PPC for Content Marketing: Channels and Measurement

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In earlier articles about content marketing, I talked about the content audit, audience research, timing, and the buyer journey. In the final post in this series, we’ll discuss how to match content to channels and measure success.

As a PPC professional, you might be thinking that all content should be used in PPC. After all, if it’s worth creating, it’s worth advertising, right?

To a degree, that’s true. We have so many weapons in our arsenal that we can promote nearly any type of content in PPC. Some assets are going to be home runs, and others will strike out. It’s our job to make good decisions about channel placement, measure results, and optimize accordingly.

The first step is to decide which content should go where. Go back to your buyer journey map. It’ll tell you whether your content falls into the awareness, consideration, or decision phase of the journey. While PPC spans all 3 phases, some types of content work better than others in each stage.

For example, decision content rarely performs well in display or social PPC. That’s not to say you can’t use it there, but it should supplement your awareness content, rather than stand alone. I like to use awareness content in display and social, and decision content in remarketing. That way your users see something different, and it helps pull them into the funnel.

Content format is another consideration. You can’t run a video ad in Google search. You can put the video on your landing page, but you can’t use it in your actual ad. But you can do a YouTube Ads campaign using the video.

Think carefully about where your content is hosted. It’s easy to put presentations on SlideShare, or videos on YouTube – but do you want to drive PPC or media traffic there? Probably not. You’ll need to create landing pages and embed this content on the pages.

Social PPC is a whole different animal. If your goal is engagement or audience building, you probably won’t mind promoting tweets with YouTube videos, SlideShare decks, or even photos and infographics – content you’d never promote in search.

Lay all this out in a channel matrix so you know what’s being promoted where.

Once you have your content mapped to channels, you need to figure out how to track it. It’s ideal to know not only which individual assets perform best, but what types of assets. I mentioned this briefly in the buyer journey discussion, but it’s important to repeat it here.

There are several ways to track content performance. You can create individual landing pages for each asset, and then track performance by page. Or, you can create a content ID system that parses out the asset title, buyer journey stage, and content type – and then roll up that data via your analytics platform.

This is a critical step: you must think about how you’re going to track content performance across channels. While some assets will do well in certain channels and poorly in others, some assets will rise to the top as high-performers across all channels. That’s the content you want to promote heavily – and try to replicate.

For instance, if a particular report or white paper does well across the board, you might want to create an updated version of it, or write a similar report about another product or service you offer.

Look at asset types to see what your audience responds to. Do they prefer videos, or do they like to download white papers to read and share? Thinking about this at the outset will enable you to develop a tracking system that gives you the data you need to make decisions.

Use your tracking data not only to optimize what’s in market, but to guide future content development. Test different assets against each other and gauge results. Socialize your learnings internally (or with your client if you’re an agency).

To the uninitiated, content marketing sounds like an insurmountable task. By following the steps outlined in this series, you can develop a successful content marketing machine and fuel your PPC efforts at the same time.

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