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    External Content Marketing: What to Write and Why

    Content is the King here, but it does not rule alone: the burden of power is shared by Her Majesty the Distribution Queen.

    Content marketing involves both the creation and distribution of content, which extends beyond announcing new articles on social networks and email. External content marketing entails constant cooperation with third-party platforms: blog platforms, niche media, corporate and private blogs with guest posting opportunities.

    Producing quality content is one thing, but what’s no less important is that you share it properly.

    Why do you need external content marketing?

    Key objection: We put a lot of effort, time, and money into the article, so why give it to a third-party website?

    It makes sense – on the one hand, the article will belong to another website and will be developed there. A page with your precious content will bring search traffic, improve behavioral factors, and ultimately lead to higher advertising costs on that very platform

    Yet you do not have access to systems of web analytics, can’t insert links to goods/services (even UTM-tags sometimes) in the article text. Besides, the editors may send edits or refuse to post at all. So when you get tips on the additional paid promotion of foreign articles, it raises the question, Why go to all this trouble?

    Here’s the answer:

    • Increased coverage, increased awareness. If done right, articles will catch the attention of new audiences – those who are not familiar with the company and have never been to your website. Extra coverage is especially necessary for those areas of business where demand is weak.
    • Increased engagement. Visitors start reading get interested in the brand go to the website and subscribe to social networks. That’s when the sales rate increases.
    • Improved SEO performance. Buying links from shady websites through exchanges is already a thing of the past, but when you get them from good platforms, you get targeted traffic + quality backlink analyzer.
    • Proof of expertise and spotless reputation. Guides, checklists, research, cases with figures, and useful pieces of advice based on personal experience are of interest to potential clients and competitors alike.
    • Increased loyalty. You must work in this direction if the business is aimed at a long-term customer relationship. Loyalty and trust are extremely important when the average order value (AOV) is lower than the customer acquisition cost (CAC). Retargeting and newsletters won’t be the answer here.

    What’s more about trust. When I asked my coworkers, I learned that many of them prefer familiar platforms when they are looking for information. Indeed, who knows what awaits a person on an unknown website? Maybe there is no adaptive web design and zero usability. On top of that, major platforms gain more credibility because their editorial boards make high demands on the materials/help in their preparation.

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    Who might benefit from external content marketing?

    One possible scenario for business is when you have a blog and a team, but not enough traffic to the website yet to achieve your goals. That’s when you need external content marketing. If we are talking about a startup, you can get better feedback from your coworkers and your target audience.

    Besides, external content marketing in no way hinders the development of internal one. Nothing bad will happen if in two weeks you decide to re-publish an external article with an active link.

    Here’s the thing: content marketing won’t work if you don’t have enough resources, a willingness to participate in the process, and wait at least six months for consistent results. There will be no use if you cannot properly measure the very same result: (no analytics systems and CRM, problems with the business processes).

    However, not only major players but also freelancers can engage in external content marketing. It’s not always appropriate for digital professionals working independently to maintain their website for the sake of a personal brand. Offers of cooperation can be received through occasional posting on industry portals and interaction in the comments.

    What should you write about on third-party websites?

    These are basic requirements for submissions: uniqueness, relevance and usefulness, expertise, simple and intuitive language, proper structure, and fair design. In fact, this list applies to any text.

    Here’s why:

    • For one thing, paid-for articles tend to be turned down by the editorial board. It’s part of the rules on many sites. So be prepared to pay money if you want to post a truly advertising text.
    • Besides, articles of poor quality will be ridiculed by the platform’s regulars. They have the experience and are spoiled with quality content, so they can smell lousy content at 40 paces.
    • As a result, this material will not be ignored by competitors and haters, who are sure to bring in a truckload of dislikes.

    Basically, you have to sell without selling: give useful information, try to address the problems of the target audience, and share valuable experiences. The story of failure will always be more interesting than the story of giddy success.

    Remember to avoid company news and press releases. As we mentioned above, people will thank you for the guides, cases, and research. Only very well-known companies can be exempted from this rule.

    How to choose a platform?

    The first rule: go where the target audience is. There are a few ways to know that it is present on the platform:

    • Find open audience data, if any. Usually, the website administration posts such information in the About Us / Advertising sections.
    • Check whether direct competitors are working on the website. If their articles are posted actively and your target audiences overlap, you should pay attention to such a website.
    • Explore categories, subjects of articles, profiles of observers, and subscribers to the site’ in social networks.
    • Try to find a website by keywords from the semantic core. If your target audience is widely using these queries and sees this site at the top, it’s likely to visit the site.
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    Another thing you should consider when choosing a website is traffic. If the resource doesn’t disclose the statistics, you can find out the approximate performance through Similarweb.

    You should note which formats and subjects are gaining popularity on this website, and which ones are being ignored or are causing negative reactions.

    Needless to say, you should research the editorial policy, the terms of publication, the requirements for materials, and the site’s capabilities. For instance, not all of them allow you to include tables in the text, embed posts from social networks, and upload GIFs.

    Even when working with private blogs, you should check the date of the last publication, so as not to accidentally submit an article to an abandoned resource.

    Here’s a tip: If you can’t find enough platforms, you can poll your subscribers to find out what sites you visit, what you read there.

    Then enter the list of pre-selected sites into Excel and write out all the relevant information: traffic, conditions, examples of articles, and so on. Next, select no more than 5 suitable resources and start working with them on a regular basis. We understand you desire to be published everywhere, but it’s better to do little and of good quality, because funds are limited.

    Highlights of working with external websites

    Site editors don’t always give the terms of reference and subject matter. If you want to save time and energy, it’s better to coordinate it beforehand.

    Priority when choosing topics:

    • potential interest of the target audience and the site’s editorial board;
    • the ability to natively mention a company, product, or service;
    • potential traffic.

    Using newsjacking in external content marketing can be a good option as you can play with news trends in the industry. But you have to act quickly.

    One important difference between external content marketing and sending out press releases is that you can’t send an article to multiple editions at once, otherwise an unpleasant situation will arise. You have to wait for a response from the first platform, and offer it to the second one only after their refusal.

    Do not give up easily: if they send you edits – correct them, if they refuse – try to offer other material. If things didn’t work out, thank them for their feedback and ask about future collaborations.

    Tip: Before sending the cherished email, get into the spirit of the publication. Take the time to read a dozen articles (both editorially selected and criticized by users) in a quiet environment, and to study the comments thoughtfully.

    If they finally publish the text after several rounds of edits, that’s still no reason to relax. Distribution does not end there: you need to make an effort to plant the article in social networks, email distribution, and messengers.

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    It would be perfect if you could provide a budget for the paid promotion of targeted and contextual advertising. However, it makes sense when the link to the site is not hidden in the author’s profile but is in the text of the article or a summary of it.

    Before creating and distributing the text, you need to understand that content marketing (including external marketing) requires a serious approach.

    • You need to coordinate the work of copywriters, designers, and content managers.
    • Authors should have access to experts and vice versa.
    • You shouldn’t leave the comments section empty: respond quickly to questions and level out the negativity.
    • You need to appoint a person in charge of all this – an Internet marketer, for example.

    A major sign of true content marketing is consistency. A fixed schedule for articles develops a habit in readers and, naturally, disciplines the team itself. However, the word consistent does not mean too frequent.

    It is better to publish useful material infrequently than to publish mundane articles twice a day.

    Sure, before you set up a regular delivery of content to a particular platform, you should test it: publish 1-2 materials, and see how it works.

    How should you evaluate the effectiveness of external content marketing?

    Let’s repeat the idea from the first section: you shouldn’t judge content marketing by sales. Determining the effectiveness of content marketing – or any channel for that matter – in isolation from the entire marketing system is not right.

    Content marketing is a sales tool, but it doesn’t affect sales directly. Can you believe it? It’s that easy if you know the mechanism of its work.

    So what metrics to use to evaluate the effectiveness of external content marketing?

    • The number of article views. All industry platforms and corporate blogs usually have counters.
    • The number of likes/dislikes, reposts, comments under the article. Or Engagement Rate at once. The formula for the engagement index: (number of all activities/number of views) * 100%.
    • Site traffic. In Google Analytics, you can see the figures in the report: Medium/Source.
    • The number of direct hits. If the number is growing, it means that people remember the address of your website and enter it into the browser bar right away. It’s good.
    • The number of brand mentions on third-party platforms (Mentions) and the number of net mentions. The second indicator is the difference between positive and negative mentions.
    • The number of clicks on branded queries/frequency of such queries in Google Search Console. It’s great if the numbers are up: it turns out that people are searching for a website more and more often by brand name/company name.

    It’s a good thing if you can use UTM-tags on the website: this way it will be more convenient to analyze traffic from a specific article, count the conversions, and segment website visitors.

     

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