Feb 04, 2014
By Jesse Noyes
Email Marketing

Bang out that press release! Fire up an email to the database! When it comes to promoting a campaign, marketers often lean on the old standbys. That’s because when it comes to introducing a new product or feature, these tactics can work.

But we’re in the content marketing era now. Instead of pushing product, more marketers are engaging buyers with educational videos, articles, eBooks, infographics, and more. Insight is coveted. Copy is ignored.

Just like releasing a product, marketers need to plan full-fledged campaigns around their content. Great content (like any sweet product) deserves smart promotion.

But the rules are different. A simple press release won’t get you the traction you need. Below I outline several of the rules we’ve seen emerge -- and work! -- for releasing content into the market.

1. Map out an ideal release flow
Content begets more content. When you think about releasing a major content piece (we call them content pillars), consider all the ways it can be broken up into supporting content -- all feeding back into your main asset.

We diagram this out as two streams, inbound and outbound, that can separate and converge at different points of the campaign. So, say, we release a new eBook. That eBook should provide fodder for 4, 5, 6, or even 10 blog posts. A video summarizing some of the insights from the eBook, supports the content on the number two search engine, YouTube. Infographics and SlideShare decks provide visual ammunition.

And, of course, we include email and online ads (search, social, display). We tend to operate with the assumption that buyers are far more likely to click an ad or open an email that offers valuable insights, rather than pitching product.

You may not use every content type or channel available, but it’s good to map out an ideal flow so you always have a game plan. The image above shows one we drew up.

2. Plan for multiple channels; optimize for one
There are plenty of channels where content can find a home or spread its wings. Clearly, you want to tap every channel that makes sense for your brand. But every channel has a unique audience and various nuances. Trying to force-feed a piece of content when it’s not made specifically for that channel leads to little pick up and even backlash.

In the exercise above, I noted how we reformat the main content into supporting pieces on different channels. But the main asset is designed with the specific tone and style of one particular channel in mind.

Ask yourself, where is this big content pillar going to live? Is it a SlideShare presentation? A YouTube video? A webinar?

Don’t try to make it work for every channel. Instead, tailor those supporting assets for other channels, funneling the traffic back to your main piece.

3. Have a CTA ready for your CTA
I won’t preach to you about having a call to action for your content release. If you weren’t already thinking about one, I’m not sure I can help you. But let’s suppose you get that next click. What happens next?

Many marketers plan for a CTA, but when it comes to step two, three, and four, there are plenty who shrug their shoulders. In the old days of simply promoting a product, the CTA string was easier. But when it comes to content, that thread can unwind for a while before reaching its end.

We ran into this issue with our recent “Masters of SlideShare” campaign. The main asset was designed for SlideShare specifically, with lots of blogs and emails created to support it. But we also needed a related CTA for the main presentation. So we followed it up with a deck called “How We Made Masters of SlideShare,” which explained the process we followed. Then, finally, if the reader wants to know more about our tools, we embedded a contact us CTA.

Here’s a good rule to institute for any content release: Be able to list at least three steps you want the reader to take before you publish.

4. Make it easy for sales to share
If marketers want content to truly have an impact, they need to involve sales. You know it. I know it. More importantly, sales knows it.

One simple step for making your content releases more valuable sales is to treat CRM as a publishing channel. This requires pushing your campaigns into CRM using clear naming conventions and folders, as well as a regular stream of notifications.

But you also should create assets that make it easier for sales to use and promote your content. One “must” we’ve added into our release flow is drafting an email template for sales.

At its most basic, this is simply some copy provided to sales that promotes the release with relevant links and CTAs included. The individual sales reps can tinker with the language and use it to target prospects and opportunities. The template simply smooths down any friction in the sharing process, and makes your campaign highly visible to sales colleagues.

5. PR is good, if it’s good PR
Not everyone has access to a big PR team. Some might have access, but the PR team might not be well suited for promoting content. Here’s my advice. Use PR if it’s good PR. In other words, if the extent of those efforts is press release and a call to The New York Times about your infographic, your time might be better spent elsewhere.

But if you have PR resources that understand that promoting content means reaching out to key influencers, targeting relevant blogs and publications, and spreading the campaign over several weeks rather than several days, by all means use them! Break up outreach into three categories: publications, blogs, and influencers. Each of these comes with a different “ask.” For influencers you might just want a tweet; a blog might require writing up a guest post; and a publication might come with a story pitch. At a minimum, be prepared with messaging, art, and appropriate branding.

Content marketing doesn’t require less promotion. But it does require a different style and approach. These five rules are a starting point. Be ready to add more with each new release.

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