For lots of content pros, the production of content is the easy part.
We’re creative at heart – we probably started out as writers – perhaps failed journalists – and ended up in content because we love to write. And while there’s an awful lot more to it than just endlessly churning out copy, that part – to an extent – comes easy.
Content distribution is a harder puzzle to solve.
This is particularly true for B2B content teams that address very specific niches: if your company’s perfect audience is an extremely specific persona within an extremely specific type of company, then how do you get your content in front of them?
Take my company, Juro, as an example.
Our perfect customer is the General Counsel or Head of Legal in a lean legal team at a venture-backed technology company, usually between series A and E in its fundraising journey.
Around 40% of companies using Juro are B2B SaaS companies, and 40% are marketplaces, to make that niche even narrower. At these companies, the legal teams are overworked, under-resourced, and consequently really difficult to find online.
So how do we find them? In this blog I wanted to share two different content distribution tactics, one ‘macro’ and one ‘micro’, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
The macro: scorched Earth SEO
Activity levels for our target market varies between platforms.
Most are on LinkedIn, but few hang out there all the time the way sales personas do. Fewer are on Facebook, and those that are don’t really like being targeted there. Clubhouse is noisy at the moment but feels ephemeral; there are lots of other platforms competing for attention too.
However the one platform that unites pretty much every conceivable user is, of course, Google. In the billions of daily searches you’ll find all the revenue growth your company could ever possibly need, if you’re prepared to invest in finding it.
For us, that investment means what’s known as ‘long tail’.
Instead of chasing rankings that relate to broad keywords with high difficulties, it’s better to aim for hyper-specific keywords that correspond closely to problems Juro can solve.
That means instead of ‘contracts’ we write about ‘how to automate a non disclosure agreement’ – it might only bring in 20 users in a month, but the risk of them being irrelevant is almost none.
This approach has various advantages:
- Relevance: if your keywords are targeted enough, there’s much less risk that you’re attracting irrelevant traffic that will never convert.
- Difficulty: long-tail keywords are easier to capture – you may not need link-building to grab the #1 result or a search results page feature.
- Intent: users searching for content that explains specific pain points solved by your product should be higher in intent and further along in their buying journey.
… as well as disadvantages:
- Volume: by pursuing long-tail, you’re trading user volume for relevance, and you need to be aware of quite how painful that might look. Make sure your colleagues or budget-holders are ready to see single or low double digit figures for pageviews at first!
- Narrowness: incredibly specific long-tail content isn’t usually the kind of thing you can splash around your social channels to elevate your brand – it’s likely to be specific, technical, and appeal to a small group of people.
- Boredom: this is an odd but quite real pain point. Bluntly, it’s going to be hard to keep a team motivated if they’re just cranking out narrow, technical content all the time – freelancers can help relieve the monotony if this is the case.
If used correctly, scorching the Earth with dozens of articles about hyper-specific pain points can have a marked effect on bringing relevant traffic to your site – but, like many other content distribution tactics, it’s going to take time.
The micro: build a community of ideal customers
Narrowing Google’s billions of users down to the handful you need is one approach; at the other end of the scale is community-building.
This content distribution tactic means that instead of using SEO to try and find the needles in Google’s haystack, you just create the perfect place for them to hang out, and make them hang out there.
There’s no need to use SEO or indeed any other acquisition / or content distribution tactics to get your content in front of them – you own the airwaves and can just share it with them directly.
In our case, rather than spend our days scratching our heads trying to work out where scaleup lawyers hang out, we simply created a private, invite-only community for scaleup GCs, and populated it with current customers and sales prospects.
The legal teams of Europe’s hottest scaleups are members, and we engage them through exclusive events, networking and content, distributed via a private Slack group.
I said ‘simply’ – in fact, creating this group and convincing some of the busiest people on Earth to devote their time to it was pretty difficult, and quite complicated. And running a private community is no joke for time-crunched teams – consistently delivering great events and adding new members is a full-time job in itself. Here are the pros and cons.
The advantages of community are:
- Exclusivity: never again do you need to worry about mismatched leads, or rival vendors, or timewasting consultants, clogging up your events or marketing database. You control the door policy – so every member is going to be an ideal current or future customer.
- Full spectrum dominance: you own the airwaves, so if you want to distribute some new content, you can pretty much guarantee that it will reach every member.
- Learning: aside from getting your content in front of the right people, it’s hard to overstate the benefits of being able to engage directly with customers and prospects. There’s almost nothing more valuable to those teams charged with driving a company’s growth.
But it comes at a price:
- It’s time-consuming: creating, growing and maintaining a group that’s valuable enough to keep people engaging and coming back is insanely time-consuming. This is why community and events managers exist – and it’s hard to fit this in as a content side-hustle.
- Walk the line: put simply, if you push too much sales collateral or on-the-nose marketing at your members, you’ll turn them off. They didn’t join to be sold to – if you spend all day pinging them about your latest contract repository developments, they’ll leave the group for good.
- The plate needs spinning: SEO content, once live, should bring you repeat business without any additional effort (beyond defending rankings). Community, on the other hand, is like a garden that needs constant watering – otherwise it can wither and die really quickly.
So which content distribution tactics should you pursue to make content distribution effective for your business?
Unsurprisingly, I’m going to cheat and say both – based on my experiences so far, at least!
Search-optimised content can quickly become a scalable channel, and if your sales and marketing funnels are optimised too, then it’s the obvious choice to invest in – build it up over a long enough period, and you’ll capture relevant traffic that will roll in come rain or shine.
All that said, there’s something magical about building a community – having your ideal customers hang out with each other, and with you, because they want to, is a pretty rare accomplishment and it represents an incredible learning experience, as well as a commercial opportunity, for your team. Just beware the time commitment that comes along with it – and be ready for the long haul.
Tom Bangay is Director of Content at Juro.