It may seem like content distribution is sending emails to a subscriber list because you are, after all, distributing content. However, it’s much more than that.
How often do you think about the amount of content published on the Internet daily? According to Worldometer, nearly five million (MILLION!) blog posts went live today as of this writing. That’s a ton of content vying for a reader’s attention.
With that level of competition happening daily, marketers need to understand that getting in front of their target audience involves more than an occasional blog update, social media post, or newsletter link.
Yes, these distribution channels are valuable—but they’re not enough when done alone. The idea is to incorporate many distribution channels into one strategy. Instead of putting all your efforts into one distribution strategy, you’re thinking about how each can work together to reach the broadest audience.
This guide outlines content distribution strategies and how to use them to maximize your brand’s reach.
Understanding What Content Distribution is and Why That’s Important
Each time you publish and promote your brand’s content, that’s content distribution. Successful content distribution incorporates multiple formats and channels. We can categorize these channels into three categories: earned, owned, and paid. We’ll get into that later—before that, let’s check out these statistics:
- According to InternetLiveStats.com, Google processes over 40,000 searches per minute
- During 2020, Instagram users spent an average of 30 minutes daily on the platform
- There are over 800 million LinkedIn member accounts in 200 countries across the globe
- Over the past 12 months, 82% of content marketers posted on Twitter as part of their content strategies
The point of looking at these statistics is to see that there’s a LOT of content publishing regularly, audiences are enormous, and the competition is tough. But don’t let these numbers discourage you—it isn’t impossible to reach your target audience if you know what, where, and when to post.
Before diving into those details, let’s look at content distribution’s relationship to social media content distribution.
Its Relationship with Social Media Content Distribution
Content distribution and social media content distribution are similar. When you publish, share, and promote content on social media, those efforts are social media content distribution. Marketers may decide it’s valuable to create content specifically for social media platforms.
Or, in other cases, they may look at existing pieces to determine how to reformat them or promote them using social media. They use these strategies because B2B content distribution is more than focusing all your efforts only on SEO.
Identifying Various Content Distribution Types
Content marketers should remember that not all content distribution types are equal. Brands can use various content types to promote their products and services. What that means is, you might need to create separate distribution plans for various content types. Let’s look at some of these types and how you can use them to reach your target audience.
There are many ways to distribute blog posts, including the following examples:
- As a link roundup in your email newsletter
- On your social media channels
- As a call-to-action on related content
- As links within eBooks and other informational resources
- Within resource lists at the end of podcasts, videos, and webinars
Case studies are an excellent opportunity to link customer and user experiences on a dedicated page of your website. For example, we have a dedicated page for our customers and various success stories. The benefit of this content type is that visitors can see customers using your products and services, understand their experiences, and receive social proof of their value.
Some companies like to offer their eBooks as a gated asset on a dedicated landing page within their site. Others like offering them as a freebie to new email subscribers. Then, some like offering them as an anchor link within specific blog posts or articles. If you choose to use them as gated content or for new email subscribers, eBooks are an excellent way of receiving a visitor’s information in exchange for this asset.
Repurpose articles, blogs, eBooks, webinars, and other content types into infographics. Use them as part of your social media content distribution strategy.
Interviews & Podcasts
Use interviews and podcasts to reach your target audience on the following channels:
Create engaging videos using the following tools:
Here’s an opportunity where you can answer your target audience’s most challenging questions, deliver educational materials, and show how your brand can solve their pain points. Create a dedicated page for your webinars where visitors can register and hear live recordings. Use links to these dedicated pages as a call to action in articles and blog posts featuring similar content.
Which Content Distribution Channels to Use & When
As I mentioned earlier, there are three categories of distribution channels: earned, owned, and paid. The goal is to use these channels to promote the content your brand creates. The trick is to know which distribution channel to use, the best time to use it, and how they overlap.
Earned Content Distribution
Earned content distribution is when a third party promotes and shares your brand’s content. That means bloggers, customers, and other people share your content for free—which is where the word “earned” comes into play. Here are some examples of earned content distribution:
These publications include blog posts, product roundups, gift guides, newspaper articles, trade publications, and any other non-paid publications. Meaning, you’re not paying to have this information included in an online or print publication.
Nearly 55% of customers read up to four online reviews before making a purchasing decision. Review sites like G2, Google My Business, and Yelp are a gold mine for honest feedback from your current customer base about your products and services.
Social Media Shares
Examples of earned media through social media shares include:
- Customers having a fantastic experience with your product or service that they post about it on their social network
- Customers recommending your products or services because they fulfilled a specific need
- Your brand sharing something on your social media network that your target audience finds so valuable they’re compelled to reshare
Strong Organic Search Rankings
SEO strategies help you earn top rankings organically if you execute them successfully. Developing an SEO strategy involves several factors, including technical best practices and keyword research. For example, instead of choosing the most popular keywords, consider aligning with your marketing personas’ interests and search intent.
Owned Content Distribution
Owned content distribution involves using outlets your company owns. This form of distribution is valuable because you can control what, when, and how content publishes within your owned channels. Examples of owned channels include your blog, email newsletters, social media channels, and website. Here’s a deeper dive into owned content distribution examples:
Blog posts and other website content, including help topics and other resources, are a brand’s primary form of owned media. These assets serve as your brand’s primary source for establishing voice and tone. They’re also typically the first avenue brands travel when publishing by providing informational resources to target audiences, directing visitors to gated content, or providing company news and updates as they occur.
Case studies are a form of owned media because you’re not paying the customer to talk about how your products or services solved their pain points. Cross-promote case studies on other forms of owned media, including discussing them within blog posts, showcasing them on social media, and sharing them through email newsletters.
These marketing strategies allow brands to email exclusive offers, promote new content, share product updates, and provide other relevant information to subscribers. Email marketing improves brand recall by acting as a portion of your web presence, going directly to your target audience.
Social Media Posts
It’s unusual for companies to have a website and no social media presence. Your social media channels are an excellent opportunity to grow your company’s brand by creating and sharing engaging content. Social media is a growing marketing arena because it allows companies to post content aligned with their branding and identity.
There’s no limit to what you can present in a video. For example, if your brand excels at how-to content, take that content a step further by creating video tutorials. Or, if you have products requiring setup instructions, videos are an excellent resource for teaching your customers what to do and when. This form of owned media works well as pre-recorded assets or live-streaming sessions.
Paid Content Distribution
Paid content distribution involves paying third-party channels to post your content and get it in front of your target audience. That could include content syndication, native advertising, search advertising, and social media advertising. Here’s a more in-depth look at paid content distribution examples:
Paid Influencer Content
Publishing influencer content involves employing leading content creators within your brand’s niche to improve awareness, conversions, and tracking. Those efforts help align the influencer’s target audience with your brand by highlighting your offerings. Paid influencer content is a powerful marketing tool because it provides social proof and word-of-mouth marketing.
Paid Social Ads
Marketers use paid social ads to share a brand’s marketing message on networks like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Examples of paid social ads include content that targets a platform’s sub-audience using display ads, branded content, influencer content, and pay-per-click advertising.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC advertising involves advertisers paying each time visitors interact with ads through clicks or impressions. Content marketers use this strategy to earn quality leads through their search engine marketing (SEM). You can find these ads on social media channels and search engine results.
When advertisers pay for promotional media, that’s a form of sponsored content. Another brand, influencer, person, or publisher owns the promotional media. Sponsored content is most successful when it includes a brand or person already targeting your brand’s audience or buyer personas. The content doesn’t feel disruptive or intrusive by aligning with a brand.
Steps for Building a Content Distribution Strategy
You might spend hours developing a content strategy, building an editorial calendar, outlining editorial processes, and crafting high-quality content. While that’s important, it can’t move forward without a content distribution strategy. You put your audience insights, creative executions, goals, and tactical choices to the test through this strategy.
The Benefits of a Content Distribution Strategy
While a content strategy and content distribution strategy sound similar, there are notable differences. Your content distribution strategy plays an integral role in your overall content strategy. It’s beneficial for:
- Amplifying visibility
- Building a loyal community of followers
- Earning backlinking, media mentions, and social media shares
- Growing website traffic
- Increasing brand awareness
- Setting goal benchmarks
- Solidifying your brand as trustworthy and authoritative
9 Steps for Content Distribution:
Ensuring your content reaches your target audience at the optimal time and in the best way requires more links in a newsletter or a few social media posts. Content distribution ensures the content you publish and promote reaches its intended audience through various media outlines and channels.
The following nine steps outline how to achieve this goal effectively:
Step One: Target Audience Research
Your content must reach your target audience – not “any” audience. That involves understanding where your target audience spends the most time researching and consuming information. The data you collect is what you use to create a buyer persona, which models your ideal customer.
Use tools like Google Analytics to research demographic data from your customers, email subscribers, social media followers, and website visitors. You can also collect data and feedback directly from your customer database, email subscriber list, and social media following.
Step Two: Content Auditing
Unless you’re starting from scratch, you most likely have content available – like blog posts, landing pages, and more. Content auditing doesn’t involve removing content – instead, you’re looking at your existing content to see how well it’s performing. These efforts also identify gaps in your content, which topics you need to expand on more, and where content coverage is sufficient.
Read more about how nDash uses Ahrefs to verify, crawl, and complete content audits.
Log Your Content
This stage of the content audit involves inventorying your current content and assets. Your inventory should include the content’s title, word count, format, author, publication date, topic, keywords, call-to-action, conversion rate, and more. Use a spreadsheet or template to populate this data.
You have a choice between manually logging content and using automated tools. Here are some tools available to help with your content audit:
Assessing impacts involves analyzing the data you collected. You’re determining what content you want to discard, expand, improve, keep, and update during this stage. If you used a spreadsheet, create a dropdown menu identifying the next stage you want to take.
Ultimately, you’re figuring out which content contains outdated information, needs to rank for different keywords, and could use other improvements. You’re also looking at the impacts of your highest-ranking content to determine if you can repurpose it into other formats, like eBooks, infographics, and more.
Identify Content Gaps
Content gaps are missing pieces that should align with each stage of your prospect’s buyer’s journey. Identifying content gaps allows you to see where you could be guiding prospects using valuable assets to a buying decision. This analysis includes auditing your blog posts, downloadable assets, landing pages, social media content, webpages, and other assets.
Step Three: Select Content Distribution Channels
After researching your target audience and completing a content audit, it’s time to figure out how to get those assets in front of your prospects. That means you’re determining where they spend most of their time researching, finding answers, and learning about products and services.
For example, communities like Quora and Reddit are excellent resources for customers during their buyer’s journey and for businesses looking for places to post valuable content. Here are some best practices for choosing the proper content distribution channels:
- Identify your goals: Choosing the best distribution channels involves focusing on what you want to achieve –, boosting engagement, driving traffic, growing your audience, and more.
- Understand your audience: After researching your target audience, figure out where they spend most of their time and how you can use content to connect with them better.
- Identify the best channels: Once you understand your audience, it’s easier to determine if you should reach them with owned, earned, or paid content distribution channels.
- Narrow down the best channels: Focus your efforts strategically by narrowing your focus – consider your reach, budget, time available, and content optimization.
- Create benchmarks: Measure results by using your content distribution goal as your benchmark. You can also use other measurements, including KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics, to track your goal’s success.
Step Four: Identify Content Types to Distribute
Once you narrow down the highest quality channels to distribute your content, it’s time to decide which content types you want to create. With 89% of content marketers using blogs as part of their content strategies, it’s no wonder it tops the list of content types to distribute. Marketers use blogs in their strategies because they’re easy to localize, repurpose, and share.
Think about the buyer’s journey as they move through the funnel when identifying which types of content to distribute.
Top of the funnel:
- Conduct interviews with influencers and subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Create infographics to attract engagement and linking
- Feature tip-oriented and inspirational videos on social media
- Write guest posts for other companies in your niche to increase visibility
- Write search engine optimized (SEO) blog posts to boost traffic and showcase evergreen content
Middle of the funnel:
- Build credibility by publishing original research
- Collaborate and engage with your target audience during webinars and events
- Create how-to articles that answer your target audience’s pain points and feature your products or services
- Keep your target audience interested and engaged using a series of email messages welcoming them to your brand
- Upload how-to videos to increase engagement and build trust in your brand
- Write long-form gated guides focusing specifically on meeting your target audience’s needs to build trust and increase leads
Bottom of the funnel:
- Create landing pages to increase conversion rates
- Create service pages highlighting evidence, answers to your target audience’s pain points, and specific calls to action
- Increase conversions by writing sales enablement articles and stories about your brand
- Use testimonials, success stories, and case studies as social proof and evidence of problems solved by your existing customers
Step Five: Set Goals and KPIs
We mentioned goals and KPIs briefly a little earlier, and here’s where you dive into those a bit deeper as part of your content distribution strategy. Without goals, we don’t know which direction to go or whether or not we’re achieving success.
Therefore, you must spend time setting up goals for your content’s KPIs and related metrics. For example, if your goal is increasing your site’s traffic, the related metrics include measuring unique page views by channel. Or, if you want to increase engagement, you can measure the success of that goal by examining the average time users spend on a page and bounce rates.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s your goal? (I want to increase my blog’s traffic by updating it more frequently.)
- What do you intend to do to achieve this goal? (I want to publish between three and four times weekly.)
- Is this goal attainable? (We’re already publishing two blog posts weekly without a specific content strategy.)
- How does this goal relate to your content strategy? (This goal aligns with our goals to increase organic traffic, boost backlinks, and increase search engine rankings.)
- What strategies should you act on to achieve this goal? (I’d like to increase posting frequency during January of next year.)
Step Six: Create an Editorial Calendar
With strategic planning and preparation, your content strategy – which includes content distribution and marketing – can be successful. That’s where using an editorial calendar comes into play. There are several tools you can use to create and manage an editorial calendar, including:
Keep your team and the work they’re completing aligned to your content strategy’s overall goals with an editorial calendar. This asset also serves as a roadmap regarding your writing team and editors’ work during a given day, week, or month.
Step Seven: Produce Content
The next step after developing your content calendar is producing that content. You already identified your target audience, content gaps, and content distribution channels, so now it’s time to add content production as the next piece of the puzzle. Here are some tools you and your team can use to streamline these efforts:
- AlsoAsked.com PAA Tool
- Answer the Public Auto-Complete Search Tool
- Canva Design Tool
- Google Trends
- Grammarly Editorial Tool
- Hemingway App
- SEMrush topic research
- Unsplash Image Library
Step Eight: Distribute Content: Content Marketing
After creating content, no matter how well your team does, it’s nearly impossible to get it in front of your target audience without content marketing and promotion. Use your editorial calendar to guide what to publish, when, and where.
Think strategically about your target audience, what they’re doing, and the time constraints they may face. For example, they might not have time to sit through an hour-long webinar, but they may find an infographic featuring highlights and key takeaways from that event valuable. Or, they may not want to read a blog post, but they might enjoy listening to podcasts featuring that same information on their way to work.
Think about the best times to distribute content. Here are some examples:
- Kissmetrics indicates that blogs typically receive the most inbound links at 7:00 am on Mondays and Thursdays
- Hootsuite tells us that the best times to post on social media is on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10:00 am (they also break down specific times and days by social network)
- Marketing Insider’s research teaches us that it’s best to publish eleven or more times on your blog monthly
Step Nine: Measure Results (What’s Working–What Isn’t?)
Think about your goals for your content marketing strategy and distribution plans. Even though you’re acting on them, those efforts are meaningless if you’re not tracking what’s working and what isn’t. That involves analyzing the goals and KPIs you set during step five.
Turn to Google Analytics to look at the following metrics:
- The number of unique visitors landing on your page
- How many times that a visitor view pages on your site
- The number of times single visitors view pages multiple times
The next metric to measure is conversions.
What conversions mean to your company is up to you – it could mean if a user signs up for a service, purchases something, subscribes to your newsletter, downloads resources, and more. For example, if your site focuses on sales, you can activate the ecommerce option in Google Analytics and analyze the behavior section.
Now let’s think about how to measure engagement. How much time are visitors spending on your site? How many pages do visitors view during an average session? Ultimately, you want to keep visitors on your site for as long as possible. That way, they’re reading as much of your content as possible. The only caveat to this thought process is if you’d prefer to move them through the funnel quickly and direct them to the sales page faster.
Here’s another metric you can study using Google Analytics.
That data includes the following:
- Total number of sessions and visitors
- The average number of pages per session (here’s where you want to see high numbers)
- The session’s duration (longer session durations are ideal)
- Bounce rates (you want low numbers here)
Don’t forget to look at social media engagement.
The metrics you can track here can be overwhelming, so focus on how many times visitors share your content across multiple networks. Why is this the most important metric? The main reason is that it shows you that your visitors find your content valuable enough to share with their followers.
Last but not least, look at your SEO performance. Remember, your content views aren’t solely dependent on social media links. You also measure how many visitors you receive from search results. In addition to Google Analytics, other tools can also help you achieve this goal:
Identify Which Content Distribution Tools to Use & When
There’s no shortage of content distribution tools at your disposal – the trick is knowing which ones to use and when. We already talked about earned, owned, and paid media, and now, let’s look at which tools align with each category.
Help a Reporter (HARO)
HARO connects journalists and sources within their network. Here, you’re the journalist’s source, and you’ll receive queries directly from the site containing journalist queries. Each time you respond to a journalist’s query, that opens to door for opportunities for them to feature you in their content. These efforts are beneficial if you’re looking for backlinks and mentions.
This tool totes the line between earned and paid media. If you’re looking for a press release distribution tool, PR Newswire is an excellent option. This network allows you to take earned media content and retarget those efforts with paid media. The idea is to use press releases to inform your audience, earn their trust, and convert them.
Your target audience has questions, and sometimes you’ll find them on Quora looking for answers. Here’s an excellent opportunity to share your expertise, offer insights, and lead them to solutions. Because users can focus their questions within specific industries, it’s easy to ask questions directly to or answer questions from your target audience.
You own your social media content, and one of the easiest ways of getting to your audience is by using a tool like Buffer. You can let Buffer choose when to schedule your posts or create customized schedules. If you want to reshare (rebuffer) content, you can also do that within this tool.
Hootsuite is another option you can consider for scheduling social media posts. The dashboard allows you to manage multiple networks and measure campaign results.
Mailchimp is an easy and accessible tool for reaching and distributing content to email subscribers. You can create campaigns from scratch or set up automatic campaigns that deliver content each time you publish.
Receive more views on your tweets by promoting them to a larger audience. You can click the “promote” button underneath the tweet or activate these promotions from the Twitter ads dashboard.
The number of options and features available through Semrush makes this paid media tool indispensable. Use it to refine ad strategies for target audiences, view PPC reports, track metrics, create profitable ads, and more.
How to Grow with Content Distribution
If no one sees your content, content strategies, editorial calendars, and content creation can be considered wasted efforts. Content distribution is the final piece of that intricate puzzle. In addition to ensuring content reaches your target audience, distribution strategies achieve two other goals – boosting brand awareness and encouraging potential customers to act. Use the tips, steps, and tools within this guide to help you achieve your content distribution goals.