Content marketing has no doubt become an essential step in your marketing strategy. In 2016, 75% of marketers planned to increase their investments in content marketing production. Yet, distributing this content clearly remains a huge challenge, as 53% of marketers say that distribution is one of the 5 major challenges encountered when defining their strategy.
Distributing your content is absolutely crucial. Not only will it allow you to ensure better visibility for your prospects but it will also have a positive impact on the sales cycle. This is particularly true in B2B marketing where 47% of buyers consume on average 3 to 5 pieces of content before committing to purchase.
However complex your distribution strategy is and the chosen level of investment, this doesn’t change the fact that there is only a limited number of channels through which your audience will discover your content. Email and social media are still the top channels preferred by B2B consumers.
Now we have to differentiate between the organic, paid-for and viral distribution of your content on each of these channels. Or, as seen in the POEM model, we can differentiate between:
- Owned media (media controlled and owned by your brand)
- Paid media (ad placements purchased by your brand to promote your content)
- Earned media (exposure of your media gained by your audience)
Which strategy relates to your targets and level of resources and expertise?
Step 1 – make the most of your existing network
This level requires few resources and less involvement from your experts.
For instance, your company is present on one or several social media platforms specific to your industry, and/or favors communications through email or newsletters. With regard to your community management, your posts on social media can then go towards reaching goals such as creating, managing, or widening your audience/community. Posts aiming to distribute your content should also aim to promote it, so as to generate leads or traffic towards a particular page.
This first step in your distribution consists of pushing your content, essentially by using your existing audience across the different networks. Your employees and Sales reps also play an important role in sharing your company’s posts. They could even distribute content from their own, personal accounts and, for instance, establish their own knowledge on a certain subject.
For this first step, we recommend using the following:
- Organic posts (content displayed in social media feeds) at strategic intervals (times and days of published posts)
- Short summaries on your personal profiles which guide your audience to your content. Use your employees’ LinkedIn profiles or even LinkedIn Pulse to spread corporate messages. The Canadian platform, Smarpshare, encourages employees to share content by using a points system. The concept of the tool has been established from one key figure: a message from a brand but published online by an employee will be shared 24 times more than if the brand published the message itself.
- Distributing your content through email, by sending personalized messages to contacts who have engaged with your brand in the past or who are part of your employee network.
- Using email signatures is also an efficient way of directing contacts towards your articles
Native advertising on social media
- Text ads: by setting aside a budget for your sponsored ads you can opt for LinkedIn’s Text Ads. In order to generate solid leads and a good return, Text Ads should be used for high-value products for a well-targeted audience.
- Display ads: Facebook can, for instance, let you target your ads efficiently by using the following different criteria; people who’ve liked your page, geolocalization data, age, etc.
Not all types of distribution are free. 67% of B2B advertisers invest in social media adverts. In this extremely competitive environment, it is so important to be ready to consider allocating a budget for sponsoring and increasing the resonance of your social network posts. This will, of course, depend on your goals and resources.
For instance, no community means no visibility. So, then, in order to reach your goal of visibility and/or reach, you will have to – without exception – allocate a budget for sponsored posts which go to creating a community.
Step 2 – increase your content reach
This strategy requires a higher level of expertise from your marketing team. You will need to benchmark the competition and include influencers in your marketing strategy.
Creating a content calendar, making use of content management and planning tools or using platforms specifically designed for detecting influencers will make the strategy easier and automate your marketing actions.
For this second step, we recommend using the following:
- Sponsor your organic posts on LinkedIn or Facebook, for example, to reach your target audience beyond your subscribers/followers.
- Share your content in specialist groups (eg. LinkedIn groups).
- Share your content on expert forums (Github, Reddit, Quora).
Email marketing campaigns
- Content outreach to key industry players and experts in your field, able to share your content. This step may involve the creation of a database or using your network for a more personalized approach.
- Outreach by sharing your content to your leads by getting all your company’s employees involved, through networking or commercial actions.
Sponsored posts/influencer marketing
- Identify and contact influencers interested in the same topics, so you can speak to them about your content and encourage them to share with their own audience.
- Offer to sponsor publications from the influencers sharing your content.
Through their level of expertise and their high use of social networks, an influencer can have a considerable impact on your prospect’s buying decision. LinkedIn groups or specialist forums will help you to spot experts in your field more easily, and subsequently, make them true brand ambassadors.
Step 3 – mix different content distribution circuits
This third strategy requires additional human and financial resources
This will link together a variety of different content types. One study shows that over the last 12 months, the content types having resulted in a purchase decision in B2B marketing are white papers (82%), webinars (78%), case studies (73%), eBooks (67%), infographics (66%), analysis reports (62%), animations (47%), and interactive presentations on social network strategies but also any other type of digital communication platform such email marketing and digital PR (36%).
You can set up A/B testing methods across your social, particularly Facebook, by planning your posts. For instance, you could post a dark post, showing up only to a particular target audience, and then another on your company page. You can then compare the results.
For this third step, we recommend using:
- Bring together your community management and distribution, strategically alternating between the two
- Create a long-term strategy and repost what works, namely posts previously tried and tested using A/B testing
- Engage with your community through comments, likes, etc. Spend time analyzing your distribution.
- Get your Sales teams to share your content during their client canvassing and lead nurturing actions
Sponsored posts/influencer marketing
- Publish your content in digital titles using native advertising campaigns
- Collaborate with influencers using paid-for campaigns
- Use retargeting to be sure that your content reaches your prospects
A good content distribution strategy will aim to generate solid leads and increase your conversion rate. Lead nurturing is an efficient method which will allow you to overcome the problems marketers encounter when converting a lead into a client: the email opening rate generally doesn’t go above 20%, and 79% of prospects will never go on to make a purchase.
You will first of all need to identify and categorize your leads according to their level of maturity. This information will allow you to adapt your communication method. To be successful, lead nurturing campaigns will have to increase the points of contact. According to a study by Demand Gen, 49% of marketers only use 5 points of contact.
Native advertising is also one way that can be particularly useful in distributing your content providing that your sponsored content fits in perfectly with the selected media’s editorial feed. Essentially, your content must suit the target audience, giving equal importance to the editorial format as well as the subject matter.
Whilst planning and programming social media posts isn’t considered as content distribution, it’s still entirely necessary for getting your content out there to your existing audience. Additionally, it should be carried out alongside a real distribution strategy. This will allow you to increase the points of contact with your leads, build up your reputation thanks to influencer marketing and link your content to your prospects’ buying cycle in an efficient and targeted way.
For such a project will you will need to establish a clear and precise definition of the expertise required (new skills sourced internally ou sub-contracting to a digital service provider) and the allocated resources (time and money) before going ahead to successfully complete your content strategy.
What will help you decipher between a good or bad content strategy is measuring your return on investment (ROI). This is of utmost importance for gauging how your content performs and analyzing numerous indicators such as visibility, conversation rate, or lead generation. Whilst most marketers are happy to list the number of leads acquired and compare it to your company’s turnover, the major issue will be to measure the impact of each of your campaigns on your company’s activity. Say goodbye to outdated, traditional marketing plans over 3, 6, or even 9 months. Thanks to ROI, you can study your customer journey more accurately, identify your conversion funnel and calculate the engagement rate of your audience and your created content.