Part Four: Distribution With Intent to Sell
Here are links to the previous three installments of this blog serial. (I promise we are almost done):
If You Withhold a Blessing, It Will Be Given By Others
Organizing the distribution of your content is really where the rubber meets the proverbial road in this instance. You’ve done a lot of planning up until this point, and you’ve finally published a piece of content. Now its time to get some eyeballs on it. Distribution is really where the digital marketing world has recognized the benefits and importance of quality content. This is mostly due to the fact that success in what used to be several different silos of marketing have all realized that their success is predicated on the access to quality content, particularly people working in social media and search marketing.
Now its time to break down all of those distribution channels, analyze how they work and how you can optimize your distribution across all of them to ultimately connect consumers with your brand.
You want to make sure that you have engineered your content in a way that you are able to passively leverage your audience. There are thousands of widgets that exist in the world that enable consumers who want to share your content to do so. We’ve all seen boxes similar to the one pictured above. There’s one installed on this website, and for good reason. If someone wants to share your content with any of their respective networks, give them the tools to do so.
Quality content is going to allow you to up the game with your direct distribution strategies. Your email marketing staff is going to love you because you’ve supplied them with content and topics that are not just contextually relevant to the end consumer, but actually supply them with some utility — be that entertainment or information. Either way, expect to see your open rates increase as well as your subscription base. Think of how many times a day you forward an article from a provider of great content to someone you know.
Similarly, your RSS consumer base can be expected to react in the same fashion. Not only have you enabled yourself to fill their feeds and readers on a consistent basis, you are doing it in the best way. All the Flipboard users out there will surely be please when they turn on their tablets every morning to see great images pair with compelling headlines (notice I said “headline” and not “title tag”) begging them to click and share.
I can’t tell you how many times we have heard a major brand complain about the fact that they have millions of followers on Facebook but less than 1 percent are ever engaged at one time. Well, now your social media team is armed with the life blood of all social platforms — engaging content. All social sharing and engagement has its foundation in quality pieces of content.
A lot of times, brands are not able to produce this at a scale great enough to constantly sustain any social media efforts, leaving the social teams scrambling to curate content from around the Web. That is still going to be an important piece of the mix, but now that you have a sustained editorial flow, your social media can be supplied with excellently engineered pieces of content on a consistent basis that has a fair amount of continuity because it all fits within your editorial mission.
I arrived at content in the same way that a lot of the people working in search or inbound marketing did — Google Panda and Penguin. My destiny suddenly depended not just on how well I was able to build and optimize websites, Web pages, and Web copy. Success in SEO is now highly dependent on the quality of your content — that means clickability, social sharing, recency and a thousand different other things.
Now that your content marketing has provided you with a constant stream of content written by humans for humans, recency and quality are taken care of. I also covered the social sharing piece above — lets face it: content powers the social Web. You can now also publish articles around a variety of topics that will allow you to finally conquer all of those long-tail keywords for which you’ve been trying to rank for ages.
As someone whose digital marketing foundations started with search marketing, I can say full well that the seemingly universal embracement of content marketing (although definitions and methodologies differ widely) has been the greatest thing to happen to search in a long time. I say that as someone who is both a user of Google and has been at the mercy of Google for a long time.
There are some unique paid distribution mechanisms unique to content marketing that allow you to put your content in contextually relevant places across premium publisher networks, target based on user behavior and pay only for clicks. One such provider is the content discovery engine Outbrain, which offers this service, has pledged to cut out all the spam and deliver quality audiences at an efficient cost. It’s like all the benefits of digital display and paid search combined into one advertising platform. Its platform is also integrated with this site.
Don’t Hate the Media; Be the Media
So you’ve analyzed your audience, set up your editorial “newsroom” and adopted a publisher’s approach to producing content by establishing your editorial flow and mission. Now you have a monster of a distribution engine.
Do you realize what you’re doing? You’ve gone from buying the media to behaving like the media. You’re operating like a media company, which means you don’t have to spend so much money with them anymore. You have your own audience to tend to — you don’t need theirs as much.