July 08, 2010
How To

Combining Email, Search, Social and PR for a Content Marketing Campaign: 6 Tactics to Generate Surge in Visitor Traffic

SUMMARY: Marketing teams often focus tactics and goals in a particular channel, overlooking how these channels can complement one another. With a bit of planning, a campaign can harness the strategic value of email, search, social media and other outlets for a single purpose.

See how an online luggage retailer created a premium report based on a survey of e-newsletter subscribers and captured 5x more blog traffic. Includes six key tactics to combine the strengths of email, search, social media and PR.
by Adam T. Sutton, Reporter

John Ebb, CEO, Suitcase.com, and his team wanted to attract more visitors to the company's blog. They believed that doing so would further establish authority in the luggage retailing business and educate shoppers on the types of luggage they needed.

But the team didn’t want to spend money on advertising -- but rather wanted to use existing marketing channels and assets to attract a relevant audience.

To achieve this goal, the team developed a multichannel campaign that combined the targeted audience of its existing email database, insights from search marketing and the reach of public relations and social media:

- The team surveyed its customer email database to create a premium report on consumer luggage trends, called the "Suitcase.com 2010 Consumer Luggage Report."

- In January, the team posted a PDF of the report to the blog and promoted it through social media and public relations outreach.

"It was a huge success," Ebb says.

Blog traffic from January through April increased 518%, compared to the same period in 2009, as the report generated third-party blog posts and press mentions. Traffic from search engines increased at an even higher rate.

o The report’s landing page had a 16% lower bounce rate than the site’s average
o 29% of report downloads came from referring websites
o 22% of downloads were referred by search engines

Here are six tactics the team used to align key marketing channels for the promotional campaign:

Tactic #1. Use search metrics to research potential report topics

The team primarily used search engine keyword analysis to determine the report’s topic.

Using resources such as Google’s free AdWords Keyword Tool (linked below), the team looked at search volumes for "luggage," "suitcase" and other related phrases and keywords.

One trend became clear: The airline industry’s new travel restrictions and baggage fees had generated a lot of search engine traffic. High search volume for phrases such as "baggage restrictions" and "travel bags" helped the team uncover a demand for relevant information.

- Check your competitors

Ebb wanted the report to differentiate Suitcase.com as an expert resource. The team checked competitors' websites and press mentions for similar content. Having found none, team members saw an opportunity to establish themselves as experts.

Tactic #2. Build an online survey

The team used a third-party tool to build and host the survey, consisting of multiple choice questions such as:

- "Has the increase in airline baggage fees caused you to do any of the following?"
o Pack lighter
o Check fewer bags
o Consider related features when buying luggage
o None of the above

-"Which of the following factors have the greatest influence on your luggage purchase?"
o Weight
o Size and dimensions
o Warranties
o Features/functionality
o Price
o Style
o Other

The team also asked which suitcase features -- such as wheels or exterior pockets -- were most important in respondents' purchasing decisions.

By compiling the answers to these questions, the team created a report to establish its authority on luggage and attract press articles about the change in travelers' behavior. This report would be the asset to ultimately drive traffic to Suitcase.com’s blog.

Tactic #3. Send survey request to email database

The topic you select will, of course, be instrumental in determining the report's relevance to your audience, but so will the pool of people you survey. Make sure the people you ask are the most relevant to your needs.

"We wanted to make sure the people we sent it to were interested in luggage...and not someone who just liked to fill out surveys," Ebb says.

In this case, the team's email subscribers were a readily-available, highly-relevant audience to query. The report was based entirely on responses captured from an emailed survey request. Your email subscribers are likely a highly-relevant resource to meet your reports' needs.

- More is not always better

You want to avoid sending the survey request to an exceedingly broad audience. Doing so will skew results and make your data less valid and compelling. In this case, Ebb's team only sent the survey link to its email database.

- Include an incentive

To help spur responses, the team announced it would enter all respondents into a drawing to win a free dinner for two. Four prizes were awarded.

Tactic #4. Host report download on a dedicated landing page

The team compiled the survey’s results into a nine-page PDF download (see links below), which included:
o Cover page
o Table of contents
o Executive summary with methodology and key findings
o Stats and charts
o Analysis and quotes from the team
o Description of each company involved

The report proved to be the type of content journalists love. It was rich with data points, quotes and analysis, and was light on self-promotion. Furthermore, the report’s nine pages were succinct and easy to understand.

- Host landing page on blog

The team featured key stats and two colorful charts on a landing page for the report's download (see creative samples). The team designed the page so visitors could download the report, browse Suitcase.com or follow the team through its blog, Twitter account or Facebook page.

Tactic #5. Pitch report to media outlets

The team did not promote the report through advertising or even to its email newsletter subscribers. Instead, it strove to improve the report's availability through natural search by attracting links and press mentions.

Here are two tactics they used:

- Press release

The team created a well-optimized press release (linked below) and disseminated it through a popular online newswire service. The release included:
o Relevant keywords, such as "baggage fees" and "luggage"
o Links to Suitcase.com and the report's landing page
o Key stats

- Blogger and media outreach

The team also targeted approximately seven travel bloggers and 43 national publications to pitch. The team pitched each publication individually, tailored its messages to each publication’s focus and avoided sending mass emails. Be sure to personalize your pitches to specific writers whenever possible.

Tactic #6. Use social channels, even if you don’t have them

Ebb's team had experimented with Twitter and Facebook but had yet to develop a solid following. Realizing that social media was a great way to syndicate content and attract links and traffic, the team used the social media channels of its partners, all of which had strong followings.

The team brought relevant partners on board by asking them to highlight content marketing strategy, rather than the results of the report itself. This angle resonated with both the team's PR and marketing agencies, which wrote about the effort for their blogs and social media outlets.

The key here is to pitch the idea to your partners in a context that's relevant to their audiences. The team could not have asked its PR agency to blog about the travel report's findings alone -- the subject would have been irrelevant. However, the team asked the agencies to focus on its PR and content strategy, which applied to their audiences.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from Suitcase.com’s premium report marketing campaign

Members Library -- Special Report: How to Conduct Email Surveys - Tips to Lift Response & Write Subject Lines

Members Library -- How to Transition from Print to Electronic Thought-Leadership Content: 6 Steps to Triple Subscribers

2010 Consumer Luggage Report

Adwords keyword tool

Partner coverage: HubSpot Blog

SurveyMonkey: Survey service used

Marketwire: Press release distribution service

PR 20/20: Team’s PR agency, which designed the strategy


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