By Aaron Agius published July 29, 2019 Est Read Time: 8 min

How to Match Your Content to the Best Distribution Channel

If you don’t distribute your content smartly, you’ll never achieve your brand’s content marketing goals.

But how do you know what are the best channels? This succinct guide outlines which distribution options work well based on your goals and audience.

First, though, you must know two things – who the content is for and what it’s intended to achieve. Knowing your audience members’ intent allows you to craft content that will resonate with them. Knowing the goals of the content lets you identify the purpose of the content (i.e., call to action) for your company as well as for the audience. Both are essential to selecting an appropriate distribution method.

If you need some help in determining audience and goals, check out these resources:

Once you know your goals and your target audience, go through this list to find the preferred distribution channel(s) for successful content marketing execution.

Influencer distribution

The fastest growing strategy for distributing content is through influencers. More than one-fourth of business marketers (26%) report using it in 2019, according to a MailMunch study. Why? People are influenced by personal recommendations more than by any other sales or marketing strategy.

26% of businesses say they use #influencermarketing via @MailMunch. #research Click To Tweet

Goals helped

Audiences reached

The audience you’re reaching through influencers may or may not be yours. If they are people who are in your audience, the influencer connection may strengthen their opinion of or relationship with your brand. If they aren’t already in your audience, the influencer’s mention can introduce your company to them.

TIP: Don’t forget to include the influencer’s content and promotion of your brand in your own distribution channels. People who may not follow the influencer in your audience may be impressed by the mentions.

Relevant content

Yes, you can ask influencers to post about your blog articles in which they are mentioned or which are of interest to their audience, but you can also get more creative. Live stories on Instagram, Facebook, and even Snapchat are becoming go-to content for influencers.

Support your influencers with content that works well in a livestream. Offer to discuss a topic related to your industry or discuss your business. Or draw attention to other content you created, like a blog post, an image, a video, or a podcast.

Support influencers with #content that works well in a livestream, advises @IamAaronAgius. Click To Tweet

TIP: Influencers are more likely to share and talk about content in which they’ve been involved. Incorporate them into your content, whether it’s a quote in a blog post, a demo video, or something else.


Email distribution

Email is the most widespread distribution method. According to data from Statista, 4.3 billion people – half the world’s population – will be using email in 2022 (a 14% increase since 2017). And DMA reports that $1 spent on email marketing returns an average of $32.

Goals helped

  • Brand loyalty.
  • Website traffic.
  • Marketing ROI.
  • Revenue (through up-sells and cross-sells).

Audiences reached

Two broad categories of audiences fit under the email umbrella – your subscribers (i.e., people who have opted to receive your content) and cold or warm contacts (i.e., email addresses you purchased or rented or from third-party distribution).

Focus on your subscriber list. They know your brand and are therefore more receptive to your content than a list of strangers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should send the same email content to everybody in your list. You’re more likely to achieve your goals by segmenting your lists and delivering more targeted content for each segment.

Don’t send the same #email content to everybody in your list. Segment your lists. @IAmAaronAgius Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Weekly or monthly email newsletters are a classic tactic for sharing your content – text, images, and video – and content links to drive traffic to your site.

Since you know something about the recipient, personalize the email. Go beyond “Dear FIRST NAME” and distribute content that’s hyper-relevant based on the person and his or her reason (and timing) for subscribing to your list. Research indicates (and logic dictates) that people want to receive content that’s relevant and accurate to them – their preferences, location, history, etc.

You also could use your email newsletters to cross-promote other brands’ content (still relevant to your audience) and have those companies use your content in their newsletters (a different type of influencer marketing).

Use your e-newsletters to cross-promote another brand’s content, says @ IamAaronAgius. Click To Tweet

TIP: Create an automated email campaign with evergreen content. For example, when someone subscribes, a welcome email is sent with content about the company’s values.


Organic social media distribution

The social landscape is evolving with the rise in live stories and streaming. It’s increasingly becoming a channel for immediacy, intimacy, and interactivity.

Goals helped

  • Brand awareness.
  • Market research.
  • Relationship-building.
  • Lead generation.
  • Website traffic.

Audiences reached

Sharing your content on your social media channels will reach the audience you have grown on those platforms. Each audience typically reflects the people naturally drawn to use those channels. Let’s look at this breakdown excerpt from Social Sprout:

  • Facebook use (most used social platform).
    • 68% of adults.
    • Over 60% of all age groups.
    • 54% women and 46% men.
  • Instagram use (visual-oriented platform).
    • 35% of adults.
    • Highest concentrations – 72% of ages 13 to 17 and 64% of ages 18 to 29.
    • Slightly more popular with women.
  • LinkedIn use (primarily B2B).
    • 25% of adults.
    • Highest concentrations – 33% of ages 30 to 49 and 29% of ages 18 to 29.
    • Evenly split among men and women.
  • Twitter use (chronologically focused).
    • 24% of adults.
    • Highest concentrations – 40% of ages 18 to 29 and 32% of ages 13 to 17.
    • Almost even between men and women.
  • Snapchat use (disappearing chat app).
    • 27% of people.
    • Highest concentrations – 69% of ages 13 to 17 and 68% of ages 18 to 29.
    • More popular with women.

Relevant content

Because of the way consumers engage on social media, visual content works best. Still or moving images (e.g., GIFs, memes, cinemagraphs), infographics, and short videos) are perfect because they can be digested and shared quickly.

Because of the way consumers engage on #socialmedia, visual content works best, says @IamAaronAgius. Click To Tweet

Streaming live stories particularly on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat also is a popular tactic – one that your audience expects to see in those channels. That said, as you move toward B2B social channels like LinkedIn and, to an extent, Facebook, longer-form, text-focused content works well.

TIP: Social media platforms are rented land – you don’t own the audience. Think about content opportunities to convert them to your email distribution channel.


Paid distribution

Paid content distribution covers myriad channels. It can be split into three broad categories:

  • Native advertising: Content that matches the look and feel of the originating publishing platform.
  • Social media and search ads: Content strategically published by platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Google) in their users’ feeds or in search results.
  • Content syndication: Display ads and content distributed by a third party to relevant sites and digital programs.

Goals helped

  • Website traffic.
  • Brand awareness.
  • Lead generation.
  • Audience growth.

Audiences reached

You can attract new audiences or people who are tangentially connected to your brand online. Since you’re footing the bill, you can customize who will see it – from demographics to location to interests, etc.

When you pay for distribution, you can pick the audience that sees your #content, says @IamAaronAgius. Click To Tweet

Relevant content

Paid distribution relies heavily on a good, immediate impression. Therefore, the content needs to be hyper-useful, entertaining, or meaningful at a glance. Engaging imagery or video content with a brief intro (or text atop an image) is more likely to draw your audience in.

TIP: Before you pay to distribute your content on social media, test it organically on those same platforms. Pay to promote what works best.


Give it time and pivot when necessary

After going through the distribution channel opportunities, pick the one that best matches your audience and goals. Focus on making that method work – review the analytics regularly and tweak accordingly. (Don’t expect to see overnight results. Delivering relevant content consistently is how you affect your audience.) Once you’ve mastered that channel (or realized it isn’t an effective channel), move on to the next.

Do you prefer to receive helpful, engaging content by email? Subscribe to CMI’s free weekday newsletter for tips, insights, and trends in content marketing. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Aaron Agius

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online.

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