If you read an article on a website you will often see little “teasers” inviting you to read another article on a similar or related subject. Take , for example, this screen shot from the bottom of the page of the “Daily Telegraph” after I had read an article about a business subject:
Notice the “Recommended by Outbrain” flag on the top right hand corner of the section which contains links to other articles. Those articles could be from anywhere – not just the Daily Telegraph so you could end up on another website reading the article. In fact that’s the idea, the point of the excercise. It’s a bit like Pay Per Click advertising, you see something you are interested in and you click on it which then exposes you to the other, related, content on the host’s site. The provider of that content, the host or advertiser, will pay a fee in return for your click and your subsequent visit to their website or blog.
Now it’s true that not all placements will be as high profile as the Daily Telegraph but the important thing is that they will be put in front of people who, by their own reading habits, have demonstrated that they are likely to be interested in your content.
That does not mean, however, that they are necessarily in the market to make a purchase and for this reason you should not compare content marketing with Outbrain to placing a search ad on Google AdWords. Both platforms use a Pay Per Click model to charge people for using their services but the level of “intent” is vastly different between, say, someone who searches Google for a “plumber in Birmingham” and someone who clicks on a snippet to read an article about how much less water is used when showering as opposed to taking a bath. Outbrain are very firm about this, they do not allow advertising, the link must lead to valid, informative content – not an ad for showers. This is the part where “content marketing” gets complicated – how do you turn the person who turns up to read about the benefits of showering versus taking a bath into a paying customer.
The answer is that you don’t, or at least not straight away. Once on your website of course the visitor may well see something that interests him or her, an ad perhaps or a link to a special offer you are running. Alternatively you may offer to provide a short guide to saving money in the home to anyone who opts-in to your marketing list. Such opted-in lists are a very valuable resource since those who opt-in have given their permission for you to send them marketing emails in the future and, coupled with a good email marketing system such as Infusionsoft, can prove to be very profitable, over time.
Now all of this only works, of course, if you have content to use as the “bait” to tempt people onto your website. Acquiring, or producing, such content is likely to be a problem for many. If you are lucky enough to have a really good in house copywriter then you are in a minority, most organisations will have to buy in those skills or just buy content in a ready to use form, usually from a copywriting agency. This is where many people go wrong. They try to do it on the cheap and the content they get is badly written rubbish. If someone follows a link to read their content and discovers it to be garbage they will leave quickly, (bounce), and never return. To add insult to injury the website owner will have paid for the click that brought them there in the first place.
In any event, Outbrain will not allow you to publish anything which does not meet their standards and guidelines so don’t even think about trying to cut corners when you do this kind of content marketing. Invest in quality content, be it written, spoken or video, and you will attract visitors that will keep coming back and learn to love you for the quality of the material you publish. It’s relatively easy to convert such visitors into customers over time.
As a marketer of many years standing I can wholeheartedly recommend that Outbrain should be included in the content Marketing strategy of many organisations, but not all. I do not recive any financial consideration for saying that, I just happen to believe it. Go see their website, read the case studies, here is the link.
I must stress however that Outbrain, in itself, does not constitute a content marketing strategy – it may well be a part of one, maybe a major part, but always think of the bigger picture when planning your content marketing activities and you will reap the rewards.
The Digital Marketing Directory guide to creating a Content Marketing Strategy for your Business will help you to formulate a strategy that is right for your particular business, you can download it here or visit the Content Marketing Tools and Services Page for more information.