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Why Niche Publications Prevail Over Mainstream Sites

fishIt’s fun to see your name in lights — or rather, in pixels — when you get published in your favorite online publications. Influence & Co.’s clients are always excited to get the opportunity to write for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company, and the like. For some clients, these sites reach their exact target audience, and their published articles contribute to achieving their company’s core business goals. But in other cases, an article in Inc. simply doesn’t make sense for a client because his target audience isn’t made up of business owners or entrepreneurs.

This probably sounds like a “Marketing 101” theme, but it’s worth acknowledging. You should be publishing content in the publications your audience is already reading. 

This means it may be more valuable for you to get published in the Salesforce blog than The Washington Post, and you should be excited about this!

Our team, for example, normally publishes between 10 and 12 articles each month in various online publications. For every guest article we publish, we write a blog post or a gated piece of content that further educates the reader on that topic so we can naturally link to those pages from the published article and draw readers to learn more about us. 

To understand how we measure the success of our published articles, here are the key metrics:

  • How many people clicked through to our site from the article? 
  • Of the people who clicked through, how many ended up downloading something or filling out a contact form?
  • How many people reached out to the employee who authored the post directly (through email, LinkedIn, or Twitter)?

The interesting thing about using us as an example is that we actually have a varied target audience. We work with everyone from VC-backed startups to Fortune 500 companies to NGOs in industries ranging from oil and gas to healthcare to technology — and everything in between. 

So the assumption might be that an article in a huge publication such as Inc., which reaches a sizable number of business owners and entrepreneurs, would be a gold mine for successful articles. And honestly, the articles our CEO writes for his Inc. column do perform well. However, they don’t perform as well as our more targeted articles in niche publications that reach our exact target audience in each of these industries — the marketers (CMOs, VPs of marketing, directors of marketing, etc.). 

Here’s a comparison of the conversion rate for a few different publications we publish in on a regular basis:  

Screen_Shot_2015-09-01_at_3.58.50_PM

The percentage of individuals who visited our site via the article and gave us their contact information by filling out a contact form or downloading gated content make up the conversion rate.

All of these publications led at least 100 visitors to our site from the published content.

I’m guessing you’ve definitely heard of Forbes and Entrepreneur. And because you’re reading this, you might be a marketer and, therefore, have heard of the other publications on this list. But they’re anything but mainstream publications. So keep that in mind when creating your content and determining what publications work best for your company’s main goals. 

For example, one of our highest-performing guest contributions on SmartBlogs was “4 Reasons Leaders Need to Share Their Knowledge,” written by our executive VP of brand management, Don Broekelmann. The article explains the benefits of using your unique expertise to create exceptional content and even includes a link to a knowledge management template that our team uses to streamline this process in-house. This article drove hundreds of visits and resulted in more than 50 leads filling out a contact form on our site.

Content that’s published on niche sites performs better for the following reasons:  

  • You reach the right audience. You’re speaking to your exact target audience, so what you say has more resonance.
  • You can write more educational pieces. You’re able to get a lot more granular and provide more real value than you can when you’re writing an article that appeals to the general public in a larger publication.
  • Linking to your resources is usually appreciated. It’s more natural for you to link to a whitepaper about distributing content in a marketing publication than in Fast Company, so more readers will see it as valuable additional information rather than spam. 

Publishing in mainstream publications that reach a large audience is definitely valuable for building your brand and boosting your credibility (think the “As Seen” section on dozens of tech startups’ homepages). But it won’t necessarily produce the tangible results in terms of your company’s lead generation efforts from the articles themselves. For those goals, you need to think small. Think about where your specific sub-segment target audience lives online, and publish articles that engage and resonate with them.

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About Kelsey Raymond

Kelsey is the CEO and cofounder of Influence & Co.

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