Though pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and content marketing appear to be marketing islands unto themselves, many smart marketers use PPC to enhance their content marketing efforts.

Both tactics are useful on their own, but when you combine them you create a powerful marketing double-team that allows you to use the reach and targeting benefits of PPC while harnessing the trust-building and thought leadership aspects of content marketing.

This article will show you three ways you can use PPC to enhance your content marketing no matter your audience.

1. Use display advertising to introduce your content to a new audience

With the Google display network (GDN) you are instructing Google to display your ads on websites based on the content of each site. GDN reaches about 80% of the online audience; no matter how big your current audience is, GDN reaches so many users that you will always be able to use it to introduce your content to new potential customers.

Using GDN to enhance your content marketing is pretty straightforward: You create an ad with some sort of content offer and set it to show on websites that contextually align with your potential customers' interests.

For example, let's say you are investment agency that creates content about the stock market in an effort to attract new clients. You may produce great content, but it does not reach a large enough audience to make a difference to your bottom line. Your potential customer is someone who stays up to date on the finances by reading only the biggest and most influential financial sites, such as Forbes. Because of your potential customer's content consumption habits, you have been unable to get your content to him. GDN solves this problem.

You would create an ad that promotes your content. In the Google Display Network, you would adjust your settings so that you target sites that cover topics such as stocks, financial advice, or annuities. When users on those sites click on your ad, they are taken to a landing page, likely on your website, where they can consume or download your content.

Here's the Forbes website with a display ad for financial advising content:

Clicking on the ad takes me to this landing page, where I consume this relevant content I might not have otherwise seen:

Here are a few advantages of using the Google Display Network to enhance your content marketing:

  • You are able to get your content in front of users who would not otherwise see it because the ads appear on the sites they are visiting.
  • You get implied endorsement: Your ad is appearing on a site such as Forbes; the prestige rubs off on your content.
  • The experience of clicking on the ad is seamless, since the content of your ad matches the content of the site that the user is interested in.

2. Use remarketing to introduce new content based on known interests

You know how it seems like certain ads follow you everywhere on the Internet? That is because the ads are actually following you around! These ads are PPC remarketing ads, and they work when you insert a line of code into your website called a cookie. This cookie allows you to track every page that a user visits on your site, and, based on the pages they visited, you can then follow them around to other sites on the Internet and show them relevant ads (it's easy to insert a cookie; Google offers directions).

To use remarketing to enhance your content marketing, create ads for additional content specifically related to the pages a user was on. Set these related ads to follow users around to other sites on the Internet—until, hopefully, they click on your ad and come back to consume more of your content.

Let me provide an example. Let's say you are a content marketing agency, and two visitors come to your site:

  1. Visitor A reads a blog post about landing page optimization.
  2. Visitor B reads a blog post about blogging for business.

You would then set two distinct remarketing ad campaigns. The first would follow visitor A (who has shown interest in landing pages) with an ad that promotes your e-book titled How to Optimize Landing Pages For Lead Generation. The second remarketing campaign follows visitor B (who has shown interest in business blogging) and promotes your e-book titled 5 Steps to Business Blogging.

When the users click on your ads, they read the content in your relevant e-book, learn more about your company, and begin to see you as a thought leader.

3. Use Facebook to introduce your content to a highly relevant audience

Facebook has 1.35 billion monthly active users (as of September 30, 2014), and it's more than likely that your potential customer is one of them. Facebook allows you to have all the benefits of traditional PPC, with an added benefit that can enhance your content marketing: The network allows demographic targeting. That means you can target specific ads to people who fit certain variables, such as age, location, and interests.

Here is an example of how to use Facebook to enhance your content marketing efforts: You run a dating service in Boston. Even though you created a slick new video to promote your service, no one is viewing it. You know your demographic uses Facebook, but you don't have very many Facebook followers. So when you post the video, you reach the same small group of people, who are becoming tired of your content.

You could increase the reach of your content to a highly relevant audience by running a Facebook PPC campaign. You would use demographic targeting to show your ads to people who are single and live in the Boston area; your ad features your latest video seminar: How to Meet That Special Someone in Boston. You could even break up the campaign and promote different videos by age, gender, or many other demographics to ensure the video is even more relevant.

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Content marketing can work great on its own, but if you have the option to enhance it... why wouldn't you? What tips and tricks have you found to use PPC to help your content marketing efforts?

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image of Adam Lundquist

Adam Lundquist is the CEO of Nerds Do It Better, an Internet advertising agency for small businesses. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, WordStream, KISSmetrics, PPC Hero, Certified Knowledge, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz.

Twitter: @adamlundquist