Do you want more traffic, conversions, and sales from your content marketing?
In this definitive guide, you’ll learn how to bake Content Distribution into the entire content creation process. This strategy will help you grow your monthly traffic, increase SEO rankings, and generate more leads.
You won’t find a bag of ineffective tricks here. Only a best-of-breed content distribution strategy.
Let’s get started.
Here’s a harsh truth:
Nobody is going to share your content if it’s not jam packed with value. Especially influencers.
The first rule of content marketing is to deliver an insane amount of value. If you’re showing people what to do but not how to do it, then you must go more in-depth.
Take this example from Kinsta. They took a “10x content” approach for when creating their “Beginner’s Guide to Website Speed Optimization:”
At over 10,000 words, it delivers actionable advice covering every aspect of the topic. Not only that, but they wrapped it in a beautiful design to provide the best possible experience.
And the results speak for themselves:
To date, this one piece of content has generated:
How can you emulate Kinsta’s success?
Treat your content like a product. It should be beautifully crafted and built to serve. Readers should come away knowing how to overcome an existing challenge or achieve something they desire.
The question is, how do you pick the right themes and topic to pursue?
Use market data & customer interviews.
In other words, analyze content competition and talk to your best customers.
Follow this approach to find out how:
BuzzSumo is one of my favorite tools for content research and promotion. The social data it provides allows you to identify the right content opportunities while analyzing the competition.
Head to BuzzSumo and type in the keyword relevant to your topic, e.g., “Facebook marketing:”
Open up the top five results. Next, look at these articles for more granular topics.
Sub-headings will show you the way. Here’s an example from a Facebook Marketing article by Social Media Examiner:
Now we’ve uncovered these topics:
Do this for each of the top results in your industry.
You now have a list of topics. The question is, how much demand do they have?
To find out, search each topic in BuzzSumo. Make a note of the number of shares each result gets.
For example, “facebook messenger marketing” generates between 1,800 and 5,800 social shares. This is a good indicator that this topic is popular.
Next, it’s time to analyze search data. This isn’t to be confused with keyword research. You’re merely validating topic demand.
For a comprehensive look at keyword research, I highly recommend Backlinko’s guide, which you can read here.
The Ahrefs “Keywords Explorer” feature is perfect for this job. Here’s the data we get for “facebook messenger marketing”:
There are approx. 320 global searches a month, with a low keyword difficulty.
Messenger marketing is a relatively new topic. Looking at Google Trends, we can see it’s generating more traction over time. So now would be a good time to strike while the iron is hot.
Record these metrics in a spreadsheet like this:
Your existing audience is one of the best sources of content ideas. By interviewing them, you’re getting insight straight from the horse’s mouth.
There are two approaches to this: surveys and customer interviews.
Use Google Forms or Typeform to build your survey. Ask a series of broad questions about their challenges and pains.
Include three to five multiple-choice question and one open-ended question. This reduces friction and increases the completion rate of your form.
Below is a recent survey example from Hiten Shah. Although the goal was product design, the principles are the same:
These questions were designed to gain a crucial understanding of their audience and their current challenges.
Next, schedule customer interviews with those interested in doing so.
Follow this framework:
For more information on customer interviews, check out Alex Turnbull’s guide on the Groove blog.
You should now have a list of proven topics to work with.
To cut through the noise, create content that’s better than anything out there on your chosen topics.
By treating your content as a product, you’ll create the best content possible. You’ll also promote it like one.
Analyze the most popular content on your chosen topic and look for the following:
Make a list of things to include to ensure your content is better. Include third-party statistics, imagery, and stories to capture the attention of your audience.
So, now you have a killer piece of content.
It’s time to distribute it.
Let’s face it; there’s a lot of clutter on every marketing channel out there.
To cut through the noise, you need to create contextual content.
Because your audience expects a level of quality from their favorite websites. Give them that experience, and they’ll love you in return.
Creating content for each channel can be daunting. So instead of starting from scratch, try this:
Take your killer piece of content and repurpose it for each platform.
Here’s how you do it.
Video content is only getting bigger. Especially in 2018.
But there’s a right way to do it (especially in the B2B world).
When selecting the topic of your video, you can either:
Using these options, I could turn this very guide you’re reading into these videos:
For example, Rand Fishkin creates a weekly “Whiteboard Friday” video for the Moz channel:
These videos teach marketers about granular topics in the SEO and content marketing field.
He’s set an expectation on the format, frequency, and quality of content. Which is why his series has become so popular.
Furthermore, he includes a link in the description of each video to drive traffic to the Moz website:
Another great example comes from Brian Dean of Backlinko. He takes his blog content and spins them into standalone YouTube videos.
This time, instead of a description link, he includes a call-to-action at the end of the video:
Look to your favorite brands for inspiration. How are they using video to engage with their audience on channels like YouTube? Apply your content to proven video marketing principles to expand your audience.
Did you know:
Content that includes images yield a 150% increase in engagement than text-only posts.
Repurposing your content in this manner helps with distribution and also increases its “perceived value.”
For example, SlideShare is a presentation platform for creators to present their ideas visually. They’re easy to make and provide link building and referral traffic opportunities.
To use this in your distribution strategy, take broad lessons from your content and create slides on them.
Here’s an example from SaaS platform Brandfolder:
Instead of adding lots of text, summarize ideas from the original article in short, easy-to-read chunks.
Infographics are also highly effective. They’re more resource-intensive, but the backlink opportunities and social shares are worth it.
Here’s a four-step process to get started:
Self-service publishing platforms can provide quick wins. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular: LinkedIn Pulse and Medium.
Use one of the following two methods:
I recently helped SpotRight create a long-form piece of content and repurpose it on LinkedIn. We took a subsection of the content and expanded upon it for their LinkedIn audience:
This approach establishes thought leadership and enhances the personal brand of your entire team at the same time.
There’s an online community for any topic you can think of.
The trouble is, many people treat them as dumping grounds for their content.
For community marketing to work, you need to become a trusted authority before sharing your content.
Let’s say you’re looking for a community of engaged B2B marketers. Search for the following terms in Google:
Here, we find a Quora post which lists several B2B marketing communities:
Next, evaluate each community by the following criteria:
Inbound.org is a great example of a B2B marketing community. It has over 200,000 members and lots of buzz around trending content.
Now it’s time to get to work.
You need to make engagement a daily practice.
Becoming a recognized name is key to making this work. If you sign up to spam your content, you’ll get ignored or even banned from the community.
Join in on popular discussions. Read the content members share, share your thoughts, and offer additional insights.
Contribute to Q&A threads with valuable, in-depth answers:
Share your thoughts and appreciation on other people’s content. Add new ideas and get a debate going:
Keep these two things in mind when engaging with communities:
It’s your job to add value to the community in the right format.
Once you’ve made yourself known, then it’s time to share content with them.
As I mentioned above, it’s essential to work in the context of the community. Your distribution efforts should reflect this.
For example, Quora rewards in-depth answers to user questions. If your response includes nothing but a link to your article, you’ll be ignored.
This provides you with a great opportunity to repurpose your content. Look for questions related to your content and repurpose it into an answer:
Follow this process:
Remember, your first mission is to serve. Traffic and conversions will follow.d
When it comes to tapping into a wider audience and building new business opportunities, guest blogging is still effective.
When done right, guest blogging can help you:
Most importantly, it’s also one of the best ways to engage with influencers.
Traditional influencer marketing advice says “share their content and engage with them on social media.”
From an influencer perspective, this adds very little value.
Most influencers are working hard to promote their own content. Awareness, distribution, and exposure is important to them.
Therefore, featuring them on blogs and publications with a large audience adds real value. This is how you build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with influencers.
Here’s how to get the most out of your guest blogging efforts:
Not all blogs are equal. To get the best results, you must secure placements in authoritative publications.
Here’s a criteria when looking for opportunities:
The last point is key. There’s no point in reaching out if they don’t accept contributions. To find those that do, search for these queries on Google:
Next, you’ll need to find the right person to reach out to. Head over to LinkedIn and search for blog name + “editor,” “content” or “blog:”
Keep all this information in a spreadsheet, including the metrics used for our criteria (DA, shares etc.):
Now you’re going to reach out to these contacts.
Most marketers make the mistake of finishing a piece and submitting it. Do not do this. Most publications prefer to receive pitches rather than finished pieces.
By pitching ideas, it shows you’ve done your homework. Which is exactly what you’re going to do.
Head of to BuzzSumo and enter the publication URL. Look at the top 10 most shared articles.
For example, CrazyEgg’s most shared content formats are lists and how-to information:
Next, head over to the blog itself and look at what the most recent blog posts cover. You want to avoid these topics, as editors will want to publish fresh content on a variety of subjects.
Don’t start your outreach with a pitch. Instead, ask them if they’re still accepting contributors and show them your existing work.
I was just checking out the guidelines for Super Awesome Blog and was wondering if you were accepting guest posts?
I have a few ideas I think would be great for your audience. Here are some examples of other posts I’ve written:
Would you like to hear my ideas?
Once they reply, that’s when you share your topic ideas.
Once you’ve worked with blog editors and agreed on a topic, it’s time to get writing.
But first, you need to get influencers involved.
This is where you can 10x your guest blogging results. By working with influencers, you’re getting them in front of a new audience and increasing the perceived value of your own content.
Identify influencers who are qualified to provide advice on a specific topic. For example, if you’re writing about “side project marketing”, reach out to those who have written about it or done it themselves.
Search Google to find the top posts on the topic:
Find the author and check out their Twitter audience size. You should engage with thought leaders who have at least 5,000 Twitter followers:
Engage with them by sharing their content and Tweeting @ them. If they follow you back, send a brief direct message.
Not only does this enhance your content, but also provide a new audience to expand into.
Email outreach is incredibly effective.
Would you rather wait for people to come to you, or go on the offensive?
By creating outreach systems, you can get more eyeballs on your content within the first 24 hours of publishing.
With this approach, you put your content in front of those who will boost your results.
Personalization is non-negotiable.
The problem is, most marketers are doing it wrong.
Here’s what most outreach emails look like:
I just read your article “100 Content Promotion Channels to Supercharge Your Traffic.”
Such an awesome article! I actually created something similar that you might like called “20 Tips for Quora Marketing.”
You can check it out here: &URL_GOES_HERE%
If you enjoy it, I’d appreciate a Tweet. Either way, keep up the good work!
Most influencers are aware that these scripts have been automated. They go straight into the “ignore” pile as a result.
Tim Soulo, Head of Marketing at Ahrefs, puts it best:
Everyone loves to be praised, right? That is why every outreach template that you’ll find will start with a few words of praise. And it’s usually ugly as hell.
You should never use this kind of templated flattery in your outreach emails. Either say something meaningful or don’t say anything.”
Here are some approaches to personalization you should consider testing:
Targeting is a core foundation to outreach.
Get into a conversational mindset. Your mission is to connect one-to-one with influential thought leaders, not spam hundreds of people a link to your content.
Some bloggers and influencers are more famous than others, meaning some will be busier than others. Outreach targets can be categorized into four lists:
Tier 2 and 3 are the sweet-spot. They’re not too sought-after (like Tier 1) but they have a sizeable audience worthy of your efforts (unlike Tier 4).
According to YesWare, you have a 21% chance of generating a response from a follow-up email.
Yes, following up is important. But it’s important not to overdo it.
The question is, how many follow-up emails should you send when distributing your content?
My answer is one.
There’s not much you can say after one follow-up. Sure, if this was a sales conversation, you would continue to nurture them with additional content and advice until you progressed the opportunity.
For content distribution, one follow-up email will do.
Social media is still an important part of content distribution.
And while it’s still not 100% clear, it’s safe to assume social signals play a big part in Google rankings.
So, how do you use social media to effectively distribute content and drive traffic?
Here are some content distribution techniques to add to your social media strategy.
This comes back to the principle of repurposing.
On social media, visual content tends to perform better. In fact, Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.
Take quotes from your content and apply them to images. Use good looking typography and background images to grab attention. Pablo by Buffer can help you create these quickly:
Video applies here, too. Take your mobile phone and talk about an overarching theme covered in your target content.
For example, if I were to shoot a Facebook video for this guide on content distribution, I would talk about why it’s important, the mistakes people make, and the results I’ve generated.
Pre-load your social media efforts with snippets. These are pre-made Tweets, posts, and videos that you can schedule across all social platforms.
Create 20 or more of the following:
Save these in a Google Doc and share with your team. This empowers other employees outside of marketing to contribute to your promotional efforts.
It’s okay to post multiple times. In fact, this has been proven to increase social engagement, as Tom Tunguz found from an experiment he ran.
In it, he re-posted the same content on Twitter several times. He found that by doing this, he generated a 75% increase in retweets:
You can use Buffer or Meet Edgar to schedule and rotate your content over the course of several weeks. This “snippet and schedule” approach allows you to maximize your social reach automatically.
Finally, give your content a push using sponsored social ads. I call this “Content Boosting” and can be prioritized in two ways:
By giving new content an initial boost, you’ll increase social shares and produce an initial spike of traffic it needs to gain traction. Here’s an example of Content Boosting using Twitter ads:
You can also use Content Boosting to drive traffic to your lead magnets. This generates long-term ROI from your paid amplification efforts.
When I first began using this content distribution strategy, I managed to rank at the top of page 1 for a highly competitive term without any proactive link building.
It surprised me, but the community engagement and guest blogging alone carried my content to the top of Google.
These days, the content space is far more competitive. So I ensure link building is part of the entire process.
Here are four techniques I use every time I hit publish.
In the old days, I would fret over the number of backlinks my content was generating. Now I know that quality is the most important qualifier for backlinks.
Measure backlink opportunity using these metrics:
I use the DR and PR measurements in Ahrefs to uncover these metrics. First, enter competing content into the Site Explorer, and then head to “Backlinks.”
You’ll be given a list of pages that have linked to this content. Order by DR and measure each link opportunity by the two metrics mentioned above.
Aim for targets with a DA that’s greater than 60. It’s much easier to get a handful of these than a bunch of links from DA 20 sites.
Much of this was covered in chapter 5. But when it comes to link building, keep these outreach principles in mind:
Make sure you personalize every email you send. Engage with them on their blog and social profiles before reaching out in order to make this easier.
Resource pages exist solely to provide external content to readers. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a resource page for you.
Start by Google searching phrases like:
Start by checking for broken links. This will give you an effective “excuse” for reaching out.
Make sure your content is a good fit, and then find the right person to reach out to. Use the principles from chapter 5 to find the right contact.
Use this on high-profile influencers and authoritative sites.
This “content enhancement” method takes the value-add principle and turns it up to 11. Here’s how it works:
Let’s use the “productivity hacks” niche as a hypothetical example. Let’s say I wanted to get a link from this article:
I would look through each “hack” and find a way to enhance the content for them. In this case, the article includes a section on creating email templates:
To enhance the content, I could write out a list of example templates to send for frequent occasions. Alternatively, a framework to help readers create their own.
Visual content works even better, as it increases the perceived value of the content. Going back to this article, there’s a section that would work well:
Here, I would create an infographic-style image that visualizes the matrix they outline. This provides a quick-win for the author while providing you with a high-quality backlink as a result.
Your existing content is a treasure trove of traffic and leads waiting to be tapped into.
To end this guide, here’s a three-step process to optimize your current content to generate more readers, conversions, and a boost in Google.
The first step is to check Google Analytics for your highest and lowest performing content.
Look for content that fits these criteria:
Your most popular pages are your best marketing assets. You can quickly improve conversion rate by optimizing them
Then there are pages with very little traffic. These are several ways you can optimize these for better results, which we’ll explore shortly.
Finally, look for content that ranks for specific keywords on page 2 of the SERPs and beyond. With a little on-page optimization, you can boost the ranking of these pages for more traffic.
To uncover these pages, head to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages:
Now you’ve uncovered your content opportunities. It’s time to optimize them for more traffic and conversions.
First, improve your highest performing content. If it has a low time-on-site (or dwell time), then consider improving readability. Make the introduction shorter and demonstrate value quickly. Break-up any paragraphs with more than 3 sentences.
Content that generates the least amount of traffic also provide opportunities. Evaluate each and decide if they fit into one of these two categories:
I advocate a less is more philosophy. If you can merge content together to make it into a single, high-performing piece, then you should absolutely do this.
Finally, identify keywords you can be ranking for in Google. Optimize your content to target these keywords and include them in subheadings. Compare them to your primary keyword. If a keyword has more monthly searches than your current target keyword, consider optimizing for that term.
Content marketing only works if you get it in front of you audience. Using this playbook, you’ll achieve better results from your content efforts quickly.
Which of these strategies are you going to try next? Perhaps you’re already seeing results!
Share your experiences and goals in the comments below.