Content marketing is all the hype these days and understandably so. With a great topic, thorough research and promotion, a great piece of content can bloom into a linkable asset that effectively drives and attracts traffic, increases brand visibility and awareness, and assists in audience growth for your business or brand. One of the most valuable and least discussed aspects of a holistic content marketing strategy is the relationship management aspect of the process. As link building and content marketing continue to become more about relationship building, understanding how relationships can affect these efforts is vital. I’d like to explore the following content marketing phases and the role relationships play in each, including the following:
Outreach: Setting the foundation
For publishing opportunities on 3rd party websites and blogs, one of the first steps in a content marketing strategy will be prospecting and outreach to potential link partners. Outreach can often be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the process, as you’ll be researching and identifying websites that serve your target audience and making contact with the correct individual regarding a potential placement opportunity. Initial outreach is the perfect chance to educate your prospect about your business or brand and explain why working with you will be mutually beneficial.
Because outreach is often the first experience a prospect may have with your brand, it’s vital to make a great first impression. Email response rates can be increased by keeping communication professional, free of any spelling or grammatical errors, knowledgeable (understanding a site’s audience and purpose) and centered around value (here’s how you’d like to serve that audience).
The Noisy Inbox
As inboxes continue to get “noisier” with guest post requests, it’s possible that part of the outreach process will include utilizing multiple channels such as social outreach on different networks. This social outreach may include circling, liking, following, +1’ing and retweeting a prospect. Twitter is a great network to utilize for making first contact. I personally appreciate how Twitter can provide you with the opportunity to quickly connect with almost anyone.
If you are working on large-scale projects, keeping track of your outreach can often get overwhelming, so it’s worth mentioning that there are a few tools available to help you stay organized and effectively manage these efforts like BuzzStream, Sprout Social and HooteSuite. Similar to creating great content, building relationships can take time, effort and strategy which makes staying organized a key element to success.
Promotion: Utilizing Existing Relationships and Building New Ones
Every content marketing strategy should include a content promotion strategy. You’ve put a lot of time into research, outreach, creation and placement, and you want to make sure your post gets the visibility it deserves! Promoting your content through your networks is a great opportunity to utilize existing relationships and should include sharing great content with your followers, community and influencers specific to your industry or niche. This sharing can include a variety of mediums including email, social media networks and other online communities. Robust content sharing strategies can greatly extend the overall reach of your content and assist in building new relationships, audience growth and expanding your existing networks.
As search engines continue to place more emphasis on the user experience, social signals are increasingly playing a larger role in helping engines discover new content and in evaluating relevance, relationships, authority and trust, all of which makes utilizing existing relationships an important part of a content marketing strategy.
Content Promotion Tip
Is your post directly resolving a frequently asked question specific to a product or niche? If so, finding other communities and forums where these questions are being asked and sharing your article with a thoughtful paragraph or two can be a great way to contribute to a community, increase social shares and direct people to your resource. It’s important not just to “link drop” and to include some background on why the resource you are sharing is relevant. Remember, keep it real, keep it valuable.
Engagement: Content Interaction Management
In my opinion, interacting with readers who have commented and or shared your content is one of the most gratifying parts in a content marketing process and can also be an incredible relationship building opportunity. Engagement is a great indicator that your post has resonated with your audience and reaching out and interacting with readers who share and comment on your post is an effective way to build your brand, form lasting relationships and turn readers into brand evangelists. Taking the time to respond to questions and comments and thanking readers for social shares also help create a great user experience and will assist in extending the reach and visibility of your content.
Relationship management is one of the core elements to a successful content marketing strategy and a large part of building a successful brand. By taking the time to build relationships and interact, share and engage with your community in a meaningful way, you’ll also be positively impacting the overall reach and impact from your content marketing efforts.