“If you’re only blogging on your own website, you’re doing it wrong.”—Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media

For years, one of the most prominent pieces of content marketing advice has been to focus on guest blogging. Getting thought leadership pieces on the right websites can help you build brand awareness, generate backlinks that boost SEO rankings, and create social proof for your target prospects.

And yet, you can find marketers questioning the ROI of guest posting. If it’s such universal advice, why are so many content marketers struggling to find value in guest posting?

The problem often lies in strategy. Don’t just go through the motions of guest posting. Gather the right data ahead of time and ensure you’re writing guest posts that will drive results.

The Flaw in Many Guest Posting Strategies

Any guest posting strategy should start with goal setting. You should know precisely why you’re starting to pitch for guest blogging opportunities—driving traffic to a new landing page, generally building brand awareness, improving domain authority, generating email subscribers, or some combination of other objectives.

The trouble sets in when you transition from planning to execution. When marketers are struggling to see returns on guest posting investments, their strategies often have one fatal flaw. They aren’t landing guest posting opportunities on the right websites.

Guest blogging can’t be treated as some silver-bullet solution to your marketing problems. Just because a website accepts your pitch doesn’t mean your message will resonate with the right people. Even if it’s a relevant industry blog, you could be delivering messages to the wrong prospects at the wrong time.

Fixing this flaw is all about doing the upfront work of finding the right places to publish guest posts. Not just websites that accept guest post pitches, but ones that have an audience that matches your target account profile. This may seem like obvious advice—it’s just easier said than done.

You might have a list of dream websites to land guest posts on. These are the blogs and media sites that you know your prospects turn to for advice on purchase decisions. And while it’s great to pitch thought leadership ideas to these websites, you need to understand that the rest of your market is doing the same thing and the competition for space is intense.

Relying on low-volume opportunities on a handful of major websites won’t maximize your ROI. Writing guest posts that drive results means landing opportunities on websites that are known to have an audience that aligns with your total active demand—even if those websites are lesser-known.

Intent data is the key to maximizing relevance and driving results with guest posts.

Using Intent Data to Improve Guest Posting

When you invest in third-party intent data, you gain access to behavioral information collected from over 55 million devices, 17 million companies, and billions of web pages. And with deep analysis of over 480,000 keywords, you can understand the purchase intent of your prospects more deeply.

But it’s not just about understanding purchase intent. All of these insights can help your guest posts in two key ways:

Topic Relevance: Keyword insights will help you identify which topics are most important to prospects who are actually in the market for your products and services. Without the right data, you might come up with guest post ideas that loosely apply to your target audience. With intent data, you ensure that your topics are tailored to ideal prospects at specific stages of their buyer’s journeys.

Website Relevance: First-party data can help you improve guest post topic choices because it gives you insight into which pieces of content have the highest conversion rates. When you invest in third-party intent insights, you get a clearer picture of what prospects are engaging with outside of your website. And when you see which websites and blogs are most relevant to your active prospects, you can focus your guest posting resources on these high-value targets.

Guest posting ROI is all about making good data decisions. Doing the upfront work of analyzing intent data will set you up to get the most out of guest posting—in spite of concerns about content shock.

But it all starts with learning how to put intent data to work. Download our free report, Demystifying B2B Purchase Intent Data, for a primer on all-things intent data.