Forrester Research recently released a report called Put Distribution at the Heart of Your Content Marketing, which addresses an issue of increasing importance within the content marketing world.
Many marketers are very focused on writing top quality content. The process of brainstorming, creating, editing and even designing that content is a full-time job in midsize and major B2B organizations.
But on the distribution end of the cycle, many companies are struggling to find a successful formula. Yet here’s the simple truth: without a clear dissemination strategy, you’re not maximizing the value of your content.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to help B2B marketers make the most of the content they’re creating by leveraging a strong distribution strategy for amazing content.
When you consider that 90% of the information in the world has been created in the last two years, it becomes easy to see why one needs a strategy to stand out. There’s a lot of discussion about “noise” in social media and online marketing circles. What this means in practical terms is that your competition is clamoring, with varying degrees of competence and success, for the limited attention span of the same people that you’re trying to reach.
Instead of haphazardly creating content and hoping (often in vain) for it to reach the right person, you need to set out with clear intentions and a focused strategy for how to accomplish those goals. Each piece of content that you create should be playing a part in a bigger vision.
Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’re ready to move on to the next step. But successful marketing campaigns don’t happen with a “if I build it, they will come” mentality. This is especially true in the B2B world, where content consumption is an important part of an often long and research-intensive purchasing cycle.
Many B2B marketers focus the planning stages of content marketing on understanding the audience, developing SEO targets, brainstorming topics, and figuring out what angles will resonate with customers and prospects.
Each of these steps are vitally important. But during the planning stage, marketers should also consider the following questions which can help shape the later stages of their strategy:
If you need references to help guide you through the planning phase of your content marketing strategy, I recommend the following articles:
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are at the heart of a successful content marketing effort. Defining them in relation to your dissemination strategy is as important as having them for other phases of your content marketing campaign. By establishing metrics to watch and use to measure your success, you’ll quickly know if you’re on the right path or not.
In the world of B2B content marketing dissemination, there are a number of different KPIs that you can focus on. I’d recommend focusing in on four specific areas:
Reach translates to how many individual readers or visits your content attracted, across all different venues. Sentiment can be measured in positive/negative context and, to a certain extent, social sharing. Understanding how sentiment varies among different venues for your brand can offer powerful insights. Engagement is represented by shares, comments, likes, and clicks. Conversions is the most important metric, showing whether specific dissemination tactics yielded customers and a positive ROI.
Every piece of content that you create should be shared across your social media channels. It goes without saying at this point that your social channels should be rich with other valuable material for your readers, and your own writing or videos are just a fraction of what you’re sharing.
In the B2B space, there’s ample content produced by others that you can share — from industry news to helpful how-tos to timely thought leadership. At the same time, you should be promoting your best content to your social media marketing channels. For help with building your social media marketing campaign, see “How to Run a Successful B2B Social Media Marketing Campaign.”
It’s important, however, that when you share your content, you think carefully about how you’re presenting the link. Many people simply say “Check out my latest article about Twitter on Search Engine Land.” This is a mistake for a number of reasons. Three things aren’t clear: what’s in it for me as the reader, what’s new or interesting about the piece, and what’s the real call to action? It’s implied that you want them to read your article. Instead, think about:
These three points can be woven into a powerful call to action. Consider “Read my latest article with 5 strategies for effective lead generation on Twitter, including a high-conversion strategy that’s perfect for design agencies. Implement one strategy to make a noticeable difference in the number of leads you’re getting from social media.”
It’s clear what type of information is featured. It asks the reader to take an action that goes beyond just reading the article, and it demonstrates an immediate, real-life benefit that they can get today. For a closer look at how to be successful in social media marketing in the year ahead, check out The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends of 2014.
In addition to promoting your content through your own networks, make it easy for your readers to share your content on their networks, as well. Each piece of content should have a series of share buttons for the major networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. It should be possible to share each of your posts, videos, infographics, and more, and also to share your blog or site as a whole.
There are a number of other tools that can simplify how you encourage others to engage and share your content on social media. One basic tactic is to ask others to share as your call to action. Using technology is also important. For example, Click to Tweet is a tool that makes the best quotes from your content tweetable by readers with one click.
Reddit is a massive internet community with millions of members. The members interact via bulletin board style conversations, which are broken into “subreddits” with pretty specific focuses. Subreddits exist for everything from nail art to intense Republican fiscal debates.
Sharing your content on the right subeddit -– provided that it really relates to the subject in question, adds value, and isn’t blatant marketing -– can help drive significant traffic, sharing, and discussion for your content. But keep in mind that Reddit self-polices strongly. You can expect to be reprimanded and even face a public PR nightmare if Redditors feel you’re abusing the forum. So build relationships, and stick to creating genuine value.
A number of other online communities can be effective places to share your content. To a certain extent, it depends upon your industry, the topic of your piece, and more. Each industry will have its own powerful conversion points. But here are some sites to consider:
With over two hundred million active members at last count, LinkedIn is a high-value social media network for B2B marketers. Updating your LinkedIn personal and company pages with your B2B marketing content is a smart idea.
The way you frame your content is critically important. Consider your audience on LinkedIn to be your typical B2B buyer. With this is mind, it’s important to frame the piece with a benefits-driven perspective. What’s in this that would speak to your buyer? You should also consider adding your best pieces to the “Publications” section of your LinkedIn profile.
Other strategies can help you get traction with target groups on LinkedIn. Participate in discussions in appropriate groups. On LinkedIn, it’s possible to find robust groups on the most niche subjects. While promoting content related to agricultural equity investing, I was able to locate over fifty groups on the topic, some with thousands of members. Joining those groups and fostering relationships through worthwhile contributions over time will provide you with another forum to share your materials.
There are a number of tools that can help B2B marketers more effectively manage their presence on LinkedIn. When you consider that the LinkedIn visitor to conversion rate is often over 2%, your presence there as a B2B marketer is crucial. For more information on how to use LinkedIn in your marketing initiative, see “The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Marketing.”
A final note on maximizing the value of your content. One piece of excellent content can play a number of different roles in your content marketing lifecycle.
Let’s consider the example of a powerful blog post. If you write something that really resonates on your blog, find other ways to use that. Perhaps you break it up and use the excerpts as social media content across your various channels. Maybe you break the data up into a presentation that you host on SlideShare or into an infographic that you take viral with Visual.ly and other venues.
Perhaps it’s so powerful, it needs to be further expanded and developed into a white paper. If you are into audio or visual media, the topic could serve as the basis of a short video or podcast.
A key component of your B2B distribution strategy should include the process of looking at each piece of content, determining how that content can be repurposed and redeployed, and arranging to do so. For more ideas on different content types in a B2B marketing strategy, see my article How to Achieve ROI from your B2B Content Marketing Campaign in 60 Days.
Maximizing the value of your content starts by integrating a powerful dissemination strategy into your overall content marketing plan from the beginning. Social media marketing, strategic dissemination in online communities, syndication, and cross-platform repurposing are all effective means to increase your exposure, leads, and ultimate ROI from a B2B marketing campaign.
What techniques do you use to get the most from each piece of content that you publish?