Ideally, you want people to find your website through SEO and social sharing of your content because it’s free, if you do not count the time investment. However, it can take a lot of time to build a following and get into the groove of great content generation. For a quick boost, you can use Google Adwords to promote your content. To be clear, using Adwords to promote content should be a short term strategy. If you are not directly advertising a product or service, chances are low you will see a good return on ROI from using Adwords.
Why Promote Content on Adwords
Content marketing states that extraordinary content kind of markets itself, once it gets out there. For fledgling sites and businesses however, the competition is steep in both SEO and the social media landscape. Entrenched companies dominate the search engine result pages, and services like Twitter are a firehose. It can be hard to cut into the stream of information if you have not yet established yourself on that platform.
Using ads to promote your content is a way to slice through it and give your promotion a slight edge. Basically, you will be paying for premium space in search engine result pages to display your content.
There are a few advantages to using this strategy:
- Get exposure to your content that would otherwise maybe take months to get
- Track engagement
- If your site is new or does not have a history of getting a lot of views, the boost in visitors from Adwords can finally give you some real information on how users engage with your site
Deciding What Content to Promote
You want to promote your best piece of content to get the most value out of spending money on advertisements. Since you will not be leading visitors directly to your sale or product page, Therefore, the content needs to be extraordinary and easily shareable. The goal here is to leverage paid traffic to expand your readers and visitors organically down the line.
The best type of content to promote is a free offer that engages your audience and turns them into a lead. In the past, we have had success with instructional e-courses and webinars. When it comes to Adwords, you want something which solves a pain point of your customers. An educational offering that teaches your potential leads how to do something and how to solve a problem will be much easier to advertise and much better at attracting visitors.
To decide which offer is best to advertise, look at your website’s data and see which one of your offers has the most engagement and highest conversion rate. If you do not yet have enough data to determine this, carefully pick the one that best fits the following criteria:
- Addresses a common pain point of your potential customers
- Be connected to your company’s product or service
- Includes quality keywords in the landing page copy and title
- Is a good piece of content that you can use to nurture and push leads through your journey
Setting Up Your Campaign
First things first, decide whether you want to use the Search, Display, or both networks. Each network works differently and can produce different results.
The search network is used when people type search queries into Google. To use the search network, it is very important to do some keyword research first. You want to find keywords that have a high search volume but aren’t too expensive to bid on.
To set up a display campaign, first you need to set up the targeting. You can have your ads be displayed based on targeting, interests, remarketing, and/or on specific sites that you pick out. The display campaign also allows you to use image ads, and these should be made by your designer. Even though we are promoting a piece of free content, we still want the campaign to be professional looking and treated as a standard campaign for a standard product.
For a search campaign, use the Adwords tool to scout out what keywords would be best for you to target. In a search campaign, you can also set parameters to refine your target audience by location and language. Make sure you set these, as they can be easy to overlook. In a search campaign, you need to make sure your copy directly addresses what you are offering and there should be a clear line from the search term, the keyword you are targeting, the ad copy, and the landing page.
Don’t forget to set any custom UTM parameters, if required, by the tracking software you are using. You should be promoting your content as usual alongside any PPC campaign, and if your tool allows it, you want to differentiate the performance of your content between “normal” promotion and PPC promotion.
Setting Up Your Landing Page
You should already have a landing page for the offer, but give it a once over. Make sure the copy is tight and clear, and that it includes keywords you are targeting in your Adwords campaign. The keyword should also be used in the page title and the meta description. This helps ensure that your quality score in the search network for the keywords is high.
Make sure you have a lead collection CTA such as an email sign up. The true value of content comes from collecting leads and then using them in your email marketing so collecting them here is essential. Also, make sure there are social share buttons on the landing page so your visitors can share your offer with their networks.
Finally, add a second offering on the thank-you page after downloading the initial offer. You want to keep visitors on your site and nudge them down the buyers funnel. The next offer should be something that builds on the offer you have been advertising, if possible.
Launching and Maintaining the Campaign
Once you have the targeting and keyword research done and the ads written and created, then it is ready to start. Simply enable the campaign and go do something else, it’s going to take a while before you start seeing some action. But that doesn’t mean to let it sit for days or weeks on end! We recommend to take at least a quick look every day or two and see if there are any glaring problems. You should sit down and do an audit of your current campaigns at least once a week. Some common issues that may show up are:
- Lots of impressions but no clicks
- Your keywords may be too broad. Check to see what keywords triggered the impression and make sure you add any negative keywords that may help. For example, if you are advertising an offer around maintaining a classic car, you do not want your ads shown to people looking for information on cars - either the movie or modern cars.
- Your display ads might not be showing to people who would be interested. Check the placements tab to see where your ads have been displayed, and make sure they are on at least somewhat relevant sites. If you have the time, you can even create a list of sites where you want your ads to show up on, and exclude all others.
- Your copy may need to be revised. Maybe it’s not catchy enough, maybe the copy does not convey the message clearly or maybe it does not motivate your potential customers to click. Take a look at your current ads and see where you can improve. Ideally, you should have at least two different ads for each ad group, and have them displayed roughly 50% of the time each. After a few weeks, stop the one that is performing worse, and create a new ad based off of the performing one. Run them again at 50/50 to refine the wording and see if you can isolate any special phrasing or information your potential clients respond to.
- Lots of clicks but no downloads or conversions
- Make sure your ad copy and images clearly communicate what the offer is. It could be the case that visitors are expecting one thing and are presented with another.
- Maybe the copy on your landing page could be better. Your ads could be attracting people to the landing page which then deflates their interest. You want to hammer home the benefits of your offer on the landing page to make sure that it sounds even more attractive. it is better to focus on the problems it solves and the personal benefits, rather than the features.
- Is it too difficult to get your offer? If it is not clear that a visitor should do to download the offer, or if you are asking for too much information in return, it puts people off. The download and form should be very clear and intuitive. If you really want to go deep on this, you can set up heat maps on your landing page and see exactly where people’s pointers go and what they are clicking on.
- Spending too much or too little money
- Even though we are promoting content and not a product or service (directly), you still don’t want to waste your budget. make sure you are spending enough on the campaigns to get what you want out of them. Do this by adjusting the daily budgets accordingly. After you have built up a little bit of quality score, see what happens if you take the PPC down a notch. Not getting enough impressions on a site that seems to do well for you? Move the budget from other, less successful areas of your campaign and focus on that site.
The Wrap Up
After the campaign has ended, either due to budget or the time frame you set out, it is time to evaluate how effective it really was. Remember, we want to drive people to your content and then springboard them from there, either by having them convert later down the funnel, and/or sharing that content with their connections.
Take a look and see how many contacts you received from the PPC campaign, where they are in the funnel, and if possible, if you got any shares as a result from a contact obtained through PPC. Depending on your tool and what your contacts did on your site, you should also be able to glean some information about your personas. This can be used either to confirm that you have set them up correctly, or enable you to make some adjustments in your targeting. With luck, maybe you will even discover a whole new demographic you can target.
While we weren’t going for ROI in a typical PPC sense (comparing PPC costs to sales as a direct result of PPC), down the line you should get a picture of how much money you spent to put contacts into your funnel. It is worth to go back and check this data after your service’s or product’s sales cycle.
Then you can see the effectiveness of your content in getting a contact on the buyer’s journey and eventually becoming a customer.