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How to Approach Paid Media With an Inbound Perspective

By Jackie Van MeterJul 15, 2016

You can generate gobs of traffic with paid media.

So set it on autopilot, and forget it. It’s all good, right? Not so fast …

The greatest return on investment is going to come from approaching paid media with an inbound perspective.

That means not forgetting what makes inbound marketing work in the first place—creating valuable content, earning the trust of your target customers and not hard-selling them on your first “hello” (for example, by getting them on your list and nurturing them).

So let’s take a look at how inbound methodology can amplify your paid media results.

Cut Through the Noise

We can probably all agree that there’s a lot of content out there. It would be impossible for a single individual to consume it all in the volume and velocity it’s being published and created.

And the same is true of distribution. You can share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social channels, and there are a lot of benefits to doing that, but these outlets are all crowded in their own way.

Paid media can help you stand out in a decidedly noisy world. It can get your content in front of large audiences. More importantly, you can get it in front of more of the right people at the right time, instead of just getting more eyeballs on it.

But as we established at the outset, it isn’t just about paying to play. There has to be a method behind the madness if you want to win over new converts.

Reach isn’t the only thing that matters. That’s why we have to be strategic in our approach.

Create High-Value Content

A successful paid media campaign begins with quality content.

This is inbound marketing 101, but it’s worth mentioning.

We’re not going to take a piece of low-value, spun, irrelevant or thin content and pay to amplify it. We’re going to take the best we have to offer and then get it in front of the right people using the extensive targeting and filtering options of platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Define Buyer Personas

Again, developing buyer personas is basic best practice as far as inbound is concerned. But it is nevertheless important, particularly with paid distribution channels, since they allow you to target your audience specifically.

According to Boardview, 90 percent of companies using personas have been able to create a clearer understanding of their buyers.

Reaching the right people will come down to targeting, and targeting is easier to do when you know who you’re trying to reach, and you’re leveraging your data insights to refine your audience. Ultimately, this will mean more quality traffic to your site.

“Without a buyer persona, you’ll end up using random keywords that may be relevant to your business in general but not to your specific buyers, which would result in the wrong audience finding your ads. It’s even more obvious why your buyer persona is necessary for paid search advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook—these sites help you narrow down your audience to your buyer persona by allowing you to input specific information regarding demographic,” says marketer Brandon Moore.

Launch Your Campaign

With your buyer personas in tow, you’re ready to launch your campaign.

Social distribution channels include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

Distribution and native advertising platforms include Outbrain, Taboola and Nativo.

You can also use Google AdWords for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, and Perfect Audience and GoChime for retargeting.

Platform choice will be determined by the exact nature of the campaign, your objectives and your audience.

YouTube, for example, is ideal for video ads targeted at B2C and B2B markets. Meanwhile, Instagram is great for reaching the millennial generation with engaging images and shorter video clips.

So choose your platform, campaign type and targeting, and you’re ready to go. Keep in mind that tracking and measuring methods will also vary depending on the channel, so set up whatever tools or scripts you need so you can keep tabs on how your campaign is performing.

Track, Measure & Iterate

Once your ad is up and running, it’s time to track and measure your results.

Using the data and insights you’re gathering, you can make adjustments to your ads for increased effectiveness, whether it’s optimizing your targeting or increasing your budget to boost your reach.

We’ve already touched on the idea that these types of campaigns aren’t all about reach. Your goal should be to drive targeted leads and customers to your site. You have the opportunity to further refine your filtering based on the tracking you’re doing, and then you can keep iterating until you feel you’ve found the sweet spot.

Use Insights to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

The insights you’ve gathered can also be used to further develop and improve your content marketing strategy.

Your first ad isn’t likely to be your most effective one, but it should provide you with a good feedback loop for both the merits and downsides of your content.

Since the inbound methodology begins with content, creating more effective content is only going to amplify your future results with paid media. Studying your campaign data allows you to develop more effective content.

With new content in hand, you can go back to the drawing board, create a strategy for your next campaign, launch, track, measure, rinse, repeat.

Wrapping It Up

You can’t amplify just anything and expect it to take off.

The days of push marketing and hard selling are all but gone, which means an inbound methodology is ultimately going to be more effective in helping you reach the right people with paid media.

Start with quality content. Then, take the best of what you have to offer, and get it out into the world utilizing the right tools. There are many distribution channels to choose from, depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your ads.

Are you interested in learning more about paid media? Download our Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media to take your strategy to the next level.

The 2017 Guide to Paid Media

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The Author

Jackie Van Meter

Jackie is a seasoned media executive with 17 years of advertising sales, online media and event marketing experience. Jackie has helped to launch four magazines and their corresponding websites and apps, ranging from technical trade titles to local glossy tabloids. Working with national and local brands, Jackie has a proven track record of offering her clients earned, owned and paid media to grow their bottom line.
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