This is the final post of our live challenge – where we picked one B2B company from our list, created and promoted a piece of content for them. The goal of the challenge was to drive more traffic in a 30 day period to this post than they receive on average in a month. In Part 1, we shared how we came up with the topic. In Part 2, we shared how we wrote a high quality article on a topic we had no expertise in. In this article, we’re going to share how we promoted the article and analyze its success.

This article is long because we tried to be exhaustive in discussing promotion strategies and stats. So here’s a table of contents to help you navigate if you want:

  1. Our Traffic and Promotion Goals for this Challenge
  2. Researching Targeted Promotion Channels
  3. Executing – Which Channels Were Effective
  4. Overall Results and Analysis
  5. How We Did on Traffic Quality

A few weeks ago, prior to starting this live challenge, we surveyed B2B companies on our email list and found that 75.6% of them said they get under 300 visitors per post.

It’s widely known that most companies struggle with content promotion, but even we were surprised with that number. It’s hard for a B2B business to generate a steady stream of qualified leads if you’re only getting a few hundred visitors per post.

But while it’s important to drive traffic to your blog posts, there’s actually an even more pressing problem for B2B companies: driving the right traffic.

It doesn’t do your company any good if you can drive a 1000 visitors to a blog post when the traffic consists of many people that aren’t your target customer.

On the contrary, if you’re able to drive highly targeted traffic to each blog post, it can change the game for your company from a ROI perspective.

In this post we’re going to share how much targeted traffic we were able to drive to the blog post that we created for TAR Productions. We’re also going to share how we researched the promotion channels for them, how we executed on promotion for them, and we’ll analyze the impact this one post had on their business (traffic and leads brought in).

Our traffic and promotion goals for this challenge

Our traffic goal for this challenge was tiered:

Tier 1 (Easy) – Get more than 300 visitors to this post. Hitting this goal would mean we were able to drive more traffic to this post than 75% of B2B companies that applied to the challenge do on average, for their blog posts. Honestly, we were pretty confident of this from the beginning. We knew we could do this in a week, or really even in a day or two. As we said up top, we were surprised at how low this 300 visitors number was. (42% of respondents said they got less than 100 visitors per month to each post)

averagetrafficperblogpost

We think this traffic problem is a product of most B2B content teams not really having a promotion plan and just sharing (and maybe emailing) blog posts on their company social media accounts. At risk of being too blunt, if you want to generate real, steady leads from content marketing for a B2B business, just sharing your posts on your own social accounts is not good enough.

Tier 2 (The Stated Goal) – Get more traffic to our post in a 30 day period than the average traffic to blog posts for the company in that month (750 unique pageviews). This was the official goal of the challenge: Get more traffic in a 30 day period to the post we created for TAR than they get on average to the rest of their blog posts in that same period. Here’s the announcement in our first post:

Screenshot 4 10 17 11 08 AM

We published the TAR post on March 21. But, as you’ll see below, we already beat these goals as of April 12th, and we didn’t want to wait, so we just gave their other posts “a head start” and made our 30 day period from March 12 – April 12.

So yeah, From March 12 – March 21, our post got 0 traffic because it didn’t exist, while the competing posts were accumulating traffic and getting a head start. No sweat though.

TAR’s top 5 posts averaged about 750 unique pageviews in this 30 day period.

(Yes, we’re making it harder on ourselves by averaging only their top 5 posts, not the top 10 or 20 or all. But as you’ll see below, it didn’t matter in the end.)

Tier 3 (Stretch goal) – Be the highest traffic post in that 30 day period (1,200 pageviews). To be honest, this was our internal goal from the beginning. We wanted to have our post be #1 in Google Analytics in unique pageviews. Why? Because it’s a public challenge! We’re competitive. Who doesn’t want to be #1?

So with those goals in mind, here’s what we did to promote the post.

How to research targeted promotion channels for your company

Our philosophy at Grow and Convert is to promote content where your audience already hangs out.

This is why our content marketing process starts with doing extensive user research before we ever write an article or promote it. This way, we know exactly who we’re writing for and how we can get the content in front of them.

Here’s what I knew about TAR’s ideal customers when I sat down to start researching promotion channels for them:

  • TAR’s ideal customers were purpose driven nonprofit Founders or Founders of purpose-driven businesses.
  • They are typically family (or privately) owned or operated
  • One of the biggest challenges for nonprofits is raising funding

Even though this article is about promotion, let’s take a minute to review user research specificity.

First, the first two bullet points are critical. It would have been very easy for Tim (TAR’s founder) to settle on “nonprofits” as his ideal customer and call it a day. We see this all the time. Take a second to answer this question yourself: Who are your absolute best customers? How specific is your answer?

Second, note that in our full process, we get way more specific than this. Even though “purpose driven nonprofits and businesses that are family owned and operated” is way better than “nonprofits” or, worse yet, “companies that need a video,” it still could be better. There are a lot of nonprofits that would say they are “purpose driven”. We can get way more specific.

Back to promotion…

If I’m trying to drive a ton of targeted traffic quickly, I usually rely on our community content promotion strategy to get an initial lift. The key strategy there is to find existing communities that already contain your target audience, and promote your content in those communities. The benefit of this strategy is that the audience has already been built (by someone else), so unlike building your own community, building your own email list, waiting for organic traffic, or slowly doing guest posts, you don’t have to wait to get your pieces in front of your buyers. (Note there is nothing “wrong” with the other promotion tactics I just listed — there are just different tools for different purposes.)

I started out by searching for “non profit” communities on Facebook. And my first search didn’t turn out that well:non profit Facebook Search

To be honest, when I first ran this search and it came back with these results I was a little nervous. I thought to myself, “well maybe nonprofit people just aren’t on Facebook”.

Then after doing some research on Google about nonprofits, I realized that people refer to “nonprofits” as one word and not two.

I tried the search again on Facebook and sure enough I found some groups that contained the audience that I was going after.

nonprofit Facebook Search

Now the key was to see if these groups that contained a large amount of people were engaged.

I requested to join each of these groups, and once I was in them, I took a look at some of the threads posted in them. Some of the posts were getting 120+ likes and almost 70 comments!

nonprofit promotionI knew that this group was going to be one of the best places for us to promote the article we created for TAR Productions. But the other groups I found weren’t quite as engaged. They still had potential, and (importantly) contained the audience we were going after, but I still had some nervousness about making this work with only one major Facebook group I found.

Slack Growth Circle

Honestly, if we weren’t doing this public challenge, I wouldn’t have been as nervous. Given time, you can find almost always build a solid list of communities where you can promote your posts.

But despite the butterflies, I soldiered on.

I did searches like this for “nonprofit” groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, and compiled a list of all of the communities that contained our target audience. Then I also searched Google for things like “nonprofit communities”, “nonprofit groups”, etc.

When I did a search on Reddit, not only did I come across a nonprofit subreddit, I came across a ton of publications to do outreach to and other subreddits that I could promote this article in.

Nonprofit News You Can Use

I compiled all of these promotion channels in a Google Doc so that I had them handy when I was ready to promote the piece for TAR Productions.

tarproductionspromotionlist

Bonus: To get a link to this document — i.e. the full list of all the places that we promoted this post for TAR Productions, enter your email here.

How we executed on content promotion & which channels were effective

Week 1:

After I compiled the list of promotion channels, it was off to the races.

I started promoting the article in the largest and most engaged groups first. This was because if the post didn’t hit in the large groups, its chances in the smaller ones weren’t good, so we would’ve had to figure out more creative ways to promote this article to hit our goal.

We published on March 21, but both Devesh and I were busy for a week, so we didn’t start promoting until March 28. In the meantime, Tim sent the post as normal to his email list. (We show traffic breakdown by source below so you can see how much came from where.)

The first Facebook post in the nonprofit happy hour group, on March 28, did quite well. It brought in around 300 people the first day we posted there.

Tier 1 Goal Achieved!

As we predicted above in the goals section, we beat the Tier 1 goal in the first 2 days of promotion. Here is my post in that Facebook Group:

Facebook Post

Here’s GA on Mar 28 – 29:

Pages Analytics 3

Note from Devesh: Stop and think about the blinding simplicity of what just happened. 72% of applicants say they get less than 300 visitors a month to their blog posts, and 42% got less than 100. Benji got more traffic to this TAR post by mentioning it in one Facebook group that is packed full of TARs ideal customers (nonprofits). This is the difference between the “We tweeted it on our company account” promotion strategy that most companies start and end with, and using one real promotion strategy (in this case, Community Content Promotion), combined with doing user research upfront so that traffic comes from who you want (nonprofits) vs. an untargeted mass of people (any company that needs video).

I was feeling pretty good about our chances of hitting the goal after driving that much traffic on the first day.

After that post hit, I decided to try my luck in some of the other groups on the list that I had created. While some of the posts were getting a couple of likes, none of them were driving that much traffic like that first group had done.

I started to panic…we needed to try something different.

I enlisted Devesh’s help to try out Reddit. For some reason, I’m just horrible at Reddit and Devesh has had some posts that have taken off in the r/entrepreneur subreddit. The first thing we did there is look at the nonprofit subreddit. They had rules against publishing links and the amount of members was kind of small – so we knew it wasn’t going to be a huge traffic driver. That being said, Devesh found a thread in the r/nonprofits that related to our post, so we tried commenting on it.rnonprofits

It didn’t work. The thread wasn’t driving any traffic so we decided to delete the comment and try driving traffic from another subreddit.

We decided to try our luck in r/entrepreneur. The post did okay, got a few upvotes, trended for a few hours but again it didn’t drive that much traffic. Forget business cards this lady used a video instead Entrepreneur

That subreddit (r/entrepreneur) was a tough bet for this article. Most of the people there are asking questions about starting drop shipping businesses and here we come in with a post on how a nonprofit owner used explainer videos to raise money — not that exciting for the regulars there. Also not the most targeted traffic for TAR.

At this point I felt like we were running out of “quick win” community-based channels. Again, the stress of this public challenge in a limited timeframe was getting to me. We had tapped out the Facebook groups and the only one that gave us a return was the nonprofit happy hour group. Reddit wasn’t a very good channel for this post – so the two options left to drive traffic quickly were PR and LinkedIn.

Nonetheless in the first week of promoting, driven primarily from Facebook groups, we got the post up to 600 unique pageviews (after subtracting a 26 unique views from Grow and Convert):

First week

By that point we had almost hit our Tier 2 goal (the stated goal) and probably would have in the next week just from residual traffic. But like we said, we wanted to get to #1 in a 30 day period (Tier 3 goal) so we needed to keep pushing.

I started doing some outreach to some publications that I had found in that nonprofit subreddit.

pr outreach

I reached out to people at 5 different publications that covered nonprofit fundraising. No one bit on the story. Argh.

Note: This is okay. You can’t expect responses to every PR pitch email. Most will get ignored. Typically we’d keep on pitching if we were looking to get placement somewhere but due to the limited time frame and the public nature of this challenge, we had to move on to other promotion tactics.

So back to communities…

I decided to try my luck on LinkedIn. Like Facebook groups, this is a type of community content promotion that has the benefit of a targeted audience. Once you do the user research to narrow down your ideal customer, find online groups that contain them and promote there.

I started making my way down the list of groups that I had identified and started posting in each of the groups.

TAR Productions Promotion List Google Docs

Most of the groups that I had identified had tons of members in them, some 80,000, some 100,000+ but, like many LinkedIn groups, the engagement was extremely low. When you scroll through the groups, almost none of the posts have likes or comments on them, so I wasn’t going to get my hopes up.

I posted in each of them and and none of them got any traction.

Then over the weekend, someone commented on one of the posts that I had made in the Nonprofit Social Media Group on LinkedIn. I made sure to respond to the comment as I know that comments help posts be seen on LinkedIn.

nonprofitsocialmediagroup

What I’ve noticed on Linkedin group posts is that when someone comments, it seems LinkedIn’s algorithm then shows the post in the LinkedIn feeds to more people that are in the group. I don’t have any insider information on how LinkedIn’s newsfeed algorithm works, but this is what I’ve surmised after doing this for a long time.

Slowly after that first person commented, the post started taking off. Every day, I was getting more and more likes on the thread – and traffic to the TAR post kept growing, eventually accumulating a few hundred more users!

Referral Traffic Analytics

Note: 97% of this LinkedIn traffic went to our post, as you’ll see in later screenshots.

You can see that at the time of publication, we were still getting dozens of visits a day from LinkedIn. Finally, note that this traffic is coming from a post in the group “Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations”, and we spent the time to figure out that nonprofits are one of TAR’s ideal customers, so the traffic is way more targeted than just a random post on LinkedIn.

Finally, to try to get one more last boost of traffic, I did an additional scan on the nonprofit happy hour Facebook group to see if anyone else had posted on a topic where I could mention the post in a comment naturally. Fortunately, I found one. Nonprofit Happy HourNonprofit Happy Hour 1

And that post got us another slight additional boost from Facebook.

What we did above is a sampling of a couple promotion strategies, leaning heavily on one: community content promotion. There is a lot more you can do for content promotion. But this is all we needed for this challenge, and it helps show our overall lesson: that even the most basic systems level thinking for content marketing can get immediate results. We did a little bit of user research, which led to publishing one decent article, which we promoted with one promotion technique. But each step tied together into a system that was focused on getting targeted leads for a B2B business. And you can see the results below.

Overall Traffic Driven to The Article- Results and Analysis

So, at the time of this writing on April 11, the post had been live for 21 days. We actually didn’t start promotion until March 28th (7 days after the post went live) because we were both away for a week. So we had been promoting for roughly 2 weeks. Nonetheless we hit our Tier 3 goal: be the #1 post on TAR’s site in a 30 day period!

Here’s GA from March 12 – April 11:

Pages Analytics 2

Here are the top 8 sources. (We promised to subtract traffic from Grow and Convert, so you guys don’t help us cheat, and fortunately that was only 82 unique pageviews.)

Pages Analytics

Yay! We hit our Tier 3 goal!

giphy 3

Results Summary:

  • Our post got 1257 unique pageviews (after subtracting G&C).
  • More than any other post on their blog in that 30 day period.
  • That’s 67% more traffic to this post than they get on average (750)
  • We promoted from March 28 – April 11 (only 2 weeks)

Pretty neat. But was our traffic targeted?

Note: If you want a more nerdy breakdown of how the acquisition sources above compare with past TAR blog posts, click here. Otherwise keep reading.

Why Traffic Quality is More Important Than Quantity

Like we’ve been saying throughout this challenge, for B2B companies, traffic quality is just as, if not more, important than quantity. To see real, tangible business results from content marketing, you don’t need to get hundreds of thousands of visitors every month, you just need qualified leads.

In Devesh’s profile of Klientboost, the founder mentions they were getting leads from strategic content partnerships before their blog even hit 5 figures a month in traffic.

That’s the power of targeted traffic for B2B content marketing. If you get the right content in front of the right people, it’s worth a lot. Even if you don’t make it onto the first page of Google right away, or have a blog as big as Moz, or Hubspot, you can still drive revenue from it. You don’t need to be Moz or Hubspot to have content marketing bring in tangible revenue for your B2B business.

We didn’t include a lead goal for this challenge because we know that generating leads via content marketing takes time. We were only producing one article and promoting it for a few weeks. But nonetheless, this text exchange with Tim Ryan, the TAR founder, happened a day into our promotion on March 29th:

IMG 0369

One day into us promoting, after traffic arrived from basically only one Facebook group, Tim already got a lead come in and people from “pretty awesome” nonprofits, including United Way.

You may be thinking, “Four content upgrades? That’s it?” But this is exactly what we mean about quality vs. quantity. Look at how Tim says “It’s working, keep it up” and “pretty awesome NPOs” despite only 4 optins. Why? Because he’s the owner of a B2B agency! At risk of being too blunt again, he doesn’t care about the number of people that optin to his list. He only cares about how many of them could be future customers, that is, lead quality. At the end of the challenge, we ended up driving 27 targeted optins total.

You can read in our first post of this challenge, when we first asked Tim who his ideal customers were, it started super broad: “companies that need videos.” It took some wrangling to get it down to “purpose driven nonprofits and businesses.” But he did explicitly say that’s who he loves making videos for. If he could have us wave a magic wand and generate new clients for him every month from one customer type, that’s who it’d be.

Yet besides our post, there is not one other article on his blog explicitly for nonprofits. Not one.

And now, after the first one, he’s getting lead requests and “pretty awesome NPOs” opting in to his list.

That is the power of a systems-level thinking applied to content marketing. Everything needed to come together for this to happen:

  1. User Research – Resulting in narrowing down to a client type Tim loved
  2. Content Strategy – Producing a piece that hits on this client type’s pain points in a format they’d find genuinely interesting, fun, or useful
  3. Content Promotion – Promoting it strategically in places where the ideal client type already hangs out.

Really though, this just the first half of our content marketing system. Next you’d need to (4) convert traffic to leads, (5) measure and calculate cost of acquisition, then (6) scale the process so you don’t have 6 month gaps in publishing like TAR.

But the first 3 steps are the foundation, without that you don’t get any qualified traffic to convert, measure or scale.

If you run content for a B2B business and want to learn more, this is what Grow and Convert is all about, get more in depth case studies, how tos, and stories like this on our email list. Click here to join and we’ll also send a link to the Google Doc where we listed our promotion channels for TAR. You can use it to do build a similar list for your own content promotion.

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