Promotion By Design

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Promotion By Design: Write Like This and Reaching Out Becomes a No-Brainer

social share buttons with all 0Often we see great content on the web, that never gets shared.

If you have heard the advice

“Just put it out there.” or

“We go for long-term SEO. Google will pick it up soon”

This is as wrong as it can get. That is hoping for traffic. But hope is not a strategy!

There are better ways to get traffic on your content. And one way starts at an early step:

You can write content that is set up for promotion by design.

Let me explain the concept quickly:

  1. You reference people in content at the writing stage
  2. After publishing you reach out to them and ask to share

Of course, you need to reference the right people. This post gives you hints on who to reference, how to reference and, finally, how to reach out.

Who to reference

Let’s quickly gather reasons we all do content marketing. We want to…

  • attract new leads
  • help leads convert (by building trust)
  • get referred to even more leads

All these things can be improved by referencing to influencers.

What are top influencers?

“Top influencers can amplify the brand’s content best” Stephanie Agresta and Joe Burton in this infographic

In other words, top influencers are non-competitive [people/communities/websites] with audiences that match your target group.

Imagine this for a second:

A person with a following of thousands of people who are exactly the people you want to attract as customer.

Imagine this person sharing your content with their following.

That is the end result we want you to get for your next blog post.

End result (diagram)

Bonus: some people will even use your content to reference you back. The resulting links will count into your backlink pool, which means better search engine ranking.

You or your team is likely to know these people already. They tweet in your industry, they run blogs, they give talks, … If that is not clear, please leave a comment now!

Part 1: Research and write

This is an easy task for people who have done academic writing.

One of the premises of academic writing is that you prove every point you make, either by research of by referencing other research.

We will not be so strict here.

Reference people where it adds value to the reader
Rule of thumb

For example, to add value for you, the reader, I encourage you to check out the writing of Marcus Ho. He states three forms: 1. Practical Value, 2. Surprise and 3. Trending Triggers.

(At this point: you should really check out that blog. They write about it better than I could here.)

There are 2 more points in referencing:

  • The referenced site gets link juice from you. That’s important for SEO and means more organic traffic in the long run for them.
  • Audience sharing. Your readers can become their customers. Who would not like that?

How many should I reference?

Aim for 10 – 20 references per 1000 words.
Less has too little impact. More can look distracting.
Rule of thumb

One last thing before we move on:

These points need be be clear when writing the article. You cannot fix an article without references once it is written. Instruct your writers before they write and give articles to review if they have less than 10 references per 1000 words!

In case you want to delegate this process: Download the SOP for step-by-step instructions.

Part 2: Reaching out

If the article is written properly, this is the easy part.

Okay, it can be a bit tedious, because it’s manual.

We explain 2 ways in this article:

  • Reaching out via twitter
  • Reaching out via email

You can do both, and you should definitely do email. It’s just more personal.


Before you publish your article, gather all the contact information of the top influencers. You will realize that some people are hard to reach.

Advanced tip: if you can come up with a name and the domain of a person you can find them using these tips of Scott Britton.

Once you have the email addresses, put them as comments into your blog post. If you use Google Apps it looks like this.

Comments in Google Docs used for reachout

Twitter reachout

Find the twitter name with the twitter search of tweeps. Often they put their twitter name close to their name in the author section.

Then you schedule a public mention tweet like this:

“Quote” by [@influencer] on a our blog post about X

Email reachout

Every email you send out to a new person should include these best practices:

  • Make it about them. The first sentence must be about something they did. Flatter them first, then proceed.
  • Be clear and concise in your “ask”. And ask for only one thing (answer / call to action)
  • Keep it short. Most emails get deleted because of that reasons.
  • Don’t make them think and/or decide. Successful people know they suffer from decision fatigue. If you make them decide something hard, they’d rather delete your email.

Let me give you a template that you can use out of the box:

Subject: We mentioned [their blog] in the latest post

Hi [name],

I found your blog doing research for our last article. Actually, I liked your content so much that I referenced it in the post

[Your blog post URL]

I’d be awesome if you checked it out. If you think your audience can benefit from the article, feel free to share it.


[your name]

A great resource for further reading got sent to us by Jaimee Williams from Propeller: Land Your First Customers and with Cold Email. They deconstruct successful campaigns and show you what works.

Why does it work?

There is an underlying principle called reciprocacy. You have done something for them (backlink) and made them feel great about themselves (promoted their authority). These factors will contribute to them sharing your content with their audience.

The power of reciprocity (diagram)

The power of reciprocity is best explained by Yaro Starak.

The power of reciprocity is best explained by Yaro Starak.

Before I forget: do not only send your link to the people you referenced. As well, send it out to people who would benefit from reading it.

I started this article only because I got asked by someone running a large medical site how to get more shares. Upon publishing this article I will reach out to him directly. That certainly does not scale, but often you need to do things that don’t scale (Marcin Grodzicki).

The 80/20 way – delegate this task

For our clients we have tried different things.

Normally, the writer can reach out to the influencers himself. If you are a business owner it is likely you want to get control over the promotion process.

However, you can outsource both parts. Just send your writer and/or assistant this blog post to understand the background.

We have taken this post and distilled step-by-step instructions from it.
Download it here and forward this SOP directly to your team.

Download the SOP to this article for easy step-by-step delegation.

Take it from there: write the next post with references! And then let us know with a comment how it went!