TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Content channels explained
- Maximise your content potential
- A B2B content strategy for one piece
- Thinking outside the box
As a content marketer, there’s nothing worse than creating loads of great content – only to have nobody read it. It’s a waste of time, money and resources.
Content distribution is simply how you promote your content and get it in front of your audience, as part of your multi-channel marketing strategy.
How you distribute your content is almost as important as the content itself.
Rather than being an afterthought, your content distribution strategy should have been thought out before you even get started with the content creation process.
By setting out your distribution strategy, you’ll know what format your content should be in (for example, if you’re creating collateral for social media, you’ll want to know what dimensions your images or videos would be in), which segment of your audience you’re looking to engage, and the goals of your content.
If you’re looking to generate awareness then you might publish a blog, eBook or industry report, but if you want to move an engaged audience further down the funnel, you’ll want them to read/watch your case studies or register for a webinar or in-person event.
Content distribution channels explained
Content distribution channels are broadly categorised into three groups: owned, earned, and paid.
Owned content distribution channels are those that your brand has control over; earned content is content featured on third-party sites (think of it as placements that you’ve earned); and paid channels are those that you’ll need to pay for, often on a cost-per-click basis. Here are some examples of channels and tactics that fall into each category:
- Your brand’s social media pages e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter
- Your website and blog
- Your YouTube channel
- Your podcast
- Industry blogs or press
- Shares on other company’s social pages (sometimes you’ll need to pay for these kinds of features, but not always)
- LinkedIn sponsored ads
- Remarketing ads
- Google ads
3 considerations to help your content reach its potential
Know your audience
When defining your content distribution channels, you should first understand your buyer persona(s), and ideal customer profile (ICP). All content should be created with your target audience in mind; interview some of your existing customers to find out where they first heard of your business, what industry journals they read regularly, what podcasts they listen to, and where they spend time on social media. Pay particular attention to your decision making personas!
As well as understanding the channels where your audience are consuming and engaging with content, it’s also important to understand what content formats they find most engaging. Although this might differ a bit from person to person, it’s a good way to gauge what you’re doing well and what you might be able to improve.
Here are some example questions to ask a few of your clients when building your buyer personas:
- What would you search for when looking for our solution?
- Which social media channels do you spend time on, both from a business and personal perspective?
- Do you subscribe to or read any industry journals?
- Do you attend any industry events?
- What pieces of content did you find most useful when you were evaluating our solution?
- What content formats work best for you? E.g. blogs, videos, or podcasts.
- What topics are you most interested in?
- What key challenges are you looking to solve?
Don’t attempt to publish across every channel. As Jodi Harris at the Content Marketing Institute points out, “Many brands wrongly assume that they need to share their content anywhere and everywhere to make relevant conversations happen.” Understanding the relevant channels for your audience can help prevent this spray-and-pray approach and will yield better results.
Without a well designed content strategy, your content promotion will be haphazard at best – and completely ineffective at worst.
In their ultimate guide to content distribution strategy, HubSpot highlights the importance of building a content distribution strategy that keeps your teams aligned, boosts your impact and helps you measure performance. Note that in their 9 step process, actually creating your content doesn’t happen until step 7!
There are some time-consuming but important steps to take when defining your strategy – we’ve already covered audience research (which should always be your starting point). But another important step is to audit your existing content to understand what’s working, what isn’t, and identify any gaps. Tools like Screaming Frog can help you pull together an audit of your website.
To keep your content strategy on track and organised, creating an editorial calendar is a must. Map out the due date, content title, goals of the content, relevant keyword, format, author, publishing channels, and any ideas for repurposing.
Optimise, optimise, optimise!
When I was at school, I had a teacher who used the www (what went well) and ebi (even better if) framework to assess essays and I find this framework works well for marketing content too. Every week, month and quarter, you should be making observations about what type of content is resonating well with your audience and what isn’t. Why is something resonating or what might you change to improve performance?
Content marketing is never static and marketers are constantly innovating, evolving, and testing new ideas to see how they land with their audience.Whether it’s owned, earned or paid content, learning from its performance and continuing to iterate will help you drive the best ROI. With paid campaigns in particular, you can end up wasting valuable budget if you don’t stay on top of optimisation.
A strategy to distribute one piece of content
The size of a B2B marketing team can vary considerably depending on your company size – there might be just one or two people taking ownership of all channels and content production, or in medium to large sized organisations, there’s likely specific people owning content creation, and others owning different channels (e.g. email, paid, and social media). Obviously resource is a big factor in what content you’re able to produce and how you can distribute it – but here’s a practical example of how a medium sized organisation could make the most of a piece of industry research.
True thought leadership content can really separate you from your competitors, and one way to produce something new is to commission some industry research.
Let’s say you have a brand new white paper on the top 20 trends impacting the food and beverage sector.
Here’s an idea for a distribution strategy to really make it sweat:
- Host the white paper on a gated landing page on your website. Email your database of existing customers and leads to tell them about this great new piece of research so they can download it.
- Introduce a pop-up widget on relevant pages on your website (i.e. those that talk about the food and beverage sector). Using a small widget on 50% scroll will help ensure it’s not too disruptive. This will help promote the white paper to visitors to your site, who may not otherwise have known about your research.
- Announce the launch of your new research on key social media channels – for B2B marketing, LinkedIn and Twitter should be the first channels you focus on.
- Why not create some short video reels that share key highlights or show viewers what’s in the guide, and post these on Instagram and TikTok? (after all, your audience will likely be on these channels too).
- Create a LinkedIn Ad campaign that targets an audience based on your ideal customer profile (if you have some deals in the pipeline, make sure these accounts are included too so that they see your thought leadership). Run Sponsored Ads and a Sponsored InMail so that you’re landing both in people’s feeds and in their inbox, and use a lead form, which prefills people’s details, to make it easier for people to access the content.
- Repurpose key chapters of the white paper into blogs. Share these over a number of weeks and months and always include a CTA (or several) so that readers can download your content. Don’t forget to optimise these for SEO so you rank in search for related keywords!
- Share a press release or blog with industry journals, with a link to your research – and don’t forget to track your link so you can attribute any leads! Your audience is likely subscribed to key industry journals/newsletters so ensuring you’re featured here will help build credibility for your brand.
- Put together a webinar based on the content in the white paper – or if you have a podcast then dedicate an episode to it. And don’t forget to share a link with attendees/listeners so that they can download the research for themselves.
- Don’t forget to promote the white paper (scheduling a few posts over a number of weeks)! Use several different formats as different things will resonate with individuals in your audience: for example, create a carousel with key takeaways or a short video that highlights key stats and findings, and then link to your landing page.
- Although most of these distribution channels are digital, don’t forget that sometimes old-school tactics still work! If you’ve got an event, industry trade show, or conference coming up, don’t forget to have your white paper professionally printed so you can give it to attendees. You’d be surprised how fast they go! Or, if you don’t have your own booth, hand out postcards with a QR code on so that people can download a copy digitally.
Of course, there are many other channels you could consider (I’ve not covered paid search, influencers, retargeting, forums and many more). But which channels work best for you will ultimately depend on your audience and your business/industry, not to mention your budget.
Think outside the box
B2B marketers know well that all content distribution channels are becoming more and more saturated; organic social media posts don’t always get the reach you’d like, ad costs have been increasing steadily over the last three years, and busy decision makers are constantly bombarded with information, emails and LinkedIn messages.
So the most successful brands today are taking a step back and getting strategic to cut through the noise.
Ask yourself: What content distribution channels haven’t you considered? How could you make your message clearer and more personalised? How can you get it in front of the right people, faster?
ABM has been growing in popularity over the last 5 years, with marketers leveraging highly personalised landing pages, videos and direct mail to catch the attention of key decision makers at target accounts – and get conversations started.
Creative content that’s different to what your competitors are churning out, shows genuine thought leadership, and makes your audience feel seen will help you achieve your goals.