The Telegraph earns a small fee per click and the publisher whose article is clicked on, pays a small fee. The Telegraph, BBC, CNN, SkyNews, MusicRadar and many hundreds more are large publishing sites, are monetising their sites in part by using Outbrain or Taboola.
MusicRadar is using it in the same way (below), but I’d say the way they pull the content through is not as targeted of locked down as The Telegraph, as it doesn’t seem as contextual to the publishers site to have political or home Décor news on it, where MusicRadar is all about music, instruments, bands etc (..and no, I’m not saying musos wouldn’t be interested in those topics).
Now wouldn’t you like to see one of your articles on these “big” publishing sites? Its not that difficult, but it does come with some pro’s and cons, which I will get to later.
Setting up Outbrain or Taboola
Using either of the content platforms is quite easy and doesn’t take a web development team to get it live. You have two options and it all depends on your budget, but primarily you have a managed account – by an account manager at the platform of your choice, or self-service management – where you do all the account management yourself. It does depend on budget though, as Outbrain set a managed account for a minimum £5k spend per month and self-service for anything under this.
It runs on a daily/monthly budget and the amount of cost-per-click (CPC) that you set/want to pay for each click, when the daily budget runs out then your content stops being shown, although, each algorithm works to keep impressions up and optimise your budget to make sure your content is shown across the day. Your content will be surfaced on publishing sites and where some pieces of your content receive higher click throughs, then that piece is served to more and more sites as its deemed “more interesting, relevant or read” than other pieces of your content.
As I mentioned, it doesn’t take a big development team to get it set up either, you just need to create an XML feed from your content area (most CMS or blogging platforms have easy plug-ins), add that feed into the dashboard of your account and it starts from there. Each platform will give you dashboard access, which is really simple and intuitive to use, where you can:
- View the analytics of your content
- See how much you are spending of your budget
- See impressions for each piece of content on the network
- Analyse what publishing platforms are proving the best for your budget
- Turn campaigns off or on
- Change budgets
- And overall, how the content is performing
Within the dashboard you can also exclude content that may be old or not relevant – an old PR or product launch, so you don’t end up paying to syndicate content that may not be as useful as recent content (I can hear the content strategists aghast as I type).
…. And make sure where you can to set a blacklist, sites you don’t want to appear on, you cant dictate what sites you want to be on, but you can set a list of sites to exclude, like adult etc.
Think about metrics and tactics
Sounds like a silver bullet yeah, set some budget aside, use either Outbrain or Taboola and watch the traffic come flowing in, well yeah, maybe. Over the last 5 years of using these content platforms I have seen similar trends with the inbound traffic that ends up at each site, so having robust metrics to measure is key.
Bringing in lots of traffic is one thing, making sure its the right traffic is another. Unless you have a very sizable budget, you ain’t going to be able to dictate too much to either platform vendor about what you want, what publishers you want to be on and those you don’t, so think about some of the following metrics;
- Think about what you want the reader/visitor to do once on site
- Bounce rates – they tend to be high as the reader may be new to the brand
- Time on site – similar to above, this may be quite low
- Pages viewed – again, if they are new to your brand they may read and leave
- Referral traffic – make sure you are tracking the traffic via your analytics
- View new to returning visitors – you should see circa 80%+ should be new to your brand
- Analyse the user funnel – what are they doing once they have read the article
Once you have the reader/visitor on your site, what is it you really want them to do? There is a big disconnect between someone reading and buying, hoping that they are going to buy a product or service, probably isn’t a metric you should consider.
Adding some additional tactics of what you want them to do should help you more in the long run, so make sure that;
- Each article has a eye catching title for the reader to click on – not something generic
- You use keywords in the title – its help give the reader context to your brand when on site
- You make it easy for the reader to share the content socially
- Its easy for them to read another relevant article
- You have added a strategic “sign up” or calls to action within the content – sign up to newsletter etc
- Its easy for a reader to see what products you sell
And of course some pros and cons of using a content platform
- Easy to use, setup and get it running relatively quickly
- Ability to pause and start campaigns when you want
- Exclude content from your feed – to stop “old” articles being served
- You can limit your audience to the country you are in
- Able to draw through both written and video content
- Can start with a small budget – self managed of course
- No SEO benefit – the widget used for showing your content is “nofollow” so zero SEO benefit
- No control over publishing sites – like MusicRadar, do you want your content on sites with little or no context to your target audience?
- Need a very large budget to negotiate some package options
- The bounce rates can be circa 90% for the traffic
Using a content platform to amplify your content should help bring some new traffic to your brand, who may not have been on your site before, especially when you’ve found that the content you’re already creating, isn’t meeting the metrics you have put in place. Just make sure that you are still creating quality content and give Taboola or Outbrain a trial, but make sure that you have the correct metrics to measure before you set off.