Too many content marketing strategies are missing a huge piece of the puzzle and it’s holding them back.
That piece? Guest-contributed content from your brand – content authored by experts within your company published by third-party media already consumed by your target audience.
In 2016, we found that guest posts were a major factor for our firm’s organic search and referral traffic, which generated 58% of qualified leads and 73% of our marketing-generated revenue.
We’re not talking about spam-like 300-word blog posts written by your SEO agency and submitted to 500 different “blogs.” Guest-contributed content includes educational, high-quality articles that showcase your company’s area of expertise and highlight the author as a thought leader within the industry. They should be nonpromotional, professionally edited, and submitted to a single outlet.
Where it fits in the funnel
This funnel shows the parts of a content marketing plan and how they fit together. Guest-contributed content (or off-site thought leadership) is at the top of the funnel because it can reach audience members who aren’t familiar with your brand and draw them in to learn more.
These guest-contributed articles should be written for the top-of-the-funnel prospective customers, but they can be used in all parts of the funnel to build trust and credibility with your audience.
What purpose it serves
Guest-contributed content doesn’t simply offer your expert a byline; it serves a real purpose for those on the other side of the screen. It:
- Increases brand awareness – Prospective customers who read an article with a byline from your brand in an online publication are now aware of your company. If they appreciate what was written, they may want to learn more, so they click through to read a blog post on your site and enter your funnel.
- Builds trust and credibility – You can put “as seen in” badges on your website, showing the publications where your content has been published and showing visitors to your site that you’re legit.
Your sales team can also send the third-party published articles to prospective leads to explain a topic or answer a question they may have. Because it’s published on an industry blog that the lead likely knows and respects, that trust may be transferred to your brand.
How to get started
Knowing you need to integrate guest content into your existing strategy is half the battle. Doing it requires a lot of dedication, time, and focus. Find a manageable process within your organization’s structure.
1. Determine who should author the content.
This can be anyone at your company who has valuable things to say and has insightful tips about your industry. This person could serve as the face of your company’s content – a humanizing force behind your brand. That’s why it’s important this person is dedicated to sharing your company’s message and creating high-quality content. Also, make sure you pick someone you can regularly meet with to talk ideas, who truly understands the value of content, and who wants to be a thought leader.
2. Research the publications your audience is reading.
You can create a direct path to your audience members and reach them where they’re already engaged. Research online publications that specialize in your industry. Then, review their media kits and credentials to determine whether the outlets are valuable to your target audience. (Media kits also can be a valuable way to identify editorial coverage themes for the upcoming year.)
3. Form relationships with editors at publications.
This step is probably the hardest. Editors get pitched ideas every single day by hundreds of people. You must find creative ways to pitch those publication editors. Make your outreach unique to reflect what your brand’s thought leader has to say. Use creative subject lines. In the body, highlight why your article is valuable and why their audience would want to read it. (Before you submit a pitch, you should become extremely familiar with the publication’s guidelines page and know exactly what type of content they want and what they tend to reject.)
4. Update your editorial calendar.
Outline your guest-blogging topics by month to help organize your brainstorms, create owned content with a purpose, and stick to a schedule to maintain the momentum.
Also meet with your sales team to determine which types of content related to your guest-blogging topics would help them improve the sales process. Then publish that content on your own site and include a link to it in your guest blog post.
Do you have your work cut out for you? Yes. Can getting started seem overwhelming? Sure. But the results of guest-contributed content and what it adds to your content marketing strategy will have you asking yourself why you didn’t get started sooner.