You’ve likely heard that, today, every company is a tech company. But did you know that every company is a content company as well? From McDonalds’s Serial-style podcast, “The Sauce,” to Airbnb’s plan to build its own TV studio, businesses across industries are investing heavily in content as a key pillar of their marketing strategies.
But though this pivot is supported by both theory and stats, many companies fail to effectively execute on their content marketing programs, dashing any hopes of positive ROI and measurable bottom line impact. Around 60% of the content issued by brands is seen as irrelevant by their customers. Even when content is relevant, many potential customers never actually see it in the first place. On Facebook, for instance, a single organic post reaches about 7% of page fans, and the percentage who click into a landing page from there is much, much lower. So, given the growing importance of content marketing, what can you do to ensure the best bang for your buck?
Quality matters, of course, but perhaps not as much as you might think. After all, if no one sees your content, who cares how perfectly crafted it may be? That’s why a good content strategy includes a thorough distribution strategy as well, and it’s this latter part which this post will focus on.
The PESO Model
Setting a content distribution strategy starts with setting a budget. A good rule of thumb is to invest at least 40% of your content budget into its actual distribution. For individual cases, such as the launch of an exciting and innovative product, experts recommend investing up to 80% in targeted marketing and only 20% in the content itself.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, it’s time to think about the best way to spend that money to reach your intended audience and KPIs. In general, you’ll follow the Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned model, also known as PESO.
- Paid Media encompasses paid advertising, where companies pay for the placement of their messaging. Many media platforms offer this feature in a variety of formats, ranging from entire built-out landing pages and individual article pages to sponsored posts that pop into your Instagram or Twitter feed. With the proper targeting, these ads can result in a significant rise in traffic, contribute to lead generation and increase overall brand awareness. Through Paid Media tactics, you can easily plan your content distribution strategy and have control over messaging as well as the ability to optimize content mid-campaign. You can also refine your audience targeting, and relatedly, benefit from lower scatter loss in online marketing. However, the quality of clicks may not be as strong in online marketing, your credibility may suffer and costs may run high. Additionally, the rise of ad blockers means it’s possible some of the targeted audience won’t see your ad at all.
- Earned Media is the opposite of paid and is defined by the dissemination of your content due to its inherent value. That may involve a viral social post or more typical public relations activities in which a company’s news and content is publicized to the media and other websites. The benefits of the earned approach are obvious: cost-effective distribution, credibility and the ability to reach different, brand-averse audiences. But the drawbacks are equally clear: loss of message control, the inability to plan accurately and difficulty in measurement (i.e. page views, dwell time, etc.).
- Shared Media covers both social media and brand-related, user-generated content. Messages generated by the company’s own social media accounts generally have a certain organic range, but may also turn into earned media if the public finds them interesting or entertaining. Similarly, shared media can be amplified as paid media for lead generation, thought leadership or general awareness. Like earned media, shared media offers credibility and authenticity but can be difficult to plan and hard to control.
- Owned Media comprises all of the company’s own channels, including its website, corporate blog, newsletter and other corporate publications. Through these channels, companies can publish whatever they desire, though content is largely geared toward known target groups and contacts, such as existing customers, employees, and prospective customers—people who know the brand and have previously shown interest in it. That focused audience reduces scatter loss and costs. Owned media also benefits from higher quality and control, but credibility can suffer and range is limited.
The boundaries between the above are not always clearly defined, and the latter in particular crosses into several different areas, including paid, earned and shared. Owned media reach can also be expanded dramatically through the use of search engine optimization—which is another critical part of content marketing and can turn owned media into earned.
SEO and Owned Content
With SEO, you draw increased traffic and views to your owned content. It’s what enables a search engine to elevate the pages most relevant to your individual search. SEO allows companies to increase the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing their website or webpages’ organic discoverability. This fairly complex process involves the use of keyword mapping, interlinked web pages and ongoing content optimization.
Say, for example, that a clothing company wanted to raise awareness of its “fair trade” practices, and in doing so, target a specific audience of consumers. That clothing supplier could write an article explaining the meaning of fair trade and then optimize that piece with the goal of “ranking” for the popular search term: “What is fair trade?”
At the same time, they could also return to existing content and update it to reflect the most frequent search terms surrounding “fair trade” today. This is good practice, regardless of whether you want to optimize for high-quantity search terms, because Google is quick to notice if content is no longer accurate or up to date. If you’ve put a lot of work into a topic, it’s often worth taking a few hours to revise your content to extend its lifespan.
The Content Funnel
The last part of distribution this post will cover is the customer journey funnel. By using the customer journey funnel, you can decide which of the above options are most applicable and appropriate for a given phase of the buyer journey and for your company journey as well. Apple, for example, can likely skip awareness to focus on consideration.
- Awareness is top of the funnel. Generally, a prospective customer isn’t planning to buy anything but is curious about a topic and looking for answers. This provides an opportunity to associate your brand with a given solution (e.g. the above clothing brand and fair-trade clothes). Paid and earned (which may include SEO-driven owned media) work here.
- Demand and Consideration are linked as the second and third phases. Here, the customer is considering a purchase and examining the options given their needs. Every aspect of PESO can be utilized at this stage. Paid can ensure you remain top of mind; earned provides credibility; shared does a little of both; and owned dives into product-centric details and information.
- Purchase and Advocacy sit at the bottom of the funnel. Owned content and organic social are important at this phase of the journey to retain customer loyalty and even encourage customers to advocate for your brand on social media.
Learn More About Content Marketing Services
The above is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content distribution and its role in an effective content marketing campaign. To learn even more about content marketing and distribution, check out this white paper on content distribution, or get in touch with the LEWIS Content Team today. With offices around the world, we have the knowledge base and skills to help you no matter your needs or level of expertise, check out our content marketing services.