I got tired of content marketing because of content distribution.
It just got too hard.
And frankly, the way I see it, creating content is about 60% easier than promoting it.
But after living and breathing content marketing these past few years, failing several times, recovering from the many fails, and now getting around 500 target readers per content piece…
500 readers from one post in a week; it got to 700 later on...
…I’ve realized there are some truths around making the right people find your content.
Now, 500 (or even 1000 visitors) per blog post may seem trivial to you, but it’s the quality of traffic that matters. If those 500 readers are potential customers, then you have a pretty good traffic quality.
And you can almost always judge the quality of traffic by:
- page session duration,
- people who share your content,
- and, ultimately, conversion rates.
For instance, if only 2% (10 people) out of 500 visitors convert, in many (if not most) cases, you’ve got quality traffic coming into your site.
The compounding effect of this number of traffic per content piece is worth noting, too:
One post/wk x 500 readers/wk = 2,000 visits/mo
Two posts/wk x 1,000 readers/wk = 4,000 visits/mo
Three posts/wk x 1,500 readers/wk = 7,500 visits/mo
Four posts/wk x 2,000 readers/wk = 8,000 visits/mo
And so on…
Plus, these traffic numbers get multiplied quickly when you involve paid promotion.
And, of course, as the traffic number increases, so do your conversions.
But again, that depends on traffic quality. If most of the visitors that come through your content are potential customers, your traffic is good, and it’ll show in your conversion rates.
If they aren’t prospects, then your traffic is bad — which would also reflect in your conversion rates and time on page durations.
Let’s define what content distribution is actually, especially in a B2B setting.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is content distribution?
- 1. Create customer-focused content
- 2. Disturb, offend, or mystify
- 3. Don’t focus on Facebook’s 2 billion users for effective B2B content distribution
- 4. Paid ads as a pillar in B2B content distribution
- 5. Search traffic as the #1 traffic driver of all B2B content distribution channels
What is content distribution?
In B2B, success content distribution is the process of promoting your content (video or written) through channels that your target buyers hang around every day – and more importantly, channels where they spend several hours every day.
Now that we’ve crystalized that definition, here’s a five-point customer-focused B2B content distribution plan you can follow to bring quality traffic (AKA potential buyers) to your business:
I could have used ‘create great (or 10x) content’ as the #1 tip here, but that’s not the most important bit of an effective content distribution plan. Your customers are.
When you take a customer-first approach to content, you end up creating customer-focused content pieces that your audience naturally wants to read and share with their connections — AKA people like them, your target customers — because they find it uniquely useful.
(For clarity purposes, customer-focused content is simply content that specifically targets a customer and resonates with their specific interests or challenges).
For example, here’s what a customer-focused content piece looks like:
Fyi’s post on Chrome settings
Why this is a customer-focused content piece:
Wherever this article is shared, it’d drive a traffic of Chrome users who are interested in making the best use of the browser.
You get the idea: these very chrome users are Fyi’s target customers — since they’re selling a chrome extension that helps this audience use chrome to better handle their day-to-day tasks.
Creating customer-focused content like this makes sure your content distribution plan ends up only driving traffic that matters to your business.
But creating customer-focused content starts from understanding customers at an ultra-specific level
Ask yourself: what content would our ideal customers read that others won’t?
Or: what topics are at the hearts of our “dream” customers?
Your answer to these questions (and any other relevant ones you can spawn) helps you form topics you then create customer-focused content on.
It may take in-depth research spanning a number of days to answer these questions, or a few minutes if you’re well versed about your industry.
But in any case, while doing your research, beyond knowing your customers and their interests:
#1. Understand what makes them different
#2. Understand the unique #1 to #5 things that hold their attention
Let’s take these one by one:
#1: Beyond knowing your customers, understand what makes them different
What makes them different should inform the content you create.
This is so that when you start promoting your content, it resonates with your ideal customers, shape their minds about your brand, and even motivate them to share with their connections.
For example, if your target customers are enterprise-level marketers, you need to know what they do that other marketers don’t.
For instance, they’re usually operating with budgets upwards of $2-5 million/year, spending at least $100,000 per month on different channels — which is what marketers in smaller businesses would spend in an entire year.
So naturally, this class of marketers (your hypothetical prospects) are looking for content that speaks to their unique challenges and interests.
This means if you create content on a topic like “how marketers can effectively spend $150k/yr,” it won’t fly with the enterprise-level marketers you’re trying to reach — as much as one along the lines of how to manage $5 million in yearly ad spend effectively.
(By the way, these topic examples are purely for illustration purposes – we create much stronger titles when working with clients).
#2: Don’t just know what interests customers, understand the 1 to 5 things that hold their attention
In my post about generating $150,000/mo through B2B content, I touched on the concept of big vs. big-enough topics…
… where “big topics” refer to topics that get some level of buyer attention, and “big-enough topics” get about 10x more attention than ordinary big ones.
The latter clearly works better and should be your focus when doing content marketing. As pictured below, they’re topics you’d classify as things that rank within #1 to #5 in a prospect’s priority list.
(For this illustration, I’m assuming your target customers are marketers):
Conversely, the big topics column are ways less likely on a prospect’s #1 to #5 list of important things to pay attention to. Not that they aren’t important — they are — but usually not important enough for prospects to pay their utmost attention to.
Ideally, you want to create content on topics that’ll entice your customers to abandon whatever they’re working on and pay attention to you.
“Disturb, offend, or mystify.”
Those are the three words that email marketing expert Ben Settle used to describe David Lynch’s work — in a recent email newsletter.
If you don’t know who Lynch is, he’s a veteran filmmaker, and his movies will school you on the fundamentals of attracting and holding attention’s anyone.
Either they disturb your thinking, offend it, or just make you wonder. Lynch’s work makes his audience pause and pay attention.
It’s the same effect you want your content to have on prospects.
When you look at most of the B2B content that’s been successful in the past, you realize many (if not most) of their titles provoked some form of disturbance, offence, mystery — or something else along these lines.
Let’s look at examples…
Two examples of B2B content titles that performed excellently – thanks to ‘disturb, offend, or mystify…’
FirstRound’s blog posts are easily a pristine example of what B2B content should look like these days.
Almost (if not all) their content mystifies you in one way or another, causing you to pause and pay attention.
Case in point…
If you’re a founder, this topic gets you wondering about what advice Punit Soni (the ex-Googler) has to share.
And that little wonder pushes you to click through the title. Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in, spending several minutes consuming the content.
The article alone drove over 26,000 shares on social media…
Of course, the title isn’t the only reason for number.
But it’s definitely a pillar in the post’s success story.
This post’s topic from Kinsta mystifies you at first sight.
The question that immediately comes to mind is, “How did they hit 7-figures?”
If you’re bootstrapping a startup, you’d want to at least find out what they did and see if you can apply some of their processes to your business to get similar results.
When it comes to B2B content distribution, it’s not important that Facebook has 2 billion users, or that LinkedIn has 500+ million of them.
Clearly impressive numbers, but only a fraction of these users are your target customers.
You must map out a content distribution strategy that focuses on making target customers find your content — out of the sea of users on these platforms.
If you sell a team communication product like Slack, for example, your target customers would mainly be founders and managers (CMOs, VPs, and other types of leaders). To reach these specific people with your content, you want to look for channels that they frequent every day — in their hundreds or thousands.
Following our example here, Slack’s potential customers would hang around platforms like…
But again, you want to get more specific; your traffic quality depends on it. Find specific communities inside these platforms where your target customers spend lots of their networking and social media time every day.
Using the Slack example, their potential customers would:
- Follow influencers like Hiten Shah, Dave Gerhardt, and Andrew Chen
- Read publications like First Round Review, TechCrunch, and FastCompany
- Have daily discussions on Reddit communities like r/startups, r/marketing, etc.
- Search keywords like team bonding, corporate communication, etc.
This way, you drill down on the people who’ll be most interested in your product and reach them through channels they pay attention to.
More importantly, once you understand your ideal content distribution channels this way, you can keep repeating the same process and driving the same results.
When you mash organic promotion up with paid promotion, the results can be explosive — provided the content is really good.
It’s simple math:
content + organic + paid promotion gets more results than content + organic content promotion only.
If your blog is already a (fairly) popular one and drives decent engagement rates, you may not need paid distribution as much as a less-popular blog, since your audience will push your content for free to their followers.
You might only need it when looking to target a new market or a very specific audience that’s hard to target through organic channels.
Needless to say: but for a less-popular blog, you need paid promotion even more.
You need to do all the legwork in getting your first 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 fans. It’s a journey. And you’ll have to spend money — if you’re looking for faster results.
Content marketing is no longer that cheap little strategy we all knew a decade ago. It’s all grown-up now and has high standards. If you’re serious about using it as a growth channel, you’ll spend money.
Most of the top B2B businesses you know today get their largest or 2nd largest traffic numbers from search engines.
I’ll mention two of them:
Search engines are the biggest drivers of traffic, period.
Imagine how it would feel if, in the next two years, all the businesses that started around the same time you did start acquiring hundreds of inbound customers every day/week/month through search optimized content, and you’re not.
It’d be a regretful mistake on your part.
SEO takes time to get off the ground, that’s certain.
But becomes a gift that never stops giving once it’s up and running. So you don’t want to leave it out of your B2B content distribution plan.