Are you trying to generate more traffic and conversions from your content marketing?
In this practical guide, you’ll learn actionable content distribution techniques to generate a wider audience today. These approaches will help you capture more monthly traffic, increase search rankings and generate more qualified leads.
You won’t find an outdated bag of tricks here. We’ve laid out some of the best strategies from the content distribution methodology we use to serve our clients.
Let’s get started.
Nobody is going to share your content if it’s not jam-packed with value. Including influencers and senior decision makers
The first rule of content marketing is to deliver an insane amount of value. This usually means show people what to do and how to do it.
But what does this look like? In recent years, content marketers have focused on wordcount and length. But this measurement doesn’t necessarily mean a piece of content is of high quality.
A better measurement would be how useful that content is.
For example, if you’re delivering basic knowledge and abstract theory in a 4,000-word piece, you’re not going to cut through the noise.
To generate attention – both in the form of short-term traffic and long-term rankings — your content must be practical, easy to understand and unique.
Take this example from Kinsta. They took a “10x content” approach for 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.
Yes, it’s got an above-average wordcount. But it contains everything anybody needs to know on the topic of website speed.
The results speak for themselves:
To date, this single piece of content has generated:
So, how can you emulate this level of success?
A good mindset is totreat your content like a product. It should be beautifully crafted and designed to serve your audience. Your readers must come away with a deep understanding of how to overcome an existing challenge (or achieve a goal).
Next, you must pick the right topics. Topic ideation is tricky, and your entire content strategy can collapse if you don’t do it correctly.
Many marketers start with keyword- and influencer-driven research. But the correct place to start is through customer interviews.
In other words, talk to your best customers and find out what challenges they’re trying to overcome.
We cover everything you need to know about customer research and interviews in our free eBook “The Content Distribution Playbook.”
For now, here’s a simple data-driven process to uncover themes and seed your content ideation:
BuzzSumo is one of our favorite tools for content research and promotion. The social listening tool provides enough data to identify the best content opportunities while analyzing the competition.
Head to BuzzSumo and type in the keyword relevant to your topic, e.g., “facebook marketing:”
Open the top five results in a new tab. Next, read through each article to uncover granular topics.
Sub-headings usually provide all the insight you need. Here’s an example from a Facebook Marketing article by Social Media Examiner:
From this one article alone, we’ve uncovered the following themes:
Do this for each of the top results. Eventually, you’ll have a list of themes to fuel your content research.
The next step is to measure how much demand there is for each
To uncover this data, search for each theme you found in the previous step 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 indication 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.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive look at keyword research, I highly recommend Backlinko’s guide, which you can read here.
In terms of tools, Ahrefs’ “Keywords Explorer” feature is perfect for this job. Here’s the data we get for “facebook messenger marketing”:
There are around 320 global searches a month, with a low keyword difficulty to boot.
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 customers are the best source of content ideas. By uncovering their challenges, motivations and language, you’re getting your insights straight from the people you’re trying to attract.
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 pain-points.
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 his goal was to create a product people want, the principles are the same:
Hiten designed these questions to get a crucial understanding of his audience and their current challenges.
Next, schedule customer interviews with those who expressed an interest. These interviews are where you’ll get the majority of your insights. You’ll also uncover the right content distribution channels.
Here’s a simple framework you can follow:
You should now have a list of proven topics to work with.
To cut through the noise, you must create content that’s better than anything out there on your chosen topic.
By treating your content as a product, you’ll create valuable content that truly serves your audience. It will also be much easier to promote, making content distribution a breeze.
Analyze popular blog posts on your chosen topic and identify the following opportunities:
Make a list of sub-sections, elements and ideas to include. Add third-party statistics, imagery and stories to capture the attention of your audience.
Once you have a piece of content of superb quality, it’s time to distribute it.
Many marketers treat social media platforms and other channels as a dumping ground for their content.
But these channels (and the algorithms behind them) have built audience expectations toward high-quality content.
In order to capture this attention, you must give them the experience they’ve come to expect. The best way to do this is to <b>repurpose your content within the context of each content distribution channel</b>.
Here’s how you do it.
Video content is growing in popularity. In 2019, more consumers and buyers alike will come to expect video content from their favorite brands and vendors.
The format of your video content will depend on your audience and the content you’re serving.
For example, when selecting the topic of your video, you can either:
Using these options, I could turn the guide you’re currently reading into these videos:
For example, Rand Fishkin creates a weekly “Whiteboard Friday” video for the Moz channel:
These videos teach marketers about innovative topics in the SEO and content marketing field.
He’s set an expectation on the format, frequency and quality of content. Which is why the series has become so popular.
Furthermore, he includes a link to the corresponding blog post in the description of each video to drive traffic to the Moz website:
Another great example comes from Brian Dean of Backlinko. He takes topics covered in his blog and repurposes them into engaging and entertaining YouTube videos.
Instead of just including a description link, he added a call-to-action within the video itself:
Get inspiration from your favorite brands. How are they currently using video to engage with their audience? Couple these with proven video marketing principles to promote your content in new channels.
Did you know that 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business
Repurposing your content into visual content not only increases the perceived value, but it also contributes directly to content distribution and link building efforts.
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:
Avoid using large amounts of text. Instead, summarize ideas from the original article in easy-to-read chunks.
Infographics are also highly effective. They’re more resource-intensive, but the backlink and distribution opportunities are worth it.
Here’s a four-step process to get started:
LinkedIn Pulse and Medium can provide quick content distribution wins.
Here are two methods to follow when repurposing content on one of these platforms:
I recently helped SpotRight create a long-form piece of content and repurpose it on LinkedIn. We took a sub-topic from the content and expanded upon it for their LinkedIn audience:
This approach not only establishes thought leadership, it builds the personal brand of your entire team.
If you can think of a topic, it’s likely there’s a community built around it. From Facebook Groups to online forums, people converse around their passion, job role and industry on a regular basis.
The trouble is, many people treat these communities as a dumping ground 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. One way to identify them would be to Google the following terms:
Here, we find a Quora post which lists several B2B marketing communities:
Next, evaluate each community by the following criteria:
Growth Hackers is a great example of a marketing community. Not only does it allow content sharing, it also has a passionate and engaged audience.
If you join communities only to dump your content, it’s likely you’ll be ignored, or even banned.
In order to get the most out of communities, contribute to discussion on a regular basis. Read the content that members share, offer your advice and answer any questions that members ask.
For example, here’s how I contribute to a Q&A thread with valuable, in-depth answers:
You can also share your thoughts and appreciation on other people’s content. Add new ideas and get a debate going:
When engaging with communities, be sure to follow these two simple guidelines:
Once you’ve made yourself known, only then it’s time to share content with them.
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.
Guest blogging is still an effective way to expand your audience and build your personal brand.
When done correctly, guest blogging can help you:
Most importantly, it’s also one of the best ways to build strong relationships.
Traditional influencer marketing advice usually tells you to “share their content and engage with them on social media.”
From an influencer perspective, this adds very little value.
Most thought leaders and senior decision makers are working hard to promote thier content and grow their businesses.
They value awareness, distribution and exposure that helps them get further towards their goals.
Therefore, featuring them on the publications you contribute to adds true value. This is how you build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with.
Here’s how you do it:
Not all blogs are equal. To get the best results, focus on guest blogging for authoritative publications.
Here’s a checklist to use 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, identify 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 it’s time to reach out.
But beware of this mistake:
Most marketers write a guest post and submit it to editors before pitching their ideas.
Do not do this.
Most publications prefer to receive topic ideas and collaborate on content rather than receive finished pieces. Not only that, but if it’s not a good fit, they’ll reject it. Meaning all your hard work was for nothing.
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.
Look at which formats perform best. Are they strategic or tactical in nature? Opinion pieces or how-to guides?
When reaching out, don’t begin your email with the pitch. Instead, ask them if they’re 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 while increasing the value of your 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 profile:
Engage with them by sharing their content and Tweeting @ them. If they follow you back, send a brief direct message.
Take their insight and inject it into your content. Use quotes and unwrap the lessons and advice they give you, turning that into practical information.
Once you’ve written your content, submit it to the editor. When it goes live, let everyone involved know.
You now have solid influencer relationships built on value.
Email outreach can be incredibly effective.
Would you rather wait for people to come to you, or go on the offensive?
By creating outreach workflows, 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.”
The core principle behind relationship-driven content distribution is adding value first. In the previous chapter, you discovered how to do this with your guest blogging efforts.
Personalization is key. But it will only take you so far. Here’s how you can blend value-driven relationship principles with personalization:
For outreach to work, you must be targeting the right people.
Get into a conversational mindset. Connect with influential thought leaders on a deep and personal level.
Don’t spam hundreds of people a link to your content hoping they’ll share it.
Many bloggers, journalists and thought leaders are more famous than others. The busier they are, the harder they’ll be to reach out to.
Segment your outreach targets into the following tiers:
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.
Following up is important. But you shouldn’t overdo it.
The question is, how many follow-up emails should you send when distributing your content?
My answer is one. Two at a maximum.
There’s not much you can say after one follow-up.
Sure, if this were a sales conversation, you would continue to nurture them with additional content and advice until you progressed the opportunity.
For content distribution, one or two follow-up emails will do.
Social media is still an important pillar in the content distribution mix.
The question is, how do you use social media to effectively promote content and drive traffic?
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 modern typography and eye-catching imagery to grab attention. Pablo by Buffer can help you create these quickly:
This approach also applies to video content. You don’t need to get fancy, just use your mobile phone to talk about the themes and lessons covered in your content.
For example, if I were to shoot a Facebook video on content distribution, I could talk about why it’s important, the mistakes people make and the results we’ve generated for clients.
Pre-load your social media efforts with social snippets. These are Tweets, Facebook or LinkedIn posts and videos that you can create in advance and schedule across each social platform.
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.
Tom posted the same content on Twitter several times. He found that by doing this, he generated a 75% increase in retweets:
Finally, give your content a push using sponsored social ads. You can prioritize this approach 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 how dotmailer uses Twitter Ads to amplify their content:
You can also use paid media to drive traffic to your lead magnets. Use retargeting to offer eBooks, Webinars etc. to readers and visitors who have not yet converted.
Depending on the competitive landscape of your target keyword, you might not need to do a lot of link building in order to rank
Sometimes, all you need is a 10x content approach and some community-driven distribution to get results.
However, link building is still part of our mandate. Even if you’re ranking high, you’ll need an extra push to boost and maintain your rankings.
Many marketers fret over the number of backlinks leading to a particular page. Truth is, 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, 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.
If you’re targeting thought leaders with outdated content and broken link building approaches, chances are you’re not the first to do so.
These approaches can work, but they’re so saturated now that most influencers and thought leaders have seen the same scripts.
Instead, build relationships upfront. Make friends and give value to the influencers who have engaged followers. Give value to bloggers and journalists who create high value links in your space.
For a more detailed approach on this, check out the Content Distribution Playbook. It covers a proven strategy to establishing these key relationships.
For now, I want to share some techniques you can bolt-on to your existing content. These are things that can still work in the right market, or with a highly personalized approach.
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 a good reason to reach out.
Make sure your content is a good fit. Then, identify 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.
The Content Enhancement Technique is a great way to kickstart your relationship-driven content distribution efforts. Here’s a simple breakdown on how to do it:
Let’s use the “productivity hacks” niche as an 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.
Remember, these simple techniques can work well. But they’re even better when you’re already established a connection with the influencers in your space. Add value first, and then move on to these approaches.
You’ve put a tremendous amount of work into your existing content. But some pieces will naturally perform better than others.
What if you could optimize your existing content to generate a fresh wave of traffic, increase search rankings and improve conversion rates?
To end this guide, I’ll introduce a three-step content optimization process. Use this when evaluating your content efforts and looking for new opportunities for growth.
First, uncover which content needs a little love.
Look for content that fits any of the following criteria:
Content that generates the most amount of traffic is one of your best marketing assets. Treat them as a landing page in order to generate more conversions from the traffic you’re already getting. Use basic CRO principles and test new calls-to-action and offers.
Then, there are pages that generate very little traffic. There are several ways you can optimize these opportunities for better results, which we’ll explore shortly.
Identify content that ranks for various keywords on page 2 or below on the SERPs. Optimize on-page SEO and update the content to make it more up-to-date and comprehensive.
To find these opportunities, head to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages:
Once you’ve uncovered your content opportunities, it’s time to optimize them.
First, focus on your highest performing content. If it has a low time-on-site (or dwell time) but high conversion rate, then consider improving readability or making it more comprehensive.
Test new approaches, such as shorter introductions to communicate value quickly. Break up large paragraphs into no more than 3 sentences.
There are also opportunities with content that generates the least amount of traffic. Evaluate each piece of content 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 create a single, high-performing piece, then do so.
Finally, identify keywords you can rank higher 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 your content as that primary term.
Content marketing only works if you get it in front of your audience. Using this approach, 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.