Promoted Content: 5 Steps to Take Before Launch

Thanks to the digital age we live in today, it’s very easy for brands to get their messages out via free marketing channels like blogs or social media. Years ago, early adopters of these platforms reaped the benefits of what were relatively untapped markets.

Oh, how the times have changed. Here’s what the digital content landscape looks like now:

digital audience

While marketers can still get their messages out with these channels, the competition for customer attention is fiercer than ever. Think about some of these numbers (thanks to SocialPilot and WordPress).

  • People share 1.3 million pieces of content on Facebook every minute of every day
  • 500 million tweets are sent per day
  • WordPress users produce about 80.7 million new posts each month

While it’s critical to stay connected to your core audience with content strategies like blogging and social media, content marketers who want to stand out from the pack by appearing on some of the web’s largest sites may have to open up their wallets.

Promoted content platforms like Outbrain and Taboola allow you to submit your content using a CPC model, which is then placed on thousands of popular websites across the web as “sponsored posts” with hopes of garnering new visitors leads.

However, there are some key steps to take prior to hitting the “launch” button.  Let’s take a look:

1. Establish Programmatic Goals

Before jumping into promoted content with both feet, you must first identify what it is you want to accomplish when instituting a promoted content strategy. Some of the most common goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Improving website traffic
  • Gathering referrals from new websites
  • Getting new contacts into the sales funnel

With the CPC models that these platforms employ, it can be easy to start spending money, and doing so at a rapid rate. Before tapping into your budget, put some goals and specific numbers in place so you can make adjustments to the process earlier than later (if needed).

2. Identify Your Posts

After you have your goals in place, it’s time to start thinking about the pieces of content that you’re going to promote. On platforms like Outbrain and Taboola, you can distribute your own articles, blog posts, or videos, as well as earned media.

Regardless of the type of content asset being used, it’s important to keep your core goals in mind. If you simply want to grow your website traffic, it’s probably best to consider a topic that will resonate with a broader audience. For example, if you’re a tractor manufacturer, you may want to promote a piece of content like “25 Interesting Stats about Agriculture.”

On the flip side, if you’re trying to put qualified leads in the funnel around a specific product, you’ll want to promote more targeted content. Going back to our tractor example, you may consider promoting a post like “5 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Four-Wheel Steering Tractor.”

Keep in mind, the easier it is for the platforms to gain clicks to your content, the lower the CPC. You will have to raise your CPC when running more “niche” content.

3. Optimize Your Posts

Headlines and the images are arguably as important as the content itself when running a promoted content campaign, as they are typically the reason why people “click” the first place.

Baby Using Laptop

Here are a few best practices to consider when optimizing your headlines:

  • Keep the title short and concise (less than 60 words)
  • Make it a list
  • Use questions
  • Call out your target audience up front (ex: “For Tractor Buyers”)

Here are a few best practices to consider when optimizing your images:

  • Use images with real people vs. clip art
  • Avoid using your logo as the lead image
  • Include a representative of the target audience in your photo

Last but not least, be sure to add a clear call to action (CTA) within your content. Ask yourself, “What do I want the visitor to do once they’ve consumed this?”

4. Identify Demographics

Most promoted content websites will allow you to set demographics for your content before or during your campaign launch. While the levels of targeting will vary depending on the platform being used, it’s important to capitalize on this when possible.

For example, if you’re trying to sell snow equipment, you may want to exclude locations like Florida or southern California where it doesn’t snow. Doing this will ensure your content is being served to the most relevant audience for your brand or products and the traffic being brought back to your website is qualified.


It’s important to keep in mind that a narrower target audience for your content will likely inflate the CPC as it’s prioritized within a more focused and competitive landscape.

5. Set Budget and Duration

Before finalizing and launching the campaign, be sure to set your budget. With CPC models, your budget will be the amount of money you want to spend per day on clicks.

With promoted content campaigns, you will be asked to set both the CPC and budget up front, along with the duration. Some networks will suggest a recommended CPC to get you started (based on averages), but this should be monitored daily as data becomes available.

Speaking of monitoring data, it’s important to give your content (and the platforms) a chance to find the right audiences. With this in mind, think about running your campaign for at least a couple weeks to start, as this timeframe will allow you to gather valuable data.

Final Thoughts

Sure, you can get a promoted content campaign up and running in a matter of minutes. To get the most out of your efforts, however, you should think about putting in time to plan and optimize before hitting “launch.”

Promoted content is a great way to give your content a boost in today’s cluttered digital environment, but it’s essential that a strategy is in place.

Drop a comment below or connect with me on Twitter to get a conversation started!

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