Testing 3 paid channels to promote your B2B blog (Taboola vs Outbrain vs QuuuPromote)

We all spend substantial resources building our corporate blog… and then crickets… Unfortunately, gone are the days of “post it and they’ll come”. Today, you have to invest in high-quality content AND pay to get it in front of the right people.

Even if you have the best content. Because everyone’s putting content of varying degrees of quality out there. And they’re using all these “hacks” that keep proliferating on how to promote it. Cheap content + cheap tricks = content marketing is becoming more expensive by the day.

Do you have to pay to play?

Of course, there are a number of free ways to get more eyeballs to your content – and you should always employ those – but they’re not scalable.  The best way for B2B companies is to share with your LinkedIn followers and groups.

We’ve found that you can get up to 10% click-through rate (sometimes even up to 20% with a good title, but never use a click-baity one because it will damage your reputation).  So if you have 1,000 people in your network you should expect 100 clicks to your blog post.

Next, you should share on your Twitter account, and if possible repurpose on Slideshare.  Over time, you can rack up a lot of clicks for “free” (ignoring the large expense of creating and repurposing great content).

Channel #1: Taboola

Taboola is a content distribution platform that helps publishers drive traffic to their site and/or monetize their content by promoting other publishers’ content on their site.

If you want to drive traffic to your site, you launch an advertising campaign and Taboola charges you a cost-per-click.  Your content will appear on well-known publishers that have lots of traffic, for example MSN, USA Today, NBC, etc.

It can be at the top as a carousel (images that slide through every couple of seconds so a viewer can click on one that grabs their attention), or more commonly at the bottom of an article.  When a viewer selects an article on these publishers’ properties, at the end they get some “recommended” articles.  These are most often sponsored articles from around the web – that could be YOUR content right there.

The results

We paid $350 spread over a 5-day period (weekdays) and got 625K impressions.  The CTR averaged to 0.08% so the platform sent 481 clicks to our blog content at a $0.73 CPC.  We tried 3 different pieces of content but all performed pretty much the same.  And since we’re paying on a “per click” basis it doesn’t really matter which piece of content you choose.  Your cost depends primarily on the audience interests you want to target.

Channel #2: Outbrain

This is practically the exact same service as Taboola.  The platform works the same way, and they have access to pretty much the same publishers.  The only discernible difference in our case was the quality of placements and the CPC.

The results

We paid $432 spread over the same 5-day period with the same content as we used on Taboola, and got 860K impressions.  The CTR was lower than Taboola at 0.06%, which may indicate lower-quality or lower-accuracy in the placement of our content.  And we got 519 clicks, each costing us $0.83.  That’s a 14% premium to Taboola’s cost.

Channel #3: QuuuPromote

Quuu is a different type of content distribution platform.  Instead of paying publishers to promote other publishers’ content, Quuu pays social influencers to share content.  These are essentially micro-influencers and it works like this:

People with a following on Facebook and Twitter need to post great content all the time in order to engage and grow their audience.  But coming up with great content all the time is impossible.  So they have to share other people’s content.  Quuu curates that content – picks the best content and categorizes it – so influencers can easily find great content.

Interestingly, Quuu gets paid both by the publishers to promote their content AND by the influencers or agencies to get access to a platform with a consistent stream of curated high-quality content.

So you write your blog post, add the URL to the Quuu platform, upload a Facebook and a Twitter thumbnail, select the category where you want to promote your content, and it goes through a brief (usually 2-day) review period.

The cost: depending on the volume of posts you want to promote each month, it ranges from $25 to $40.  For that amount, your content gets promoted through the Quuu platform for 30 days.  During those 30 days, any influencer can pick your content and promote it to their Facebook or Twitter following.  So you keep getting shares and clicks throughout the month.

The results

The tricky part is that you’re not guaranteed the number of shares or clicks.  You pay a flat fee to promote a post, and then you check the results through their platform.

We’ve been using the platform for a few months now and have seen anywhere from 10 clicks to 400 clicks.  Unfortunately, we haven’t cracked the code – it doesn’t have to do with the type of content, the category, or the title.  It really depends on whether you’ll grab the right influencer’s attention.

That said, averaging our latest 14 content promotions, we received 51 clicks per post (promoting it for a 30-day period).  We’re promoting an average of 8 posts per month, which would fall under their plan that brings down the cost to $27 per post.  This implies a CPC of $0.53.

And the winner is…

Looking at CPC

On a CPC basis, Taboola was 38% and Outbrain is 57% more expensive than Quuu.  At least for our test because it really depends on the type of your content, and for others it can work very differently.

Between Taboola and Outbrain, Taboola worked slightly better, at least for our content.  I’d recommend starting with both platforms and figuring out your CPC on each before focusing on just one.

What about traffic quality?

However, you shouldn’t judge a promotion platform based on CPC alone.  Perhaps the more important metric is the quality of the traffic is sends your way.  Which we can assess by looking at our analytics and comparing bounce rates and session duration.

The Taboola & Outbrain brought us pretty low-quality traffic.  The average user session lasted about 15 seconds, and the vast majority of users visited only 1 page so they didn’t really engage with our site.

In comparison, Quuu sessions lasted on average more than 1 minute.  The pages per session went up from slightly above 1.00 to 1.27 (a substantial improvement in engagement).

Conclusion

Quuu performed substantially better for our content, both in terms of traffic cost AND the quality of said traffic.  I believe it’s primarily because of the type of our content.  If you had more B2C and “clickbaity” content, Taboola and Outbrain might actually perform better.

At the end of the day though, you really have to test all different platforms for yourself and compare the results.  But our test should give you some idea of what to expect, and perhaps how to structure your test.

For B2B content, I’d generally recommend Quuu and sharing with your LinkedIn audience.

Kosta BoardStudios.com

Founder of Board Studios Inc, an animation production agency that helps B2B companies simplify and communicate more effectively. Specializing in B2B makes a big difference because we know what information your clients need, what works and what doesn’t. B2B communications can be very different than B2C, so if you get your video explainer from a B2C agency you may not get the results you deserve.

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