How to Promote your blog

Are you in the publish and pray category!!

You publish content and hope for the best!

We reached out to over 500 businesses and asked them about the blog promotion tactics they use.

And we got some surprising results……

If you want to adapt to this new world where social reach is constantly declining, and  over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google (Ahrefs) you need to read this report!

This will help you with your plans on how to promote your blog so you get more traffic and shares!

As part of this research we wanted to get a better understanding of the following: 

  1. Channels used for unpaid blog promotion
  2. Trends regarding paid promotion channels
  3. The role email plays in promoting content
  4. How outreach is used for blot promotion purposes
  5. Trends in relation to link building tactics
  6. Biggest content promotion challenges
  7. The KPIs businesses measure for content promotion
  8. Time investment in content creation vs. content promotion
  9. Most popular types of content

Now, let’s take a closer look at the insights we uncovered.

#1 Businesses could be a lot less shy about sharing their content on social

There were no surprises when it comes to the channels businesses use the most to share their content.

It’s the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. The laggard in the group was Google+ with less than 1/3rd of the surveyed businesses reporting they share content on this network.

Now, let’s look at the key findings regarding the frequency of sharing of a new piece of content on social media channels.

  • More than 40% of businesses share new content on Facebook only once
  • Content is shared on Twitter more times than on any other channel (61% share the same content more than 2x on Twitter)
  • Businesses share their content more on Facebook groups than on LinkedIn groups.

*OPPORTUNITY: Sharing your content just once won’t send you significant traffic because most of your audience won’t see it; instead, create a social sharing schedule for both new and evergreen articles and establish an optimal publishing frequency to extend the reach of your content.

We use Agorapulse which provides us with the ability to create queues of content based on categories.

The one thing to consider though is recent changes to Twitter where they will not publish the exact same content.    When you want to share content multiple times you need to come up with different text and images for each update.  This is also beneficial to you as you’ll attract different people depending on the text/image.

#2 Facebook ads reign over paid content promotion

Although Facebook ads were the most popular platform for promoting content only 3% of the audience promoted all their posts and 63% promoted some of their posts.

The second most used channel is Google ads, with 28% of businesses running ads on Google to promote some of their content.

Popular native advertising platforms Taboola and Outbrain are used by 1.1% and 2.3% of surveyed businesses respectively and there’s definitely an opportunity to leverage these cost effective channels more.

Less than 2% of respondents stated they use one or more of the following tactics for paid content promotion: promoted Tweets, LinkedIn ads, Quuu Promote, and Snapchat ads.

*OPPORTUNITY: The above results suggest that businesses are ‘playing it safe’ when it comes to paid content promotion. There’s, however, an incredible opportunity to diversify the channels they use to get their content discovered by new, relevant audiences without blowing their budget.

Tim Suolo from Ahrefs recently launched a blogging course and in it he said that you have to have great content but also need to advertise this content to get the relevant level of traction.  If the content is great the advertisement will help get more attention and then you’ll end up getting content promoted in other channels that you haven’t even promoted to.  Here’s an example

Here’s an example of an Ahrefs article picked up and shared on Growthhackers from someone that is not part of the Ahrefs team.

Ahrefs SEO Metrics

“In today’s Facebook and Instagram, promoting content is absolutely essential. Even a small amount can have incredible impact for reaching your fans, recent website visitors, or previous customers. Your content can live longer and be seen much more simply by becoming familiar with the Ads Manager and the tools available to you there.

Recently, I helped a local farmers market promote their content on Facebook. For $10, we targeted the zipcode of the farmers market to families. We had record attendance and the only promotion was the Facebook content. It’s worth it, it helps, and the numbers will always impress you.

If you’ve spent time building content, give it the respect it deserves with promotion. Building a strong advocate base, targeting it to them and your recent website visitors can be an absolute win to ensure you’re top of mind to that person. Making sure it’s worthwhile depends on understanding the type of content your audience wants to see, setting your expectations and setting up the proper tracking. With those simple steps, you can be a marketing leader in your field, making sure your dollars are spent most effectively” – Andrew Foxwell, Facebook Ads expert 

#3 Email is still as relevant as ever for promoting new content

No matter how many times different news articles proclaim the ‘death of email,’ this channel keeps proving to be alive and well. At least when it comes to promoting new content via email newsletters!

Let’s have a look at the key findings:

  • 39% of businesses share every blog post they publish with their email list
  • 39% promote some of their posts via newsletter
  • Only 8% said they never share new content with their subscribers

Even though the above findings are quite optimistic, there are businesses that still don’t use email at all to promote content – almost 14% stated they don’t have an email list!

*OPPORTUNITY: Over 70% of visitors to your website never come back so converting visitors into subscribers and nurturing them with valuable content helps to increase the reach of your content but also you can turn those email subscribers into sales.

If you’re not convinced of the value of email subscribers just take a look at some of Optinmonster Case studies…

How Cole’s Classroom added $55,494 in sales using optinmonster

#4 Outreach is an underutilized tactic for content promotion

Outreach is reaching out to promote your content instead of waiting for visitors to arrive!

We know from experience that too many people are simply bad at outreach. We also know that it’s one of the best ways to let relevant people know about your content, build relationships, and get shares and links to your content.

So we were curious to see how many businesses are leveraging outreach and who they were reaching out to on a regular basis to promote their content.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • More than 40% always reach out to people/websites they mentioned in a blog post
  • Almost 7% of people always reach out to promote all their content to a new audience. 32% reach out sometimes.
  • 20% always reach out to friends to help them promote new content

*OPPORTUNITY: There is a huge untapped opportunity for businesses to reach out to relevant people outside of their subscriber base. Email outreach is one of the most effective content promotion tactics and you can use it to reach out to influencers, journalists, partners, or potential customers – basically anyone who can put your content in front of relevant new audiences.

When you are reaching out you need to make sure you have valuable, unique content.  If the content is not awesome outreach is a waste.

Sign up for a trial of OutreachPlus and you’ll see how easy it is to send those personalized messages to a new audience!

Gareth Daine is an SEO and content promotion expert talks about playing a long game with content promotion where he focuses on relationship building first.  This is not applicable to outreach at all times but it certainly makes the process of outreach a lot easier!!  Here’s Gareth’s advice:

I have one critical thought in mind before I conduct any email outreach. How can I build a valuable and genuine relationship with this individual? Solid relationships are a CRUCIAL aspect of any outreach campaign.

Now, once you’ve built a relationship with your prospect, either via social, at a conference, or another avenue, then you can reach out to them.

However, there’s a critical caveat to this.

Don’t fall into the trap of sending canned messages, or obvious templated SPAM to your prospects.

They’re wise to it, they know what’s going on, and it’s just plain bad manners.

Sure, use templates, by all means, but make sure they are highly personalized.

Using a good outreach program, you should be able to create custom fields that you can populate during campaign set up before you send your outreach emails.

Don’t fall into the trap of sending the same old emails everyone else submits. You know the ones. The ones that are strewn across the Internet for all to see.

This article is one that we’ll do outreach on because it contains useful, valuable data that people want to hear about.  Of course we’ll start off with people we have relationships with!

“We typically get 300 to 400 links from research content we produce” – Steve Rayson – Buzzsumo.

#5 Businesses are not taking link building seriously enough

Quality backlinks is still a very important factor when you want to rank for content in Google  (see Ahrefs research report)

If you are in a competitive space online (very few sectors aren’t) you need to get links to your content to rank on page 1 of Google.

However, there are a lot of effective link building tactics that are underused (while some bad techniques are being used all over!) which is why we wanted to see how businesses build links to their content.

Here is what we found out:

  • 13% of businesses always get links from partner websites
  • 44% always link internally from relevant content
  • 6% of businesses always reach out to get links

Also, under 2% reported that they leverage broken link building as a tactic for acquiring backlinks to their content.

When we launched OutreachPlus we started to reach out to get links because as a new business with unproven content links are slow to come.  Here is the graph of the growth of links.  Of course we used OutreachPlus to reach out and get those links!

“If you’re building links to a specific article, keep it in mind as you do any kind of PR activity. If you have the chance to contribute to something, look for a chance to work it in. For example, if you’re interviewed for a podcast and the host asks what you’d like to talk about on the show, suggest a topic related to your article. If you mention it, it may appear in the show notes …along with a link!”  – Andy Crestodina – Orbit Media.

*OPPORTUNITY: The survey results show that almost half of the businesses are playing the waiting game – they rely on their content to attract links. By being proactive and leveraging proven link building tactics, you can achieve 10x the results you’re getting. There’s a huge opportunity for you to leverage tactics such as broken link building, guest posting, unlinked brand mentions, etc. to acquire quality backlinks.

#6 There’s not enough time for content promotion

We wanted to learn about the main challenges businesses are facing when it comes to content promotion and, unsurprisingly, time seems to be their biggest ‘enemy.’

In fact, 65% said that they don’t have the time to promote their content.

The second biggest challenge we discovered is the lack of knowledge regarding how to use the available tactics for promoting their content.

There is also a small segment (10%) of respondents that is completely satisfied with their content promotion efforts, stating they have no issues what so ever.

*OPPORTUNITY: If you are spending too much time on creating content you may not have the time to promote it.  Start producing less content but higher quality content and use the time to promote it.

Feedback from Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is one of the top content marketers globally and said ‘Ykes’ to the stats listed above.  She was surprised!!!

Heidi suggested 3 ways to get over the content promotion challenges:

Choose publication timing to maximize results – Changing your publication date or time is FREE. If internal delays (such as creation or legal) push your content timing off-track, move your publication to a time when it will receive the most attention you’re your target audience.

Reduce content creation – If Content Marketing Institute and Jay Baer have cut their publication frequency, you should too! (BTW, this frees time for increased distribution and saves resources!)

  • Repromote content over time. Go beyond the first 2 weeks. Ideally change the headline and related images so that it looks different.
  • Republish content on other platforms (Medium, LinkedIn Pulse and your blog). But avoid creating duplicate content by waiting at least 2 weeks. Change the headline and image and add a link to the original article. Ask permission to republish guest posts on your own site. Apply this to syndicate content.
  • Update and transform existing content. Keep older content relevant by updating data and expanding your information. Also tap into the power of other content formats such as images, video, audio (podcasts) and presentations/webinars. (Here are 100+ ways to reuse content.)

Build your network (before you need it –  To maximize distribution, develop your personal network by investing 15 minutes per day into connecting with peers, bloggers, journalists and influencers. Further, pay-it-forward on Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups and secondary networks to help gain traction for mega-content.

#7 We are still hung up on the vanity metrics

There is so much we can learn about the success (or failure) of our content promotion efforts from looking at the right KPIs. (key performance indicators)

And by the right KPIs I mean links, subscribers, leads…

However, looking at what our survey respondents are tracking the most it’s clear that the so called ‘vanity metrics’ (e.g. traffic, shares) are still the main focus for most businesses.

Plus, a strong 10% is not tracking their content promotion efforts at all!

*OPPORTUNITY: With well-defined goals for your content promotion efforts, you can avoid falling into the empty metrics trap. There needs to be more focus on the metrics that can make a difference to their business, such as subscriptions, new leads generated, etc.

 I am one of those people who is just a little bit obsessed with my traffic stats and analytics. And I’ve realized pretty early on that as much as getting a lot of traffic is great, the truth is, it’s the quality of that traffic that truly makes the difference. It’s how long they spend on your website, how many pages they view, what they do on your website and most importantly if they sign up to your list or buy something. These are the actionably metrics, the ones that help you make better decisions to improve your content to better suit your audience, to improve your website’s conversion rate, and ultimately, to generate more sales.  – Lilach Bullock 

#8 Businesses are putting a lot of time into creating content

 A typical content process goes like this:

Research

Writing

Promotion

But how are businesses dividing their time between the three?

  • 15% is used on content research
  • 51% is used on content writing
  • 22% on content promotion

Now, do you see what’s wrong with this picture?

Even this picture paints a rosier picture that I think is the reality.  Based on other responses to this survey I think it’s unlikely that 22% of all time is used for content promotion.

*OPPORTUNITY: If you want your content to be seen by as many people as possible, businesses need to spend at least the same amount of time on promotion as they spend on content creation. This means there’s an opportunity for redistribution of time and effort to maximize the value they get from their content.

#9 Long blog posts get the most love

There are certain types of content that naturally attract more attention i.e. more traffic, links, shares, and comments.

Our findings are just another confirmation that the long-form content gets the most love from users, followed by infographics and research reports.

Other popular content that the surveyed businesses create include videos, resource lists, and how-to articles.

But there is another issue…

Even though research content is not as popular as blog content from the people that completed the survey this does not mean that survey’s are not a more popular content type.

One issue is that survey’s are hard to produce so most people shy away from them.  So most of the audience surveyed have not created survey’s before.

*OPPORTUNITY: Start experimenting with different content types.  We know that long detailed how to type blog posts perform well but are you experimenting more with other content types such as surveys?

When talking with Aaron Orendorff from Shopify he talks about how high quality content is the foundation for getting your content promoted and within that content having high quality imagery really helps:

“A lot of people preach the gospel of 80/20: that 80% of your effort should go into promoting content and only 20% into creating. From my experience that’s nonsense. The best promotional tactic is to create phenomenal content from the jump. However, that doesn’t mean ignoring promotion. Instead, a significant portion of my creative process has a long view toward promotion built into it.

Content creation is not a single player sport. At least, it shouldn’t be. By baking original contributions, research, and images into your content — especially data visualizations — you position yourself for promotion in two ways.

First, the meatier and more insightful the contributions you receive, the more likely those contributors will be to help promote it. As silly as this sounds, including headshots and Click-to-Tweet snippets dramatically increases their buy-in.

Second, even if you don’t create original research, designing original data visualizations naturally encourages organic sharing and backlinking — the unsung holy grail of long-term promotion. I’ve used these stats in a host of multi-channel marketing articles, but it wasn’t until I made this small visual that the social engagement took off.

Final comments

To summarize what the survey findings are telling us: businesses are still playing it safe and ignoring many of the content promotion channels/tactics they could be using to maximize the results they’re getting from their content.

In our view, they need to put more effort into growing their email lists, promoting their content repeatedly on several unpaid and paid channels, leverage outreach and link building tactic more, and use analytics to track and measure key metrics.