One ongoing debate among digital marketers is whether companies should pay to promote their own content.

We have two different points of view here: The Purists who think providing customers with relevant and qualitative organic content is enough to drive traffic, generate leads, motivate engagement and boost sales conversions.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Pay-to-Play advocates believe pure content marketing isn’t sustainable and companies have to pay to place their content in front of their target audience. This dichotomy is well summarized by Michael Brenner in his article Is Content Marketing Now All About Pay-to-Play?

Working for Expandi, I’ve implemented several content marketing strategies over the years, and from my experience, I agree with the Pay-to-Play advocates.

Today “Content is King” in digital. Content marketing moves us from outbound to inbound marketing and aligns our overriding marketing strategy to meet changing customer behaviour.

Social Media Marketing is all about creating relationships between your company and the buyers through conversions that could happen with content not advertising a specific message. Instead of pitching your products or services, you provide truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues (Content Marketing Institute)

Paying to buy visibility might appear against this philosophy that underlines marketing in social media, but Inbound Marketing is a long-term strategy that takes time to see results. This creates a challenge for marketers who need to prove to management that online posting, blogging and producing assets is an effective marketing activity that will eventually bring significant results to the business such as a lower the cost-per-lead, find new customers, etc…

In other words, B2B marketers need to achieve short term results to support the business and prove the long-term efficiency of content marketing. To do that they need to invest in paid media, especially in Paid Social, to more widely distribute their content and increase their reach to the relevant audience.

LinkedIn is the primary channel for B2B and its Sponsored Update format represents a good opportunity for marketers to prove they can generate leads through social media. To do so they can launch a Sponsored Update campaign by using a lead generation form to capture the buyer’s contact details.

So, here are some key elements to make the most of your LinkedIn campaign and achieve those short terms results that will sustain your long-term content marketing strategy.

  • Have two good assets, one that resonates with the buyers at the top of the funnel and another for middle of the funnel.
  • Launch a Sponsored Update campaign by rotating the two assets. You can expect most buyers are at the beginning of the purchase process but you may also want to engage with those who are further down the funnel.
  • Don’t drive traffic to a landing page where asking for registrations. Instead, use the Lead Gen form available in LinkedIn. Users will simply have to double-click to download the asset while remaining within the LinkedIn network. This is an effective way of significantly increasing your conversation rate.
  • After you have captured the buyer’s details you have to nurture them with social selling tactics.

In conclusion, content marketing is an efficient way to build a relationship with an audience that ultimately leads to revenue. Can organic contents stand alone as your only means of success in promoting your offering? I don’t think so. You will need to use paid media to amplify the audience and increase the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy.

Expandi can support you throughout this process. If you want to learn more, take a look at our website or contact me at marco.ottonello@expandigroup.com