Forrester recently released a report pointing out the failure of most content marketers to plan for adequate content distribution. And they’re right.
Marketers are slaving over content today, but almost no one sees that content.
Optimizing your content for search and distributing it through your own social and email channels is just the starting place. For most B2B marketers, it isn’t nearly enough.
So what else can you do? Start incorporating content into your advertising. After all, content tells your story better than any creative execution can, right?
With that, here are 22 opportunities to incorporate content distribution into your paid media or advertising programs. Please add your favorites or your experience in the comments below!
There are some places where sharing and discovering content is natural. Great content, promoted in these places, can earn significant additional distribution. For consumable, spreadable content without a strong sales or company spin, start with this list.
1. Promoted Tweets
Targeting on Twitter requires some creativity but it is one of the best places for B2B content to be promoted and then organically spread. Identify key influencers (I highly recommend Little Bird here if you are targeting a new area) and combine influencer and keyword targeting.
Tip: don’t add hashtags to your promoted tweets, you will end up paying every time someone clicks your linked #hashtag!
2. LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
You simply can’t beat the B2B targeting capabilities of LinkedIn and with Sponsored Updates you can put your content in the home stream with all of the benefits of LinkedIn’s targeting. While the program is new, it has the potential to replace Twitter as the first choice to seed content through paid promotions.
3. Facebook Ads
Facebook’s targeting options for B2B marketers are far better than many people give it credit for. Try typing job titles, industries, affiliations or companies in the self-serve platform, you may be surprised by what is available.
Alternatively, check out the work BlitzMetrics is doing for some B2B marketers. They are taking targeting to a level some list providers can’t even match.
4. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
StumbleUpon’s paid program delivers traffic directly to your site, they never even click. That translates to lower cost, but also lower average traffic quality. If you test it, watch your quality metrics carefully.
Reddit, with a public downvote feature, can be downright brutal to marketers that saunter in for the first time with a promotional message. But with the right content, Reddit has the potential to deliver an interested and engaged audience at a lower cost than almost any other social outlet.
6. Influencer Networks
From blogging networks like IZEA and Triberr to influencer programs like Klout, use the audience individuals or small companies have built to reach your audience. Although these programs are far more common in consumer marketing, there are interesting and still relatively untapped opportunities for creative B2B marketers.
Before you scream about Klout’s inclusion: I agree, Klout doesn’t measure influence the way most of us would define it. But what it does measure is actually far more important to many marketers: the ability to distribute content. That is the basis that marketers already evaluate advertising partners on and Klout (and similar companies) measure the ability to distribute, which is still what many marketers are looking for.
7. Employees and Partners
This isn’t paid distribution in the traditional sense but it deserves inclusion in this list. GaggleAMP and Addvocate are examples of platforms that make it easier to include your partners and employees in your content distribution and for you to monitor and track results. If you have grown to more than a few people and aren’t already using a similar service, check them out.
Choose your content carefully and start with the platforms you already know and use. On sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon, your traditional content may be unwelcome and your form simply won’t work.
Content Distribution Options
What if you could integrate links to your content in other sites, not as ads but as related or additional content? Of course you can (anything is for sale in the publishing world these days).
These links generally deliver a significant lower traffic cost than advertising programs and they have quickly become a favorite for publishers looking to drive traffic to individual articles or increase advertising page views.
Outbrain recently booted low quality advertisers out of its network in a bid to make it more attractive to both the best publishers and brand marketers. Campaigns run as related content or additional content text links, generally at the end of articles, across a broad range of publications.
Taboola has focused on building a network of the largest properties. Some B2B marketers may find that the audience is too broad but for visual and article-style content, Taboola’s image and headline format will work well.
One of the top commenting platforms, Disqus brings a large base of blogs and mid-sized publishers. Keep an eye on them, I expect Disqus’s offerings to become much more interesting to B2B marketers in the next year.
Content distribution networks are growing quickly, expect to see more entrants and improved audience targeting in the next year.
Host and Promote Your Content
Your content may get more distribution if it doesn’t just live on your own site. With sizable audiences, promotion options, search advantages and the opportunity to develop a specific following, these sites should definitely be in your consideration set.
Don’t just embed a SlideShare presentation in your content. Ensure your SlideShare can stand on its own and promote it directly on SlideShare.
In addition to direct promotions on SlideShare, LinkedIn now has offerings to promote SlideShare presentations with the benefits of LinkedIn’s targeting.
This SlideShare from Doug Kessler is a great example of a presentation that stands on its own.
If you use video, there is a good chance it is already on YouTube. Don’t forget that you can also promote your YouTube videos (done through Adwords. I know, that isn’t intuitive at all).
Placing your Content
Driving traffic to content on your sites or accounts isn’t the only option and for some marketers, it might not even be the best place to start. Here are options to distribute your content directly to someone else’s audience.
13. Forbes BrandVoice
This is one of the original and largest options for native content publishing. Your articles, published directly on Forbes.com.
14. Native Content Publishing
Following the lead of Forbes and others, many B2B trade publications are rolling out their own native publishing programs.
15. Sponsored Posts
Similar to native publishing, sponsored posts allow one-time publishing of sponsored content on a publisher’s site. Sponsored posts are generally available on blogs and publications that follow a blog format, such as GigaOM.
16. Print Advertorials
Too some, this is just the granddaddy of today’s native advertising, but print advertorials continue to allow much more of a sales spin than many publications will accept as a sponsored post or native published article.
A number of B2B trade publications offer the email equivalent of an advertorial, allowing you to share an entire article or perspective in email instead of an additional click away. Of course, you can take this approach with a list rental as well, although often at a significantly higher cost.
18. Content Syndication
Long form content like white papers and ebooks can be hosted, promoted and even gated within a publisher’s site, often on a cost per contact captured basis. More info on content syndication options.
Are you looking to promote longer form content or capture registrations for access to content? If so, search should be at the top of your list. Although the cost per visit will be significantly higher and it isn’t likely to drive significant organic social sharing, search continues to drive some of the highest quality traffic, particularly for marketers focused on registration capture.
Google still reigns as the king of search with approximately two-thirds of all US searches. If you are not already running search, start with Google. (My apologies for the misdirection to folks in select markets where Google is not the leader). For the best results when you are first starting, do not run on the display network and consider further limiting your program to only core search.
Although combined they have about 40% of Google’s overall search volume, they are less important to most B2B marketers than the market share would indicate. Look at these (and other) search engines as opportunities to expand an effective program.
And there is always advertising. Online banner ads are not the most cost effective way to promote your content, with relatively high prices and relatively low response rates versus most of the other options here. However, banners provide broader reach and the message does not need to focus exclusively on the content, making these two exceptions worth considering as part of your content distribution plans.
OneSpot is half content distribution network, half ad network. Like an ad network, OneSpot can use a broad range of profile, behavioral and contextual targeting, something the content distribution networks are missing (today). But like a content distribution network, the creative is all about the content. OneSpot handles all of the creative development starting from your content, making it nearly as easy to launch as a content distribution network.
The most cost effective element of a display campaign is generally retargeting. With relatively low media costs ($2 to $5 CPM) and the opportunity to extend your nurture program logic into display, retargeting is a useful option for sharing additional content with people who have already visited your site.
What has your experience been with these solutions or what would you add to the list? Share your feedback in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).