Reaching Your Audience with Content Distribution
November 3, 2017
No matter how great or valuable your content is, it won’t be worth anything if nobody reads it. However, with all the content being published online, getting your message in front of the right people is a critical factor in how well a piece of content performs.
Before you think about promoting that blog posts or infographic you’ve got waiting on your desktop, it’s important to know how and where to do it. When you systematically research your audience, you’ll gather the demographic and behavioral data you need to reach them—on the right platform, in the right channel, and at the right time.
If you want your content marketing campaign to be a success, you need to understand what effective content promotion and content distribution are. It’s not just about investing in great content creators and producing highly valuable content, then sharing it on social media. Laying the foundation to expand your content’s reach and exposure should always be prioritized in any successful content marketing strategy.
Content Promotion vs. Content Distribution
The terms content promotion and content distribution may sometimes be used interchangeably. However, there’s a difference between the two, and it’s important for content marketers to understand it.
Content promotion is the act of putting your content on as many channels as possible so that your target audience can find you. Put simply, you’re making your content available to the public.
On the other hand, content distribution has more specific goals. Rather than simply sharing your content and waiting for anyone and everyone to engage with it, you distribute your content to specific, targeted individuals and communities where the likelihood of engagement is increased.
The difference between content promotion and content distribution lies in the objective. Content promotion is all about sharing your content with the world, while content distribution is focused on only targeting the people “high potential” accounts, so that conversion rates are maximized.
Publishing content on your blog, optimizing it for search engines, and sharing it on various social channels is content promotion. Pushing your content through email newsletters, email outreach, and SMS updates is a form of content distribution.
Questions to Ask in Reaching Your Audience
Now that you understand the difference between content promotion and distribution, you need to ask yourself these questions to determine where and how to reach your audience:
1. What is your goal in creating this specific piece of content?
Every piece of content should have a goal. Whether it’s to build brand awareness, drive leads, or increase user engagement, you need to identify them before any activities can commence.
Do you want people to visit your online store, even if it’s just to browse, or do you want them to sign up for your newsletter so that they can be notified of future discounts and store events?
Your goals will dictate your content sharing strategies—where you’re promoting, when you’re promoting, and how you’re promoting. Whatever your goal is, eliminate distractions by keeping efforts focused solely on activities that drive the achievement of that goal.
2. Who do you want to read or see your content?
Determine your target market by understanding who you’re trying to reach and why. Create a clear profile of your target audience. This is crucial to your overall content strategy. Without a clear picture of who they are, your strategy won’t be optimized for the right audience.
Are you trying to reach existing customers or potential clients? Do you want millennials to see your content, hoping that their social sharing powers will help you drive brand awareness? Or, are you trying to reach out to c-level executives or managers in charge of purchasing and business decision-making?
Either way, you should create detailed buyer personas, taking into account the demographics and psychographics of your target audience.
- What are their age and gender?
- Where do they live?
- Are they single or married? Do they have children?
- Where do they work (industry and niche), and what is their job role?
- What is their net income?
- How do they think?
- What are their goals?
- What are the pain points and challenges they face?
- What are their interests, likes, and dislikes?
3. How does your target audience consume content?
Now that you have a clear profile of your target audience, you can determine how they consume content.
Are they usually on their smartphone or do they use their laptop or desktop computers more? Do they appreciate short videos rather than long articles? What keywords do they use when searching for content online?
Go where your audience is and speak to them in a language that they understand. Determine how, when, where, and why they consume online content and plan your content promotion and distribution strategies accordingly.
4. When do you want your audience to see your content?
Some content is evergreen, while others are time-sensitive. For example, if you’re creating a piece for Christmas, then your content needs to reach your audience before the holidays. For specific content like this, it’s important to know that time is of the essence.
Again, you can always go back to your buyer persona data to determine how you can best reach your audience in time for the holiday rush.
Develop and Implement an Effective Content Distribution Plan
You’ve already answered the pertinent questions and have the information all laid out. You can now start to develop and implement an effective content promotion and distribution plan.
Conduct a Situational Analysis
This is where it all begins. Audit your content and available channels. You need to determine all the platforms, channels, software, and tools you wish to include. List and analyze what channels you already have that can help you promote and distribute your new content.
If you have an existing blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, or other digital channel, determine how many followers or subscribers each channel already has, and whether your audience engages with your brand on that channel.
Are these existing channels and tools enough for you to achieve your goals? Are you equipped with resources and manpower to launch a widespread promotional campaign on multiple channels?
If not, then determine what you can afford to remove, change, or add to your existing channels. This is when you should revisit your marketing budget and reevaluate the content strategies that generate the best results.
- Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
SEO can help you narrow down the audience your content will reach. Choose a long-tail keyword that your target audience uses to search for content. Tools such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer and Google AdWords can help you look for relevant keywords with significant search volume.
Focus on only one to two pillar keywords to help you narrow down your targeting and rank on search engines. This will also make it easier for search engines to determine what your content is all about.
Make sure you’re incorporating your keyword on the page itself. Proper on-page SEO will make your content more visible and easier for search engines to crawl and index.
- Distribute Your Content on Social Networks
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube are some of the most commonly used social networks in content promotion. Get your content out there and post it on the social channels where your target audience spends time.
Join groups and communities where you can find your target audience. For instance, if you created content specifically targeting mothers, a good idea would be to look for social channels that mothers commonly use to source out information. Do they use Pinterest often or are they more engaged on Facebook?
Again, you need to go back to your buyer persona to help you determine which channels are relevant to your target audience.
Consider Paid Distribution Channels
Paid advertising is now more targeted than ever, be it through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, or any other major advertising platform. You can also consider retargeting ads so that your content has a second chance to reach users who either entered your keywords in a search engine, visited your website, or a range of other triggers.
You may be thinking that you have a piece of highly valuable content and that you shouldn’t be paying for people to read it or see it. No, you’re paying so that people will know it exists. Again, no matter how great your content is, if it’s not seen, it’s like it doesn’t exist at all.
- Send Out an Email Newsletter to Your Subscribers
Email is a great way to establish and nurture a relationship with your existing customers and followers. It’s also a super effective content distribution channel.
If you already have email subscribers, then you should repackage your content for email, and let your subscribers know that there’s new content available on your blog or video sharing channel.
Make sure to segment your email list so that you’re only sending your content to the subscribers that want it. Personalizing your email will also help build your relationship. Consider email marketing in your content distribution plan to reach your target audience.
- Send an SMS Blast
Text messaging may be one of the oldest mobile marketing strategies, but it’s still the most effective. It’s instant, direct, and personal. All subscription-based mobile devices have SMS, so you can be sure that your message will reach them.
If you already have an SMS database, you need to segment it and filter out your target audience. Remember that content distribution targets specific people that fit your buyer persona. From here, you can create a short and simple SMS marketing message with a CTA that will lead your users to your content.
Keep in mind that SMS regulations can get complicated, so make sure you’re adhering to SMS marketing best practices.
Reach out to Industry Influencers
Influencer marketing is a great way to distribute content. Since influencers have a niche following, you should do your research and find influencers with audiences that fit your buyer persona. The goal here is to persuade these influencers to become your brand ambassadors and help you reach your target audience.
With influencer marketing, not only are you gaining exposure to your target audience, but you’re also building trust because you’re associating your content with a trusted authority figure.
- Let Your Sources Know About Your Content
When you create content, especially if it’s an article or whitepaper, you most likely cited references and linked back to their original content.
Reach out to these sources and let them know that you mentioned their expert advice in your article. This will encourage your sources, who are most likely industry leaders as well, to read, share, and support your content marketing efforts.
- Analyze Your Results
It’s the age of big data, and every marketer knows that effective analytics is key to the success of any marketing endeavor. For every campaign, determine the KPIs and metrics relevant to your content distribution strategy, and dig deeper. The end goal is to determine which strategies are performing and which should be given the boot.
This will help you revisit and reevaluate your strategies. Keep testing. There’s no one-size-fits-all content distribution strategy, and every organization should continuously seek their very own best practices through localized data analytics.
Content promotion and content distribution go hand in hand. If you promote your content without distributing it properly, then it’s probably going to be a long, waiting game. If you distribute your content without promoting it, then you’re narrowing your reach and may miss out on potentially great customers.
When you’re distributing content, remember to repurpose it so that it’s unique for every distribution channel. Again, there’s no single best practice when it comes to content distribution; it all begins with understanding your goals and knowing your target audience.