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October 17, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Content distribution is the process of sharing and promoting your content on a variety of channels. It’s a way to make sure your audience finds the information you want them to see and engages with it. But distribution is more than just dumping all your content links on social media and hoping for the best. To do it right, you need a strategic plan that factors in your audience, team capacity, and channels to get the best possible results. Today, we’re looking at how a content distribution strategy works and answering questions you have about implementing one for your company:
A content distribution strategy is a marketing plan that helps a brand share its content with its target audience and leads. Content distribution is the last step in content marketing development and comes after you’ve done all the other hard work to create content for the right audience, channels, and company goals.
Usually developed in the form of a document, this strategy keeps your company organized when deciding where, when, and how to share content across channels to promote a product, service, or campaign. Your content distribution strategy also simplifies the process of sharing information with your audience. It breaks steps down to the smallest details to ensure that you’re hitting every distribution milestone to reach your brand goals.
Content benefits your brand only if your target audience and qualified leads see it. Content creation and publication are the best ways to make sure you’re developing pieces your audience wants to see in places they can see them. But creation and publication only go so far.
Content distribution is what takes those expertly crafted pieces and shares them where the content appears in front of the right people. Distribution is more important than ever because of the amount of data and content people and brands across the world create each day. The last time someone conducted a data creation study, they found people create 2.5 quintillion bytes every day. And that number could be even higher now. Someone can’t take in that much information, understand it, retain it, and use it. Especially in one day.
The human brain just can’t do it. That’s why you have to be strategic with your content distribution. Cut through the noise of all that data. If you can place your content where people will find it and make it worth their while to view, your pieces will be the one in 2.5 quintillions that they stop and explore. Putting in this kind of work prevents your team from wasting time and resources on pieces that go unnoticed by your target audience.
For any type of content distribution you do, the process always takes place after content creation. But that doesn’t mean you don’t think about your distribution strategy throughout the entire content development process. You actually start considering distribution and promotion as early as the research phase when developing your content strategy.
This research allows you to find out what content your audience wants to see and where they want to see it. That information influences the next steps of the content development process: creation and publication. Then, once you’ve finished pieces and published them in their forever digital homes, you can focus on spreading that message further with a distribution strategy. The entire distribution process relies on good research and high-quality content so that when you place each piece in a strategic location, it brings the results you expect.
Review some of these frequently asked questions about content distribution to get a better understanding of how the process works:
Content marketing and content distribution are not the same things. Content distribution is one part of the content marketing development cycle. The entire process of researching your audience, auditing your content, creating new pieces, and targeting the right readers and viewers are all part of content marketing.
Content distribution is the last portion of that cycle: targeting the right readers and viewers. Within content distribution, you make strategic choices of where and when to place content to get maximum readership or viewership. Doing so helps you reach the overarching goals set for your content marketing plan and strategy.
Any piece of content you create is eligible to appear in a distribution strategy. Here are some of the most common types of content you may create for your brand:
Blogs and articles are some of the most familiar pieces you’ll create in content marketing. They’re also some of the easiest to distribute because they’re linkable and shareable in a variety of formats. Consider linking to your content on other platforms, like in social media posts or newsletters. You can also use written content as guest posts or syndicated content across other publication channels.
Case studies are content marketing documents that show how a brand, product, or service influences a specific client’s success. Think of these pieces as long, detailed examples of how a client or customer reaps rewards when working with your company.
Case studies are popular marketing tools the lower you go in the sales funnel. They help interested leads really see what your company can do for them if they choose to become paying customers. Distribution strategies for these pieces work better on a lead-by-lead basis because they’re more targeted than general content marketing.
Most companies use eBooks as a form of gated content to attract more qualified leads. The idea behind gated content is that if your brand creates a resource worthwhile enough, your leads will share their contact information to gain access. Then, your team can contact and connect with the leads to push them through the sales funnel to become paying clients or customers.
Infographics are great examples of multi-use distribution content. Their visual nature allows them to stand alone or supplement written content. For best results, share infographics on social platforms like Pinterest, or within written content like blogs or articles.
Podcasts are all the rage in both entertainment and marketing these days. Auditory learners prefer listening to podcasts to retain information over reading a long article. They’re also a perfect media form for multitaskers and people on the go. These listeners can experience the content on their commutes or while completing other tasks, like work or chores.
The easiest way to distribute podcasts is by listing them on services like Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. These third-party services take care of additional promotion based on a user’s curated interests and profile. Other ways to promote your podcast include linking to it in your other content, like social media posts or email newsletters.
Studies show that over 50% of consumers want to see more video content from businesses and brands. It’s no surprise then that video is one of the top content pieces you can add to your distribution strategy. Using social media channels like YouTube, or other platforms with heavy video content like TikTok or Instagram Reels, are some of the most successful ways to get your dynamic content out into the world. Other options, like with podcasts, include linking or embedding video content within written pieces.
Webinars are the internet’s answer to in-person meetings and conferences. They’re great for thought leadership content and sharing new ideas. Distribute your webinars through a content hub on your website or a third-party webinar hosting service. You can also share call-to-action (CTA) links within other content like email newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts.
There are three categories of content channels you can use when distributing your pieces. The ones you choose depend on your audience, goals, and resources. Pick from options in the following groups:
Owned media channels are those that your company has complete control over. This group typically includes your website and blog, email newsletters, and any apps your company created and operates. Social media profiles fall somewhere between owned and earned media. The reason these channels fit in both is that your brand controls what you post on social media. But you do have to follow certain platform or community guidelines.
Social media also lends itself to being an earned media channel because once you’ve posted a piece of content it can take on a life of its own. Then it spirals out of your direct control.
Related: Controlled Media: Is It Right for Your Business or Agency?
Earned channels are those where third parties promote or share your content with their audiences. Media outlets like newspapers, television news stations, or press releases are examples of earned media. As we already said, social media also falls in this category because your followers have the potential to share your content further.
Any interactions you have with influencers or partnerships you make with other organizations for guest posts or collaborations fit here also. Earned media is typically free, but it gets its name because the content you share has to be valuable enough for others to want to share it.
Paid channels are third-party platforms you pay to distribute your content. They’re different from earned media, and your content doesn’t have to be valuable to get a prime placement, as long as you’re willing to pay the right price. That being said, any content you create, whether you plan to share it organically or through paid channels, should be valuable to the audience. Some examples of paid media channels you can use in your distribution strategy include:
Any company that engages in content marketing can use content distribution. The strategy, content, and channels involved are highly customizable. B2B and B2C companies alike receive benefits from working with distribution. The trickier part isn’t deciding who can use the strategy, but rather how to use it. Companies in fashion and lifestyle brands are going to approach distribution differently than companies in education or technology. They have different audiences with different needs.
Taking the time to fully research and plan a content strategy makes it easier to reveal where and how to share targeted content across your many marketing channels.
If you’ve been paying attention throughout this article, you probably already know the answer to this question. With so many different types of content available to distribute and so many channels to put it on, you should absolutely have different distribution strategies for each piece and channel. Each content type and each channel is unique. You choose which to use in both categories based on what you know about your audience and where and how they like to consume media.
If your audience likes to consume video content, you wouldn’t want to write and promote a 15-page eBook. They’ll never read it. And if you find your audience likes to watch videos on social media, you won’t bother including them in your email newsletters. The more you know about your audience, content types, and distribution channels, the more prepared you’ll be to create personalized, optimized content for each one. Doing so increases your chances of seeing success from all your distribution strategies.
We’ve discussed owned, earned, and paid media, but choosing among the three can become confusing. Which is best? Or more importantly, which one is best for your brand? Owned, paid, and earned media work best when paired together. But it’s not always possible to create a strategy for all three when you’re just starting out. So how do you know which one to pick first?
Often, working with organic, owned media is the most logical starting point for any business. Your team has complete control over the entire content creation process, including distribution. Earned media is likely the next place to move with your distribution because of its close relation to owned media. Pushing content out on social media or working with local news outlets or influencers are ways to dip into other distribution markets with lower stakes.
Paid media is likely the last distribution strategy you’ll try. It comes after working with the other two. When done well, you can see a lot of positive results. But with more reward comes more risk. Make sure you have a solid budget set before diving into paid media and stick to it. The more you experiment and learn without worrying about going over budget, the better you can get at working with paid strategies.
Content distribution can be a tangled, messy process. Especially when you have multiple distribution campaigns running at the same time. Using a stack of tools to keep your plans organized and running automatically with human oversight makes the process easier. Some categories of tool types you can use to help your distribution strategy include:
Related: 100 Digital Marketing Tools To Make Your Life Easier
When we ask about your distribution strategy “working” we mean, how do you know if you’re seeing good results from the strategy? The answer to this question is going to differ for every strategy. And success all depends on your company goals and KPIs. To discover if your distribution strategy works, track your campaign efforts and KPIs carefully.
For example, let’s say one of your distribution goals for sharing an eBook link through your email newsletter was to generate more qualified leads. To find out if your strategy is successful, track metrics like your newsletter open and click-through rates. You can also track the number of downloads you get on the eBook and the number of inquiries or calls you receive following those downloads.
All of this information helps you see how well you’re working toward the goal of increasing qualified lead generation. If you find you’re not hitting the KPIs you set out at the beginning of your distribution plan, you can always adjust your strategy through more research to try to better align it with your expectations.
When creating a content distribution strategy with organic marketing goals, SEO plays a huge factor in making your plan successful. Don’t get caught off guard by any of Google’s algorithm or core updates, like the latest Helpful Content update. To make sure your SEO strategies are up to date, join CopyPress and Search Engine Journal for a webinar on the topic.
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