So you’ve our last article and you’re now a veritable distribution channel virtuoso. You’re probably itching to get started distributing your content — but let’s pump the breaks for a second. Without a solid understanding of who your customers are, what your goals are, and how you’re going to set out achieving those goals — you’re failing before you even start.
For every successful piece of content you see floating around the internet, it’s likely there was an equally successful, meticulously calculated content distribution strategy. In part 2 of Smart Marketing’s The Content Distribution Handbook, we will show you how to develop a distribution strategy of your own, from determining goals and setting KPIs, to understanding your audience and setting a content schedule, and how to plan for the long haul.
Step 1: Define Your Goals
The thing that sets content marketing apart from simple content creation is that the content isn’t the end goal. When it comes to content marketing, the content is always a means to an end for achieving a greater goal. Depending on the type of business you have, the stage of the sales funnel that your audience is in, and the amount of brand power you have, these goals for your content will differ.
The most common goal of content marketing is lead-gen and sales. For this, you are using your content is a way of getting people on your site and capturing a lead by offering them value through your content.
If already have a solid base of followers that you are looking to engage or re-engage them, then your goal might be user engagement. With this goal, your content will serve to deliver value to customers who have already made a purchase from your brand or are considering making a purchase. Delivering content that they find valuable can keep them engaged with your brand and create a greater lifetime value or move prospective customers further down the sales funnel.
If you’re just starting out or want to bolster your brand’s authority, then your goal might simply be brand visibility. Getting people mentioning your brand, sharing your content, or simply visiting your site might be a strong enough goal for your content strategy for the time being.
Step 2: Determine your KPIs
Once you’ve determined the goal of your content, you’re going to need to have a tangible way to track if your meeting these goals. That’s where KPIs or Key Performance Indicators come into play. A KPI is a quantifiable measure that you can use to evaluate the success of your campaign. Things like, page views, clicks, shares, etc. can all be used as KPIs. Once you know what your goals are for your content, you can then determine your KPIs.
Sales/Lead Gen: If your goal is to create sales then your main KPI will likely be exactly that — sales. If you are going for lead gen then typically your KPI will be something a bit further up the funnel than a conversion. Some examples of lead gen KPIs are:
- Newsletter Sign-ups
- Form completions
- Course sign-ups
- Gated content downloads
- Webinar sign-ups
User Engagement: If you’re looking to engage your users with your content then you will want to make your KPIs something that will inform you as to whether or not people are passing your content around or having a conversation about it. Some examples of user engagement KPIs are:
- Social shares
- Inbound links
- Content downloads
- Mentions on other platforms
Brand Visibility: If you simply want eyes on your content then your KPIs will follow suit. Impressions and follower growth will be your most informative metric in determining if you are meeting your goals. Some examples of brand visibility KPIs are:
- Website traffic
- Content Views
- Read/Listen/Watch ratio
- Follower increase
- Branded search
Step 3: Understand your audience
The types of content that you will create will generally be determined by your audience. You want your content to be as valuable to your readers as possible and as such you should be looking to answer questions that your audience has. You may have a general idea of who your audience is, but the best way to know for sure is to look at the data available to you — the results may surprise you.
If you have a website with Google Analytics set up (and you absolutely should), then you can use this to give yourself a clearer picture of your audience. Google Analytics can inform you of things like age, gender, location, interests, etc… Similarly, Facebook and Instagram both have audience insight tools that will give you insights that you can use to determine the types of people that are following your brand.
You can also use these insights to determine the time of day that your owned media is receiving the most traffic. This information will become useful when it comes time to create your content calendar (which we will discuss later).
Once you know who your audience is, you can try to put yourself in the mind of your customer and start asking yourself what kind of questions they would be asking. Once you start to generate some ideas, you can turn to Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to start looking at the types of queries people are searching regarding these topics. You can then use this information to inform the types of content you will be creating and the types of questions you will be answering with your content.
Step 4: Pick your channels
Now that you know your audience and have an idea of the types of content that they will find value in, you can start determining your distribution channels and the form this content will take. Reference our previous article for a deep dive into distribution channels if you want to know more.
Step 5: Set a content schedule
A common myth when it comes to content distribution is that quantity is king. Many people believe that they need to be producing as much content as possible and the quality of their content suffers as a result. What’s most important is quality. You want to be delivering as much value to your followers as possible through your content. This usually comes in the form of long-form content, which studies have shown to have a higher SEO rank as opposed to shorter content [with the ideal blog post length being ~1,600 words]. Don’t fret about spamming your blog with several short articles for the sake of getting content out there — slow down and make delivering quality content your main priority.
Even though it’s important to deliver on quality, you also want to remain consistent with your content. If you ever plan on growing a following, you need to deliver. This is where a content schedule comes into play. Make a schedule of when and where you will post your content and stick with it. Outline what articles you will be writing and when you will be posting them. Another benefit of creating a content schedule is that you can create content in a series (like this one!) helping nudge people to follow you so they don’t miss out on the succeeding parts.
If you’re having trouble finding the time to create content or running short on topics to talk about, try looking to your team or network to delegate the content creation too. If you know someone who has particular expertise on a topic, have them share their knowledge. The content will be more valuable as a result and you will have more time to focus on other content in your schedule. You could even consider bringing on a marketing apprentice to lend you a hand with writing content.
Step 6: Think Long-Tem/Build Relationships
Content marketing takes time. Don’t get discouraged if your first post doesn’t take off right off the bat. Keep testing different channels, topics, and formats. Keep in mind that there is often a snowball effect when it comes to content marketing. Little by little, your following will grow and your content will get passed around through earned media. Building connections with people who can distribute your content is also important and requires patience. The more you build your distribution network and take time to put effort into fostering those relationships, the more reliable your distribution will become. Plan for the long-term and stick with it. Leads earned through content marketing often have the highest lifetime value.
Rember to keep an eye on your KPIs. Although content marketing takes time, this doesn’t mean you can develop a strategy and never adapt. It’s important that you are constantly testing new ideas and examining your KPIs to see what strategies are giving you results. The numbers don’t lie. Focus on data, adopt successful tactics into your overall strategy, and don’t waste time on tactics that are unsuccessful. Think of your content strategy as being fluid rather than set in stone.
If you’re going to have a successful content distribution strategy it’s critical to start off by defining goals for your content marketing efforts. From there you can determine clear KPIs to track the success of your content. Get to know your audience by using the available data and set out to answer questions that they have. Choose what channels you plan on publishing on and set out a long-term calendar to know exactly what content you are creating and who will be creating it. Don’t get discouraged if you are not seeing results right away. Be ready to test and adapt. Your strategy is fluid. Have patience, build relationships and never stop creating!
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