It’s 2020 – and the content distribution game is changing fast.
Creating original, engaging content is not easy (though a good content writing service can certainly help). Yet, it is the least that’s expected of you as a content marketer today. The real content marketing challenge of 2020 is getting your content in front of the right audience. As Ross Simmonds often preaches, “distribution rules everything around me.”
As more businesses realize the importance of content marketing, the competition for content promotion is getting tougher. So, how do you rise to the top of your space? Keep reading to learn about the top content distribution tips for 2020.
1. Find Your Target Audience
Who is interested in what you have to say? Ideally, this question should be answered before your content is created.
Identifying your niche audience is one of the key steps in creating and distributing content. Sadly, it is also one of the most overlooked! Too often an article, a video or a blog post are created without well-defined audiences in mind. So, here is your chance to stand out.
Creating targeted content also means identifying and using keywords and key phrases that your potential customers are using in their search engine queries.
Many keyword research tools are available to make the task easier for content marketers. The most widely used are Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Moz Keyword Explorer, Ubersuggest and Answer The Public.
By understanding how your audience describes the topics you want to cover, and understanding the intent behind their searches, you can tailor content that speaks directly to them.
2. Create and Promote Blog Posts
Everyone seems to run a blog these days – so, is it still worth it? The answer is definitely “yes” – if you do it right. A recent study by Content Marketing Institute confirmed what many of us have intuitively known for ages – that 7 out of 10 customers prefer promotion through articles rather than ads.
So, what makes an effective blog? You need to:
- Publish original content that is genuinely useful, insightful and/or entertaining
- Maintain high standards – create comprehensive, best-in-industry content
- Post regularly
- Stay true to the topic and purpose of your blog
- Engage with your audience and build community
- Keep the information up to date
- Promote widely – there’s no point in publishing great content if nobody sees it!
Well researched and written blog posts help establish and support your brand’s reputation and expertise – building trust, making your audience more receptive to your messages, and creating lasting customer relationships.
When your blog post is combined with a logical, well-defined call to action, it is also invaluable in building highly targeted email lists. For example, if readers of your blog find your content useful, they will be more inclined to provide their active email address to access a comprehensive guide on the topic – and to stay subscribed to receive further messages from you.
The blog format allows for a more informal, personal tone than your main company site. That makes blog posts great for sharing on social networks, and for using such opportunities for cross-promotion as guest posting.
Guest Posting Might Be Harder to Get – But It Still Works
Guest posts remain a great way to get more exposure for your content.
Marketers today may be more wary of allowing guest posts on their site because the practice has been abused by spammers. Still, the collaboration between bloggers can be very effective – if done right. If you can enrich each other’s content, you instantly increase exposure and provide more value for your audience.
For example, BackLinko’s Brian Dean has recently teamed up with PitchBox, an outreach and content marketing platform, for an impressive study on the effectiveness of outreach emails. Backlinko benefited by acquiring some cutting-edge data-driven content, while PitchBox got significant exposure for their product.
Guest posting can also be a great way to promote your existing content. Including links to other relevant topics in your blog ensures that your evergreen or updated content keeps being discovered by new audiences.
3. Keep Search Engines Happy – Never Neglect Your SEO
On-page SEO remains as important as ever. The tedious bit – optimizing your posts for their target keywords using the latest SEO best practices – should never be skipped.
One well-targeted, informative blog post that makes it to the first page of Google results for a given keyword can drive substantial organic traffic for years. So, the time and effort invested in SEO are well worth it when considered against the long-term gains.
As the competition among content creators heats up, it is particularly important to understand search intent – the reason why users look for information – behind queries that are likely to bring traffic to your site. Your primary keywords should always be chosen with search intent in mind.
When you have decided on your primary keyword, make sure to use it:
- in the page title
- in the H1 heading
- early in the body of your content
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Every post should have a custom meta description that includes your keywords and accurately summarizes your content. If your description matches your audience’s search intent closely, it will drive up the organic CTR (click-through rate) on your listing in Google search results.
The quality of your content is the most important ranking factor with Google now. That means it needs to read well, offer valuable information, satisfy search intent, and perhaps most importantly – it needs to be comprehensive. Additionally, you’ll want to spend time ensuring your content is surrounded by good design so that it’s more appealing to visitors.
All of this impacts how visitors interact with your site. If your site has a low bounce rate – meaning that your visitors spend time on your site consuming your content – it will help your content rank even higher as a result of Google’s RankBrain, which looks at behavioral metrics like this, bringing in more visitors from search engines.
Sharing your content widely and building backlinks from authority sites in your niche are also solid off-page SEO techniques that you should use.
4. Know Your Content Distribution Channels
What channels can you use to distribute your content in 2020? All content distribution and sharing channels can be grouped into the following categories:
1. Channels that are under your complete control (often referred to as “owned” distribution channels). These include:
- Your website
- Your blog
- Your email newsletter
- Your brand profiles on social media
- eBooks, PDF guides, infographics, etc. (downloadable from your site or emailed by you)
- Video content (posted on your YouTube channel or your blog, included in your emails, etc.)
- Audio content (your own podcasts, audiobooks, guides, etc.)
2. Channels that you have limited control over (“earned” or “shared” content distribution channels):
- Strong organic search engine rankings
- Social shares and mentions
- Reposts on other social networks
- Citations on other websites and blogs
- Reviews that link back to your site
3. Channels for paid distribution:
- Paid advertising – Display Ads and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- Sponsored content on social networks (like LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, promoted posts on Facebook or Pinterest’s Promoted Pins)
- Native advertising and content discovery platforms (like Taboola and Outbrain)
- Paid influencer campaigns
- Social media advertisements
Your budget, as well as your overall brand strategy, will determine which owned and paid distribution channels you use the most.
Earned channels have the potential to provide the biggest return on your investment in content. At the same time, content sharing carries some risks, as the spin that can be put on shared content is largely out of your hands.
The effectiveness of earned channels has been steadily declining over the last few years. On Facebook, for example, the decline in organic traffic has been particularly noticeable since the 2018 algorithm update, which changed the way content appears on users’ timelines to prioritize, in Mark Zuckerberg’s words, “friends, family, and groups” over “businesses, brands, and media.”
As a result, the competition for earned channels in 2020 is set to be tougher than ever. In this situation, your paid distribution efforts should be used to try and increase your earned reach.
For example, promoting a post on Facebook or LinkedIn can help generate some organic shares. You can also invite the people who like your promoted posts to follow you, increasing the audience for your future content. Having a network of people that will like and share your post also ensures that it gets picked up and promoted by social network algorithms.
5. Pick the Right Content Distribution Channels for Your Target Audience
Once you know your channels, it’s just a matter of matching them with your potential audiences. If you’ve done your homework researching your niche audience, then the task of finding the right channel for distributing your content becomes easier.
Are you trying to reach busy professionals that are likely to use LinkedIn daily? The fashion-conscious crowd on Instagram and Pinterest? Is your audience more likely to use Facebook – or Twitter? If you know your target audience, the above questions should not be hard to answer.
Then you need to put a sound content distribution strategy in place. Alexander Porter, Head of Copy at Search It Local, explains:
“Successful content marketing heading into 2020 must exist within an integrated framework. You can’t release it in a handful of channels and expect to keep up with your competition if they are casting a wider net. At Search It Local, we build the foundations of our results like we were building a pyramid.”
For example, if your goal is to create brand awareness and build trust by running a business blog, then your content distribution strategy for new posts could include:
- Publishing an SEO-optimized blog post on your company site.
- Posting the key quotes from your post to Twitter.
- Emailing the summary of your blog post with a link to the full post to your mailing list subscribers.
- Posting summary/infographics/video promoting the post to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
- Sharing the post through Facebook and LinkedIn Groups.
- Using sponsored listings on social media feeds to promote the post.
- Contacting influencers that might be interested in sharing your post.
- Using remarketing to promote the post to the audiences that have shown interest in similar content or have recently visited your site.
- Using Google Ads to drive paid traffic directly to your blog post.
Finding the right channels to connect with your audience will initially require some experimentation. Once you are confident that you are reaching your crowd, you can play with the formats and topics of your posts, fine-tuning your messages so that they are tailored to your chosen channels and platforms.
6. Maximize Your Social Shares
Each content sharing platform has strengths that should be used to maximum advantage. For example, short video content is perfect for sharing on Facebook and Instagram, while some eye-catching infographics can be created for ease of share on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Always look for usage patterns of the content sharing platforms – then, look for ways to stand out.
Jason Thibault, the owner of the content marketing agency Massive Kontent, shares some insights on the optimal use of LinkedIn:
“LinkedIn now has just over 300 million active monthly users, 40% of which visit the site daily. Only 3 million of those users share content every week – so creating and sharing content on the platform automatically puts you in the “one percent”. This year I started including short PDFs with my LinkedIn posts. Just 6-7 pagers that summarize my main points. The posts with PDFs generate anywhere from 250% to 600% more views (4,000-12,000 views) in the LinkedIn newsfeed.”
It is crucial to create your content with the distribution platform in mind. For example, the optimal length of a Facebook post for ease of sharing is between 40 and 80 characters, while the ideal content length on Twitter is often reported to be 70 – 100 characters. At the same time, some brands have discovered that much longer Facebook posts work for them, while others swear by multi-tweet messages on Twitter. Ultimately, you are the best judge of what works best in your space – and figuring that out does take quite a bit of experimentation!
Paid promotion may be a good tactic to use to start things off. The initial traction that your post gets from paid placements start leading to organic shares.
Samantha Milner, the food blogger at RecipeThis.com, has been able to grow her blog to 8 million pageviews a year using the following strategy:
“When a new recipe is published, we will share it first to our Facebook page and Twitter account. It will also have every image featured in it shared to a relevant Pinterest board. It is then distributed across Pinterest with Tailwind until it has gone through all relevant Pinterest groups, shared with relevant Tailwind Tribes, and then shared throughout social bookmarking channels – as well as to recipe sharing sites and link parties. Then each Friday it will be shared with our newsletter subscribers.”
So, to maximize social shares:
- Consistently share quality content on the platforms that your target audience uses
- Use the best formats for sharing on your chosen platforms
- Use paid promotion to initiate organic shares of your top content
- Always study the competition – then look for ways to stand out!
7. Email Is Still HUGE
It has been around forever, but, year after year, numerous studies agree that email remains a powerful content distribution and marketing channel – even for younger generations. As many as 68% of millennials report that promotional emails have influenced their purchasing decisions.
Build a quality email list
Building targeted email lists is more important than ever. One successful tactic is to offer some actionable, in-demand content – like an eBook or an instructional video – for free in exchange for mailing list subscriptions. The pieces of content that you offer as subscription incentives should:
- Add immediate value to your audience – teach them a strategy, show them a technique, etc.
- Be as targeted as possible.
- Promise to deliver more – soon. (Make sure you deliver on that promise!)
If you provide immediate value, your readers are more likely to stay subscribed. They will also be more motivated to open your subsequent emails and be receptive to your messages.
Keep your email formatting clean and simple
While it is tempting to experiment with formats of your email messages, it is important to remember about the overwhelming number of emails your readers open daily.
People are becoming tired of the visually bulky “traditional” newsletter formats.
Simple, brief, to the point, letter-style emails are easier to skim through and are more likely to get attention and initiate immediate action.
In fact, emails sent by some of the most prominent content marketers of today are concise to the point of using an almost bullet-point format – like this recent email from Brian Dean:
Your email promotion success also greatly depends on your attention to detail and persistence. To get better response rates, personalize the subject and body of your messages as much as possible, and be prepared to send multiple emails to the same contacts.
8. Share in Social Network Groups (and Create Your Own!)
Your top content deserves extra distribution effort. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have the Groups feature that is great for reaching out to people that are actively looking for information on very specific topics.
Oksana Chyketa, a B2B marketer at Albacross.com, has the following tips on distributing content via Facebook Groups:
“A great way to promote your content on Facebook is through Facebook Groups. In this case, you have two options: 1) You can join Facebook groups and boost your reach by sharing your content once you’re a member. Or 2) You can create your own Facebook Group and invite users to join and promote your brand. Both options are excellent in an organic increase of page ‘likes.’ It’s important to mention that only high-quality, problem-solving and engaging content will attract and retain your prospects.”
As a content marketer, it is important to make sure that you are present on all major social platforms that your audience frequents. Be it Quora, Reddit, YouTube, or smaller niche forums – before you start promoting your content in any way, you need to learn the rules of the group, and add value by answering questions and genuinely contributing to discussions. Do not post any content that can be perceived as spammy. Reddit, in particular, has zero spam tolerance and can be more valuable as an audience research platform than a content distribution one.
9. Always Look for Emerging Channels (and for New Opportunities to Use Existing Ones!)
Who heard of TikTok two years ago? Very few people would’ve predicted its amazing rise. The same could’ve been said about YouTube just a few years earlier.
The new channels for publishing your content emerge every day, and, as overwhelming as it all might feel – it’s crucial to keep up with them.
At the same time, new uses of established platforms should never be overlooked.
YouTube Community Feature Can Be Used for Content Sharing
If you have access to a YouTube channel that has over 1,000 subscribers, you can use the Community feature to share your content.
When a piece of content is shared with the community, the post will appear to all of your subscribers.
“We tripled our referral traffic from YouTube since we started posting to our community,” says Antti Alatalo, Marketing Director at CashCow.
Use Audio to Establish a Deeper Connection with Your Audience
Audio is another traditional content distribution channel that appears evergreen.
Simon Elkjær of Nutimo believes that the audio format has given him a deeper connection to his audience:
“I have been doing blogging, YouTube, book launches, events and public speaking amongst other things. But through my podcast, I feel the listeners are getting a deeper connection. When I meet people who are podcast-subscribers, they feel like they know me, they listen to me on evening walks, while commuting, going to the gym or just in a quiet place, in a nice chair. In this way audio is unique. It requires nothing of you, and no screen time to consume. It’s a way of disconnecting from a stressful smartphone or tv screen, and just listening.”
According to Simon, with audio, it is best to go in-depth:
“We changed our format from 15 minutes to about an hour and our listeners loved it. Our format is 20% on topic, and 80% anecdotes, stories, and small talk. Those who listen now really care, and listen because of us, not because of the information.”
Look for New Ways to Use Your Channels
Always be on the lookout for new features of your main distribution channels. Identify and follow the experts in the field. And don’t forget to always experiment yourself – it’s little, subtle touches and tweaks that often help you stay ahead of the content distribution game.
10. Use Paid Promotion Channels for Retargeting
Paid channel targeting is becoming more sophisticated every day. One of the most valuable tactics is retargeting – keeping your brand and content in front of the customers that have already visited your site, or showing ads based on the history of their interaction with some of your content. Content marketers need to make full use of this trend in their social media marketing efforts.
You can build your retargeting lists based on the type of content that your target audiences have already interacted with. Then, you can use these audiences to promote your new content. For example, when promoting a new instructional video, you would target people that have already watched some of your videos.
Once you have a good understanding of your main audience, you can start to experiment with the Lookalike Audiences feature (offered by both Facebook and LinkedIn), targeting audiences with similar characteristics and expanding your reach.
Here is how some content marketers do it.
Oksana Chyketa of Albacross shares some of her Facebook ads strategy insights:
“…One more way to boost your content is by using Facebook ads. The tip here is that you don’t need to target the unknown people, but those who have already been to your site, let’s say during the last 60 days. In this way, you’ll manage to drive only quality leads to your blog and the bonus is that your CPC will be much cheaper.”
Jason Thibault of Massive Kontent has been successful in distributing content on Twitter and Quora:
“Currently, I’m finding that the Twitter ads platform and Quora for Business are offering the best return on ad spend. With Twitter, I upload custom-tailored audiences and continuously build a second ‘website visitors’ audience via the Twitter conversion pixel. If I’ve set everything up correctly I can send 2-400 visitors to a new piece of content for 20-40 cents per click (sometimes less).”
11. Influencer Marketing Tip: Don’t Overlook Micro-Influencers!
According to a recent study by MediaKix, 80% of marketers find that influencer marketing is effective. The good news is that your influencer marketing campaign does not have to come with a hefty price tag. Emerging influencers and micro-influencers often have more genuine engagement with their followers than established ones. While marketers can find themselves working harder initially to identify and contact micro-influencers, it is usually worth the time and effort if you want to reach your niche audiences.
Micro-influencers are also more likely to be interested in collaborations that involve distributing content for free in exchange for the exposure they get.
One great practice is to contact micro-influencers with relevant expertise and ask them to contribute to your pieces of content. “They’ll be your content marketing advocates,” Alexander Porter of Search It Local explains. “Show them the finished content and thank them for their contribution. Avoid overtly asking them to share it, by developing authentic relationships you’ll find these micro-influencers naturally share your content which increases its reach and exposure.”
12. 80/20 Rule: Your Main Focus Should Not Be on Creating Content
Gone are the days when content marketers could just distribute quality content blindly and expect results.
The 80/20 rule of content marketing for 2020 is that only 20% of your time should be spent creating content, while 80% should be devoted to content strategy, distribution and promotion.
Spend More Time Sharing
Outsourcing your content creation to experts with content writing services such as Crowd Content allows you to direct your main efforts to where they matter most – developing an effective strategy and putting your content in front of the right eyes.