The new Hummingbird release pushes Google further along as a provider of first-hand information. You’ll be seeing more – much more – of the Google “Knowledge Box” that sometimes appears on the top right-hand corner of search results, giving you what you need without having to navigate to a different website. This is part of the company’s bigger initiative to play both sides of the content and search game, evidence of which can be found in its purchase of Zagat, among other moves.
With Google getting stingier about directing traffic to you, experimenting with other ways to amplify your content and market your marketing becomes even more of a best practice.
As part of their sponsorship of Convince & Convert and the Social Pros podcast, the fine folks at Cision set me up with a trial of their Content Marketing Suite. Cision has relationships with most of the major amplification networks that power the “you might also be interested in:” elements of thousands of major websites. Primary amplifiers that are part of the Cision solution include Outbrain and Taboola. I’ve been running this amplification option for 16 days, and the results have been staggering and immediate. 7 lessons I’ve learned:
1. It’s Incredibly Easy
The same way that Social.com (now part of the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud) aggregates and simplifies social media advertising, Cision makes content amplification quick and painless by aggregating it all into one system. You simply sign up for a Cision account; then log-in and upload content to be amplified. You can choose to amplify specific content pieces, or attempt to boost everything you publish by connecting your RSS feed (which is the option I selected for the test).
2. It Creates Traffic, and Fast
Once the RSS feed was uploaded to Cision, I started seeing clicks immediately. During this 16-day test period, Convince & Convert received 74,954 visits overall. The amplification program generated 8,373 of those visits (11.1%). That is traffic that I definitely would not have otherwise garnered. To provide some frame of reference, Google sent 38,558 visits during the period. My own RSS feed (subscribers) sent 5,652, and all flavors of Twitter (I have several Twitter programs running) generated about the same, nearly 6,000. So, behind Google and direct URL entries (~ 8,500) the amplification program instantly became the third largest provider of traffic to this site.
3. It’s Very Transparent
I particularly appreciate the very clean and obvious reporting that Cision provides, detailing all traffic generated, impressions generated, and which sites are delivering the most clicks. This is key, because your own Google Analytics may not show specific sites, only traffic coming from the Outbrain and Taboola networks.
4. Stickiness is a Problem
Compared to visitors to this site in general, visitors coming from the amplification networks spend far less time here, and are less likely to engage in one of the goals I have set on this site (subscription to our useful daily email; visit the podcast page, etc.). This isn’t necessarily a surprise, as if you’re reading CNN you might be interested in a particular blog post here on Convince & Convert, but you may not be fully enraptured by all things social media and content marketing, as are our typical readers.
I’ve said before that we tend to overrate traffic and underrate behavior in our assessment of online success, and this low engagement rate (your results may vary, of course) is the one element of this program that could conceivably prevent me from keeping it rolling forever.
5. Headlines and Photos are Critical
Unless you are a major publisher in your own right, when potential visitors see your amplified content in the “you might also like” widgets, they probably are not going to recognize the name of your site. Thus, the only clues they have to go on in terms of whether to visit your content are your headline, and your photo (on Taboola, which uses photos prominently in its related news widget). As you’ll see in the results report, the snappiest and most intriguing headlines (like my Facebook and smart watch posts) will perform the best.
One of the great features of the Cision system (although I haven’t used it yet) is the ability to change the headline when you amplify. So, instead of using whatever headline you already have on the post, you can make it a bit more exciting for amplification purposes. Be careful about baiting and switching people, of course. If your infographic is about how to twerk, you probably shouldn’t use a headline about easy fall turkey recipes.
You’ll probably also want to think even more than you already are about what the key photo of your content is, especially if you’re using Taboola.
6. Geo-Targeting Could be Interesting
My content amplification test is running across the USA, on all available sites. You can target the whole world, or any individual country. City and state targeting are coming soon, according to Cision. That might be an interesting option for me, as I could amplify specifically to people located in areas more likely to be true social media folks (Bay Area, NYC, et al).
7. It’s Surprisingly Affordable
Set up fee for the Cision system is $1,000 one-time to configure. After that, packages start at $900 for up to 1,500 clicks per month, ranging up to $4,000 for up to 10,000 clicks per month. So at scale, you’re paying 25 cents per click, which is more affordable than what you’re likely to see on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Bing, or Linkedin.
Check out the Cision content marketing suite, including content amplification, here.
Especially if you have occasional pieces of Youtility or potentially hot content that you want to boost, this content amplification system from Cision is a slick, easy tool set to substantially spike your traffic. My plan is not to keep it running via RSS for every post I publish here, but to instead use it to amplify content that shows signs of taking off, and then throwing gas on that emerging fire. This is the same philosophy we use with Facebook, using our STIR methodology for knowing when to promote a post using Facebook ads.
Have you experimented with content amplification, Outbrain, or Taboola. With Cision, or directly? How have your experiences been?