“Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.” This quote from TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden made a splash in the marketing world after it was published in his 2012 book, Optimize. But if content represents the wondrous world you’ve built, how do you, as a business owner, promote access to your kingdom?
High-quality content creation requires time and effort; if your content doesn’t reach its intended audience, all your hard work may be wasted. Whether you sell information, products, or services, promoting your ideas online is one of the best ways to grow your audience—i.e., open the doors to your kingdom—and increase sales. Here’s how to make it happen.
What is content distribution?
Content distribution is promoting and sharing your content through various channels and platforms online. It includes publicizing your ads, websites, social media pages, blogs, newsletters, videos, and other multimedia offerings.
Regardless of the size of your ecommerce business, you can create content and use diverse paid media (where you pay to get your content to consumers) and owned media (where you distribute it for free) to ensure that your content reaches its full potential and maximizes the return on your investment (ROI).
Types of content
Valuable content comes in many forms. Before thinking about distribution, start by identifying the type of content you can share with your audience. Here are a few options to consider, depending on your industry and your offerings.
- Videos. Does your company have video explainers for products? Video ads? Or video overviews of your company as a whole? There are nearly 250 million potential viewers in the US—a lot of eyeballs (and potential customers) your business can reach with high-quality video content.
- Email newsletters. No longer confined to the news media world, newsletters—regularly distributed emails with news, information, or updates—are a popular content format you can use to promote your brand. For example, a retail shop can email subscribers a weekly or monthly newsletter to promote new products, sales, or events. With Shopify email, you can create, send, and manage your email marketing in the same system you use to run your business.
- Podcasts. Over 460 million people listen to podcasts worldwide, and your business can use podcasts to tap into that massive market. Investment in sound quality and production elements like guest speakers can help you build an engaged listenership.
- Blog posts. Blogs are a prime content source that you can use to drive website traffic, increase search engine optimization (SEO), and educate and engage customers. Fitness apparel supplier Gymshark uses blog posts, such as “5 of the Best Workouts Hats To Wear During Your Next Training Session,” to promote its goods while answering common customer questions.
- White papers and press releases. White papers (long-form written pieces that explain products or promote solutions) and press releases (official statements issued to news media outlets announcing something you want to publicize) can help explain the functionality of a product or service or keep your audience up to date on releases and events—key components of customer success that can encourage loyalty.
Content distribution strategies
Your business can share its online media in many ways, depending on the type of content, your business size, and your industry. There are two main umbrellas, paid and organic distribution, under which distribution techniques fall.
Organic content distribution means pushing content through various owned distribution channels without paying for advertising. This approach requires more effort, including identifying the right audience, selecting distribution platforms, creating social media posts, and tracking the impact of your distribution efforts through data analysis.
The upside is that consumers often perceive organic distribution as more authentic and less intrusive than paid advertising, and they’re therefore more likely to engage with it. Organic distribution is more cost-effective than traditional advertising methods, making it an attractive option for smaller businesses.
Here are two common organic distribution strategies:
- Social media. Social media platforms are mighty channels through which you can promote your content and engage with your audience by responding to comments, direct messages, and reviews, which fosters a sense of community and trust. Popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok are free to use and let you reach existing and potential customers. With Shopify Inbox, you can connect with more customers, wherever they are, with integrations to Facebook, Instagram, the Shop app, and more.
- Email marketing. Ninety-two percent of people online over the age of 15 use email, representing a massive potential market for your content, whether it’s video clips or newsletters. Several ecommerce tools, such as Mailchimp, Moosend, and MailerLite, can help you automatically send scheduled emails. The downside to email marketing is it requires customer email addresses, but if you learn how to build an email list, you’ll be well on your way to capturing subscribers.
Paid content distribution is a content marketing method where you pay to push content through various social channels. Paid content can be highly targeted, increasing your business’s potential return on investment (ROI) and helping you grow your reach with specific customer demographics.
Here are three paid content distribution tools to consider:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads. With PPC ads, you pay based on the number of times customers click on your content.
- Sponsored content. With sponsored content, you pay to funnel your content through other trusted publishers, like social media platforms.
- Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is where you pay online influencers (popular online personalities) to represent or sell your products or services. Shopify Collabs makes it easy for merchants to find and manage a community of influencers who love their brand and can drive sales.
How to create a content distribution strategy
- Set your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Understand your target audience
- Choose your distribution channels
- Create your content
- Analyze your results and refine your strategy
Here are the first steps to consider when crafting a strong content distribution strategy.
1. Set your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
What do you want from your content? More views on your website? Increased sales figures? More positive engagement in the form of reviews, likes, and shares? Identifying these goals off the bat helps you set expectations as well as measure and judge the success of your content strategy.
2. Understand your target audience
Your audience depends on your business. For example, if you sell baby toys, your audience is likely new parents, impacting both the content you distribute and the channels you deliver it through. Understand where your target audience is most active and what type of content they’re most likely to engage with.
3. Choose your distribution channels
Based on your target audience, choose the channels that are most effective in reaching them. Popular channels include social media platforms, email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, and video-sharing platforms. Understand your staff, time, and budget limits to avoid spreading your resources too thin.
4. Create your content
Create content that’s engaging and relevant to your target audience and that aligns with your brand message and values. Record videos, write blog posts, or develop white papers, infographics, or case studies, then start pushing them through your chosen content distribution platforms. As every platform has unique characteristics, tailor your content to the specific channel’s strengths—e.g., Instagram posts should be visually appealing, while email newsletters should include a clear call to action (CTA).
5. Analyze your results and refine your strategy
After distributing your content, study metrics like engagement rate, reach, and conversion rate to understand which channels perform best and where to improve. With this data, you can refine your strategy by experimenting with different channels, content types, and distribution schedules until you find the most effective method for your business.