Following my recent blog on maximizing content marketing ROI through repurposing, I want to share recommendations for distributing marketing content – through inbound (social media, company blog) and outbound (email, paid media) channels – to increase audience reach and impact.
Any content distribution strategy should have two fundamental goals:
- Accurately target buyers and influencers to ensure you attract the right prospects
- Gain maximum visibility and engagement within your target audience
I’m going to briefly explain the importance of No. 1 and how to achieve it, then drill into ways to leverage various inbound and outbound channels to help more people find your content.
A robust content marketing plan starts with analyzing the addressable market of buyers with the professional titles you want to reach. This will help determine the feasibility of your lead goals, your ability to support those goals through social media and your website (for inbound leads) as well as your marketing database (for outbound campaigns). An industry trade association or publication – as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics – are good sources for this market insight.
Turn Up the (Channel) Volume
With your universe of targets quantified, you can begin planning how to reach those prospects across channels to ensure you engage them in the manner to which they're most receptive.
Determining the optimal mix requires analysis of past engagement by persona to understand how your target prospects prefer to interact. I’m not suggesting that you should look to pursue them in all channels. But you have to leverage more than one channel to get comprehensive distribution – and therefore opportunities to engage throughout the buying process – from the top to the bottom of the funnel.
Social Media Marketing
Let’s consider social media as an example of how you can gather and analyze response data for channel-centric insight into your target customers. Study registrants that came in via Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns to understand who's willing to register via social media, then similarly scrutinize the titles you reached but didn’t convert.
These findings will give clear direction into whether social is the right medium for your target audience. When social is part of the mix, it’s important to know the outlet that's most impactful in driving outcomes, then leverage that outlet to the maximum extent.
Experience has shown social media can account for as much as 30% to 40% of inbound leads or registrations, so it has potential to serve as a core channel for many marketers. Facebook and LinkedIn also offer paid options with granular targeting capabilities; marketers should consider organic AND paid social campaigns.
Search Engine Optimization and User Experience
Leveraging your brand's website to increase the of your marketing content is all about two acronyms: SEO (search engine optimization) and UX (user experience).
Your SEO experts – internal, agency or both – can guide you so your content incorporates frequently searched keywords, uses optimized URLs, has compelling metadata for search discoverability and is promoted on high-traffic pages with strong link quality. The SEO team can help craft reader and Google-friendly content titles and copy to ensure content elicits the highest engagement and conversion rates.
Quality UX is key to converting audiences once they arrive at your blog or website. Ongoing analysis can help determine calls to action that resonate with your audience, as well as optimize registration paths to clearly guide visitors through your pages. You’ll need to consult with your analytics team and your UX team to ensure your site is an effective driver of inbound engagement.
That’s the inbound side of the equation. Now let’s look at the importance of distrubuting content through outbound marketing channels.
Outbound Content Marketing Distribution
As I've talked about before, most marketers, particularly those with aggressive sales pipeline and revenue goals, simply can't rely on inbound marketing alone. A solid content marketing strategy requires both inbound and outbound channels in order to scale programs. Outbound marketing encompasses numerous tactics that marketers can leverage.
For optimal email performance, evaluate your internal database size and past conversion rates to understand what percent of your lead generation goal can be achieved via email. This is a logical step after the market sizing exercise detailed above. If your list isn’t large enough to generate a reasonable percentage (at least 25%) of your overall goal, consider working with third parties who specialize in email marketing so that you can leverage their databases and significantly increase your reach.
Third-Party Demand Generation
Many brands increase reach by engaging third-party demand generation experts that have loyal audiences, robust databases and strong content syndication repositories – not to mention sophisticated social media skills to promote your content. While identifying the right media partners does require some effort, it's an exercise well worth the investment.
Other Paid Media
Of course, other paid media options – such as banner ads and paid search – are often viable contributors to a multi-channel lead generation strategy for the right products and industries. Retargeting ads – served to those who have shown interest but have not yet converted – can be particularly useful.
By leveraging inbound and outbound channels in a balanced mix to reach your target customer, you’ll ensure your content distribution strategy delivers the payback your business leaders expect.