By Aaron Taube
For many content marketers, the biggest challenge lies not in creating stories that people will love, but rather in getting people to read those stories in the first place.
Even if you have outstanding content, you won’t be able to shift your brand’s perception among consumers unless you have first developed a smart strategy for distributing your stories to the right people, in a way that entices them to check out what you have to offer.
With that in mind, here are the four key steps to creating a robust content distribution strategy:
1. Work with a wide array of partners.
One mistake marketers often make is that they frequently will work with just one or two distribution partners while ignoring everyone else. Unfortunately, today’s audience doesn’t just live on social media sites like Facebook or news sites like CNN, but rather it’s spread out across a multitude of platforms and publishers.
In order to reach everyone, it’s best that marketers distribute their content across three different kinds of partners: social (networks like Facebook and Twitter), native (companies like Sharethrough and TripleLift that offer in-feed placements on major sites like Forbes and USA Today), and content discovery (“more from around the web” providers like Taboola and Outbrain).
In choosing partners across these three categories, you should make sure they meet three criteria:
1. Does the native or content discovery partner give us access to the publishers that are most popular with our target audience? You’re trying to reach your potential customers, after all.
2. Does the partner allow readers to click through to consume the content on a site owned by the brand? This creates a stronger brand experience than if the reader were to merely read the content on a publisher site like Buzzfeed.
3. Does the partner allow us to buy impressions on a cost-per-engagement or cost-per-click basis? The ultimate goal is for people to read your stories and watch your videos, so it doesn’t make sense to pay for a bunch of impressions and pray that people will click through to your content.
2. Use data to determine which content and channels are performing the best.
The only way to really know that your content is maximizing its potential is to test a variety of options with real consumers and see how they perform.
For every piece of content you create, you should be testing 3-5 headlines and 2-3 thumbnail images. As you might expect, the combinations that do the best job of driving readers to your content are the ones you should to put more money behind.
You can also adjust your spend based on similar comparisons between the different pieces of content in your campaign and the different distribution partners you work with.
3. Use the right metrics.
The true measure of a successful content campaign is what happens after the reader clicks on a story or hits the play button on a video. So instead of evaluating your performance based on click-throughs, you should employ a cocktail of the following engagement metrics:
1. Time in view. Otherwise known as active dwell time, this metric determines the amount of time a user spends with a piece of content. By keeping tabs on whether a person moves his or her mouse at least once every three seconds, we can determine just how much attention your brand is getting.
2. Scroll depth and scroll velocity. These two metrics help gauge whether people are reading all the way through your stories. They’re useful both for weeding out automated bots and showing you whether you’ve held the reader’s attention after the click.
3. Completed video views. If you’re working in video, you want people to watch all the way through.
4. Social actions. If your content is really making an impression, your audience will share it with their friends on social media or engage with your brand further with likes and comments.
4. Optimize your future campaigns based on long-term insights.
By looking at the long-term performance of your content, you can make adjustments that increase your effectiveness moving forward.
Among other things, the data can tell you when a certain writing style generates the most traction with your audience and which kinds of content work best on a specific channel.
For instance, when Pulsepoint worked with TaylorMade Golf, it found that the best performing stories were its tour reports and stories about the pro golfers the brand sponsors, and that people preferred videos that were around 2 minutes in length.
By employing the strategy outlined above, TaylorMade-Adidas was able to effectively spread its stories across a number of key partners, achieving 152% more time spent on its content than the industry average.
While this level performance takes time, hard work, and knowledgeable partners, following these four steps will put you well on your way to a killer content distribution strategy.
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