How To Build a Content Distribution Strategy That Works
Written by stella-inabo
02 February, 2021
7 min read
Here’s a disturbing fact:
Most of the content you create will never reach your audience.
And it’s not because you forget to hit publish but because your content is lost in the sea of information produced every day.
Information and content overload make your audience struggle to choose what to consume, therefore, getting your content in front of the right audience has never been harder.
If you’re like most marketers, you already distribute your content to your email list and your social media followers.
While this is good, you’ll need more than that if you’re serious about getting the right set of eyeballs on your content.
In this post, you’ll learn how to create a documented and repeatable process that will help you win the attention of your audience every time. Let's begin.
How do I build a content distribution strategy that works?
To create an effective content distribution strategy, you need to ask the following questions:
What business goals are you trying to achieve?
Who are you creating content for and distributing assets to?
Where will you distribute and promote the content you create?
What forms will you repurpose content into?
How will you measure performance?
Do these questions seem overwhelming? Don’t worry. I’ll walk you through each one and help you find the answers.
1. What business goals are you trying to achieve?
At the foundation of your content distribution plan are the business goals and objectives/problems you want to achieve/solve with content.
Your goals might include:
converting leads to product signups
boosting brand awareness
getting clicks to blog posts
increasing engagement on social channels
With these objectives in mind, set the key performance indicators (KPIs), and accompanying metrics that you will monitor while implementing your distribution strategy. Image source According to OptInMonster, KPIs are important because they
“will help you know when you have achieved your goals by providing milestones you can check off. They’ll include what you plan to achieve in terms of revenue, sales, traffic, SEO, traffic, and different aspects of digital marketing like email marketing and social media metrics.”
It's also important to choose goals that help boost the bottom line of your business. As Sean Spicer of AgileIT notes,
“No matter what dials you turn or needles you move in your content marketing, you should always tie to revenue. Traffic, subscribers, leads, and deals are important, but you can be generating the wrong ones unless you tie them to revenue.”
2. Who are you creating content for and distributing assets to?
Successful content distribution plans are built around customers. Their problems, needs, and wants shape the type of content you create and how you spread it.
But how do you figure out who your customers are? If you’ve already built a content strategy, the answer lies within your buyer personas. If you are just starting and have no idea what marketing personas are, here’s a simple definition from Hubspot,
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
To help you understand better, here’s a great example of a buyer persona for a SaaS bookkeeping solution.
With the information you've got about your buyer personas, you can take the guesswork out of building a content distribution plan.
The content you create will be tailored to your persona’s values, goals, and pain points and distributed via channels they use in the content types they consume.
But here’s a caveat.
Marketing personas should only serve as a guide to know and understand your customers.
Never stop collecting valuable information and insights from the living breathing people you’re offering a service/product to. Insights from sales calls, live chats, customer interviews, surveys, and polls, as well as data from social media insights and Google analytics, keep you informed about the changing needs and wants of your target audience.
Now you’ve identified who you’re talking to, it’s time to move on to the next step.
3. What content forms will you create/repurpose content into?
Before you create content, you need to know what your audience wants. They might prefer podcasts over videos or reading press releases over articles in trade publications.
To know what type of content to create for your audience, Fio Dossetto, a content marketing editor recommends you ask these questions.
Who is the target audience?
What content resonates the most with them?
How is existing content, if any, working for this target?
When people search for [topic] in Google, what do they expect to see?
What overall themes/topics will we use to engage them?
What will we cover? In how much depth?
Let’s see how you can answer these questions using an example.
Brad, a small business owner wants to design beautiful Instagram posts with Canva but doesn’t have graphic design skills. Brad prefers to learn how to design by reading a comprehensive guide or watching a step-by-step video that will help him figure out how to design his next post. He also wants a template he can customize quickly. When he googles, “how to design beautiful Instagram posts with Canva”, he sees the following content types
An in-depth 28-minute video tutorial
A landing page with links to more templates
Another page with free photos/layouts
By taking a cue from this example and using what you know about your customers you can create and distribute content in formats that they will love. In a case where you want to share existing content, audit your content to see which posts/formats gained the most traction. Then double down on creating similar pieces.
After you create these assets, you can move on getting them in front of your audience.
4. Where will you distribute and promote content?
When the topic of content distribution channels is mentioned, most people think of social media channels.
But distributing content is not limited to social networks.
With organic reach falling across popular social networks, you might want to consider distributing content on other channels.
Many options exist but before we get into that, let’s talk about some best practices that will help you disseminate content effectively.
1. While it might seem smart to be everywhere, spreading yourself thin will do you more harm than good. Instead of getting on every distribution channel, identify the ones that your audience uses and share your content there.
If your target audience is on a lot of platforms (and they probably will be) Ross Simmonds, marketing specialist and founder of Foundation Marketing, recommends taking Bullseye Framework by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares to determine the best channels to focus on.
In his words,
“The distribution channels that live in the middle (A) are the bread and butter that you focus on. The channels just outside of that (B) are where you spend some time, but not as much as the inner circle. And the most outward circle (C) contains channels that seem like a long-shot for you to actually be able to act on or see results from.”
2. Don’t guess what content distribution platforms your customers are on. Instead of assuming, use social demographics reports to help you make informed decisions based on concrete data.
3. Every content distribution platform works differently so it's important to understand the unique culture and language of each one. For example, Ahrefs shared the same piece of content on LinkedIn and Twitter. But they used different copies for each platform.
Their audience and the mode of interaction on LinkedIn are quite different from Twitter so content is molded to suit each platform.
4. Aim to help people with the content you distribute instead of merely sharing it.
Marketers have earned a bad name over the years for caring more for their content than for their audience.
Another mistake marketers make is thinking dumping links on social media satisfies content promotion and social media strategy - according to Dominic Kent, Founder of First500Words.
Spamming people is unlikely to get them to click the links you share. What works is identifying the needs of your target audience and positioning your content to solve them. In the words of Felicia Sullivan, content “promotion isn’t about spamming, it’s about building relationships.”
Now that you’re acquainted with these best practices, let’s talk about the three types of content distribution channels.
What are the types of distribution channels in marketing?
1. Owned media: These are distribution channels owned and controlled by your brand. Some examples of owned media are your website, company blog, social media pages, and email newsletter.
So how do you use owned media to share your content? Let’s say you create a case study, you can place it on your home page and direct visitors to your website to read it like Todoist.
2. Earned media: These are voluntary mentions of your brand or content by third parties. One way to distribute your assets using earned media is by creating great content that your audience will want to share and talk about.
Another way to distribute content via earned media is reaching out to content creators to link back to your content like Canva. An agency like PR Fire can help you build backlinks to your content.
3. Paid media: This is a marketing channel you pay for.
Search engine ads, banner ads, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and social media ads are a few examples of paid media.
As algorithm updates on social media make organic reach harder, you can leverage paid ads on social media to reach a wider audience. For example, you can use sponsored posts on Instagram like Canva does to increase website visits and conversions. The options for content repurposing and promotion on distribution channels are endless. If you want to start promoting your content here are 40 actionable strategies you can implement right away.
5. How will you measure performance?
Remember those KPIs and metrics you set in the first step? It’s now time to review them and see how much progress you’ve made.
Measuring the performance of your distribution plan helps you know what’s working and what’s not. With this information, you can modify your strategy to bring you more results.
You can use a tool like Google Analytics to identify what pieces of content and distribution channels are bringing results.