When it comes to digital marketing content is king. It’s what drives your online presence, engages with customers and makes your brand stand out in an endless sea of digital information. This is how people get to know you, what you do, and how you do it.
Content comes in a two-step process: content creation and content distribution. Although both are important processes, they differ in terms of scope and usage.
To better explain this, here’s what both concepts mean in content marketing:
- Content creation. To create the right content you need to identify the type of media (be that video, infographics, blog, etc.) that your audience finds most rewarding and engaging. Research the topics they’re interested in so you can talk about what is topical for them and devise a strategy to make your content come alive.
- Content distribution. Distribution is the schedule you use to send your content out in a way that is relevant, not annoying as well as which communication channels you use, to reach them where they are going to be (when they are going to be there). This involves analysing your target market’s online behaviour, knowing what time they are most receptive to see content and creating a standard schedule for releasing it to your customers.
Business owners can often place their entire focus and attention on creating high-quality content (step one) and overlook the distribution aspect of online marketing, which is just as important as content creation.
Unless you know which platform to share your content and when and how often to share, you can completely miss your audience and reduce your business reach and visibility.
If you’re in the position of consistently creating engaging content, it’s now time to develop a distribution strategy so that you can maximize the value of the content pieces you’re publishing and ensure that it’s being well-received by your target audience.
What is content distribution?
Content distribution is the way you schedule and organise your content so that it’s released to your customers in a timely, convenient and relevant manner. It answers the questions: when are you going to upload your content? How often are you going to publish content? At what time of the day should you be releasing your content?
In addition to being a schedule for content release, distribution is about what particular communication channels you should be publishing your content in. The channels you choose could include your business website, video and music streaming platforms and social media networks. You can mix and match any of these platforms to develop a distribution strategy that caters to the preferences of your target market.
Creating a distribution strategy starts by gathering data on your target market’s online behaviour including:
- How much time do they spend on content?
- What platforms and mediums are they most receptive to
- How long do they spend on each digital platform?
You can use this information to devise a strategy for releasing content in the most appropriate times and networks.
Content strategy is different to marketing because its sole focus is on the time and location of content release. Content marketing considers the totality of the digital campaign, it looks into all the strategies including creation, distribution, wording and the desired impact used by the business to improve brand reputation and boost sales. As a business owner, you can use content marketing to increase brand awareness and improve brand recognition to get more people interested in your products or services.
Content distribution, on the other hand, answers the questions:
- When am I going to release my content?
- Where in my communication channels should I be publishing?
Your distribution strategy provides a guide and a schedule for the business to follow in sharing content in the most effective way. This ensures that your brand message is read, viewed and understood by a larger portion of your target audience.
The benefits of utilising a content distribution strategy include:
- A more organised system for content sharing. Your marketing team has a clear direction to follow. It makes the uploading and sharing process seamless and organised.
- Better brand recognition. Releasing content on platforms frequented by your target market means more customers get exposure to your products and brand and they are more likely to share, comment and engage. Even if they don’t buy then you are in their mind for future reference.
- Increased online presence. Most businesses look to place their content on their own website. This relies on people finding you, and has a limited reach. A distribution strategy that engages a number of different platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) gives you a much bigger presence online and increases the chance that viewers will see you when they are online, as well as find you on a web search.
- A relatable brand image. Delivering content to social media platforms can seem more inviting and gives you room to break down your content into bite-sized pieces. It also gives you a chance to show some personality and humanise the brand, making it more relatable and appear more friendly to customers.
5 steps to developing a content distribution strategy for your business
As content advisors, we’ve had a lot of practice in defining content distribution patterns that are effective and targeted to an audience’s needs and preferences. We’ve put together the steps you need in order to create a solid content distribution strategy.
Follow these steps to build brand awareness and brand visibility through a wider content distribution system.
1. Know your distribution channel options
Not all communication channels will be effective in getting your content to customers. What works for one business might not work for another. It’s not the social channel you need to look at, it’s your customers.
In saying that, in order to know where your customers are, you’ll need to know what channels are available and what they do.
There are three different kinds of communication channels available when distributing content. SEMRush categorises these channels as:
- Owned media channels – These channels are owned by your business, including your business’ website, email database, social media and landing pages.
- Paid media channels – These channels are owned by other companies where you pay to have your content on their platform. This can include sponsored posts, paid social media ads and paid posts from influencers.
- Earned media channels – These channels are from third party companies or individual online users that create free content about your business. This can include reviews from happy customers and bloggers.
The graph below shows more examples of what these different distribution channels can offer to businesses.
Although you can use one or more of these channels, it’s important to match your content to your chosen distribution channel. That means analysing which of your content will work best in the channel, adjusting your copy and visuals to fit in with the tone and mood of the platform and setting up a schedule on when to release your content on your chosen channels.
2. Develop your content distribution plan
Once you have a shortlist of the most viable channel options for your content, you can start to build an actionable distribution plan.
An effective distribution plan has a framework that includes:
- Your specific target audience: You need to know what type of customer is most active or engaged on the channel you’re considering sharing your content in. To do this, research the kind of audience the channel attracts to find ones that match your customer groups.
- Business goals for sharing content: Create business goals that will serve as a guide for you and your team to release content. Doing this will provide you with the criteria to determine whether or not your strategy is effective.
- Content topics: Find out what kind of topics and subject areas are likely to engage the channel community. Tools like Google Trends can help get you started.
- Schedule of content release: Determine when and how frequently you need to post content. Keep in mind that your business should have the goal of delivering content when the bulk of your audience is online.
- Type of format your content will be in: There are different content formats for each specific channel, so research and get to know more about the channel you’re distributing your content in. Instagram, for example, only makes use of photo tiles; so if you have a blog that you want to share on that platform, you will need to adjust your visuals and copy to suit the communication channel your content is distributed in.
- Tone and rules of engagement: Establish the conversation style and voice that works best with your target audience. Some customers might prefer a formal, business-like voice while others may prefer a casual, lifestyle vibe. It’s important to know what best engages your target audience to maintain their interest and attention to your content and get them excited about your products or services.
- Team resources: Which team member will be in charge of monitoring communication on the different channels? Delegating effectively will keep your business organised in releasing and sharing content.
- Calls to action: Identify which owned media or conversion point your call to action should point to (i.e. your website, social media pages or to your contact details). This will drive traffic back towards it and can become a metric for the effectiveness of your distribution plan.
This framework will serve as a guide for your content distribution efforts. It will keep you on track with the steps that need to be taken to effectively release content to your customers and it will provide a more seamless and organised workflow for your marketing team to follow.
3. Set your KPIs
Content distribution plans are not “one size fits all”. Your content efforts will need to have different metrics because each channel works differently. It’s important to establish KPIs from the start to make it easier to track your distribution strategy performance
Your KPIs can be around the number of:
- Sales made or your return on investment (ROI)
- New leads acquired after using the distribution channel
- Leads nurtured after content was released in the distribution channel
- Viewers who turned into customers (conversion rate)
Which KPI you choose to track the progress of your distribution strategy will depend on your business goals for utilising the channel. For example, if your goal for content distribution is to increase sales, then your KPI should be based on the number of purchases made after your content was released on the channel.
Setting your KPIs and carefully monitoring its progress can help you gauge if your distribution plan is working or if you need to adjust a certain area or aspect about it to get more positive results.
4. Promote your content
Publishing your content and waiting for results isn’t going to cut it, you need to find ways to amplify your content and make sure it reaches the right audience.
It helps to ‘atomise’ your content and integrate it into your content distribution strategy.
Content atomisation is the process of breaking down your big idea into more focused content pieces. It highlights specific points of interest to increase the audience reach and engage customers in an easy-to-read and digestible medium. A good example is this Instagram post (below), where we’ve highlighted key points in our blog and converted them into a series of photo cards for our customers to easily read:
Atomising your content is just the first step in the process, you also have to promote it in the appropriate communication channels. To get started, find out which communication channels your customers frequent the most and adjust your material to fit the platform it will be posted in.
It takes a bit of time, but not a great deal since the content already exists, you’re simply reframing it to fit the channel. It’s worth doing as you’re able to get your message across to your target market in a convenient way that doesn’t look forced or intentional. This will also drive traffic back to your website and landing pages, which can then lead to potentially more sales and conversions.
5. Monitor your content’s performance
Thanks to online programs like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, it’s possible to track your content’s performance. Many social media platforms have their own analytics you can use to get a detailed analysis of your content’s performance and be able to determine if your distribution strategy is effective or not.
You can also track your progress based on the KPIs you’ve set earlier in your distribution planning to see whether or not your distribution strategy is effective in achieving your business goals around content, but jumping to Google Analytics gives you a much broader look at how you are performing.
Monitoring content performance will allow you to identify high-performing areas within your distribution strategy and any points that need improvement. This will help you decide if you should continue the current distribution strategy or devise a new one.
Content distribution is an essential part of any business’s digital marketing plan. Understanding what channels are available, how they work and which ones your customers rely on will help you devise a strategic distribution plan that can increase brand recognition, brand awareness and capture a bigger customer range.
With the right tools and systems in place, thorough research and the guidance of an experienced content agency, you will be able to devise a distribution plan that effectively gets your message across to your target audience, produces positive results and meets your business goals.
The only question that remains is: are you ready to take the next step in making this happen?