Content distribution channels go with marketing, as peanut butter goes with jelly.
You decide to write a new piece of content. You hunker down, spend two weeks researching a topic, gathering insights and quotes from industry experts, and crafting the best 2,500-word blog post known to man.
Because if you build it, people will find it, right?
The anticipation is high. You're finally ready to hit publish, sit back with some popcorn, and watch the leads pour in.
But when the post goes live, it's nothing but crickets for the next 30 days.
If this has happened to you, you're not alone. More than 60% of marketers report that increasing website traffic and generating leads is the most challenging part of their content marketing strategy.
If you're struggling to reach your target audience or feel like you're shouting into the void and no one is listening, it might be time to reconsider your content distribution channels.
Maybe your 2,500-word blog post would've been better off as a Twitter thread or LinkedIn post. Selecting the most appropriate content distribution channel is crucial for a winning content marketing strategy.
When you understand which channels resonate best with your target audience, you can expand your reach, boost engagement, and convert more leads.
In this article, we'll explore the different content distribution channels and how you can determine which ones are the most suitable for your next campaigns.
From social media to email marketing, we'll cover a range of options along with practical tips for making the most of each distribution channel.
Are you ready to learn more?
Let's dive in.
Step 1: Identify your content goals
Crafting a content distribution plan from scratch sounds daunting. However, getting started is easier if you start with small, digestible pieces.
Focus on identifying one specific goal you can achieve within a reasonable time frame. Think of this goal as the legend of your map. It'll help you navigate the choppy waters of the internet abyss and hone in on the proper content distribution strategy.
At the end of the day, if you're unclear about what you hope to achieve or how you'll measure it, it's nearly impossible to understand if you're making strides in the right direction.
But if you're still not sure where to start, here are a few examples of content marketing goals:
- Drive organic traffic to your website
- Convert leads into paying customers
- Build a robust email list and boost open rates
- Earn more social shares for your content
- Establish yourself as an industry expert
- Build a buzz ahead of a product launch
TL;DR: Are you trying to generate leads, increase brand awareness, or drive sales? That's the million-dollar question.
For example, if your goal is to generate leads, use a distribution channel that allows you to capture contact information, like a lead magnet that brings visitors to a landing page on your website.
You could offer a whitepaper on a trending subject in exchange for a visitor's email address, or you could also place lead magnets on your top-performing posts from your blog. For instance, this post on the top startup books in 2022 it’s a great example of adding lead magnets strategically.
On the other hand, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you should focus on a content distribution channel with an extensive reach, like social media ads.
By aligning your distribution channels with your content goals, you can ensure you're not throwing money into the wind.
Step 2: Understand your target audience
Once you have your goal tucked into your back pocket, it's time to narrow in on your target audience.
Just like parents know their children like the back of their hand, it's essential to know where your target market hangs out online and what messaging resonates with them.
Ask yourself these questions and jot down the answers:
- Where does your target market exist online?
- Where do they spend most of their time?
- What type of content do they consume?
- What kind of language do they use when searching for products similar to yours?
The answers to these questions are worth their weight in gold. Let's take a look at an example.
If your primary target market is Gen Z, turn that previously published blog post about jobs for 17-year-olds into a TikTok.
Why? Because Gen Z makes up 60% of all TikTok users. And this simple video has amassed more than 115,000 views and over 2,000 likes. People are now begging for more videos across other Gen Z age ranges in the comments.
Even Google is starting to notice the app's influence on this generation. According to Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, 40% of Gen Z are turning to TikTok and Instagram for basic searches — like where to go for lunch or how to find a job.
Why pump time and money into content that falls flat when you can use the power of your customer data to boost results? Finding the content distribution channels your audience uses most is a vital piece of the puzzle.
Step 3: Choosing suitable content distribution channels
Before we dive into meat and potatoes, let's review the three basic types of content distribution channels.
Do you have a blog on your website? That's a perfect example of an owned channel.
In other words, it's a channel owned (or controlled) by you or your company. And with owned channels, you have more control over how to present your content and how you want it to reach your audience.
Some other examples of owned channels include:
- Your website
- Email newsletter
- Social media profiles
- Mobile app
- Landing pages
- Lead magnets
For example, if you are in the healthcare industry, you might publish a blog post about what a travel nurse is or how much a CRNA's salary is. These publications are housed on your owned channel (read: blog).
An earned channel allows you to distribute your content through other channels you don't directly control.
Earned channels can be a powerful way to reach new audiences and build your brand, but they can also be challenging to predict and control.
A few examples include the following:
- Media coverage or interviews in print publications (or on podcasts, etc.)
- Mentions or links to your content on other websites or blogs
- Social media posts or shares from users who have engaged with your content
- User-generated content, reviews, or testimonials
Here's an example of user-generated content for Starbucks found on Instagram. It's a lovely festive photo featuring Starbucks holiday cups posted by a customer (rather than Starbucks).
Paid channels can be a powerful way to distribute your content and reach specific audiences. By using paid channels, you can effectively target your content and reach the people most likely interested.
Although paid channels can be expensive, they can also provide a valuable return on investment when used strategically.
Some channels include:
- Sponsored posts
- Social media ads
- Banner ads
- Influencer marketing campaigns
Here's an example of a banner ad for Marcus by Goldman Sachs on a travel rewards blog, The Points Guy.
How to choose between content distribution channels
Deciding which distribution channel is right for your business depends on three important considerations:
- Budget: Establishing a budget for distribution
- Relevancy: Choosing a channel that's relevant to your audience
- Goals: Selecting channels that align with your content goals
Paid channels can get you quick results, but there's a catch. You need to keep the ad spend going to maintain that growth. And the costs add up over time. The traffic, reach, and engagement will quickly drop off if you stop spending.
Organic marketing channels, owned and earned, take longer to show results. But they'll be more stable in the long run. Building loyal customers doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience, it can pay off tenfold.
The winning content strategies find a healthy balance between paid and organic channels. And if you're lucky enough to find that happy medium, you'll have no issues if you ever want to sell your business online for top dollar.
Step 4: Optimize content for your distribution channels
The goal of distributing content is to ensure it reaches the right people at the right time. So don't forget to optimize each piece of content for the unique distribution channel.
For example, if you're filming a YouTube travel video, you should create an eye-catching thumbnail image and add keywords to the title and video description, as shown in this example:
Or, if you want to expand your reach on Instagram, try using hashtags that can help increase visibility and drive engagement with your intended demographic.
Rinse and repeat this process until you find the winning formula. Soon you'll be swimming in leads, with conversion rates through the roof.
Content distribution is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It takes time to perfect. It's impossible without all the pieces to the puzzle. But once you get on the right path and everything aligns, it's a sure thing.
Don't hesitate to try new channels for your brand. You never know — they might offer some untapped opportunities.
Don't let your awesome content go unnoticed. Embrace a content distribution strategy that resonates with your target audience and drives brand loyalty for years to come.
About the author
Jeremy is co-founder & CEO at uSERP, a digital PR and SEO agency working with brands like Monday, ActiveCampaign, Hotjar, and more. He also buys and builds SaaS companies like Wordable.io and writes for publications like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal.