Most paid marketing channels, like social and search ads, can drive fast and scalable traffic. But they also only drive traffic as long as you keep spending. Pull the spend, pull the traffic.
You’re also in constant competition, which means that your cost of acquisition always fluctuates to a certain extent.
These paid tactics will always be an important part of most growth strategies and can deliver results fast. The emphasis being on >fast<.
On the other end: Asset Marketing
Asset Marketing is the mindset of investing marketing dollars, versus burning marketing dollars, to receive long-term dividends in form of evergreen traffic.
Spend money once, get traffic forever and ever. You invested money once upfront but the traffic keeps coming, therefore your CAC via the asset drops over time.
In the short-term investing into Asset Marketing might not outperform standard performance ads on Facebook and co, but they can outperform them in the long-term. Tho, they are much harder to scale.
Examples of Asset Marketing
The key to the mindset of investing in Assets is to focus on things that are evergreen by nature. For example: Don’t sponsor the daily news, sponsor the explainer video of a general topic. The news will be old tomorrow, the explainer video will still be relevant and collect views four years from now.
The purpose of most assets is to attract eyeballs and clicks and redirect them to your product. Which means most are indirect acquisition drivers, not direct acquisition drivers.
Owned evergreen content
These can be studies, films or evergreen explainer videos. In most cases, the more high quality the production of the asset the longer it will pay dividends as it’s harder for competitors to create something better and compete traffic away from you. Also, in most cases, higher quality content has a higher likelihood of receiving a lot of shares and press. Doh.
At AND CO we have a bunch of these, for example:
Anywhere Workers | visit
Together with Remote Year, we launched a study with input by over 4,000 remote workers around the world. Launched nearly a year ago it’s still being quoted in new articles today.
SOLO NYC | visit
Over a year ago we released SOLO NYC, a short film profiling some high profile freelancers in New York. The film ramped up over 250,000 views and was named a Vimeo Staff Pick. We use it as content in our onboarding email series until this day.
Six Figure Freelancer | visit
Recently we’ve launched an audio course, aka podcast, on how to break six figures as a freelancer. It includes interviews with thought-leaders in the space who in turn also share their episodes. The asset is positioned as a “course” and its content is evergreen on purpose to create something that has the potential of becoming a valuable marketing asset.
Sponsored evergreen content
Another form of an asset can be to sponsor existing evergreen content. A great example is what SkillShare seems to do a lot of with explainer videos on YouTube. Like this one:
But again, not all two YouTube videos are the same. Sponsoring the daily vlog is an ad, but sponsoring the evergreen educational video is likely an asset. It’s not about the choice of the channel to advertise on but about the choice of context and content to advertise within. Blah. Just remember: Evergreen, evergreen, evergreen.
Microtools are mini products to attract your core desired audience, create word of mouth and even have PR potential. Think of them as trojan horses. They are gifts with the goal to conquer new users.
Williams & Harricks| visit
Getting paid is one of the biggest pain points for freelancers. That’s why we launched Williams & Harricks, a service to send demand letters to clients who didn’t pay yet. This micro tool reached #2 on Product Hunt on launch day, gained articles from Quartz and others and even sold enough letters to recoup the investment in the first place.
Deck Stack| visit
Together with Death to Stock Photo, we launched two versions of The Deck Stack. They’re simply free design templates for presentations. At its first release, we gained over 15,000 downloads in two days.
Obviously, anything you build to rank in search is also asset marketing. In its simplest form, it’s the longtail content on your blog and on the more complex end its entire microtools.
One of AND CO’s most successful tools has been the Self Employment Tax Calculator. It’s a super simple tool to get a rough feeling on your estimated self-employment taxes, and it has become our 5th biggest traffic driver.
Shopify has created a whole array of these tools, seemingly for SEO reasons.
Marketing assets are like boy bands in the 90s
The success of these things is often impossible to predict and you will have to build a ton of them to find out what ultimately works. I like to compare this to boy bands in the 90s: Throw 10 against the wall, seven will fail, two might have a hit single and one will have their big break and stick.
Hits spike and die. Big breaks live forever.
The hits will drive traffic temporarily. They might land on the homepage of Reddit, be number one on HackerNews or even tour the morning shows.
The big breaks might spike as well but they’ll also stick around and send you traffic forever and ever.
As an example, let's look at the traffic graph from the Anywhere Workers. The time-frame of this is about a year and in the beginning it clearly spiked, but it still receives thousands of visits every month.
Invest in evergreen
If you walk away with one learning from this post, remember: Invest in evergreen. Each evergreen traffic driver you establish grows your predictable, organic traffic.
Take part of your budget and play the 90s boy band producer. Create a few assets, throw them against the wall and see what sticks. You might end up with the next NSYNC.