Get Your Inbound Marketing Channel Mix Right for Campaign Success
Promoting your content in the right place at the right time can make or break an inbound marketing campaign.
Because, however compelling your content is, it isn’t going to engage prospects and convert them into loyal customers if they can’t find it in the first place.
So, how do you approach choosing the right channels to promote your content?
The answer is three-fold:
1) Understand your audience
2) Plan ahead
3) Test and refine
In this post, I’m going to explain how to use this three-fold approach to decide how much emphasis to put on each channel, craft a bespoke strategy for that channel, and optimise your channel mix.
The channels the post covers are:
- Digital PR
- Social media
- Biddable media
1) Understand your audience to guide your channel focus
To reach your audience in the right place, at the crucial time they are seeking out information in relation to your product, you need to go beyond audience demographics and dig into what motivates your audience.
Ask yourself, what does your audience need?
At Fresh Egg, we immerse ourselves in the digital world our client’s audience inhabits during the discovery process – this is one part of our audience-led approach. By understanding the trigger events and needs that prompt a search, we can discover which digital marketplaces our client’s potential customers are likely to end up in.
It is this understanding that helps guide which inbound marketing channels we put most emphasis on to promote our content during a campaign.
For example, if we find the needs of our client’s audience and their subsequent searches lead them to certain types of blogs or online publications, then we know that digital PR will be an important channel to promote this brand.
Similarly, if it is revealed that many of their audiences’ search needs are being addressed through discussion in a Facebook group, then we know to put more emphasis on our social promotion.
Conversely, if research shows lots of related searches with a high volume on the campaign topic and little competitor content, we can more confidently look to organic search as a source of traffic for the campaign. Whereas, if this isn’t the case, we know that we need to make our other channels work harder and that paid promotion might be crucial to kick-starting the campaign.
Getting the inbound marketing channel mix right ensures we focus our efforts on promoting our content in the places that relevant prospects will best engage with it.
2) Plan ahead to optimise content for specific channels
To get the most out of the audience-appropriate channels you’ve selected, you need to plan ahead.
Developing your promotional strategy before you create your content will help you craft your content with the audience needs in mind and optimise your content according to each channel’s best practice.
Online content is not passively consumed but discovered in response to searches. If you understand when, how and why your audience seeks out information that your brand has the answer to, you can look to craft content around their needs.
Before Google’s algorithm became sophisticated enough to understand human language, the focus was to simply target the keywords that people were using without really questioning if the content was relevant to that search. But now, Google is increasingly good at understanding the intent behind user searches and the content that is most likely to be relevant to that intent.
That is why creating high quality content that meets the intention behind a person’s search will help Google understand your brand as contextually relevant to that search. Meeting the specific needs of your audiences’ searches is a way to gain a foothold in organic search results for relevant subjects.
For a more detailed explanation of the way Google understands the intent behind a search, read our post on RankBrain from technical SEO director Mark Chalcraft.
To give your content the best chance of appearing in response to the search intent it is answering, there are also a number of other technical SEO best practices you should follow. These include:
- Meta content – ensure you’ve optimised all of your page titles and meta descriptions to ensure that Google understands exactly what your content is about and that users are compelled to click through
- Internal linking – show Google that the campaign holds an important place in the structure of the site by linking to it from important pages like the homepage
Digital PR is about identifying influential sites, publications and blogs that have an audience in common with your brand. Creating content that these sites are compelled to publish gives them cause to reference your site either in a citation or link.
Sites will only be compelled to publish something if it genuinely benefits their audience, is timely, and makes their site look good. For example, by strengthening their position on a pet-cause at a time when that cause is in the news, or showing them off as a thought-leader within their industry in relation to a key trend.
In order to ensure your content does these things and is suitable for promotion through digital PR, you need to identify types of influencers your digital PR will target before you create the content.
To identify suitable targets for your digital PR activity, think about all of the overarching topics and themes that sit above the topic of your content. Also consider the subtopics that sit beneath it. Then find influential sites and publications that are related to these topics.
For example, say your content topic is water sports. The overarching themes are holidays, travel, sports, leisure and outdoor activities. Subtopics would be surfing, kayaking and swimming.
You can identify the most shared content on these topics using BuzzSumo and then look to see who is authoring and sharing this to identify influencers. More simply, you may just want to see which publications are most suitable in the search results for these topics.
Wherever possible, get the influencers you have identified involved in the content creation process. Including quotes from influencers you intend to later reach out to is always a good idea. If you’re involved in content, you have a very natural reason to want to share it.
I spoke to our online content creator, Tiffany Holland, who leads the digital PR activity on our inbound campaigns, to ask her how she approaches earning coverage for the content we produce:
"As a bunch of former journalists, the content team at Fresh Egg can get to the heart of the story. We know how to craft persuasive angles to highlight our fantastic pieces of content that writers and editors can’t ignore.”
“It helps that we know digital PR is about building and maintaining relationships, not just earning links. The value in picking up the phone and actually speaking to a blogger or website editor rather than writing continuous emails is significant for any digital campaign."
Social media is undeniably a crucial channel for any kind of content promotion, with over 30% of the global population being active users . So, it is likely that, regardless of your audience, you will find a substantial number of them through social channels.
However, different platforms are popular among different demographics, which is something you need to consider when deciding what platforms to focus on. For example, Pinterest has a gender bias towards women – with 62% of users being female.
Different platforms for different content types
The most dominant platforms, namely Facebook and Twitter, tend to have a wide spectrum of content types and formats shared across them. However, some platforms are optimised for sharing a certain type of content. For example, Pinterest is designed for image-led content while Vine is a video-focused platform.
When choosing which platform to focus on, it’s important to think about the nature of the content that is most prevalent on that platform, and how that relates to your campaign content. Mark Longhurst, who specialises in social media as part of his role as an inbound marketing manager at Fresh Egg, says:
"When choosing which social platforms to share campaign content on, I always focus on where the target audience is spending their time. Is it an interior design campaign? Your audience is likely to be using Pinterest to collect images of their favourite kitchen designs. Does the campaign have videos about running shorts? Then using Facebook and Instagram will be key."
Take a proactive approach to social outreach
You shouldn’t limit yourself to just posting on your brand’s own social account.
Taking a more proactive approach to social outreach, for example on Twitter, is a good way to extend your brand’s reach.
Use BuzzSumo to identify key influencers in relation to your campaign topic. You can then reach out to them by mentioning them with a link to the content.
In this way, you can earn retweets from those who influence your audience, rather than just waiting for influencers to engage with your more passive tweets.
There is a particularly important synergy between inbound campaigns and biddable media, especially paid social advertising. It enables you to reach a new relevant audience who are searching around the topic area of your campaign.
Using paid promotion to help launch content can often help kick-start referral traffic and engagement with the content, including social sharing. Paid social advertising offers you a more targeted and immediate way of reaching people than organic, as you are able to select the audiences your posts are targeting.
Paid promotion increases reach
Adam Locklear, our senior biddable media manager, explains how to approach paid social advertising in order to increase your brand’s reach among a relevant audience:
“When you have a great piece of content, naturally you want to shout about it, and biddable media offers the opportunity to do just that.”
“The first question to ask is – what is the goal of my campaign? Each social platform offers different ad products to meet specific goals. Mapping these goals to the opportunity offered by each of those platforms at the start of the campaign is important when planning a media buy.
“Consideration also needs to be given to the intended audience so they can be reached where they are using the web, and where they are likely to interact with your content.
“Every online marketer has access to tools to give insight into where audiences can be found. For example, Google Analytics offers deep insight into the demographic of your site visitors, while Facebook’s Ads Manager has expansive lists of niche interest categories (with audience size) that can be reached.
“In addition, the Google Display Network offers a wealth of inventory based on interests and lifestyle. A well planned display campaign that targets the right segments enables you to put your content in front of an audience at exactly the moment that it’s most relevant them.”
“Combining the right platform(s) with a campaign based on analytical data is the key to success”
Promoting your campaign content through your email list is a no-brainer, as this is a highly relevant and captive audience whose inboxes you have direct access to.
If you have an upcoming and relevant email scheduled around the launch of your campaign, be sure to feature the campaign content as part of it. If you don’t have one scheduled, creating a specific one to promote the campaign may be appropriate, provided the audience fits.
If you have a large email list and it is segmented, then even better. This will enable you to choose the specific section of your audience that is most relevant to the content and target them directly.
Linking this to paid social advertising, Facebook allows you to upload your email database and run advertising targeting these specific people, or build an audience of demographically similar users to also target. This can be an effective practice as you are able to create messaging that resonates with an audience that is already engaged with your brand.
3) Test and refine to maximise results across channels
Optimising your multi-channel approach is not only bespoke to each campaign and each audience but it is also an ongoing process.
To maximise campaign performance, you need to understand how each channel is performing and how the blend of channels is impacting the overall campaign performance. The ability to be flexible and refine your approach based on performance data throughout your campaign is crucial to delivering the best possible results.
By carefully monitoring the performance metrics of your campaign against your objectives, using tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, BuzzSumo and Majestic SEO, you can drill down into which channel, and which specific tactics on that channel, are driving results.
This enables you to be flexible, adjusting the balance of channel activity and refining your tactics on specific channels. Do more of what works to capitalise on existing success and cut back on what isn’t providing value to ensure your campaign delivers a healthy ROI.
This test and learn process is central to the Fresh Egg digital marketing approach.
So, if there is one message you should take away from this post, it is that an understanding of your audience must shape your multi-channel campaign strategy from start to finish.
From identifying the inbound marketing channels to focus your promotional efforts on and optimising your content for these channels, to refining your approach based on how it is performing – being audience-led is the key to success.
To summarise, top considerations that come into play for each channel are as follows:
- Search: ensure your content meets a need aligned with search intent. Ensure your meta content and internal linking are optimised to help your content be discovered when that need is triggered
- Digital PR: design content that benefits the audience of your pre-identified digital PR targets and include influencers’ opinions in your content wherever possible
- Social media: choose the channels that suit your audience demographics and content type, ensuring you take a proactive approach to social outreach
- Biddable media: consider which ad products best align with your objectives and use data to find the best paid platform to reach your audience
- Email: promote your content to a relevant email list segment to capitalise on this highly target captive audience
For more detailed guidance on how our inbound specialists can propel your brand to new heights through a multi-channel approach to creative campaigns, get in touch with us today.