Bad Distribution Is Killing Your Content Marketing Efforts

Who am I writing for?

SaaS startup founders and marketing folks who’re planning to, or currently engaged in, content marketing.

What’s my key point?

Content distribution, or the lack thereof, is the reason why your content marketing efforts aren’t giving you any real results. When creating your plan, spend a lot of time thinking about how you’re going to spread and distribute your content.

What are the goals of content marketing?
  1. Understanding who you’re trying to help with your content
  2. Creating useful content according to the stage of their buying cycle
  3. Making sure that the content reaches more and more of its intended target audience
  4. Measuring the results and tweaking things

Most of us are pretty good at understanding who we’re creating content for, and usually we’re good enough at creating useful content according to buyer stage.

However, most of us absolutely suck at distributing content, even when we have that person’s email address. And that’s where our entire goal falls apart.

I see this over and over again

So when you’re creating your content marketing plan, think deeply about how you’re going to spread and distribute the content. And if you’ve hired someone for the job, build distribution efforts as leading metrics into their KPIs.

Broadly, here are some channels you might want to think of:

  1. Organic search, so that people find your content when they face the problem you’re trying to help them with
  2. Email… still the best way to get your content out in front of the right people, but it means you always have to be offering something relevant and asking readers to subscribe
  3. Distribution oriented ecosystems like Medium, Product Hunt and Linkedin Pulse
  4. Your personal social media accounts
  5. Through your sales team
  6. Through your customer success team
  7. Comarketing efforts with other brands and influencers
  8. Paid amplification channels like Outbrain, Taboola, Facebook & Linkedin Sponsored Updates
  9. Good old personal email reachout
  10. Guest posting
Additional thoughts
  • If you’re solving problems that are fairly large, like helping people lose weight through nutrition information, or if you make project management software, then you can use mass distribution channels like Outbrain. However,  Outbrain sucked for me when I tried it for VWO. After all, not so many people care about A/B testing and conversion rate optimization. In our case, Linkedin Sponsored Updates work better because of the targeting options.
  • When evaluating channels, the ones with better targeting work for B2B audiences where the number is small, but the dollar amount they can commit to you is much larger than what they would as individual consumers.
  • I haven’t included social media and forum posting or Quora links in the previous list because I see they just end up becoming spam. Cracking content distribution on social media is a much larger topic on its own.
  • Nurture and protect your email subscribers. However small they may be initially, don’t be an asshole and send them whatever the fuck that comes to your mind. Think of the stage they are in, think of what matters to them right now with regards to your solution, and try to send contextual emails. At VWO, we still sometimes err on the side of “we’ve released a new feature, so let’s blast it out to everyone, they might want to use our product because of this one new feature”. Hopefully, that’s something we’ll be able to do less of in the future.
  • Segment your lists with permission. Ask people if they want to sign up to hear about the product, or get to know of new blog posts, or of new webinars and content. Don’t send webinar emails to those who only want to hear about new product updates, or vice versa. If that’s unacceptable to you, then tell them upfront that they’re subscribing to all your content and product updates.
  • Doing really good content marketing is incredibly difficult. It’s also the most personally rewarding form of marketing I’ve seen so far.
Walking my talk

My goals from this blog are to

  • spread the experience I’m currently picking up so that others don’t waste time making the same mistakes and learning the same stuff.
  • gain the respect of others in the SaaS ecosystem so that they’ll want to come work on my team, hire me for a role, or partner with me to create a SaaS product and business.

To that end, it is obvious to me that I don’t do a good enough job of spreading my content. I’m going to start emailing this out more often and see what it leads to.

Thanks to Shubham Jain and Sujan Deswal for reviewing this. Both thought this post doesn’t provide much value. Hopefully that’s another thing I’ll be able to do better of in the future.



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