I love content and content marketing has always been like passion to me. Few months ago, when I shared my ideas on how to do better content marketing in 2016 here at Business 2 Community, a key feedback point stroke my heart. It was about content promotion since every content marketer knows the difficulty of serving up the right content to the right audience at the right time.

The Content Marketing Institute’s reports show that 69% of B2C and 70% of B2B marketers have doubled their pace of content production in the last couple of years. eMarketer’s data suggests 60% of marketers create at least one content piece a day. Since consumers are already inundated with content everywhere they go, and in an age of increasing adoption and production, brands are reeling in the wake of wasted content investments. However, the job hasn’t turned easier in any way. Most content marketers have learned that they can’t just create content and expect consumers to find it, engage with it, and share it. Instead, they need a dedicated content promotion drive.

In the following, I am addressing the feedback by sharing 5 step model for content promotion strategy. I hope it serves the purpose well.

Step 1: Understand Your Promotion Mix:

The most effective promotion strategy is one that balances converged media—paid, earned, and owned tactics deployed in unification. Plenty of options are at your disposal; striking the right balance will be up to you.

Paid: Paid media is any type of content promotion where a brand pays to leverage or access a new audience. Paid promotion tactics, most of which fall into the bucket of native advertising, offer marketers a high level of targeting and control.

Earned: Earned media is any form of promotion that a brand earns, rather than pays for, in order to reach a new audience. Earning can be somewhat of a misnomer, though, as coverage can be accomplished through a variety of methods, ranging from targeted PR efforts to simply creating amazing content that influencers are inclined to share.

Owned: Owned media is any form of promotion that leverages a brand’s owned channels (such as email, social communities, and RSS feeds) to reach an existing audience. Often referred to as broadcasting, this is as an opportunity to craft intentional and personalized messages to influence people that are already fans of your content.

Step 2: Do Enough Research:

Research is never enough, you always need it to make smart decisions. The goal of the research process is to understand the landscape of publishers and individuals that exert influence on your target audience in order to identify the optimal paid and earned promotion opportunities that will provide access to that audience. The insights gained will allow you to start building relationships with influencers and paid promotion vendors before your content goes live. This research should occur before the actual creation of content because significant media outlets and influencers in an industry can act as sounding boards or, better yet, contributors to your content.

Here are the some basic tools to do your content promotion research. If you haven’t used them already, click their links and see their website. You can easily learn about their features and utilities.

Step 3: Write Your Plan:

Once paid and earned promotion opportunities have been identified, it’s time to start planning your campaign. Be sure to consider each of the following:

Goals: What are the goals of your campaign? Will success be measured by impressions, qualified traffic, social shares, onsite conversions, or some combination of the above? Knowing your KPIs from the outset will simplify the measurement process.

Budget: How much budget is available, specifically for promotion of your content? This will likely affect your integrated promotion mix across paid, earned, and owned channels. Less money in the budget, of course, means less ability to rely on paid tactics to gain traction quickly with new audiences.

Timing: Timing is critical in an integrated promotion strategy. Some content campaigns are time sensitive (think seasonality), but all campaigns have to be considered within the entire time frame of research, planning, production, and promotion. Timing for earned media efforts can be especially challenging as you will often find yourself at the mercy of someone else’s content calendar.

Synchronization with existing efforts: What other marketing campaigns are you running at the same time? Is there an opportunity to work together to maximize an outcome? Or perhaps certain channels and or influencers should be avoided? Your ROI can improve by 44% if your different digital channels are closely aligned and working together.

Step 4: Start Your Execution Program:

Armed with the knowledge from steps 1-3, you’re now ready to execute your promotion strategy. Here, you need to put your efforts on the following:

  • Content production in line with strategy
  • Integration of content program with overall marketing
  • Integration of multiple promotion channels
  • Resources allocation for different mediums of promotion
  • Ensuring equal focus on all the channels.
  • Strict compliance with best practices of content marketing in 2016
  • Division of execution on the sprint basis (Weekly/monthly/quarterly program)

If you follow the strategy draft you prepared earlier, your success is beyond any doubt. Once your particular sprint is over, move to the next step.

Step 5: Measure Your Performance:

In an age of data and analytics, there’s no excuse to not measure (and prove) the results from your content marketing campaigns. It’s no different when promotion is involved, and all marketers should be aware of some simple best practices:

Use Analytics software: Regardless of what you use (Google Analytics, Moz, HubSpot, none of the above, any combination of the above), it’s crucial to set up campaigns and monitor them accordingly. Regularly pull reports to analyse your performance and then adjust accordingly.

Track URLs: This is the simplest and still very effective way to monitor performance. You can track URLs using some tracking codes or some URL shortening service like Bitly. If you use some quality analytics or marketing automation tool, they’ll provide you tracking code for every channel, which you can use to track performance of URLs.

Monitor social performance: From Social Mention to Buzz Sumo and Share Tally, many tools can be your best friends in monitoring your social media. You can check out content’s engagement and track the level of popularity on few clicks.

Apply Attribution: This goes along with tracking URLs and your analytics package, but make sure you are properly attributing macro conversions to the campaigns and channels that brought the prospects to you. This will allow you to optimize your content marketing efforts on the fly.

Measure ROI: You don’t have to hire any financial analyst to do this job for you; instead, all you need is do basic calculations and see if the particular channel or article delivered on expected result or not? What was your dollar investment on a particular channel, and what has been the return. It should guide you to devise a better promotion mix on the basis of previous performance of the channels. Allocate more resources to best performer and determine the reasons behind failure of under-performer.

If you’re able to apply the program the way we’ve outlined it, there is a big possibility that your content campaigns turns successful and your digital return on investment improves. However, keep in mind that these 5 steps aren’t hard and fast rules, they provide you just a brief umbrella to cover different aspects of a promotion drive. Depending upon your industry, niche or need, you can add some additional steps to make your promotion program more customized and tailored to your needs.