Paid Media: How to Best Amplify Your Content

Posted by Wendy Marx

Paid media: How to Best Amplify Your Content

Paid media may be one of the most misunderstood types of media in the PESO model. While earned, shared, and owned content have become an integral and respected part of today's content strategy, paid content still has a bit of the aura of a stepchild.  

Modern media, however, has transformed paid content from a neglected child into a valuable resource that seamlessly fits the needs of today’s business owners. It is designed to help and engage audiences in a discreet and effective way.

For a complete overview of paid, earned, shared, and owned content and how to integrate them into the best PR strategies, check out our post, Everything You Need to Know About Earned, Owned, Shared & Paid Media.

Marx Logo    What is Paid Media?

Paid media is content that you pay to promote. This media strategy has come to include:

This type of media takes your owned content and gives it a little boost to reach new audiences. This strategy has matured over the years in its precision targeting capabilities and its success rate. While some of these PR strategies do cost more than others, prices vary widely and can fit almost any budget.

Social media networks let you target your audience down to specific interests, web pages visited, age, gender, and geographic location. As part of your public relations tactics, these paid strategies can give you the lift-off you need.

Google Adwords is the colossus of paid content, providing the means to target specific groups of people. Pay to rank for specific keywords -- price varies depending on the keyword chosen -- and refine your parameters to target only those in your area or industry.

Let’s look at 8 ways that you can build an effective paid strategy and avoid the pitfalls that some bump into.

10 Important Ways to Use Paid Media & Strategically Amplify Content

1. Define Goals & Budget

Before you get started with paid ads, you need to set goals. Want more website traffic? More email leads? How about selling more products? Start off with small, achievable goals, and work up to bigger ones. 

Most paid ad platforms -- such as those used in social media -- include a metrics dashboard as part of the package. Follow these metrics closely to determine how you can tweak for better results.

Because this is PAID, you should also start off with a fixed budget. When you know exactly how much you have to work with, create a plan that doesn’t exceed that amount. Social media and Google Adwords let you set your budget up front and never go over.

2. Test the Waters

Start off with smaller campaigns so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Test everything from audience segmentation to the type of content you promote.

Set a low budget initially to get a  feel for what works with your specific audience. On social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, a test run with $100 can go a long way and give you a lot of answers.

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3. Align Your Strategy with Your Buyer's Journey

The buyer's journey includes four distinct stages:

Awareness -- The buyer realizes that he or she has a problem. 

Consideration -- The buyer keys in on the exact problem and researches solutions.

Decision -- The buyer is ready to choose a solution.

Loyalty -- The buyer makes a purchase decision, but may need guidance to get the most out of it.

Potential buyers will have different needs depending on their stage in the buyer's journey. For example, individuals at the consideration stage will want educational content. While those at the decision stage will need more in-depth content covering their problems and explaining how your brand can help. 

The channels that you choose will also depend on what stage of the buyer's journey you want to target. For example, if you want to attract people in the consideration stage, paid search and social channels may be best. On the other hand, if you want buyers at the decision stage, influencer marketing may be effective.

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4. Make It Work with Your Other Strategies

Your paid strategy should not strike off on its own. Instead, have it work symbiotically with your earned, shared, and owned content.

For example, if a piece of content has performed well on your blog, transform it into a social media ad to lure more people o your website.

Paid promotion also can help your earned media strategy take off. Reference your earned media on your website, say in a blog post. Then use social media ads and their refined targeting ability to specifically reach influencers and prospects with your content.


Your paid strategy should work symbiotically with your earned, shared, and owned media Tweet: Your paid strategy should work symbiotically with your earned, shared, and owned media @wendymarx TO TWEET


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5. Create Helpful Content

The key to success in paid content marketing is to fit your content to the needs of your audience. If you want your paid strategy to work, research  what content formats, subjects, and keywords are likely to be successful.

Use a tool like BuzzSumo to see what your competitors are doing and find topics that receive the most engagement on social media. Take an article you find and improve it. Cover more valuable points, add extra pro tips, or provide a more in-depth and well-rounded overview of the subject. If you are going to pay to promote this content, make it worth what you pay.

Above all, avoid click-bait tactics that give paid advertisements a bad reputation. Provide real value to those who click through to see your content. Whether it’s a blog post, ebook, infographic, or white paper, make people happy that they clicked.


Avoid click-bait tactics that give paid advertisements a bad reputation Tweet: Avoid click-bait tactics that give paid advertisements a bad reputation @wendymarx TO TWEET


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6. Make Your Value Clear

Let's face it. We will only click when we see value. Think: “What can I offer that prospects want?” "What problems do your potential customers face, and how can I help?"

For this, you might turn to your sales team to discover the most common questions people ask or problems that they face. Consider doing some social listening to see what people in your industry most often talk about on social media.

Once you know what prospects care about, craft valuable content answering a need. If you're in security, you might create an eBook along the lines of How Secure Are You? The In-Depth Guide to Internet Security for Small Business. If you're in financial services, think aboutan infographic such as Your Business Banking Checklist: 10 Elements to a Financially Secure Future. You get the idea.

Every promoted piece of content should address the concerns of your audience, and give them value in exchange for their click.

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7. Include Visual Content

If you use social media as part of your paid strategy, visuals will be a big part of your success. People today are more visual than ever. One study found that posts with images produce 650% more engagement than posts with text-only. Bottom line: If your social media ad doesn’t include an image, your audience will most likely skip right by it.

You might promote content that is specifically visual by nature -- such as an infographic, SlideShare or video. In fact, 51% of marketers worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Tap into these and other valuable content formats for killer results in the social media arena!

Use a free tool like Canva to create stunning visuals, appropriately sized for social media platforms. You can also use video creation tools like Animoto, Powtoon, or VideoScribe to create engaging video ads for your paid strategy.

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8. Use Social Media in the Right Way

The key to social media is to engage your audience. This doesn't change when you are paying to amplify your content. Don't pay social networks just to sell or promote your brand. 

Instead, create an effective strategy that accounts for your prospects' demographics and psychographics -- gender, interests, job title, and readiness to buy.

Interaction is key to success on social media. Likes, comments, and shares can make your paid ad more effective. But don't expect your audience to automatically interact with your paid ads just because they're there. You need to create a reason for them to click.Think contests, referral programs, or thought-provoking questions as ways to make your paid content engaging.

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9. Vary Your Strategy

Don’t put all your content eggs in one paid basket. You may be tempted to invest ads on the top three social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are great social networks, and they have proved very successful for B2B businesses. But with so many people promoting their content in these arenas, they can get jammed quickly.

Google Adwords is another option to put your brand and your content in front of the right eyes. Target your audience with precision and have all of Google's audience at your fingertips. Prices will vary depending on the keywords you want to rank for, but Adwords will give you options to work with.

You may find it more successful to promote your content on smaller sites such as: 

These sites are usually less expensive, but may yield excellent results. Do your research and find the best ways to reach your particular audience. 

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10. Humanize Your Approach

The two biggest faux pas of paid advertising are one, cheesy self promotion and two, false claims. Avoid slogans like “The Best Deal of Your Life!” This kind of language immediately cranks up your audience’s suspicion radar -- after all, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” You can make your paid content attractive without crossing the line into sleazy car salesman. And it's definitely worth it in the long run; such honesty will be repaid with loyalty down the road. 

Instead, use friendly, inviting language, such as, “We know many have faced this problem. We’re here to help.” You might feature a happy customer’s testimonial as social proof that you are not just another piece of click-bait. These small actions go a long way toward humanizing your message and making you more approachable.

A Few Points to Remember…

  • Have a fixed budget in mind when using paid advertising
  • Test the waters on various platforms to get the right combination for your brand
  • Humanize your ads and stay away from cheesy slogans that will turn people off
  • Use visual content to attract people to your content

Paid content marketing doesn’t have to break the bank, and it doesn’t have to be schlock. Find the right combination of paid public relations tactics for your brand, and watch the results take off.

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Sep 14, 2017

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx