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An Easy & Free Audience-Building Strategy to Prepare for the Holidays

October 24, 2021

In the past, I've talked about the concept of Performance PR, where you can take earned media and amplify it to drive customer acquisition. Last week, I talked about the Sweetie article campaign I did at hint and how great of a tactic it was, but also can be for brands today.

Before we go further... what was the last purchase you made you were genuinely excited for? Maybe a new MacBook Pro, a Porsche, a new watch, or maybe even a new Sub Zero fridge? Now, when was the last time you went to that company's website and clicked "blog" to read the content? Probably never.

While I don't think anyone really intentionally leans in with a goal of going to a company blog, I think there are some advantages to it.

SEO juice builds up. When you can host content there that makes your product the answer to common Google search queries, Google loves that, and they love quality content to answer it. For a term like "Is there a high-protein ramen", it could be an easy win to answer into a blog post that drives an answer. Immi did a great job driving you to this blog article, ranked #1.

Side note: The article's pop-up is also a more top-of-funnel-focused question "Want to win a free year of ramen?" vs the traditional 10-15% discount.

Ingredient/Product deep-dives. If you want to keep your product pages clean and not go into too much detail but be able to link out, then the blog is a great place to host deep dives. If you're a cosmetics brand, you might dive into where ingredients are sourced, what they do, and how they'll help you look better. If you're a consumable brand, you can bet consumers will most likely be doing their own research on ingredients, unless you provide it. 

Side note: In all the landing pages I've built where there is a nutrition label, the label always gets the most activity from a heat map.

Company/Brand/Product Announcements. If you could see this as something that would end up in a press release, the brand blog could be a great place to host content like this, again for the SEO juice around the news. If you make updates to products, similar to how NUGGS describes their updates in their product iterations, or plan to launch new products, all this can live on the blog. It might not get a ton of traffic, but it can be handy for customer service teams to have quick links to company news/product info.

With all of these, you want to make sure that you're focused on tying content back to an easy-to-shop experience on the site, whether it’s something as simple as a Shopify Buy Button code snippet or creating product collections that are relevant per article.

So the blog is great. It stays centered around the products, the brand, and relevant information to the product. People who come to the brand site in the first place are there because they are interested in what you're selling. That's also a hindrance though, because how can you build new audiences with content that's only made for people who are already customers or at the bottom of the funnel?

This is where I think brands can easily, and without much investment, build a media arm to their business. See, when you're running a company/brand blog, it's centered around the product. But, when you launch a separate publication, similar to Hint's The Quench, AWAY's Here Magazine, or Dollar Shave Club's Mel Magazine, you can actually flip it, and focus on the consumer persona, not the product.

With a separate publication, you can create content for the 27 other hobbies that your customer persona has. For example, if you're a health/wellness brand like Hilma, this site might have everything from DIY workouts and recipes to product reviews and opinion pieces on cultural events. If you're unsure what your customer persona is into, you can install Quantcast Measure for free, and get pretty deep insights as to who your customer is, what else they're interested in, what else they're buying, what kind of TV shows they watch, what cars they drive, etc. 

As you build up a website that generates traffic around this persona, you're able to build a top-of-funnel audience that's a bit more qualified. You can softly assume that if they're interested in the same things as your ideal customer, then they could be a good prospect to sell your product to. The easy way to start it is just to retarget the pixeled traffic that gets to the website with something that educates + inspires someone to try what you're selling. The most complicated way would be to build out a proper drip/onboarding email flow and optimize collecting reader emails.

Some other advantages: you now have a second set of social media pages to push ads from. When I did this at a past company, we used to run ads from the publisher's Facebook page and our CPA was about 15-20% lower. The spend ability wasn't more than $200-250k/month, but it allowed us to balance our overall channel ROAS better. Also, remember, social media scrollers love stories, being entertained, and content, not digital billboards.

If you're slow to generate traffic, you can do things like leveraging the CRM base of your brand, allowing them to opt-in to emails from the publisher. You can also create content you know will do well for organic shares, and then run some traffic campaigns on paid media channels. The best tip I have to figure out what will do well is to try to find an interesting topic + a format that has done well for another publisher that shared an article on their Facebook page (judging by shares + comments).

The best part of this entire strategy is you can implement it pretty quickly, and figure out within a couple of months if it's something that works for building an audience, somewhat organically, since they're coming in through content they intentionally got to, or if it's something that isn't worth investing in. In the past, I just grab a nice-looking WordPress theme on ThemeForest, plug it into a WordPress backend, change colors, fonts, and start adding content. Once you know if it works or won't, you can decide to invest further into UI/UX.

One last advantage to this is you might actually learn what products you should create next, based on where you can use signals to see what performs the best, with content, and where there is a clear white space in your market. This is how Gravity Blankets supposedly got started, by realizing at Futurism that there was heightened engagement and an open market. Also how Glossier nailed their product launches, leveraging IntoTheGloss.

In Q4, when ad costs are expensive to drive to a landing page, this gives you more chances to acquire a customer. Clicks to good content are always cheaper. And when Q1 rolls around and the CPMs and CPAs drop down, you'll be even happier that you set this strategy up to build audiences quickly.