PPC and Content Marketing: Timing

In earlier posts, I talked about the 4-step content audit and audience research. In this post, we’ll talk about the timing of content marketing PPC.

In many ways, timing is important for all types of PPC. Maybe you’re running a sale for a limited time, or doing a promotion around a holiday. You might have a marketing calendar that helps you determine when promotions should run.

PPC for content marketing is no different, although it’s critical to pay attention to timing. Ideally, you’ll have an editorial calendar that tells you when new content will be published. The editorial calendar is your roadmap for planning PPC for content marketing.

But what if you don’t have an editorial calendar? You can still be successful – you’ll just have to work a little harder.

The first step in planning when to promote content is to review your content audit and audience research data. Hopefully, you’ve organized the information in your content audit into a matrix by content type. If not, you can do that now. There are several different ways to organize the content to figure out when to promote it. One I like is the Periodic Table of Content Marketing by Econsultancy.

Then, organize the content by audience. Think about the seasonality of your product or service, and that of your audience as well. For instance, if you’re marketing to landscapers, summer is going to be their busiest season. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market to them in the summer – especially if you have articles or tools that will help them be more efficient during the busy season. But be aware that because they’re busy, they may not use every PPC channel. They might stick to search, to find answers to pressing problems, and save social media for times when they’re not as busy.

If your industry isn’t very seasonal, or if your content is more evergreen, you might want to organize it by type or theme, like the Periodic Table illustrates. Then, set a schedule to push out different kinds of content.

It’s likely you’ll have some content that’s time-sensitive, like a promotion, limited time offer, or holiday-related piece. Make sure to slot that in during the appropriate time.

By now you probably have a good grip on when you’ll launch each piece of content in PPC. There’s one more step in the timing process, and it’s frequently overlooked: when to stop promoting each piece of content! Sometimes it will be obvious; but what about assets that might get outdated over time? If you’re a software provider, for instance, you’ll want to expire any content referring to old releases.

And most content, even evergreen content, gets stale over time. Be sure to track the performance by asset so you can spot any attrition in your content marketing PPC campaigns.

Make sure to do a periodic check to make sure old content isn’t still running. Remember, you’re paying for the engagement, so you don’t want to pay for people to click on old content!

Don’t forget to include testing in your timing plan. While testing is easier in some PPC channels than others, you should always be testing – whether it’s pitting 2 pieces of content against each other, testing audience segments, or even images in Facebook ads. You should also test what type of content performs best: white papers vs. videos, for example. Build all of this into your timing plan.

Finally, lay out all of the timing into your Periodic Table or editorial calendar. Not only will this keep you on track, it’ll help you plan your campaign setup. It might make sense to have campaigns based on promotion dates, especially in search where you don’t have to worry about audiences. Mapping out the timing will help guide your campaign setup process.

The key here is to think everything through ahead of time! So many advertisers just jump in to a Facebook or Twitter Ads campaign without thinking about timing. We’ve all seen the “Save on Mother’s Day Gifts” ads that are still running. With advance planning, the timing of your content marketing PPC will be easy.

Got any tips for timing your content marketing PPC? Share in the comments!

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PPC and Content Marketing: Audience Research

In an earlier post, I talked about the 4-step content audit, which helps marketers identify what content they have. Once you’ve finished your audit, it’s time to do some audience research.

Audience research in content marketing is as important as keyword research in search PPC. Audience segments will form the basis for your content marketing PPC campaigns.

The first step in researching your audience is to talk to your client, or your sales team if you’re in-house. Ask them about their ideal prospect: what job level they hold, what they like to do, what they’re passionate about, what need they are trying to fulfill.

If you want to get really granular, create marketing personas for your audience. It sounds hokey, but naming each segment of your customer base helps visualize your customer’s needs.

Once you have a good idea of who you’ll be marketing to, it’s time to jump into the engines. It’s easiest to do audience research in the social PPC platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Facebook is probably the first engine that comes to mind when thinking about audiences as opposed to keywords. Facebook targeting focuses primarily around interests and interest groups. A typical Facebook audience for a construction company might look like this:

facebook segment

If you’re a B2B advertiser, or are looking to target individuals associated with companies or job types, LinkedIn is ideal:

linkedin targeting

And with Twitter, you can target individual Twitter handles. It’s a little tougher to find users on Twitter, but if you know the companies or type of individuals you want to target, it’s not too bad.

While you’re doing your content marketing audience research, think outside the box. What do your users like to do? If you’re selling organic food, for instance, you might target those who are interested in environmental issues like recycling and green energy. They might be interested in your competitors – consider creating a segment targeting the competition’s fans! For B2B, targeting fans of industry conferences or trade shows is a good bet. Get creative!

Don’t forget about PPC keywords. Frequently, you’ll want to have a search campaign in addition to social campaigns. Remember, users may see you on a social channel, and then turn to a search engine for more information. Try to use keywords from the content itself, especially if you use product names, buzzwords, or themes in your content. Definitely include branded terms in your research as well. You might even consider keywords like “Company X Facebook” to reach those who saw your ads there.

Once you’ve identified your audience, think about how you want to segment them. This is where your content audit comes into play. Sometimes the segmentation will be obvious: if you have some content for architects and some for builders, separate your audiences that way.

Other times, though, it may not be so simple. In those cases, I often start with a larger audience initially. Then, I watch performance and segment based on that, rather than on audience attributes. Play around with your audience segments and test, test, test!

Audience research can be much more time-consuming than keyword research. But make sure to invest the time. Your content marketing PPC campaigns will be more successful with good audience research.

For some great tips on audience research and getting super-creative, I highly recommend Marty Weintraub’s book, Killer Facebook Ads. It’s a fun read and has some incredible tips on finding prospects with creative audience segments.

Got any killer audience research tips? Share in the comments!

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PPC and Content Marketing: The 4-Step Content Audit

In an earlier post, I talked about content marketing and its rise to popularity. PPC can be a highly effective way to amplify your content marketing efforts. But first, you need to identify what content is available. Here are 4 steps to a successful content audit.

Step 1: Identify your content marketing goals

Long-time readers of this blog know that I always start with goals. If you don’t know what you want to do, how will you go about doing it? And “performing a content audit” isn’t a goal. Neither is “get started with content marketing.” Those are both tactics used to achieve a strategy, not the strategy itself.

The most common goals for content marketing are lead generation and awareness creation. Do you have a new product that needs awareness? Trying to establish thought leadership in your field? Need to drive your lead generation machine? Identifying your primary goal for content marketing drives the entire process, from what content you’ll use to the channels you’ll use to distribute content.

Step 2: Create a list of all available content.

It’s always easier to repurpose existing content than it is to create it from scratch. Create a list of all online assets, including white papers, press releases, online demos, articles on other platforms, and even photos and videos. Every piece of content your organization has created is fair game.

If possible, also look at how the content has performed, and the audience it has reached. This will help you determine what PPC channel to use, and how to craft ad copy and PPC audiences. Also, why not put your best foot forward and launch with the best content?

Step 3: Note whether the content is evergreen or time-sensitive.

Some content, such as overview videos, product brochures, and how-to blog posts never get old. This is content you can promote again and again. Other content is time-sensitive: promotions, licenses, and other factors can affect how long your content can stay in market. Note these limitations in your content list. Nothing is worse than paying to send traffic to your site to read an outdated brochure or view a promotion that’s expired.

Step 4: Include the format in your content list.

Content format is more important than you may think, for a couple of reasons. The first is obvious: it determines where the content can be advertised in PPC. If you want to use Google for keyword search, you won’t be able to use a video as your ad (although of course you can drive traffic from text ads to a landing page that includes your video).

Maybe more importantly, noting the content type will help you learn which types of content perform best on each channel. For instance, you may determine that videos perform best in Facebook promoted posts, but white papers perform best in Google Adwords.  Performance by content type is a key measurement for PPC and content marketing.

By following these 4 steps, your content audit is now a marketing tool that use can use to craft your content marketing campaigns.

What about you? What techniques have you used for a content audit? Share in the comments!

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PPC and Content Marketing – Thought Starters

Back in December I ran a reader poll to see what my beloved readers want to hear about in 2014. While several topics got a lot of votes, the top vote-getter was PPC and Content Marketing.

Content marketing seems to be the shiny object for 2014. Everyone is trying to figure out how to create content and share it with the world. Content is being shared in a myriad of ways that didn’t exist even a year ago. Witness the rise of visual platforms like Vine, Pinterest, and Snapchat and you’ll see what I mean.

So how does PPC fit into the mix?

It’s not as simple as, say, PPC for ecommerce. In that case, you start bidding on keywords and sending visitors to product pages. Audiences may not even matter, if people are buying.

But PPC for content marketing is less clear-cut.

I’ll explore this in depth in future posts. And I want your opinions too – what have you tried? Here are a few thought starters that I consider.

  • Content audit. What content is available?
  • Audience research. Like keyword research in search, audience research is crucial.
  • Timing. In ecommerce or other traditional PPC, timing may not even matter. People might buy your product year-round. But content burns out fast.
  • Channels. Content can be promoted in many places besides Google. Google may not even be the best place for promotion.
  • Buyer journey. Is this content best suited to awareness, demand generation, or something else?
  • Integration. Who else is promoting this content? PR, media, sales, etc.?

Those are just a few considerations for a successful PPC content marketing campaign. We’ll explore them all in depth.

What do you consider when embarking on a content marketing play? Share in the comments!

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