I’m not going to lecture you on the importance of content marketing. You understand that already.
I’m not going to present a bunch of stats that prove content marketing is arguably the only marketing left.
And I’m not going to show you how to market your content.
But I am going to tell you that if you’re not promoting as much as you’re creating, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, your “promotion to creation” ratio should be 4:1.
“In other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.” ~Derek Halpern
Think of it this way: Is it easier to create a new article, share it, and get 1,000 sets of eyes on it before it disappears from their feeds and you need to make another one, or to promote the dickens out of one quality piece and get it in front of 10,000 – or more – people?
Obvious choice, right?
More promotion and less creation makes better use of the finite time you have available. But what’s the best way to go about it?
Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, email is your best bet. Reach out, cultivate relationships, and leverage them to supercharge not just your content, but your reputation as a whole.
And it’s easier than you think.
Relationships = Bigger Audiences
When it comes to audience, bigger is better. Ever looked at someone else’s audience – their email list, social following, or online community – with envy?
Imagine sharing with their audience in addition to your own.
You can. You need permission, of course, and that’s where cold email outreach comes in.
Remember: the bigger their audience (and therefore, the more influence they have), the more people contact them to ask for things. Find a different approach to stand out.
Offer them something.
Build the relationship, leverage the connection, and you both benefit from increased exposure, backlinks, traffic, and a larger network.
I’ll be honest: This takes some time. It’s not the kind of thing you can pull off in a morning after you’ve written something you want to get out that afternoon. But it’s worth it.
Step 1: Find Your Audiences
Identify the influencers in your industry or niche. Who are the major players? Don’t think about promotion. Instead, make a list of who you’d love to connect, engage, and build a relationship with in your niche.
Ask yourself: Who are the experts? The success stories? The ones quoted in industry reports and blog posts?
Who’s writing the content with the most engagement? A service like BuzzSumo can quickly identify the most shared content for any keyword or URL address.
Once you have names, finding email addresses is usually straightforward: Check their website and/or social media accounts. Or, try an email finder like Voila Norbert.
Names and addresses at the ready, you’ve got yourself an email list.
Step 2: Reach Out and Engage
Send a brief but personalized message introducing yourself. Now is not the time to ask for a favor. Instead:
- Compliment them on a recent post, event, or award
- Use lessons from traditional sales outreach to get their attention (since, at the end of the day, what you’re doing is a form of sales)
- Point out a broken link with an alternative source to replace it
- Share a resource you believe may help them
- Simply say “hi” and tell them how much you (sincerely) admire them
- Ask if you can mention a specific resource authored by them in your article, or if they can propose an alternative
The goal is just to make the connection.
Simplify the task and use cold email automation at this stage. A service provider like Mailshake can send out personalized messages, save custom templates, funnel those who respond to a special list, and notify you each time. You can then personally write back to those “leads.”
Cultivate. Nurture. Build. Don’t ask…yet.
Step 3: Help Each Other
Once you’ve established a relationship, the opportunities to help each other start to arrive organically.
You can harness the relationship for simple asks:
- A short quote or quick Q&A for a piece you’re working on
- Permission to profile or interview them
- If they’d read and give suggestions for your latest piece before it’s published
They’ll be more inclined to say ‘yes’ because they know you. That helps you. And they’ll likely share it because it puts them in a favorable light and they’re invested. That helps them (and you).
Even easier: Link to their stuff in your content, or include them, their services, or their content in ‘best of’ or ‘how-to’ roundups. Let them know you did, and they’re sure to share it with their audience. Win-win.
Notice that you don’t need to explicitly ask them to share anything. Make them look good and/or increase their traffic and reach, and they’ll do it for you.
Cold email outreach for relationship-building is a long game, but it pays dividends down the road.
“Seasoned content marketers shouldn’t build an epic piece of content unless they know how it will reach a wide audience.” ~Henley Wing, Co-Founder, BuzzSumo
Step 4: Keep on Building
Once you start the ball rolling on building relationships, the opportunities are endless.
Your easiest next step is to leverage those relationships for introductions to other influencers. Priyanka Desai, founder of iScribblers, has leveraged this with great success. “If you are in good terms with one influencer, ask the person to introduce you to the fellow thought leaders,” says Desai. “Trust me, most of them love connecting and this does wonders for you.”
As you develop more relationships, you can build on this strategy with something a little longer-term, a little more involved, and with a lot bigger value: a curated community of influencers and content-creators in a similar space who can all help each other spread the word about content.
This strategy has worked wonders for Stefan Debois, CEO at Survey Anyplace, who manages a group of over 100 members. According to Stefan, “Developing a community of influencers who genuinely promote each other’s content has been my most sustainable content promotion strategy.”
Provide more than you ask for so you don’t become a liability. You want to be an asset.
Give more than you take, and you will become one.
This is a guest post contributed by Sujan Patel, a partner at Ramp Ventures, makers of Mailshake, Pick, VoilaNorbert, and Right Inbox. He has over 14 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
Is email a part of your relationship-building strategy? What tricks and tips do you use? Share your thoughts in the comments below: