By pilot Hamburg‘s Managing Director Creation Thorsten Peters and Head of Consulting Creation Frauke Driedger:
If you’re reading this article, you’ve made a big step towards successful content marketing: you’re thinking about distribution. Far too often the ‘marketing’ aspect of content marketing is left behind or completely forgotten. Producing valuable and relevant content is only half the story. Without a strategic plan for the distribution and investment in audience reach, content will remain unseen and without impact.
Currently, content marketing is one of the most popular topics in marketing. However companies often really struggle to define adequate KPIs for content measurement, or they just overestimate what they can actually achieve. Fragmentation of media consumption, rejection of advertising and the use of ad blockers, low visibility of display ads – whatever the problem, content is supposed to be the cure, providing brands with highly involved target groups – and, of course, free reach on top!
Sorry to say, folks, this is not quite the case.
What’s the ‘right’ content for my target group?
As more advertisers produce content, more and more of it will compete for consumers’ attention. Hence, to ensure visibility, brands need to develop a distribution strategy.
This strategy needs to be developed at an early stage, incorporating the question “What specific content is relevant for the chosen target groups?” Brands tend to decide this using their current knowledge of their target groups, however sound research is highly advisable. Often, the content is produced first and only later in the process questions regarding its distribution arise. This misses out on the huge potential of the interface between media and creative. If distribution and content creation are strategically developed together and closely interlinked, the content can be optimised for the defined channels, their requirements and usage.
The best content distribution strategy? Work on it!
An ideal distribution strategy needs to be developed individually for each brand and concept. The starting point should be the brand’s content marketing goals and the target group. What media channels and devices do they use? In which situations and what for? Only after these questions are answered can distribution channels and efficient measures be defined.
Owned, paid and earned media – deal with it!
An ideal distribution strategy always consists of owned, paid and earned media, each used to a different extent depending on the brand’s goals.
Owned media is the starting point of every content distribution process. The brand’s website, social media channels, a newsletter, offline touchpoints such as point of sale – every additional touchpoint with the target group increases the content’s visibility and scalability. However, not every channel is suitable for every piece of content. Questions that need to be answered include: What brand channels already exist? Are they appropriate? Are new channels needed and if so which ones? Then, interaction between the different channels should be clearly defined. Content hubs can help further to aggregate the content and connect the various channels.
However, owned media by itself cannot yet guarantee high visibility. Investment in paid media is vital to secure the content’s reach and guarantees a good balance between production costs and reach. Especially during a campaign’s launch, paid media should be used to leverage the reach of both owned and earned media. The budget for paid media should be determined with regard to the goals, the target group and the size of existing owned communities.
In terms of measurement, all standard online marketing metrics are generally suitable to use for branded content. However, it’s crucial that the content is in the spotlight, not the brand.
Long-term collaboration with partners is also very important. Multipliers and media partners who embed and share your branded content online will strengthen the content’s acceptance and credibility with consumers.
For smaller budgets and target groups, it’s best to increase the content’s visibility on owned media channels (e.g. using social media advertising) that establish long-term customer relationships. To broaden the reach further, digital advertising should be used – for example, live streaming inside display ads, as used for the distribution of ‘Webers großes Grillfest’.
A bit of fine-tuning
While owned and paid media can be planned, earned media – whereby consumers feel compelled to share your content peer to peer – is not really calculable.
However, brands can ensure maximum dissemination by making content easily shareable online and across mobile devices, and by establishing good relationships with relevant multipliers, such as bloggers and aggregators. By individually addressing their needs and interests, brands can build up high engagement and increase the amount of earned media. For example, consider using multipliers to distribute personalised content as part of the content production process.
As individual as content distribution may be, the most important aspect is to actually consider content distribution full stop, and to consider it at an early stage in your plans for branded content marketing. This is the only way to ensure that relevant content gets the attention it deserves – and finally does the job!