External Content Marketing

content-marketing-diagram-04A lot of the best content marketing does not live on an organization’s website; it is out on external sites attracting eyeballs. External content marketing is a low-cost (and often no-cost) way to help build awareness, distribute information, connect with and serve customers, and boost sales.

Marketing Rule: Tell Them, Tell Them What You Told Them, and Then Tell Them One More Time

Multiple placement offers more exposure and more likelihood of a meaningful impact. A lost-opportunity content marketing case in point: a company announces a local workshop event in an e-mail, yet there is no mention of it in their blog, on their website, in an online press release on their press page, on article marketing sites, or in local event calendars online (if the organization has a local target).

Never make assumptions that content published in one place will be viewed. Online marketers have to make their message available for their current and prospective customers in many formats. People read e-mails, then delete them. If it was memorable and they want more information later, they will likely go online or to a website to follow up. If web users can’t fi nd the info again somewhere else, marketers may lose them and that’s not good customer service. Own all the great tools at your fingertips to make your online marketing work!

Re-communicate and make marketing consistent. Does the website look like the blog? Do e-mails look like the website? In most cases, design consistency is important. Be mindful of branding and positioning to show professionalism, and ensure that consistency is in place to make the most of the content.

The Best External Sites to Showcase Your Content Here are some external venues to consider as part of your coordinated content marketing strategy:

– Online press release sites

– Video sites

– White-paper sites

– Guest posts on industry blogs

– Guest blogs on a popular site for your audience

– Radio shows or podcasts

– Social media sites including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Linked – In, Squidoo, online communities, eHow.com

– Online newspaper guest columns

– Online trade magazines

– Consumer magazines in a topic area

– Third-party websites that don’t compete but reach the same audience

– Affiliate marketing

– How-to sites

– Article marketing sites

Most of these opportunities are free of charge; content simply needs to adhere to the external guidelines. Posting content needs to be done where there is clear value presented. Test, track, and put energy into the areas that drive traffic and sales. Make the content count so you can count on external publishing as a way to build awareness, share information, connect, serve, and sell!

Article Marketing

By far one of the most underutilized online marketing strategies is using article marketing sites. With article marketing you can subtly promote products and services (very soft sell, never promoting the company or its services directly) via online article directories. Most directories receive a high volume of traffic and are considered authority sites by search engines, so the articles rank highly in search and generate lots of free traffic.

You’ll need to submit your article to multiple article directories. Most search engines filter duplicate content to prevent the exact same content from reappearing in searches. You can get around this by modifying articles slightly to keep the content diverse and increase your chance of getting multiple high rankings.

Although you won’t be able to promote your organization overtly on these sites, you can still build credibility and visibility for your organization (most article sites have an author biography section that can link to the main site). When content is authored and it’s good, the source can start to become an authority. Note the word author in the word authority!

This is also an opportunity to put your analytics to use. You can generously sprinkle your articles with whichever keywords or phrases your website readers are using to find you. In fact, if you conceive content around the key phrases people are searching for, searchers will find your site, and your articles, and familiarity will breed awareness and hopefully conversions.

How to Create Your Own Wikipedia Entry

One of the top-ranked items in a search engine on any given topic is the Wikipedia entry. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) is an online open encyclopedia.

This means that anyone can add or change any entry, with a few minor exceptions. Your company’s Wikipedia entry should describe your organization or company and its history, mission, services, and/or products. All assertions must be provable and citations must be provided. Solid non-company-produced references include published articles in newspapers, independent magazines, academic journals, and books. These references need to be on the World Wide Web as Wikipedia editors will check references against web sources.

Anyone can post or edit an article on Wikipedia. The hard part is ensuring that the article will be allowed to stay. As an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia wants just the facts. Terms like solutions (unless referring to liquids), best, leadership, state of the art, and cutting-edge are too promotional and will flag a posting for deletion. In addition, an organization whose Wikipedia entry has been previously deleted will be targeted for a follow-up deletion. Any new entries must be posted according to their guidelines (http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Wikipedia_policies).

A tool like Google Analytics can show you exactly how much traffic is funneled from Wikipedia to your website. Because of Wikipedia’s high volume, you should sign up to be alerted to any updates people make, to monitor your article for quality and truthfulness. Wikipedia’s policies also help protect other people from using your entry as promotion for their own organization.

If someone places a link to their company’s website in your article, it will be swiftly deleted, appropriately, by an editor. Every article in Wikipedia is intended to be informational and neutral, contain no stealth advertising, and be a valid contribution to the online encyclopedia.

A content strategy can seem imposing at first. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Take small steps, repurpose content, and focus on quality. Little efforts over time will make a significant impact as the content compounds. If you allow user-generated content, you’ll have something better than a free-content-creation staff. You’ll have a group of users who are paying you (by buying your organization’s products or mission). The more you let them contribute, the more it will pay off in customer loyalty.

Even if your organization won’t allow a user-generated content strategy, you should still pay attention to what your customers have to say. When you install an analytics package on your website, you get a silent partner at the content table. If you listen, they will tell you how to grab their attention, how to communicate with them, and in many cases how to sell to them.

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