You’ve heard it before, from us and from countless others, content is a critical component of good marketing. You need a blog and you need marketing assets like whitepapers and case studies, but more importantly, you need someone to read all the great content you create, because, sadly, it’s not enough to just write it. For your content to have the impact you desire, you need to get it in front of the eyes of the people who will appreciate its value.
Why, again, is content all that important? Well, it’s important because a recent study by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through its content rather than through its ads. Sharing opinions, information, and company values through content is an amazing way to let prospects get to know everything you stand for long before they ever get on the phone with someone from your sales team.
But first, they have to read it and it’s not enough to rely on SEO to drive them to your site. Let’s dig in to a few key things all B2B SaaS marketers need to know about content distribution.
Content distribution starts before content creation
Sure, you could write a few blog posts and throw the links up on Facebook and LinkedIn and hope for the best, but you probably wouldn’t get the results you need. Instead, you have to remember that all good things take time and conscious thought. Great content distribution starts long before the first word hits the page. Who’s your audience? What do they like to read? Where do they find the things they read? Answer these questions and you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the game.
Research goes beyond the topic at hand
Of course you need to research the topic you want to write about so you don’t come off sounding like a hack, but before you even get to that point, you need to be doing some digging. What’s the hot topic of the day in your field? What’s trending? What are people talking about and wondering about? It’s easier to get instant traction on timely posts than on evergreen content. Visit the sites and forums your audience gravitates to for content and see what’s being discussed. Then, don’t just parrot what’s already being said, add to the conversation in an engaging and useful way.
By taking a look at your website analytics you can get key information about which sites are driving traffic to your content. Use that information to shape your content and your distribution strategy.
Content distribution is about more than just writing and sharing content
In #2 we recommended you take a look at traffic referral sources. If some of your traffic is coming from professional forums or networking sites geared towards your ideal audience, that’s great! Join the forums and networking sites, not to simply promote more content, but to become an active member of the community. When you take time to build these key relationships, you become a respected and valued resource to people who might eventually become your clients and who, in the meantime, will definitely enjoy consuming and help you promote your content.
There are three types of distribution channels: Owned, earned, and purchased
There’s no shortage of ways for you to distribute the content you create. Owned channels are the ones you control directly: your newsletter, Twitter stream, Facebook page, LinkedIn page, and your RSS feed. Earned channels (also known as “not-owned”) are the ones out of your control that allow you to share your content for free: sites where you read posts relevant to your industry, SlideShare, YouTube, Quora, etc. (Take a look at this post for a great breakdown of some earned channels interesting for B2B marketers.) Paid channels are any channels where you can promote your content through paid ads. LinkedIn and Facebook ads do an impressive job of driving eyeballs to blog posts when well targeted and implemented. A great content distribution plan should contain an assortment of options from all three channels.
Your subscriber list is an important distribution tool
What could be better than a person who has indicated that they’re interested in reading what you have to share? A slew of people who have asked to receive your content. Whenever possible, do your best to capture email addresses from prospects so you can send them regular servings of highly relevant and engaging content through your newsletter. Make your newsletter easily shareable to increase the likelihood that people will share what you’re serving up.
External distribution equals greater reach
Your subscribers are a captive and valuable audience, but there are many other fish in the sea who don’t even know you have great things to say. External distribution, whether through earned or payed channels often delivers quicker results and grants you access to a much bigger audience. It’s also a great way to grow your internal audience pool.
You can’t wing content distribution
Building an effective content distribution strategy takes lots of research, time, and effort. If you wing it every time you sit down to write something and promote it, you’d doing yourself and your company a huge disservice. Track the topics that resonate most with your audience. Monitor the sites that generate the most traffic. Explore new, interesting distribution channels and see how they perform for you. Promote your content systematically and purposefully and you’ll be rewarded with increased consumption.
Know your goals and objectives
The critical precursor to systematic and purposeful content distribution is that you must absolutely know the goals and objectives for your content strategy. Are you growing brand awareness? Driving traffic to your sales materials? Increasing your subscriber numbers? Trying to establish yourself as a leader in your field? Knowing the end result you’re aiming for allows you to hone both the content creation and the distribution of what you write so you can reach the goal you have in mind.
Reuse, recycle, repurpose
A great piece of content can take any number of hours to research and write. What a shame to settle for having it be seen by just a handful of people. Many blog posts can be promoted long after they’ve first been written. Whitepapers can be used as lead magnets or as promotional materials in email drip campaigns. A great article can be repurposed into a SlideShare slideshow or even turned into an infographic. For each piece of content that you write, you should always ask yourself how it could be repurposed or repackaged to extend its reach and shelf-life.
Always make your content easy to share
When something resonates with a reader, their first reaction, often before leaving a comment, is to share it with their audience. Make it easy for your content to take flight by making sure that social sharing solutions are readily available and simple to use. There are countless great plugins like ShareThis or SumoMe that make sharing as easy as clicking a link. You can even craft tweets that can be shared with the click of a button with TweetThis. And, don’t forget, sometimes the simplest thing to do is to ask people to share. Add a well worded CTA at the bottom of each post to remind people to share. You’d be amazed at how much it can influence readers.