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Digital Marketing: 5 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships with Publishers

By Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media,

Digital marketingThe digital marketing world is all about trends — what next big tech milestone or social change will influence the way digital advertisers reach their audiences.

But there’s one trend we’re glossing over. To be fair, it’s not really a trend at all. It’s more of a mainstay, and it’s one of the most important elements to digital marketing success: the marketer-publisher relationship.

A strong relationship between the marketer and publisher is crucial to a successful integrated digital marketing plan. For marketers, it allows your brand to capitalize on the sense of loyalty found in a publisher’s community, making it much easier to maximize the value of your marketing dollars.

Take a TV spot, for example. Seeing a brand’s message during a commercial break may drive awareness, but that awareness won’t always lead to a purchase. With 81 percent of consumers doing a little legwork before deciding what to buy, it will likely encourage consumers to do more research rather than run out and buy a product right then.

Their research takes consumers to their web browser, and if little (or worse, nothing) about your brand appears in their research, they will probably move on. That’s where your connection with publishers comes in. If you’ve created strong relationships, those publishers are more willing to feature your brand’s content on their publications.

Bridging the Content Gap

Establishing relationships isn’t always easy. Many marketers find it challenging to understand publishers and the community publishers curate. They become so focused on the image and identity of their own brand that they often forget about the publisher’s brand. These marketers must figure out how to marry both parties’ brands to forge a successful relationship.

That’s where a strategic outreach plan can come in handy. When approaching a publisher, you need to give them a reason to publish your content. You need to benefit them in order to benefit yourself.

Look at their target audience and determine whether any gaps in content exist: Are there any issues readers are struggling with that your content can put to rest? It’s all about identifying the problem and then offering a solution.

Remember: Educational content is what keeps readers coming back, so that’s what all publishers want. If you can clearly explain the value of your content, you give them a reason to look at your piece — and publish it, at that.

Think of it as marketing-publication symbiosis. Essentially, you’re helping expand each other’s reach. The publisher showcases your content to a whole new audience, while you provide content to drive more traffic to the publisher’s site.

Forging New Relationships

While your message will vary by publication, how you establish these relationships will remain the same. The following tips can help you get off on the right foot:

  1. Get to know publishers. Just as you wouldn’t want to meet with a job applicant who doesn’t know anything about your company, publishers don’t want to hear from those who don’t know much about their publication. Spend time with publishers to get to know them and understand what they do. Publishers who feel they have a genuine rapport with advertisers will often go above and beyond what’s expected.

What’s more, regular contact guarantees that publishers get the most current information about your brand. Both parties can then collaborate with one another to better ensure the relationship is a mutually beneficial one.

If you’re uncertain of where to focus your energy, familiarize yourself with publishers who provide the highest value. In other words, reach out to those who drive significant revenue for your programs, like the publications with an audience you’re trying to reach. Start with the top five and branch out from there.

  1. Keep it real. Your communication with partners is a lot like today’s marketing. It calls for customization. Any time you reach out to publishers, personalize the message. It’s more likely to stand out among the hundreds of other emails in their inbox.

This helps strengthen your efforts in the first point, too: The personalized touch illustrates that you’ve taken the time to get to know them, their content, and their audiences. They’ll often return the favor by investing in your brand and programs, increasing the chances of success.

And keep in mind that brevity will be your friend when reaching out to publications. Those hundreds (if not thousands) of emails make time a luxury for publishers. Get to the point, and get to it quickly. Otherwise, chances are good you won’t hear back.

  1. Respond to requests. Leaving emails unanswered can give the impression that your only concern is your own business — not the best way to establish or strengthen a relationship. Take time to respond to publishers, even blocking off time on your calendar if you have to.

Responding in a timely manner sends the message that you’re engaged and invested in their business as well as your own. This can encourage the publisher to work more closely with you and make your program a priority.

  1. Challenge them creatively. Allow partners to expand past standard rotational display or video placements. Give them creative license to come up with something more unique than they normally would. When given the opportunity, many publishers will even develop new offerings to incorporate into their site.

This level of customization is exciting for both the publisher and the brand. Some brands focus more on injecting themselves through content integrations without realizing the diverse ways they can own the attention of the site’s audience.

  1. Lend a helping hand. No two publishers are alike, and they’ll often need different things from you to make your program (and their platform) a success. Ask each partner what sort of tools would make life that much easier.

The gesture serves as another indication of your investment in the relationship. It also ensures the publisher will promote your products and interact with your target audience in the best way possible.

Instead of focusing too much attention on those upcoming trends, make the marketer-publisher relationship a priority over the next year. It’s one of the most effective ways of getting your name in front of the people who matter most: potential customers.

Bio: Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media, a true omnichannel media company located in El Segundo, Calif. With more than 13 years of experience in digital advertising, Tom has a keen understanding of the industry and the voids in the marketplace. With this expertise, he developed within PK4 Media’s platform a system called XPS, which singlehandedly controls delivery and optimization across all digital media channels — letting advertisers reach any screen they want to.

Photo Credit: Roopokar Creative Studio Flickr via Compfight cc