There is simply no point creating content for your business if that content isn’t going to reach your target audience.
That’s why we believe this year companies will focus greatly on promoting their content to be able to get the ROI they deserve.
We have surveyed 297 marketers to find out their top content distribution strategies for 2017, and this is what we have found (the results might surprise you):
Top content distribution strategies for 2017 (by market share):
Influencer marketing: 26%
Email marketing: 18%
Social media: 18%
Guest blogging: 16%
Paid distribution: 14%
Internal employees: 4%
Distribution platforms: 4%
Influencer marketing – Influencer marketing is the most popular content distribution strategy for 2017, leading with a market share of 26%.
Marketers rely on reaching out to these influencers to convince them to promote their content to their audience and build backlinks to their site.
That way they can monetize both the traffic coming from their social media followers and the increase in organic search (thanks to the earned backlinks).
As Tim Soulo pointed out in his blog post about link building, outreaching is not broadcasting.
It’s more about building relationships, personalizing your messaging and learning how to offer value to those influencers so they are interested in your content.
Arnie Kuenn from Vertical Measures believes that influencer marketing could be a very powerful content amplification method where you work with key people or publications in your industry to produce, promote and distribute content.
“Unfortunately, it only works if you have some influence yourself, so build influence and create content worth influential people’s time,” he said.
A great way to start with influencer marketing is to mention others in your blog posts, and then reach out to them to let them know about your link.
This is what Ramsay Taplin from BlogTyrant is doing every time he creates a blog post.
“Once I’ve finished writing content like this I shoot a quick tweet or email to those that I’ve mentioned just to let them know that they’ll be getting a bit of traffic, and also to give them an opportunity to ask me to revise anything in regards to how I’ve talked about them.
This often leads to a mention or shout out from those bloggers.”
You can learn more about his approach in his blog post Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog.
Email marketing – Email marketing is the second most popular content distribution strategy (tied with social media) with a market share of 18%.
Those who have invested in building their email list can promote their content to their subscribers, who can additionally share your content on social media.
You can even create evergreen content and use your marketing automation tool to include it in your welcome email sequences and nurture your subscribers.
But this isn’t where email marketing ends.
According to Jordie van Rijn from EmailMonday, you can consider working together with others to cross promote with complementary audiences. So you include their article in your newsletter or social media, and they do the same for you.
He keeps a short list of contacts that do an aggregated newsletter, and when he publishes something really good, he sends them a link as a suggestion.
When your goal is to collect leads, you might also consider affiliate marketing where you pay per performance based on sales or leads.
Social media (organic) – social media is the second most popular content distribution strategy (tied with email marketing) with a social share of 18%.
The bare minimum that most companies do is share their content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Others, like Irfan Ahmad from Digital Information World, use lesser known platforms like Pinterest as a main source of traffic to their site.
For example: a single blog post of his has generated 3,225 clicks from Pinterest in just 30 days.
“Pinning relevant content (especially taller images and infographics) in group boards drives a good amount of visitors to my blog, and in fact Pinterest is my main source of traffic.” he says.
He encourages all bloggers, content curators and social media marketers to find and join Pinterest group boards (related to their industry) and promote their content there.
In case you can’t find a community board, you can join the one of Irfan.
It’s especially effective if your blog posts contain graphics or images that are designed with a specific social network in mind. For example, that post above contains a large header image and an infographic about WordPress, which is more likely to get shared by Pinterest users whom I contact.
In addition to the standard social media channels, companies are using social bookmarking sites and communities such as Reddit, Inbound.org, Quora, etc., to further promote their content.
Guest blogging – Guest posting is the third most popular content distribution strategy with a market share of 16%.
Despite all the myths about guest posting being dead, it is still one of the most popular ways to reach out to a new audience by publishing content on other websites.
That way you can increase your brand awareness, build links back to your websites, and generate referral traffic and even some leads on the way.
Some companies like Rhino Public Relations are really serious about this strategy.
“We contribute one blog per month to SMPS Boston. It is the local chapter of a national organization (SMPS). Last year we contributed two articles to the SMPS magazine (The Marketer) and hope to do so again this year.
We contribute four articles per year to High Profile Monthly and four articles a year to the New England Real Estate Journal – both local publications focused on the AEC industry,” says Susan Shelby from Rhino Public Relations.
Sue Dunlevie from Successful Blogging shared that blog commenting and guest blogging helped him grow his email list from 2K to over 7.5K in one year.
Paid distribution – paid distribution as a content distribution strategy has a market share of only 14%.
Later in this post, we’re going to compare earned media vs. paid media to give you a better understanding of what works for marketers.
For now, what you need to know is that paid distribution is still very small compared to other distribution methods. Even if it tends to rise as a way to reach your own audience.
Among the companies surveyed, 57.2% are relying mostly on organic social media posts to promote their content. The minority 42.8% use heavily-paid posts and advertising to distribute their content.
The most preferred paid channel is Facebook, even if some companies like OneSpot are doing a great job with LinkedIn Ads.
Internal/employees – companies like Influence & Co are seriously utilizing the audience of their employees by asking them to promote their company’s content on their social media profiles.
This includes people marketers, account managers, HR managers, sales representatives, etc.
They all have their own audience online, and their company can use this as an advantage to further promote their content.
A step further is when you ask your employees to guest post on other websites and blogs and link back to your own websites.
Distribution platforms – content distribution platforms are a relatively new way to promote your content and, as such, are still not that popular.
They have a market share of just 4%.
A great company to keep in mind here is Quuu, where you can promote your content to influencers who will share it on their social media channels.
For just $30 you can get a reach of 100,000+, which is not a bad deal.
Earned media dominates over paid distribution
To summarize our results:
Among marketers, 65% are focused on earned media content distribution channels, and only 35% use paid distribution as a way to reach their target audience.
Most companies on the side of the earned media use SEO as a primary way to drive traffic to their blogs and generate leads.
That’s why the main focus for Tom Krawiec from Rejoiner is in the keyword research itself. That way, when he later optimizes his posts, this will drive him relevant traffic for years to come.
“I target one specific long tail keyword and include that in the title tag, headline of the post and in the article at least once.
As we have a pretty powerful blog SEO-wise, we can link to that article over time and will eventually see it ranking on page 1 for its target keyword,” said Tom Krawiec from Rejoiner.
Companies like CopyPress use a simple marketing method of almost daily blog content, monthly whitepaper + webinar, and infographic creation that they use for our outreach efforts. Those efforts include publishing in outside publications around 25 times per month.
They do their best to diversify their distribution as much as possible. That’s why they use multiple social media platforms, email newsletters and press releases, and tailor our strategies to the content type.
“Infographics tend to do well as press releases (or sent out to influencers) because people like to use them in their own content as well. This means we get more mentions and a much larger reach with our content,” says Jackie Long from TextBroker.
Joe Griffin from Clear Voice thinks companies are going to be doing more paid distribution through programmatic means in the future because content just hits people directly.
Content creation vs Content distribution time
The majority of the marketers still spend more time on content creation compared to content distribution. On average, this is 60% for content creation and 40% for content distribution.
Joe Griffic from Clear Voice says that they spend four times the effort creating content than distributing it because content quality matters more than anything else for them.
Others like Susan Shelby from Rhino Public Relations simply have a very good sense of who we are trying to reach. That makes their distribution strategy more efficient and less time consuming.
“We probably spend 80% of our time on content creation and 20% on content distribution,” she says.
“We spend more time on content creation than distribution, but we also spend time analyzing our content distribution to optimize our results. I would say overall it’s probably about a 60/40 split, with creation taking the majority of the time,” says Jackie Long from TextBroker.
Some marketers are on the other side, believing that you should spend much more time promoting your content.
For Irfan Ahmad from Digital Information World an infographic might take him a maximum of 4-7 days to create, but he will probably spend 15-20 days promoting it.
This includes sharing it on all major social channels, bookmarking sites and pitching it to several top publishers to be featured on their sites
At the same time, a news story will take him far less time promote.
Natalie Stezovsky from Influence & Co believes that if content is queen, distribution is king.
That’s why they typically recommend spending the most time on distribution so that the piece of content has a long life span once it’s been created.
Arnie Kuenn from Vertical Measures thinks that content creation and content distribution cannot be separated. They work hand in hand.
According to him, content distribution is not something that you start once the content is created. It is something you should plan far in advance.
By far, the best content distribution for 2017 is to build relationships with influencers.
That way they can share your content with your audience, build links to your site and help you get more organic search traffic.
Sharing your content with your email list and using social media marketing are also of key importance to be able to reach your audience.
Guest blogging is not going away; it is a great way to reach a new audience.
Paid distribution so far is small compared to other strategies, but it shows that it could grow dramatically in the near future, mainly because of its simplicity and the ability to reach your target audience directly.
What are you relying on in your content distribution strategy for 2017? What are your key channels to promote your content? Let us know in the comments below.