Boost Your Content Marketing ROI With These 5 Discovery Tips

Ask 10 marketers what “content discovery” is, and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers. With all this variation, it can be hard to determine if content discovery is just a buzzword or something that can add significant ROI to your marketing.

Content discovery has two sides:

1. The customer’s perspective: Finding great content when you either know or don’t know what you’re looking for.

2. The marketer’s perspective: The process of getting your content in front of the right audience at the right time in the right channels. For some, content discovery is synonymous with recommendation engines — those platforms that use your online behavior and social networks to predict what type of content you’ll want to look at next, and serve it up.

“Content discovery became important with the rise of social media,” says Boštjan Špetič, CEO of Zemanta. “Suddenly, marketers didn’t understand how to reach customers because customers were bypassing traditional marketing channels and referring each other to content. Tools and analytics then tried to make this referral process predictable.”

What does it all mean for content marketers? Here are five tips on how to use content discovery to connect with customers and increase your content marketing ROI:

1. You don’t need to “go big or go home”: Many marketers think that they need to come up with a single, amazing piece of content that will go viral and bring them instant fame. However, Gilad de Vries, SVP of Strategy at  Outbrain, advises not to overthink your content discovery strategy and not to “try to get to that ultimate piece of content. Instead, you should focus on providing a lot of great information, because different types of content will appeal to different audiences.” Providing your audience with content that they find entertaining or useful can increase your content marketing ROI more than creating one “magic” piece of content that appeals to a mass audience.

2. Stop thinking about individual channels as a strategy: When it comes to content marketing, Facebook is not a strategy. SEO is not a strategy. Twitter is not a strategy. All of these are  tactics that can be used as part of your overall content engagement strategy. Instead of allocating dollars to individual tactics, de Vries recommends putting all your dollars in a single content engagement pool. From there, you can determine how much each tactic is contributing to your overall content engagement success.

3. Don’t just focus on sharing your own content: While it’s great to share your own content, you must also link to content from trusted third parties. “A major mistake that newcomers make is linking just to themselves,” says Špetič. “However, if you want to increase your reach, you must link to other content marketers and interact with them via social media.” The more you help other marketers by sharing their content, the more they will recommend your content in return.

4. Optimize your content for engagement first and lead conversion second: A big content marketing mistake is optimizing content for lead conversion, rather than for customer engagement. “Content marketing is more like a marathon than a sprint,” says de Vries. You should develop a long-term content discovery strategy that focuses on delighting your audience with great content. Analytics such as bounce rates, time spent on each page, and the number of page views per session can help you determine how well your content is engaging your audience. From there, you can move to optimizing content for conversion.

5. Share a wide variety of content types: A big content discovery mistake is sharing only one type of content, such as all reports or all videos. However, David Fleck, GM at Disqus,recommends sharing a mix of content in your feed. “Videos, articles, and slideshows all perform differently depending on the audience you are trying to reach,” he says. “Mix it up to ensure you reach them and keep them interested along the way.”

When it comes to getting started with content discovery, many marketers get overwhelmed because they don’t feel as though they have enough to share. “Many brands don’t realize they already have content that they can leverage right from the start,” says Fleck. You can take stock of all of your existing content — from blog posts to case studies to videos — and create an editorial calendar that identifies when you will share this content with your audience.

Applying technology to content discovery

To get you started, we offer a list of content discovery tools for brands, publishers, agencies, and even individual readers. Keep in mind that this list is by no means comprehensive, but rather it provides a sample of the types of tools that are available, and a brief description of what they do.

Content discovery for content marketers:

Platforms like Outbrain and  LinkWithin use algorithms to recommend content to readers based on their viewing histories. Marketers can use these to recommend content online on their own content sites —much like Amazon recommends products based on a customer’s viewing history. Outbrain — and other services, like  nRelate — also places your content on third-party media sites through “recommended content” widgets — a powerful discovery engine for marketers trying to expand their audience.  Taboola does the same thing, but for video content.

Tools like Zemanta,  Content DJ, and  Percolate offer agencies and brands the ability to dynamically scan the web during the writing/publishing process to ensure that content is optimized, leverages trending topics, and can be easily found through social networks.

Finally, some tools have a uniquely social focus.  SproutSocial helps brands manage topics and craft social content based on what’s trending. Disqus and  Livefyre are online comment engines that connect conversations on your site with similar topics across the web. A recent entrant to this space is  Facebook’s Recommendations Bar, a social plug-in for publishers that highlights recommended articles based on the activities of a user’s friends.

Reader-focused recommendation engines:

And then there are dozens of unique discovery tools for readers. Use content discovery tools to dynamically steer the best content in a particular topic area your way. Some well-known examples include  Delicious (a social bookmarking service),  Flipboard (a reader-curated magazine for the iPad — though content is limited to participating media sites),  Trapit (a discovery tool like Flipboard, but it uses a discovery engine that learns users’ interests and amasses articles based on its algorithm’s recommendations), and  Twitter’s Discovery Tab (a new Twitter feature that can be used to uncover relevant tweets).

Care to share what you’re using as a marketer or as an individual consumer of content?

Want more tips on available content marketing technologies and best practices for using them? Read CMI’s eGuide,  8 Content Production Tools To Help Marketers Become Publishing Machines.

Disclosure: Outbrain and Zemanta are both CMI sponsors.

Cover image via Bigstock

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